The word “communication” first appeared in 1422, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, and was used to refer to “interpersonal contact, social interaction, association.” By the sixteenth century, the word had acquired another sense: “the transmission or exchange of information, knowledge or ideas.” The plural form, “communications,” was introduced in 1907, to refer to transmission by way of machine or technology. Even in this technological sense, however, the notion of communication implies a transmission of information from one biological entity to a similar one. In recent years, technologies and techniques of communication associated with disability are transforming all of these meanings by extending the notion of transmission of information well beyond the circuit of biologically similar speaking bodies. Disability studies and sign language studies have concerned themselves with what have been considered “nontypical” communications, conducted by differently abled bodies, via different appropriations of technology.

This essay may be found on page 43 of the printed volume.

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