Not your mother's MTV: American Sign Language meets music videos
The music video starts like any other.
A lone figure appears silhouetted in the rain, and then the scene is quickly cut to a view of a couple locked in a loving embrace. Next the light changes and the singer is isolated, looking straight at the camera and the first verse slowly begins. Only this time the artist is doing more than mouthing the words. He’s using sign language too. And that is when you realize this is no ordinary music video.
What you’ve been watching is one of a growing number of American Sign Language-friendly music videos. These videos, which have quickly been gaining a foothold on the Internet for the past several years, are not only for deaf citizens but also are usually produced by and star those with the disability.
For example, the ASL-version of The White Stripes’ “We’re Going To Be Friends,” which was promoted by CBS News in November, actually was produced by an organization called the Deaf Professional Arts Network. Additionally, deaf actor Sean Berdy, who has starred on the television show “Switched At Birth,” has appeared in his own ASL-music video for the Enrique Iglesias’ song “Hero.”
Watch deaf actor Sean Berdy perform an ASL version of the song “Hero” by Enrique Iglesias here:
While popularly known for producing the White Stripes’ video, which stars a group of deaf youngsters acting out the aforementioned song in and around a schoolyard, D-PAN also creates documentaries and provides other video-based services that are the product of their unique team of artists, 80 percent of which are deaf or hard of hearing. Though music videos are what have gotten them in the news, D-PAN’s real goals are promoting scholarships for those with hearing disabilities and reaching out to deaf youth through a D-PAN initiative that encourages the pursuit of a variety of career goals.
Still, in the end the message remains the same. Everyone should have the right to enjoy music, and whether one can hear or not makes no difference. Plus, with the popularity of video-sharing sites like YouTube the process has never been easier for organizations like D-PAN to promote the feeling that deaf people the world over are not alone. Heck, it even turns out that most of them like to sing. And with ASL-friendly music videos, everyone can see them shine.
For more information on other ASL music videos and to learn more about their creation and more please visit the website for the Deaf Professional Arts Network here: www.d-pan.org.
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