I grew up completely deaf with hearing aids that did not give me access to spoken language. I was impressed to see how Fox Home Entertainment developed a way of putting ASL signers on screen in Ice Age 4 as seen below. This is important because young children who can’t hear well are too young to understand subtitles like older viewers can.
Rachel Braver, Director of Public Relations for Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness (GLAD) Inc. helped to cast talent to do the ASL part. I’m also impressed with how GLAD Inc. reaches out to the Deaf Community for its involvement with the film industry, opening more eyes for producers and directors to see.
GLAD Inc.’s PR Coordinator Elizabeth Luttrell explained to the press what GLAD Inc. does for people who have hearing loss, as well as those who can hear normally. GLAD Inc. also has its own ASL interpreting agency, LifeSigns.
I think it was great seeing all the young deaf and hard of hearing children from Marlton School in Los Angeles to experience watching a popular program in their own language. The teachers and assistants loved the experience as well. Many of the children had a chance to interact with Keke Palmer, Sean Berdy, Amber Zion, and Peter de Seve–talent who all were involved with Ice Age 4.
I liked the idea of how Berdy and Zion appeared on screen showing action and tone by using ASL and facial expressions. They both used a telepromoter to understand what is being said–which is different from other talent who can hear normally. In fact, Keke Palmer, voice of Peaches, told me that it took her two years to finish the entire script. She was 16 when she started and she turned 18 when the project was completed. Ironically, it took Berdy and Zion a day to finish shooting the entire script in ASL, according to both Berdy and Zion.
Anyway, I remember growing up watching Tom and Jerry and not understanding a word. Yet, I have two cochlear implants now and can hear spoken language and the music much better on TV and film. Yet, ASL on screen will bring new experiences to many fans of ASL.
Amber Zion also commented that it is great to see deaf and hard of hearing children communicate with Signing Santa since they are sharing the same experience through ASL.
Anyway, in summary, SignWorldTV, GEMAI, and GLAD Inc. are all working on making media more accessible to deaf and hard of hearing audiences and to create more job opportunities for talent who are deaf and hard of hearing. See my next article about this issue.