Recently, I heard that the University of Manchester Students’ Union has banned clapping in favour of using the deaf and hard of hearing equivalent, the so-called “jazz hands.” This was, according to the student group, to be more inclusive of people with sensory issues, autism, and deafness.
I am all for this idea. There are some days when even the slightest noises can set off painful ringing in my ears, and the very notion of attending an event where I know there will be lots of loud noises is enough to cause me a large amount of discomfort. Knowing that there will be a place where quieter appreciation of whatever material is being presented would make it much easier for people who struggle with sensory overload to attend.
Granted, there are still people who will believe that requiring the general population to accommodate the few is an unnecessary step, that it is bending the rights of people and forcing them to do things that are not considered “normal.” Even so, what about the people who do require these accommodations? Wouldn’t it be more accepting to allow everyone to attend, than to cling to old traditions?
I think we should consider making these kinds of changes at our own university. What do you think?