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When Accessibility Becomes Performance: Sign Language Interpreting in Music and Live Concerts as Performative Rewriting

Project description

Sign language interpretation for musical events

The deaf (sign language users) and those who are hard of hearing with English as their first language and may lipread and/or use hearing aids represent an underserved minority within our societies. Sign language translation is a specific practice that contributes to social integration. The EU-funded WABP project will focus on sign language interpretation in music to allow the deaf and hard-of-hearing to participate in musical performance events. Specifically, it will study the work of sign language interpreters-performers who transpose songs and live concerts into sign language. The project will identify how interpreters-performers incorporate nonverbal elements of a text like a rhythm or a timbre. WABP will also benefit sign language interpreters.


The aim of the WABP project is to analyse the work of sign language interpreters-performers who translate a hearing-centric music world into a visual one by transposing songs and live concerts into sign language. WABP seeks to identify ways in which interpreters-performers embody nonverbal elements of a text (rhythm, timbre, etc.), which I call “patterns of performativity”. The findings of the project will inform the training of future sign language interpreters who wish to specialise in this specific translation practice, thus contributing to an increased participation of the D/deaf and hard-of-hearing, one of the most under-served minorities, in the arts. While in audio-visual translation Accessibility is a prolific area of research, no Translation Studies scholar has yet analysed sign language interpreting in music, both as an actual performance and as a translation practice, to allow D/deaf and hard-of-hearing to experience the multiplicity of the semiotic signs in songs and music performance events. WABP addresses this gap in the scholarship, and will thus contribute to the advancement of Translation Studies. Working across disciplines, I will identify patterns of performativity which enable interpreters-performers to translate music into an entirely visual art form fully accessible to the D/deaf and hard-of-hearing people, in the awareness that it takes a hearing Theatre Translation scholar to identify patterns of performativity, but only the D/deaf community can decide if those patterns meet their needs in relation to entertainment activities such as music and concert attendance. WABP will be therefore carried out in collaboration with the local D/deaf community to ensure that the project findings will increase Translation Studies scholars' understanding of what constitutes equal access to and full enjoyment of music and music performance events for the D/deaf and hard-of-hearing people.


Net EU contribution
€ 224 933,76
CF24 0DE Cardiff
United Kingdom

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Wales East Wales Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 224 933,76