Friday, March 9, 2007

Can ASL be Legally Binding?

Jay Krieger wonders if our ASL kept on DVDs or other media can be legally binding?


Michele said...

I would think so. Carla Mathers works with deaf people (she is a hearing lawyer), I cannot remember if she encourages videotaping along with the signing of your will because some people express themselves better by ASL than writing and want to make sure that their loved ones understand clearly about where the money will go to. Also I would make sure that the videotape has captions or translation to be safe than sorry because you don't want the videotape to be subjected to different interpretations. Maybe you will be lucky that Carla Mathers may respond to your inquiry if she sees your vlog.

mishkazena said...

Countless last wills have been recorded in VCRs and audiocassettes, so those recorded in ASL shouldn't be treated differently, in my opinion.

Have a terrific ride! :)

DCABlogs said...

Wow good topic to bring up. Never thought of that!!! WOW...

BTW? You heard your Harley I thought you Deaf? Me now confusing *Scratch my head*

Barb DiGi said...

LOL!! Oh that dear Harley!! By the way, I rode with your sister who has a nice Heritage model 2 weeks ago in sunny California..haha..too funny!

Anyway you raised a valid question. I have been storing all ASL vlogs in a CD just like I did with pictures. It goes the same about pictures that are stored in albums and CDs. In that case, these ASL CDs will definitely be included in the will as I believe they are legally binding so why not!

Anonymous said...

hi daddy

my opinion about this kind of thing is to have both the paper document and the CD with the same "wordings" on them... because obviously if you are deaf and your family is as well then an ASL CD would work efficently but for court, the paper document would be easier for everyone and have the will go out smoothly

plus, one negative thing about having a will signed is that somehow it could be forged or etc, who knows with today's world, while with an ASL CD, who can forge yourself?


Anonymous said...

You brought up an interesting discussion about whether ASL be legally binding. A few months I used a video to apply for a job, and I received a reply, asking me to write a letter instead of doing a vlog. I guess our society has yet to acknowledge ASL.

BEG said...

There are really two separate issues going on here. It's not a question of whether a language is "legally binding." The question is whether the document, in whatever language it is, is constructed in a legally binding way.

I could write down what I wanted in a will, but if I did not specify or do things in a certain way, the "will" could be legally challenged on a number of grounds. In order to have a properly done will, I need to have the proper legal elements present in the will.

In other cases, it's legally specified that only written and signed formats are legally binding and not verbal agreements. In those cases, neither spoken English nor signed ASL will do.

What I'm not sure of is the status of video recordings at this point. I should think that, for example, a videotaped will done in ASL, with the input of someone who knows the legal issues in your area, witnessed by another person (who can attest to when and where the video was made) would be sufficient; but I would guess the particulars could vary by state.

Jay said...


Yes, I am profound Deaf, but...

If only you could hear my mufflers, you will think your audiologists made a serious mistake in thinking you are Deaf.

I've won loud pipes contest hands down, so that should tell you something. Grins.

Lantana said...

Well it might or might not be "legally binding", but I think it will surely give your children and your grandkids the creeps!

Judge said...


It can't be done!

Why? Because I am the Judge!


Only kidding.

I vaguely recalled that there was a family doing this video will (using VHS tape) years ago. Don't know if it is legally binding??

Anonymous said...'re a liar!

You only moved the camera 'cuz you got too lazy cleaning up... hehehe.

Your house is very come over and clean for me, will ya?? ;)

I don't know anything about legal but I find this topic very interesting and I'd like to know FOR SURE that it can be considered legal if done in ASL on a video!

But your daughter pointed out another good point - also have it in writing as well. However...if there were different wording, which one has more power?

That'd be a nasty fight, wouldn't it?

You jerk...going on a motorcycle. Nice. Pfft. Enjoy the ride!


Oscar the Observer said...

Basically if hearing people can speak and be legally binding, for example like you said by tape recording THEN it should BE legal for video of ASL because otherwise that would be discriminating against deaf people. BUT if spoken recording is NOT legal then no I don't think that ASL can be written. Let me explain: I believe that spoken English and written English may share many many similarities but really they are two distinct languages. So since ASL and written English have some similarities but are two distinct languages, it would follow that legally speaking, it is possible for only one language and medium attached to it can be binding.
What do you think?

Anonymous said...

*vomiting* I smell rice burner...

Mine will be 57 degree next Thursday. I look forward to riding my sport bike.

It is good question if ASL on DVD can be legally binding.

Maybe with legal document, it will be in and out fast as no problem. But with ASL on DVD, they may ask for more evidences to support it.

That's my guess.

Nick said...

Here's my Vlog response, Jay.

Larry Littleton said...

I would say yes, a video can be legally binding.
Because insurance companies encourage people to videotape their home personal belongings for "documentation" purposes in the event of fire, flood or other destruction.
If that is legally binding, then signing on a video should be, too.

JFLMad said...

wow, that is really a sticky situation. I think it can be legally binding as long it's approved with the seal.

But I agree with what Nick said in his vlog response. It's better to have both to be safe in case something mess up.

Susan said...

I agree with Amanda, better to have two - CD and paper. What if there is a scratch on the CD?

Deaf Niches said...

Hmmm, because ASL is recognized as a language, and it is taught in public schools, as one of the official languages in the world, so I believe it is legally binding or the Congress would not have acknowledged/approved that ASL was the official language, makes sense huh?

Barinthus said...

According to a course in contracts I took, a will can be written on anything. Even toilet paper and it's equally binding to the one written on some fancy paper in fancy ink.

Verbal contracts (a will is one example of such contract) is equally binding as written contracts. The problem is a verbal contract is more difficult to prove in the court. So... technically they're equally binding but harder to prove should the other party in the contract deny they agreed to a such contract.

So yes therotically a contract done in ASL and recorded on some kind of medium such as DVD should be considered binding just like one written in English on some fancy paper.

The question I have is - will hearies recongize ASL as a valid language of law? I'd advise checking out with a lawyer.

Also I am a strong believer in CYA. (Cover Your {mule}). Even if a lawyer said that ASL recorded on a DVD is perfectly fine, I'd want a transcript written down. On that transcript I'd have a disclaimer saying that my original will is in ASL on the DVD and that the transcript is only as a back-up should there is some confusion over what I said on the DVD. Just in case some jerk decide to argue on semantics of my signing.

As someone else pointed out - of course you have to take in consideration the structure of your will (its language) because lawyers love to find some loopholes or whatever.

Anonymous said...

please watch a movie 1913 ASL. you are going to prove yourself.

No Deaf-mute

BEG said...

In california, a verbal contract is legally binding. In some states they are not.

In general though, regardless of the form of the contract, all the elements of a contract have to be present. If they are not, then the contract can be challenged. This would be true of a verbal contract, a tape recorded contract, a written one, and one recorded in ASL.

However, I would consult with a lawyer in your area for advice on the best way to go. I should think in most cases and in most areas, you could record your wills, contracts, etc, AS LONG AS YOU HAVE ALL THE ELEMENTS PRESENT (the lawyer can tell you what sorts of things need to be in it).

But really, since none of us here has ID'd ourselves as a lawyer (I am not one), and it would be unethical to dispense actual legal advice on the forums like this anyway, your best bet is to consult in person with an actual lawyer :-) I really advise you do this -- speculation is no good in this case.

Anonymous said...

Many hearing people have been recorded to speak to their people regarding their wills by VCRS. ASL should be legal too. If hearing people do not understand ASL, they can bring ASL interpreter to voice.