This Is Why Every Concert Stage Needs A Sign Language Interpreter18 Aug 2015, by Articles in
This article was originally published by Adam Fleischer on MTV News.
“[Artists] have to care about their deaf community, too,” explained Amber Galloway Gallego, who interpreted for everyone from The Weeknd to Charli XCX to Tove Lo to Metallica when I sat down with her at this year’s Lollapalooza. “Because those are also ticket-buyers; they are also fans. The deaf concertgoers, they want to also have access. And so much of their life is not accessible. They’re fighting everyday for access.”
“I was bored out of my mind,” she told MTV News on Saturday (August 1). “They weren’t showing what music looks like. I was watching the deaf community, and I realized that they were not involved either. They were talking to each other.”
Disappointed with the experience and the interpreters that she saw, Amber took it upon herself to up the ante, and has since created a unique style that incorporates non-manual markers — like facial expressions and body movements — with a deeply studied understanding of songs to convey the music and messages to onlookers.
Now with 10 years of festival experience on her resume in addition to her own agency, Amber G Productions, plus frequent workshops, gigs on cruises and speaking engagements at colleges, Amber is a seasoned vet. But it still takes tedious prep work of up to three months spent studying past set lists, digesting lyrics, creating storyboards and diving into artists’ histories in order to be ready for concert day.
“If a deaf person was to win a ticket for [a concert] that weekend coming up, most likely, they’re probably not going to get interpreters. And they’re going to go to a concert that they can’t hear. Because facilities don’t want to pay for interpreters. Facilities don’t want to provide.”
It’s a problem, yes — but not one without a solution, she says.
“If the artists actually looked at that and said, ’Hey, let’s make a budget line for interpreters, and make sure that there’s access for the deaf community,’ it’s a done deal. But a lot of times they don’t. So deaf people don’t have equality. It’s not equal access at all.
“I try to tell facilities, ‘If you were to provide all the time, deaf people would have 100% access. They wouldn’t have to fight for an entire month. If you just made it on the budget line, and made sure there were interpreters.’ Most of the time, hearing people are enjoying it, too. It also piques their interest into learning sign language. So the more people that learn sign language, based on whatever video that goes viral, that’s more access to the deaf community, and that’s more of us coming together as one human race.”