RIT/NTID Grad Celebrates Five Years in Deaf Social Media

DeafRead and DeafVIDEO.TV founder Tayler Mayer with son, Jack.
Story Highlights: 
  • DeafVIDEO.TV had more than 34.5 million page hits last year and averages 6,000 viewers a day.
  • The site was created in May 2007 to make it easier to find videos using in sign language.
  • Tayler Mayer and Jared Evans, both graduates of RIT/NTID, started DeafRead in 2006, a website that posts stories of interest to the deaf community.

Communication has always been vitally important in the deaf community, where sharing information in person, by writing or via text telephone was the best way to keep up with the news.

And in this age of videophones, Skype and Google +, the deaf community continues to use advances in technology to share news, questions and opinions.

DeafVideo.TV is celebrating its fifth-year anniversary this month. It is a popular outlet for deaf individuals to post video blogs, (vlogs), and where others can leave comments.

“Videos get lost easily on the vast YouTube landscape. After a while, I decided that ASL vlogs deserved their own website. Hence, the birth of DeafVIDEO.TV,” says Tayler Mayer ’00, who launched DeafVideo.TV in May 2007.

Mayer believes DeafVIDEO.TV is the most frequented website in the deaf community, with 3.2 million page views last month, and more than 34.5 million page views in the past year

The roots of DeafVIDEO.TV began a year earlier, when Mayer and another RIT/NTID grad, Jared Evans, ’97, both deaf bloggers, formed DeafRead in July 2006. DeafRead continues to be a site where news stories find a centralized home, as long as the topic is related to the deaf or hard-of-hearing community.

“From the beginning, DeafRead was going to be for everyone and everything deaf-related,” Mayer wrote in a blog describing the origins of DeafRead. “That was the agreement and understanding between me and Jared. We never questioned it, nor thought about changing this philosophy.”

DeafRead became a popular site in its first month in July 2006, with more than 400,000 page views. Its popularity reached the masses within three months because much of its content at the time was about the controversial presidential search and subsequent protests at Gallaudet University.

“I wanted to enable others to express their opinions,” Mayer says. “DeafRead’s success is partially because the posts are moderated so only those that are deaf-related are published. When readers visit DeafRead, they know they’re going to read about something deaf. Obviously, there aren’t many sites out there that do this, especially one that aggregates blog posts.”

Mayer works from his home in Silver Spring, Md. He shares responsibility for developing the site and making policy decisions with Evans, who lives in Florida. DeafRead has three volunteer moderators: Elizabeth Gillepsie, Amy Cohen Efron and Carrie Gellibrand.

DeafVIDEO.TV averages about 6,000 viewers a day, and the posts generate about 700 comments each day. The vlogs don’t necessarily need a deafness theme and anyone can post as long as they know sign language.

Topics include sensitive issues within the deaf community, people promoting an upcoming event, people just saying hello and how they are feeling, and people wanting advice.

The videos aren’t normally captioned. Mayer says the content was created and posted for those who know sign language.

There has been plenty of feedback from viewers objecting to the opinions posted. “Some folks mistakenly think that because I’m allowing whatever content or idea to be published, I was endorsing it,” Mayer says.

But overall, Mayer is pleased by his site’s success. “There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big. You may surprise yourself!”

More Images: 

NTID Website Comment Policies

We welcome your comments on this story. Please be respectful of others and comply with the NTID Website Comment Policies. NTID reserves the right to remove any comment that violates these policies. Please note that all comments reflect the opinions of the commenter(s), not of RIT or NTID.