The form that flattens
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The form that flattens book
This chapter examines the ways that deaf-centred authority, or ‘DEAFness,’ is diminished by contact with the mono-linear speech-text narrative formats of UK institutions, particularly when deaf people are written into/onto public sector paper forms. Using ethnographic data derived from ‘PIP’ (Personal Independence Payment) form-filling at a UK deaf-centric charity, the author presents the ways that one advocacy client is required to alter her 5D way-of-being to suit a 2D textual form. It focuses on a form called ‘How Your Disability Affects You,’ a crucial proof-collection step in the PIP claiming process. The ‘Affects You’ form requires that claimants attempt to contain the ineffable stuff of ‘long-term adverse effect’ of disability within the rigid material form of text-on-paper. The author argues that such forms fail to capture the divergent modalities and affordances present in this capturing process, and that this exchange ultimately generates insurmountable communicative fault-lines due to embedded differences in knowledge-making processes between deaf, sign language using claimants and the institutions that might support them. Especially for people who write with and through their bodies in 5 dimensions, reduction to text is proven to dangerously oversimplify communication of health, ultimately flattening underlying DEAF ontology.