Oceans Calling Music Festival Provides Access to Deaf Festival Goers by Providing Sign Language Interpreters

Oceans Calling Is providing access and we're here for it!

Saturday's line up of shows and interpreters.

The highly anticipated music festival in Ocean City, Maryland, Oceans Calling, is making huge headlines. Yes, they have top of the line talent. Yes, they have world renowned chefs. But that’s not the reason for the hype. Oceans Calling is providing equal access to deaf music lovers attending the three day concert by providing sign language interpreters for the shows!

Where Can You See an Interpreter

Looking at the schedule ahead, all three days of the concert have shows where a sign language interpreter will be positioned near or on the stage off to the side, signing the lyrics/ concepts of the songs. Day one of the concert, there will be sign language interpreters for several shows including Alanis Morisette, Jack Johnson, Third Eye Blind, and O.A.R. Day two large names like Sheryl Crow, John Mayer, and Gin Blossoms will have interpreting services. And the last day of the concert The Lumineers, Weezer, The Wallflowers, and Grace Potter will have interpreters. 

How Sign Language Interpreters Prepare for a Show

Like any other job, interpreting requires a lot of preparation. We were able to speak to some sign language interpreters and get some insight. Sarah Scarborough, an interpreter of over ten years, tells us- “I spend ALOT of time prepping for shows. I print off scripts or lyrics and then work with my team to divide everything up evenly. If it’s music related, I listen to the songs over and over until I have the lyrics and interpretation memorized.” Interpreter Sheri Levy states that she practices songs as much as possible. If no materials are provided, such as a set list, I do as much research as I can viewing material on YouTube and the internet.” Some shows that Levy and Scarborough have interpreted for are Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Panic! At the Disco, and Jeff Dunham. Both ladies have a background and interest  in performing arts, making sign language interpreting a great fit for a career. When asked about the hardest part of the job, Levy says that interpreting unfamiliar material such as sports (for her) is a challenge. Scarborough reveals that keeping your opinion to yourself is hard. Interpreters are there to help facilitate communication between the deaf and hearing world. 

Deaf Necessarily Doesn’t Mean Inability to Hear

One might ask, why would someone who is deaf go to a concert? A valid question for someone who is not educated in the deaf community. In reality, thousands of people who are deaf attend concerts around the world every year. When people hear the word “deaf,” they automatically think about the inability to hear. 

However when someone is deaf, there is a very large spectrum of hearing loss. Deaf concert goers may have mild hearing loss, wear hearing aids to amplify the music, or may have lost hearing later in life. Others may have lost their hearing at one point in life but not a love for music. Music lover, Rebecca Moir, Deaf hair stylist and owner of Glam by Becca tells us how having an interpreter changes the concert experience for her. “It makes me feel a part of everything. I’m able to see what hearing people hear.” When asked about her first experience at a concert with an interpreter, she told us, “I thought it was amazing!” Rebecca attends several concerts yearly around the Maryland area. 

Large concerts like Oceans Calling give off lots of different vibrations around the venue. While deaf patrons may not be able to hear, vibrations from the musical instruments, large screaming crowds, and gigantic speakers and amplifiers add to their experience. 

Check Out the Interpreting Schedule

Check out the schedules for Oceans Calling here and look for the little symbol (two f hand shapes connected) for all shows that will have sign language interpreters. And thanks for Oceans Calling for providing access!


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