Sign Language Interpretation and ASL captured the conversation of America in the first quarter of 2021. It began with the inauguration of President Biden in January. For the first time in history, the Pledge of Allegiance was led out in both English and ASL simultaneously at a presidential inauguration. Behind the recitation was Capt. Andrea Hall, who is also the first Black woman to serve as fire captain in South Fulton, GA. Growing up as a coda (Child Of a Deaf Adult), she learned ASL from her father, who is Deaf. The moment was praised online by many in both the hearing and Deaf communities, including popular Deaf actress Marlee Matlin.
Not long after Capt. Hall’s recitation, Warren “WAWA” Snipes seized the attention- and the hearts- of onlookers during Superbowl LV in February. While Jazmine Sullivan and Eric Church where the vocal artists that opened the sporting event with our National Anthem and ‘America the Beautiful’- it was the third performer who gained national spotlight. Wawa Snipes is a Deaf writer, rapper, and performer who provided the ASL interpretation for both songs at the request of The National Association for the Deaf. The Gallaudet University alumnus performed with such passion that the clip became a viral sensation overnight, and returned ASL- and Deaf Interpreters- to the forefront of a hearing world’s cultural consciousness.
Though these instances are just two brief moments compared to an ever-expanding sea of hearing-centered media, the work of both Capt. Hall and Snipes to make Deaf and Hard of Hearing inclusivity the norm for our world serves as a hopeful glimpse into the future of media accessibility, and a flagship example for a standard that deserves to be maintained.