Check out this cool sign language music video!

Listen to this post: 

I want to share my big joy and delight about an email I just got from a good friend. He attached a video playing music and showing someone sign interpreting along with his heartfelt appreciation that he’d found the video. Because this friend isn’t D/deaf, signed music videos were a little new to him. A non-deaf person watching a signed video just for fun is a sign to me that parts of society are changing tremendously in the right direction. It’s very easy to find videos online where one person signs the lyrics. Instead, I want to share with you a local and Deaf-made video! Warning: lots of flashing lights in this video. This is UVF Crew’s ASL video of the Linkin Park song “Waiting for the End.” It won first place at the Oregon ASL film festival in 2014.

Before we put our feet up, take a rest, and pat ourselves on the back for supporting Deaf art, I have something else to say to you. I do feel strongly about pointing out that media representation and presence of Deaf culture and art does not mean that Audism, discrimination, and outright violence against the D/deaf community is solved. (It’s similar to the very real argument that the presence of a Black U.S. President doesn’t indicate racism and white supremacy are solved. They aren’t.)

So with that, I want to link to some exceptionally important stories. They are recent. They are not new occurrences. They are pervasive. And they are very possibly triggering to read. Here are two news stories about Deaf people who were systematically and repeatedly denied ASL interpretation during an arrest (not that a crime had been committed, because it hadn’t), in jail, and in the hospital. The final story led to a man’s death, and he didn’t even understand his medical conditions because hospital staff refused to give him interpretation.

Diana Williams of New York City was arrested without committing a crime. 911 had been called to help sort out a difficult tenant situation, and that original 911 call included the information that Ms. Williams and her family are deaf. Yet no interpreter was ever provided. An arresting officer marked in his paperwork that she did not require an ASL interpreter even though she clearly does. The article linked above at goes into grueling details of her time locked up, having to go to the hospital due to breathing difficulties, being drugged, and repeatedly shackled. It also details Robert Rapa’s story when he was arrested during an attempt to explain that he had been mugged. In jail, he was denied his Parkinson’s medication as well as an interpreter and was also taken to the hospital and then back to jail.

Andre Berry was never given sign language interpretation at many hospital visits for several very serious medical conditions. At one point, his sister called the hospital to say that a deaf man was coming in having a medical emergency, but no interpreter was called in. Medical chart notes state things about him having poor insight into his conditions (no one would explain them in ASL, the language he communicates in), and that communication was difficult (that’s an understatement). He did not survive long after that medical emergency.

Whether you have D/deaf people in your family or community doesn’t matter. You can still enjoy watching D/deaf people and ASL interpreters interpreting song lyrics as evidenced by this fun interpreter ASL rap battle on Jimmy Kimmel Live:

Have fun with it. Enjoy it. Share it. And please also share the continued reality that whether any given D/deaf person considers themselves to have a disability, they are legally protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act in encounters with law enforcement, in healthcare institutions, at the post office, and in education, just to name a few important situations where we all want to be able to communicate effectively. Don’t forget to share that part too. Please.