If you participate in any form of social media, you have undoubtedly seen the many pop culture songs which have been translated into sign language, most commonly ASL. One of the most recent videos featured the popular Frozen song, “Let It Go”. The video, published by D-PAN (Deaf Professional Arts Network), features Jason Listman and Amber Zion, two professional Deaf performers. This is just one example of the many videos D-PAN produces which serves “to promote opportunities for Deaf and hard of hearing professionals, as well as make popular music and the surrounding mainstream music culture more accessible to the Deaf and hard of hearing communities.”
One of D-PAN’s most influential videos featured Deaf and hard of hearing performers from throughout the United States signing an ASL interpretation of John Mayer’s “Waiting on the World to Change”. This song resonated with many Deaf and hard of hearing individuals, who have long been discriminated against and oppressed by the mainstream hearing culture. It was through this video that D-PAN realized the potential their unique mission had for making a cultural impact.
D-PAN was founded by Sean Forbes, Joel Martin, Scott Guy, and Ronald Dans. These men, both Deaf and hearing, believe that music should not only be enjoyed by all, but can also be used as a tool to promote cultural reconciliation, acceptance, and equal opportunity in the industry. “’In the future we could get into so many different things,” Sean confirms. “My goal is to create opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing performers, directors, cinematographers, graphic design artists…. I see it developing relationships with hearing people, which doesn’t happen that much. Just like me working with Joel and Scott; I would love to have those opportunities for other deaf people.’”
Thanks to organizations like D-PAN and individuals like Sean Forbes, beautiful ASL music videos unite hearing and Deaf cultures.