Today, we have the privilege of speaking with the amazing Sarialinde
, the Guild Masters of Undaunted
. Undaunted is an inclusive community of primarily Deaf/deaf and Hard of Hearing (HOH) raiders. Over the years, Undaunted has received glowing praise
in the WoW community for their welcoming, unique guild culture, and impressive achievements. Undaunted originated in North America (NA), but has branched out to Europe (EU) this past year. The Undaunted NA
raid team is called “Steadfast”, and the two Undaunted EU
raid teams are called “Fearless” and “Lionhearted”.
Sarialinde and Deadjoy are true leaders of WoW. In this interview, we learn more about who they are, the origin story of Undaunted, challenges of combating the “culture of voice comms”, tips for aspiring raiders, and more. This is a story of friendship, overcoming hardship, inspiring allyship, and innovation. This is a piece you SHOULD NOT MISS. Not only will this article expand your mind on what it is to be deaf or HOH in real life and in game, but you will be inspired on a completely new level. I promise
Before we dive in, I want to extend my deepest appreciation to Sarialinde, Deadjoy, and to all the members of Undaunted who contributed to this piece. We cherish the experiences and unique wisdom that you share with us today. The community is better for it.
Table of Contents
“Often, voice really isn’t what you need to make the group objective successful. So many deaf players are already accustomed to overcompensating, so we are awesome and skilled additions to any raid team or guild.” —Sarialinde
Q-1: Hi! It’s so great to meet you both. Can you please tell us a little about yourselves? How long have you been playing WoW, what class(ses) do you main, and what do you love to do outside of WoW?Sarialinde
: I’m Bejo, I’m Deaf, I’m from Texas, and I have been playing WoW since 2008 — right at the tail end of Burning Crusade expansion. I took a long hiatus that skipped Mists of Pandaria, then returned in the middle of Legion and have played continuously since then. These days, I play either a Protection Warrior (my OG toon from 2008!) or a Restoration Shaman. Outside of WoW and managing Undaunted, I do some work with ASL (American Sign Language)/English interpretations and my two Australian Cattle Dogs. About once a month, I’ll unplug entirely and go backpacking in the woods for a weekend.Deadjoy
: Hello everyone. My name is Natasha. I am deaf from birth. I have been a gamer since I was 2 years old — my father thought computers make great babysitters. Haha. I am 37 years old now. I have played WoW since it was first released in 2004. I'm from the United Kingdom. I am currently playing a Havoc Demon Hunter; I like to change classes each tier to add variation and keep the game fun. I thoroughly enjoy raiding with my friends and having a good laugh, as well as being part of this amazing community. I used to play PVP alot in earlier days, getting Warlord title in Vanilla. Now, I focus on running Undaunted with Sari and our team of amazing members. Outside of WoW, two huskies own my heart, and I do bikejoring
, walks in the forest, and watching movies. But mostly, playing WoW, lol.
Q-2: So we know that Undaunted has a guild in both the North American (NA) and European (EU) regions. How do your two chapters function together and as separate entities? Do you communicate and share any information, or are you mostly separate communities?Sarialinde Fearless - EU raid team of Undaunted by Freddo, adapted from Blizzard Entertainment
: We started our EU Chapter as Shadowlands released so, all things considered, this is still really new for us. While Undaunted is celebrating our 10th year, the EU Chapter is not even a year old yet, so we are looking very much towards its first birthday!
Right now, we all exist within the same Discord server
as a homebase and several of our guild members have bought EU or NA accounts to roll characters and play “across the pond” as we say. We have used Zoom
to meet each other and chat. There are EU and NA specific channels for certain logistics (raid teams, officer teams, guild announcements), but most of the social and topical discussion channels are blended.
The NA guild has served as a framework of reference and support for the EU chapter, but in-game, both officer teams are independent and both Guildmasters work closely together through Discord. Deadjoy has tried to establish or help set up several EU Deaf/Hard of Hearing (HOH) guilds and saw them fall apart, so we hope that, with having the NA guild as a frame to lean on, we can make the EU chapter last as long as this game does!
We’ve set up multiple Discord chat groups to support our Raid Leaders, as this is a really difficult and thankless position. Folks in there share strategies, videos they’ve created, useful links such as WeakAuras
or strategy guides like MythicTrap
or Complexity Limit
and they even discuss approaches to managing problematic raiders.
We do try to do some things together when possible — we had an international Tabard Contest and, for Castle Nathria, we ran a raid race to speedclear Heroic in real time. It was a massively popular event that was streamed and narrated in both ASL and International Sign
. Our EU raiders took the prize home :) I know the NA team can’t wait for a rematch in Sanctum of Domination
This is a personal goal of ours (the Guildmasters) to see the Discord as “one home” that unifies both regions. We hope that, eventually within the Discord, players don’t feel segregated because, as Deaf or HOH players, it is very difficult to be connected in most guilds due to voice comms being the norm. Come on Blizz — merge regions so we can run some Mythics, arena, or RBGs together!
“Despite any setbacks, Undaunted has always resurrected as long as we’ve had each other. We try our best to look to the past and learn from it so that we can move forward and survive.” —Sarialinde
Q-3:What is the story of Undaunted? How and when was it first formed? Sarialinde
: Undaunted was once a small guild called Unrivaled Titans on Dunemaul. We have gone through a few name and server changes since then.
The original Guildmaster was Deaf and played with several of his Deaf friends online and they all had the same grievances with their respective guilds: raid leaders/raid teams were not accessible, they would get blamed or not trusted with mechanics, it was difficult or impossible to participate as a full fledged member due to Ventrilo, etc. They decided it was time to put up or shut up, and all transferred to the same server. The Guildmaster server-hopped and made multiple level 1 characters hunting down as many Deaf/HOH players as possible by advertising in trade chat. Back then, servers were close-knit and people would be like “Oh yeah, I know a deaf player…” and refer them to him. He recruited enough for a 10 man team to raid Firelands and from there it’s been growth over the past decade that we are so massively proud to be part of.
Undaunted has faced multiple major obstacles such as the guild literally dying during Warlords of Draenor and being completely disbanded due to political (US Politics) conflict in Legion. Despite any setbacks, Undaunted has always resurrected as long as we’ve had each other. We try our best to look to the past and learn from it so that we can move forward and survive.
Holgers, raider in Undaunted (EU), Team FearlessQ-4: How long have you both been with Undaunted and how long have you been Guild Masters of your respective regions?Sarialinde
: I didn’t join the guild until Legion. I knew of it during Cataclysm because several of my IRL friends played and tried to recruit me but I was a die-hard Alliance player. It took me way too long to realize that faction isn’t important — being a productive part of a community that you feel at home is what’s important! After my hiatus, I decided I was not going to put up with any more crap from hearing guilds and I rolled a toon to join Undaunted in Legion. We might be unusual in that we have a democratic system in place in our guild — a Guildmaster has been elected every expansion so far beginning in mid-Legion. So in fall 2020, we had our elections. I was nominated and voted to be the Guildmaster for Shadowlands, so it’s been about 10 months for me. My platform was to start an EU chapter with Deadjoy and here we are. Deadjoy
: I have been the EU guild master since Shadowlands was released. I first found out about Undaunted (under a different name) during MOP, but I was not interested in PVE until Legion. I have met more barriers while trying to get into Mythic raiding guilds. I would get accepted and then, when they found out that I am deaf, it was an immediate decline. I jumped over to the NA server and joined Undaunted during BFA. Raiding at 2am with others like myself was an amazing feeling. Later on, Sari told me her idea of an EU chapter and I jumped on board. We are both proud of this achievement and everyone involved.
“Undaunted has become almost like a family to me...Oftentimes, our guildies share super difficult and personal things that they’re going through and I’m always proud to see other members rally behind them for support.” —Sarialinde
Q-5: What are the things you love most about your guild? Sarialinde
: It is the largest deaf/HOH game guild *anywhere*! The access — we can log on in Zoom, in Discord or in game and jump right into conversation. It’s always so animated - there’s banter or intense discussions and nobody’s summing it up in 3 words and feeding it to you or saying “I’ll tell you later” — you get to see it all or even be able to contribute yourself.
Raid nights are always a highlight of my week — Fatescribe Roh-Kalo
is currently really tilting our Steadfast (NA) team and we argued so much the past week, more arguments than I’ve seen even at Mekkatorque
in Battle of Dazar’alor
and I just had to laugh. If I were in a hearing guild, it’d be almost impossible for me to be part of any argument! We are close enough to feel we can argue without causing a mass walk-out or cause a raid, guild disband.
Undaunted has become almost like a family to me with how well I know our guild members and their real lives. Oftentimes, our guildies share super difficult and personal things that they’re going through and I’m always proud to see other members rally behind them for support. So while we’re a really big community for the deaf/HOH, it’s also quite a small world!Deadjoy
: Because I lip read people, playing with Hearing players is very tiring and I just simply don't want to lip read anyone. It requires the same level of focus as driving in a long car journey. Therefore, it is bloody amazing to switch off lip reading and to relax on our Discord
where I can type to friends and share stuff that other deaf and HOH will understand. It gives you a real sense of belonging. Undaunted was there for me when I caught COVID-19 and was in the hospital. They sent me DMs to cheer me up. I also love learning about each and every one of our members. Each member brings their own interesting story and identity. I am honestly so proud of this community and its supportive network.
First Mythic N'zoth (Cutting Edge) - September 29, 2020
“We have many more challenges, as most of our players have many different communication needs. We have a lot of players whose English is not strong and some can't read written English. Why? Because sign language has its own grammar and it doesn't match English grammar.” —Deadjoy
Q-6: What are the moments or boss kills you’re most proud of in the recent (or previous) tiers? How have you been enjoying Sanctum of Domination so far and how is progression coming along?Sarialinde
: Killing Heroic Mekkatorque, achieving Cutting Edge N’zoth
(my first CE, ever), and I’m really enjoying Shadowlands raid bosses so far. Castle Nathria
was awesome thematically and Sanctum of Domination is showing to be pretty neat so far. For NA, we have just begun raiding Mythic and we are 2/10 bosses down into the raid. Deadjoy
: We named our raid team Fearless and we are currently 1/10M. We have many more challenges, as most of our players have many different communication needs. We have a lot of players whose English is not strong and some can't read written English. Why? Because sign language has its own grammar and it doesn't match English grammar. I have an amazing team of officers and sergeants who go out of their ways to make sure none of our members are left out. We use Zoom to sign tactics and as well as using visual WAs - shout out to our people who makes these WAs, you are lifesavers. It wasn't easy to get this to accommodate everyone however, we are constantly evolving and thriving to be better for our members. Q-7: What are some of the best parts of playing with other deaf and HOH players?Sarialinde
: This answer might seem super simple but I just really appreciate the fact that I’m “among my own people”. We all have different levels of hearing or speaking ability but that’s removed when we play together — everyone is using the same chat or the same Zoom room if we all know sign language. By now, I have known some guildies for years and, as a previous guild hopper back in Burning Crusade to Cataclysm, I always had to change guilds almost every raid tier because they’d replace me with a hearing player. This is very long for me.
I remember when I first joined I didn’t talk for like three weeks. I was so overwhelmed with all the info that was now accessible to me and with how fast the chat was going — how everyone seemed to know each other and everyone’s multiple alts. I would hide on my old characters from my original server to get some “peace and quiet”. Finally, I became comfortable joining in the banter and I eventually got to know everyone because they’re really all so friendly. I realize now that this is “culture shock” — and sure enough, I’ve seen many many new members go through this exact process! Deadjoy
: Oh for sure, our Discord server
is never quiet. Walk away for an hour and come back to 300+ messages. It makes me happy to see this interaction with each other. As Sari said, it is about being amongst your own people. I don't have to pretend to be hearing to fit in. I used to go into voice com and pretend to be shy one or pretend that there was a lot of noise in the background, so I’d ask the leader to type what was said to me. I'd get told off, but that was the price I had to pay just to be involved in any activities. Now I can be myself and don't even have to apologise for being deaf anymore. Such a great feeling. Q-8: What are some of the challenges you face by using text-based communication in raids and how do you adapt? What addons do you use to assist raid coordinations?Sarialinde
: Bossmods like BigWigs
are a must. Some of our members are talented at writing their own WeakAuras and make customized ones for our teams. A well-managed organized chat is also a must — edit any addon/WeakAura chat spam, move guild chat to the other tab, split up say/yells into another tab and focus on raid tab with any raid-related custom channels or you’re gonna be overwhelmed FAST with the chat spam if you don’t take control of your settings!
Chat goes at 100 miles per hour sometimes. We use a lot of raid warnings to grab attention when the RL is trying to talk over all the side conversations. Our custom channels for our raids also help redirect the traffic. For example, we have a healer channel and a melee DPS (with tanks) channel and it’s generally expected that they focus on that topic like coordinating CDs, interrupts/positioning/taunt swaps, etc. within those channels. If the raid leader is talking, then it’s polite to move your side conversation into /say so you don’t clutter the raid channel and so forth. During Mythic progression, we might start the night off with banter but then at the end of the night, the vibe will have changed; everyone is focused, quiet and the channels all stay on-topic. Gotta love that!
“We CAN be and SHOULD be trusted with important mechanics in any raids but most raid leaders won’t include us because they think we will miss it — we’ve got super sharp eyes.” —Sarialinde
Q-9: What are some of the challenges of playing with other (hearing) players who sometimes demand voice communications such as Discord? Is there anything that you wish they understood better about the deaf and HOH community?Sarialinde
: It’s almost impossible to negotiate with them once they’ve required voice comms. It’s very rare for a group leader to be like, “Oh you’re deaf - no problem we can do this or that” and work with you. They are frequently just unwilling to try or find out what the group can do to include you. They just kick you these days — it doesn’t matter what experience you have and to be honest. If I join a RBG (the only thing I bother pugging) and I see a voice link, I leave. I have multiple text macros and addons to keep up and I can even target-call via raid warnings but I don’t even try broaching it with the leader.
I think there has been a very large cultural shift of WoW etiquette and it’s sad to see us deaf players becoming collateral in this perspective that all players are disposable. There’s a lot of unfairness all around: raid leaders are so intolerant when a deaf person makes one mistake over 30 pulls but will tolerate a hearing person making 10x the same mistakes just because these players are in voice.
What I wish they would know, is that often we already bring solutions and ideas — it just takes a few minutes to discuss and set up. There are macros to use, etc. If you have a deaf player in your guild, empower them and bring them into your accessibility discussions. You could be surprised by what you learn from them.
And this advice is very specific to all the raid leaders out there with a deaf/HOH player on their team: We CAN be and SHOULD be trusted with important mechanics in any raids but most raid leaders won’t include us because they think we will miss it — we’ve got super sharp eyes :) Often, voice really isn’t what you need to make the group objective successful. So many deaf players are already accustomed to overcompensating, so we are awesome and skilled additions to any raid team or guild.
First Mythic Artificer Xy'mox Kill - May 26, 2021
“...There are many deaf players who get instantly kicked out of groups that require voice comms. It is very frustrating, as they weren’t even given a chance. Do try to give them a chance.” —Deadjoy
Q-10: What else would you like the hearing community to know about the deaf and HOH community?Deadjoy
: How to combat ignorance? Educate yourself - here is some more information about deafness. :)
We have briefly throughout our interview mentioned some information about deafness and some of the barriers we faced. Many of you have most likely met someone who is over 60 years old and deaf – that is because it is far more common in people over 60. To give you an idea, in the UK, there are 9 million who are deaf, 72% are over 65 and only 28% below 60. Then there are different types of deaf people as well! It is not black and white. Out of that 28%, 52% have mild deafness, 41% moderate and 7% severe – I am profoundly deaf, so is Sari – we are in the smallest bracket! There are over 400 deaf/Hoh members in Undaunted and I am sure there are more out there as well, So, we are a really small minority group. It means the deaf world is pretty small and we tend to know each other or know each other or know someone who knows someone! Lol
There are different labels, and we frown on hearing impaired or hearing loss as it is negative; as if we are broken, we definitely are not broken. The little “d” in deaf is a generalised term referring to every deafness under one umbrella. We have Hard of Hearing (HOH) which is usually for people who see themselves more with the hearing culture or mild/moderate deafness. We have capital “D” which refers to groups who are strong in the deaf culture and prefer using sign language. However, we respect each individual on how they refer to themselves as — just ask them what their preferred label is. It gets a bit more complicated because we all have different communication preferences! Not all deaf can use sign language, and not all deaf can lip read — some can speak and some cannot speak. Some can understand written English and some cannot. Sign language is not a universal language, there are different sign languages for each country, and there are also “accents” in sign language — the North of England sign differently from the South of England for example. Sign language has its own grammar and it is a rich visual language.
One of the frequent comments we get is “just read text guide lawl”. Most deaf are bilingual or multilingual and usually learn English later in life. But the majority of deaf are unable to understand written English as mentioned earlier, and this is where our guild is able to work tirelessly and together to create sign language videos in many different languages — we have German players who only understand German sign language. They do not understand American sign language or international sign language. We host Zoom during raids so we can sign to each other and teach each other signs so we can understand each other. Each deaf person has a different range of abilities and preferences — there is no one size fits all.
I asked the guild what facts they would like you all to know. They mentioned how there are many deaf players who get instantly kicked out of groups that require voice comms. It is very frustrating, as they weren’t even given a chance. Do try to give them a chance.
Freddo, Media Officer of Undaunted (EU) Q-11: What or who are your inspirations in life and in-game? What goals have you set for yourself as players for this expansion and beyond?Sarialinde
: Not to be morbid, but I am super concerned with the direction Activision Blizzard is taking the game. As a Guildmaster, my thought is longevity — I want our guild to survive and I want our players to always have a home to come to after a long day of dealing with whatever IRL throws at us, However, with the latest drama, lawsuits, and the decline in customer service, it’s getting difficult. Many of our players have quit the game because they no longer enjoy any aspect of it or they have quit in support of the victims of the current lawsuit. So I would say my long-term goal is to figure out how to flex with these challenges (because they will come) and to maintain ourselves as a brand of being “that deaf/HOH community”.
She’ll hate me for this but: My inspirational figure would have to be Deadjoy
— she is STAUNCH and I couldn’t have picked a better partner to entrust the EU Chapter with. She is so level-headed and has rolled with so many challenges in her guild’s short life. As a brand new guild, they have dealt with a ton of upheaval, growing pains, and power struggles that I imagine most guilds face when they start up and the challenges I’ve witnessed her face would have (and did) crumbled other leaders. She’s not shy about holding folks accountable when they need it and she knows when to give support to uplift others. She is an awesome leader and we’ve become really good friends (outside of the game) throughout this. Deadjoy
: Thank you for your touching words, Sarialinde
. I wouldn't have achieved this without the support and guidance from yourself. The deaf world is so small; we rarely get inspiration or role models. But I knew Sari before she was guild master and she always put this guild first. She is amazing at being fair and unbiased when dealing with any issues (deaf folks do like their drama lol). She is definitely someone most of us look up to. Also I must mention Stuka
, the previous guild master of Undaunted, for giving us this quote: “This too shall pass.”
Undaunted NA, 10 Year Anniversary Group PhotoQ-12: What are you most looking forward to for the next tier? Sarialinde
: I’m super curious about all that speculations regarding Legion M+! It was an amazing time and I really wonder what they’re going to do. I hope it’s fun because I have so many memories running M+ with friends and guildies in Legion with all these crazy dungeons.Deadjoy
: Oh my god, No more doing the bloody maw entry quest with an alt. Lol also looking forward to being able to swap covenants, without the tedious grind.
We as a guild, both NA and EU are always looking forward to new raids and with it new challenges for us to overcome as a team.
Amis, Raid Leader of Undaunted (NA), Team SteadfastQ-13: Do you have any advice for aspiring raiders you’d like to share? Do you have any tips or words of wisdom to share with other deaf or HOH players who are looking to get more competitive in WoW?Sarialinde
: Gotta recruit 24/7, right? Join Undaunted
No really, for any aspiring deaf/HOH raiders we would say: If you ever feel dissatisfied with your guild, please know that you can find a better one. There are many other guilds out there besides Undaunted that do care about their members with leaders that do actually strive to do better with their accessibility and inclusion. Too many of us “take what we can” just for the sake of experiencing the content we want (eg cutting edge raiding).
extension works excellent with Discord voice, as long as you open up Discord in the browser - it works a treat when you jump in a pug raid or RBG and the leader wants everyone in Discord. The caveat is that you’ll have to make up a reason why your mic doesn’t work (but apparently hearing players lie about this all the time too!).
There are many WeakAuras that help prompt (with text) what to do when you raid or keep tabs on what’s going on in arena/RBGs - This is an incredible addon and there are amazing WA writers out there that coincidentally make very very deaf friendly WeakAuras. Deadjoy
: But seriously, come join Undaunted! Haha I would offer cookies, but I am a rubbish cook.
“Big thanks to the people who add subtitles to their media or Twitch. It is so nice to feel included.” —Deadjoy
Q-14: Is there anyone you would like to shout out for being a great friend or an ally?Sarialinde
: We have so many allies out there that this would be too long if we thanked all of them but we treasure them and their presence in our Discord even as Socials.
I definitely want to give a shout out to Essk
— he is an all around great dude. He’s visited our Discord and asked our folks for tips to make his website more Deaf-friendly and, as a result, his site is always our go-to. It’s got amazing visual examples that are to the point and clear, which is great since so many of our members only know English as a second (or third, or fourth!) language.
Other mentions would be Crzypck
— he is very supportive and always open to feedback. They write solid and clear guides! For example the recent guides have “Changes in Mythic” that are super helpful. We are definitely grateful to them for being so open and accessible to regular ol’ guilds like us.
We also have way too many WeakAura authors to thank, but Causese
makes awesome packs that we have used every single raid tier since BFA. Deadjoy
: She is right, the list is massive. Shoutout to people creating awareness about the deaf and HOH. Also to all our members and sergeants and officers who make this community wonderful.
Big thanks to the people who add subtitles to their media or Twitch. It is so nice to feel included. :) If you want to know how to add subtitles or anything like this, feel free to contact one of us and we will happily assist. Or hop in our Discord
to learn more.Q-15: Are there any final thoughts you’d like to share? Deadjoy
: Here’s a fun question that’s been flying around in Undaunted: pineapple on pizza, yes or no? Haha, I am #teamNO.
Lastly, check out our infamous Undaunted gif collection
. We are VERY expressive.
Undaunted Meetup: Sarialinde, Snake, Amisorcery, Kungfuden, Eagleusa, Pryo, Caedo, Daedhrognir, Azhar, Wesdiaz, Elemdiaz, Icyreaper, and Proeliator
About the Author
(VP) is the Lead Editor & Assistant Producer of Raider.IO, and is pursuing a Masters of Business Administration. Although VP is currently focused on IRL, she specializes in tanking classes and loves competitive Mythic+. She is a Discord Partner and partnered Twitch streamer
, but mostly you can find her editing, doing homework, cooking, playing with her dogs, and catching Pokémon.