‘Kosher’ phone merges technology, faith describes an alarming development, which may adversely influence the quality of life of deaf persons in certain communities.
Basically, some communities, which practice religion in a strict way (such as some of the Haredi Jews and some Moslem communities), are bothered by the technology of cellphones, which make it easier for young people to form “improper” relationships.
Therefore, those communities would like to have cellphones, which allow only voice conversations – no text messages, no video, no Internet, no camera. Such cellphones have been developed.
However, there is a problem:
Text messages are an essential function of a cellphone, which makes it accessible to deaf persons. Thanks to this function, deaf persons have at last gained the ability to directly contact anyone via phone, without needing special help from sympathetic hearing persons or from relay services. This function is useful only as long as most, or all, cellphones used by the deaf person’s associates have text messaging capability.
Therefore, a community, which bans text messaging, in effect bans an accessibility provision needed by its deaf members.
Even if the religious leaders allow the deaf alone to have cellphones with text message capability, this feature would be useless if the other members of their community are not allowed to use it.
Therefore, a consequence of introduction of kosher cellphones in communities is the re-marginalization of the deaf in those communities. Those deaf persons would again be cut off from their hearing family members, friends and co-workers.
Visualize a community, which has ordinance prohibiting the use of TTYs.
I think that cellphones without text messaging capability should be as illegal as cellphones without ability to dial to the police, emergency medical service (such as Magen David Adom, Red Cross or Red Crescent) or firefighters.