ASL: Game-changer

Can you imagine going to a music festival or catching a live gig with friends, but not actually being able to hear the lyrics or much of the music? Well now thanks to American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters, the deaf and hard of hearing community now have access to the full musical experience.

In recent years, interpreters have been joining artists on stage at concerts and festivals to interpret hearing-centric performances into a form of visual communication that captures the energy of the acts themselves. Notable ASL interpreters like Amber Galloway Gallego and Sara Graves have made a name for themselves by using this niche to tackle the challenge of translating complex sounds and intelligent lyrics. The dynamic sign language they use results in an emotive display, capturing not only the lyrics, but the significance of the words themselves. The level of detail ultimately means members of the deaf community are able to enjoy the meaning of an artist’s music to pretty much almost the same extent as those who are hearing it.

Organizations such as LotuSIGN and Accessible Festivals are pioneering the movement to make signers commonplace at festivals. Popular amongst hip-hop artists, where the lyricism is predominantly what makes the experience, these groups strive to deliver the full-festival experience to those who don’t enjoy the same hearing capabilities as the majority of people. Chance the Rapper has just announced that he will has ASL interpreters on his entire summer tour (including festival stops like Lollapalooza).

So next time you’re at a festival, look out for these lively interpreters doing their thing on stage, it might just heighten your festival experience too!


Written by Nicolas Gordon