‘If they can hear it, why can’t we see it?’: The Superbowl from a Deaf perspective

Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 12:06 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 3, 2023 at 6:09 PM CST
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Many will be watching the Superbowl next weekend, including Deaf individuals.

“Deaf people enjoy the same things that hearing people do, we are just like everyone else, the only thing we can’t do is hear,” said Sarah Martindale, Deaf community member and American Sign Language teacher at Canyon High School.

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) says this year’s Superbowl in Arizona will feature three well-known Deaf performers, Troy Kotsur, Colin Denny and Justina Miles.

NAD says for the first time, there will be an ASL rendition of Lift Every Voice and Sing at the Super Bowl, done by Miles.

The performers will also be signing the music of Rihanna during the Apple Music Super Bowl Halftime Show, however, Deaf community members in the Panhandle say in the past, Deaf performers aren’t on the screen the entire performance.

“It’s very frustrating, you’ll watch them and be like, ‘Yeah I saw it’ and then they go away, that’s how we feel, not just me, millions of Deaf all over, they watch it and then it goes away, come on,” said Scott Tankersley, Deaf community member.

“Why can’t they be on the same stage? So it’s like the the Deaf person is gone and so if they’re together, it’s equal access for all of them,” said Traci Prather, American Sign Language teacher at Canyon High School and West Texas A&M University.

Other apps such as, D-PAN show the full show with the Deaf performers, but it’s usually the next day.

“We just want equal accessibility to be able to understand what is being said or sang at the same time as everybody else that’s all we want,” said Martindale.

“I know we’re used to it, but we kind of get irritated like it doesn’t show, in the moment we want to see the excitement of the Superbowl with the performers, if they can hear the singing and all of that why can’t we see it?” asked Tankersley.

He wants the hearing community to know Deaf people enjoy music just as much as you.

“We want to look at the person, the expressions, their faces, the intensity of the body language, when they perform it’s beautiful, if they could just put that on there we would enjoy it,” said Tankersley.

Over the years, there has been improvements with accessibility, there’s closed captioning available, they’ve added Deaf performers, but Martindale says it still isn’t 100 percent accessible.

“Sometimes it feels like a step forward, then two steps back, so improvement is still happening and we’re happy to have the exposure, but is it enough?” asked Martindale.