Stuttering Is No Joke sign now

OPEN LETTER TO GOOGLE, OWNERS OF YOU TUBE

December 3rd, 2007, International Day for the Disabled

Eric Emerson Schmidt, Ph.D
Chief Executive Officer, Google

Dear Mr Schmidt,

STUTTERING VIDEOS ON YOUTUBE WHICH HAVE BEEN CLASSIFIED AS COMEDY

We, the undersigned, are concerned about video portrayals of stuttering which have been classified as Comedy.

In our society, speech is considered one of the most important means for interpersonal communication. While other means, such as written language, may be superior at times in conveying the content of messages, spoken language not only conveys content, but also includes information about the speakers intent, emotions, personality and perceptions.

Unfortunately, the window that speech provides on the speakers self, can also lead to stereotypical perceptions of people with speech disorders that go well beyond their speech difficulties. Whilst spoken word is taken for granted by most, the use of spoken language is challenging for millions of people around the world who stutter.

It is estimated that approximately 1\% - or 60 million - of the 6 billion people with whom we share this world, stutter. For many of these individuals, daily communication is a constant struggle. For many of them, speech does not open doors but closes them for interpersonal, academic, and professional development and fulfillment.

In April, 2007, the British Stammering Association emailed YouTube to complain about the classification as Comedy of several videos which show people stuttering or pretending to stutter. YouTube replied that they had been unable to identify a Terms of Use violation but that the enquiry would inform future policy discussions. Nothing further has been done.

The understanding of and the support for people with disabilities in general have improved greatly in recent years, largely through raising awareness and education. YouTube has the power to form policy and to change public perceptions. The current classification of these videos as Comedy is deeply insulting to those who stutter and, worse, it fosters discrimination.

We hope YouTube can assist to improve the lives for people who stutter by reclassifying these videos.

Thank you.

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Bob LarsonBy:
Politics and GovernmentIn:
Petition target:
the CEO of Google

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