Seeing Music – Making Events More Accessible

In recent years, many musicians have made headlines commending their effort to make concerts more accessible to the Deaf and hard of hearing community. While most of these concerts were held at places like Lollapaloza, Firefly Festival, and the NFL Halftime Show, the importance of accessible events is also apparent at a more local, community level.

ASL interpreters don’t often just walk up on stage and begin to interpret the music. Many spend days or weeks researching artists, set lists, emotions and backstories for each song. Interpreters don’t simply just sign the words coming out of a musician’s mouth; they also communicate instruments, pitches, and noises.

The preparation and practice that goes into interpretation for concerts is extensive, and makes it much harder for ASL interpreters to be present at smaller, community based concerts. However; it is not impossible, and is an important part of inclusion for the Deaf and hard of hearing community. Smaller venues, events, and bands can also use community ASL interpreters to make concerts more accessible.  

More and more events, specifically concerts, in a more intimate environments are using ASL interpreters. Recently, a taco festival in Richmond, Virginia used a team of several interpreters to interpret for three bands playing during the festivities. ASL interpreters worked together and took turns referencing the lyrics and set lists, listening to the music, and interpreting to the crowd. 

Community ASL interpreters aren’t only used for concerts and entertainment. They also play in important role in making meetings, forums, conferences, and more accessible for anyone needing interpretation. Community interpreters are trained professionals and must have knowledge of the languages they work with. They have a deep understanding of culture and tradition, and use that understanding while interpreting. CETRA works with interpreters to provide interpretation for Deaf and hard of hearing community members, as well as many non-English speaking communities in order to help make events more accessible to everyone.

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