Will The Metropolitan Opera Allow the Deaf to Sing?

[UPDATE: September 12, 2023; our ASL Opera Project website is now live! Join us there for new videos, translation updates, and for consultation concerning the right interpretation of Opera in American Sign Language!]

[UPDATE: July 11, 2023.  Janna and I met with the Metropolitan Opera to discuss heightened ASL interpreting for their performances. The meeting was positive, forward-thinking, and hopeful! We will soon update with more information! Here’s the July 11 update!]

My delightful wife Janna Sweenie and I are big lovers of opera. Opera is the pinnacle of all the Performing Arts — Painting, Acting, Voice, Costumes, Lights and Sets — and when put together, in unison, in an exaggerated and elevated performance, the entire world glows and resonates! We have always been dismayed that opera is not often, if ever, interpreted in American Sign Language for the Deaf like all Broadway shows are interpreted. Janna and I are currently working on our “Opera Project” where she will present ASL renderings of famous opera arias. We will place those performances online as proof-of-concept. This is a challenging, but rewarding, and complex academic process of interpretation and adaptation, and implementation.

Here’s my Boles.tv live stream discussion of the Deaf singing at The Met:

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Left Behind by Design: A Voice Command Future Silences the Deaf and the Other Disabled

Ever since the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 became law on July 26 of that year, disabled people have been in a steady decline in services, support and protection. Oftentimes — the struggle is more rewarding than the win — and once the day is won, everyone relaxes, and forgets what the real meaning of the fight for rights was all about, and things begin to decay into apathy against an upward, failing, expectation.

Evidence of this lack of accessible ubiquity in our technological futures for the Disabled is the rise of the “Voice Only” command system, be it an Amazon Echo, the Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, Xfinity Voice Remote, Apple TV voice command, Google Docs voice dictation, or even Apple’s Siri.

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The Interpreter Impostor at the Mandela Memorial

Mandela’s memorial yesterday has ignited a firestorm today out of the Soweto rain.  No, not Obama’s failed message, or the non-Michelle approved Presidential selfie with other heads of State, but rather the fraud of an impostor posing as an interpreter for the Deaf during the ceremony.

The alleged sign language interpreter was so awful, in fact, that he had to have been in on the cruel joke that he knew nothing about even creating rudimentary signs.

Unfortunately, this sort of “faking it” is actually pretty common in the Deaf Community.  There are a lot of “professional” interpreters who are not well-trained but who are given jobs because they are cheap — even though they are incapable of proper signing.  The Deaf suffer and the incompetence gets a paycheck.

While not many working interpreters are as fraudulent on the level of what happened in Soweto — the end effect is still the same: The Deaf person has no idea what’s being said and has to guess about what’s really happening.

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A Dangerous Lack of NYPD Interpreters

When there’s no money to fuel a City or feed a State, the first things to get axed are the everyday necessities of living, as well as proper access to protection and equal communication facilitation in the system.

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The DOJ Forces ADA Web Accessibility

The Department of Justice is the governmental agency tasked with enforcing compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and strangely enough, the DOJ are now proposing “Web Standards” for ADA compatibility.

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Blind Students Sue Law Schools for Basic Rights

As the world condenses, and private purses close, and public wallets tighten — the first casualties in a rotting economy are the rights of the disabled — first ugly, then protected, the disabled are now back to being the first available for kicking to the curb teeth first.  When five Blind students have to sue four California law schools in order to achieve equal protection for application for study, we know the end of the civilized world is nigh upon us.

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As Braille Dots Fade, Blind Illiteracy Builds

We know when an economy sours, the first to suffer are the children and the disabled. As technology ascends, we also see the rapid deceleration of literacy. Instead of full words, we get text speak. Instead of logical arguments, we are flooded with irrational comments. Instead of the Blind reading books in Braille, they “learn by listening” to audio books instead — and become illiterate in the process: The Blind can hear and respond sound, but they are unable to argue against to what they hear in written form.

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