theodp writes: After almost a decade of sending monitors to classrooms across the state to check on teachers' articulation, the NY Times' Marc Lacey reports that a federal investigation of possible civil rights violations has prompted Arizona to call off its accent police. The teachers who were found to have strong accents were not fired, but their school districts were required to work with them to improve their speech. Interestingly, one person's civil rights violation is another's 'wonderful little phenomenon', which is how PBS described the accent neutralization classes attended by Bangalore call center workers who toiled for the likes of IBM and Microsoft. A 2004 NY Times Op Ed also celebrated the practice. And on its website, IBM Daksh notes that 'To make sure that customers all over the world can understand the way our people speak, every new hire is trained in what we call voice and accent neutralization.'. So, is accent monitoring and neutralization a civil right violation, as the U.S. Depts. of Justice and Education suggest, or is it an 'innovation', as IBM argues?
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