Nowadays emojis and gifs, serve as text enhancements and are a large part of online communication. The deaf and hard of hearing community often doesn’t receive proper representation in online and text trends. While we are still waiting for hearing aid and more ASL emojis to come around, Google is stepping up by creating beautiful animations with the help of Flores, a deaf artist.
Read more: Finally, a Hearing Aid Emoji!
Google explains that these stickers are some of the few that hold a deeper meaning. They are more than just cute or fun stickers to use when messaging.
“Unlike other Gboard stickers that are mostly decorative, the ASL ones convey a message. Each sticker comprises an anthropomorphic phrase, complete with a face and two hands, that signs the phrase it embodies,” says Engadget writer, Nicole Lee.
The stickers were made so both deaf and hearing communities would understand the message.
Ryan Sand the art director for Google’s expressions team knew that in order to make a pack of ASL stickers his team would need the guidance of a deaf artist.
“ASL is its own language, and it’s especially visual,” said Sand to Engadget. “We thought an animated sticker set would be a really exciting way to raise awareness for ASL, and deaf and hard-of-hearing users can see themselves in the stickers.”
Wanting to hire a local San Fransico artist, the team came across Flores’ application and instantly admired her passion for deaf awareness and art.
“We work really closely with artists to make authentic stickers, so that if you’re a user, you’ll find the stickers speak to you.” said Sand. “That’s one of the reasons Jessica was such an awesome fit for the program.”
Flores worked with animator Juliane Chen to create meaningful stickers for the deaf community. She wanted to be sure that the stickers could spread deaf awareness in addition to providing the deaf community stickers in their language. In an interview with Sand, Flores explained what she was envisioning while creating the stickers.
“I realized I wanted a sticker set that would help spread Deaf awareness and expose American Sign Language to more people, even just a little bit,” Flores told Sand. “I knew that if we designed a character for the stickers who signed, only those who knew ASL would know what the signs meant, and those who didn’t know ASL might end up ignoring the set completely.”
“I realized I wanted a sticker set that would help spread Deaf awareness and expose American Sign Language to more people, even just a little bit.”
This is especially important to Flores because she grew up deaf, but she wasn’t exposed to ASL and the Deaf community until she was older. Deaf isolation is common, but awareness through creative ways, such as stickers, can help change this.
“When I learned ASL a few years ago, my world changed 180,” says Flores. “Because I finally found a way to understand the other side of the conversation. The side that I was missing out on my entire life. I finally understood what CLEAR communication was. Not part of the conversation, not half of the conversation, the FULL conversation! Sign Language really saved me. I seriously don’t know where I’d be without it.”
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✨PAH!!!✨I am so frickin 🤩 excited to finally show you guys these stickers!!! It truly was a blast working with the @google team: my awesome art director @remoteryan and thee amazing bad ass animator @fivepaninis! (Can't wait for our next project 😎) Also, thank you @nicolenerd @engadget for helping me spread Deaf awareness, seriously it means the world to us! 🤟✨ (Blog post in Bio) So, What are you waiting for?! Go download the Gboard app and start learning some ASL!! 🤟 ♥️✨😬 [Image description: 1st image is of a blog post from Engadget that reads, Google's latest Gboard stickers celebrate American Sign Language. 2nd photo shows a photo of Jessica smiling in the camera in a blog post from Google. 3rd photo shows a screenshot of Jessica's Twitter reading, "PAH! go learn some ASL with Google Gboard today while you text your homie, mom, grandma, co-worker, whoever! Seriously go help your homegirl out! " 4th photo: Shows sticker set. It's titled KissFist ASL. The quote under it reads, "Talk to the hands… Literally!" The stickers are words that have blue arms and yellow, pink, and orange letters. All the words have expressive faces in them.] #DeafArtist #DeafCreator #AmericanSignLanguage #Deaf #Pah #TruBiz
Flores hopes that others will take interest in ASL and use it as a communication tool if they are deaf or hard of hearing.
“My hope for these stickers is that it encourages people to go learn some sign language so we can all start clearly communicating with one another,” Flores says. “Also, if ever you bump into me in the future, and you’ve been learning ASL, even if it is just a little bit, come say hello! It would mean the world to me!”
“My hope for these stickers is that it encourages people to go learn some sign language so we can all start clearly communicating with one another.””
Others in the deaf community are also very excited about the news.
In sign language, a simple change in facial expression or body language can change a sign’s meaning completely. Just like how a tone of someone’s voice will allow you to figure out if they are mad or if they’re just asking you a question. —@LimeMoney 🤟💕 https://t.co/CItcPJaSRI pic.twitter.com/R7eJgkInfe
— Jennifer 🧟♀️ (@jenniferdaniel) October 17, 2018
Let us know what you think of the stickers in the comments!