(Facebook video below – see https://www.facebook.com/Vox/videos/670264856494453/)
Wonderful stuff to innovate. Scary and sad (imo) that it took so long for something like this to happen.
Because, seriously. Let’s say that disability accessibility started to be on the public radar around 1990, when the Americans with Disabilities Act passed. That means there’s been over two decades of ASL interpreters who weren’t deaf or hard of hearing that have been doing shitty and inadequate ASL interpretations of music and musical performances.
That’s not all, or even mostly, on the ASL interpreters. I would imagine that they’ve been in a precarious negotiating position to ask for much of anything from their often-begrudging employers. Developing and introducing a new, uncertified style of sign language that their deaf/HoH audience would have to learn would have been nothing short of a miracle.
(If I’m going to put most of the responsibility for this not happening sooner on any one group, it would be the institutions for advocacy on behalf of deaf/HoH people that without doubt are nearly as infested with Good Parents Doing The Best For Their Children as Autism $peaks. Anyway.)
My point is this – when I watch this video, and the presenter talks about signing ‘brave’ for Whitney Houston’s legendarily expressive national anthem performance, I can just see an ASL interpreter signing ‘brave’ for less than a second and then standing around awkward or bored, and their deaf/HoH audience knowing that something incredible and profound is still happening, and that they’re being told they’re not worthy of being made a part of the experience. And I die a little inside.
Disability accessibility does not mean just ‘making accommodations’ – it means making *empathetic* accommodations, that create a genuinely equatable experience, in a way that is actually worth a damn.