What is SimCom?

SimCom is an abbreviation meaning simultaneous communication. It is the act of communicating in a sign language and a spoken language at the same time and is often used as a form of communication between people who are deaf and people who are hearing. It is often used by a person who is with both hearing and deaf people and they want to communicate to everyone at the same time.

SimCom is a very difficult thing to do. Imagine speaking in English and writing in French at the same time. It's not easy! There are some very talented people who have the ability to sign and speak at the same time and be understood in both languages. However, there is almost always some change to the grammatical structure and expression of at least one of the languages. Neurologists have said that it is actually impossible to truly use two languages at the same time. When people use SimCom, their brain is actually quickly switching from one language to the other.

SimCom is sometimes seen as a way to help hearing people learn sign language. However, this may cause them to continue to think in the spoken language when signing, causing their sign language grammar to suffer.


SimCom controversy

An assumption that is often made about SimCom is that it is possible to sign and speak at the same time without affecting the meaning of one of the languages. With SimCom, the grammar of the sign language is often sacrificed to maintain the grammatical form of the spoken language. A spoken language such as English and a sign language such as American Sign Language (ASL) have very different grammar. Changing the grammar of the sign language to suit the spoken language often makes the sign language grammatically incorrect and difficult to understand. So, while a hearing person may hear a clear and grammatically correct sentence, someone who is deaf will see a non-grammatical form of sign language. 

Many Deaf people see SimCom as a symbol of oppression and disrespect. This is because the spoken word tends to be chosen as priority over the sign language. For example, when speaking English and ASL at the same time, a person will often speak full English and broken ASL. Sign language experts suggest that when trying to learn a sign language, it is best to not voice at all, and focus on signing clearly instead. However, each situation is different. Someone may need to use SimCom if they are trying to communicate with a group that includes both deaf and hearing people. 

Ultimately, it depends on the situation in which SimCom is being used and how well the person is able to communicate in both languages. It is important to be respectful of Deaf culture and ensure that you are not offending the person you are speaking to by using SimCom. 

Check out the videos by Rogan Shannon and ASL Stew below for two perspectives on SimCom from the Deaf community:



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