Anybody watch the Superbowl on Sunday night? If so, you were one of many to witness a game that was broadcast in more than 180 countries, in more than 30 different languages!
As if the excitement at this long awaited return of either the 49ers or the Ravens to the Superbowl was not enough, Beyoncé’s performance wowed audiences worldwide and then a power cut in the Superdrome for 34 minutes at the start of the third quarter had to make this one of the most eventful games in history! What is more, people were provided with some extra, unplanned, entertainment by John Maucere, the Sign Language Interpreter present to interpret the events.
Looking extremely tanned and sporting a beautiful white grin, Maucere made a real effort in his interpretation of the National Anthem; throwing his whole body into the signs and using his face to express every feeling clearly. He made football fans around the world grin and laugh with his winning smile and forceful expressions.
Maucere was honored by the City of Los Angeles for exemplary service to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community in 2008 and on Sunday night his passion for his work was evident. While Maucere was there for the benefit of those who can’t hear, he was also a highly enjoyable addition to the sport’s biggest night. Not the first Sign Language Interpreter to cause a stir in the media, Maucere has been mentioned in relation to Lydia Callis, another interpreter who had all eyes on her when relaying Mayor Bloomberg’s message to the country whilst the horrific Hurricane Sandy was sweeping along the coast. Many tweeted that Lydia provided a rare moment of joy during the events that were unfolding. Her enthusiastic and larger-than-life expressions have gained her much, unwanted, media attention and praise. In response to comments, Callis merely said “American Sign Language is a very visual language, so sometimes you have to use pictures to describe what people are saying in English.”
Despite the amount of praise for the ‘entertainment’ that these two Sign Language Interpreters have provided, it is also obvious that the service they are providing for the Deaf community is being pushed to the forefront of people’s minds. Ensuring that events like the Super Bowl are made accessible to groups of people who otherwise may feel left out is vital in promotion of equality and inclusion. Whether or not the expressions and gestures are amusing is neither here nor there, the important point is that people can see the service in action and be aware that it is not difficult to include everyone!
American Sign Language (ASL) developed as a language in the American School for the Deaf (ASD), founded in 1817 and was heavily influenced by French Sign Language (FSL) and other forms of sign language from villages and systems used by people in their own homes. There are no accurate statistics for the numbers of ASL users, however estimates range between 250,000 and 500,000 persons. Signing in order to communicate is nothing new and is something that can be seen in many cultures around the world throughout history and in modern times but each signing system has its own individual characteristics and these should be respected – for example it is a common mistake to think that all Deaf Sign Languages are the same, when in fact there are great differences between them. British Sign Language (BSL) and ASL are often lumped together as one system but they actually vary hugely, even down to grammatical differences between the two.
The key then is to understand that each Sign Language system, as any language, has its own personality and history and in order to understand it fully you must first see these differences. What are your experiences of Sign Language, in any country or culture? Let us know!
For more information on our BSL Interpreting and other interpreting services we offer, please visit our website
If you are looking for an expert in Sign Language then do let us know and get in touch. We work with numerous sign language experts across the globe so we can help you – all you need to do is to contact us.