During the singing of the National Anthem by Tony award-winning actress and singer Idina Menzel at the Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday, you may have noticed the National Anthem was also signed, by Deaf actress Treshelle Edmond. Edmond has been a guest star in television shows House, M.D. and Glee, as well as playing a prominent acting role in Deaf West Theater’s “Spring Awakening.”

This performance of the National Anthem in two languages during the biggest football game of the year is due to the partnership between PepsiCo and the National Association of the Deaf. Their partnership began in 2008 with “Bob’s House,” an ASL ad run during the Super Bowl pre-game show, and has continued with the annual sponsorship of a Deaf performer signing the National Anthem on the field. This humorous silent commercial featured a popular Deaf culture joke, created and performed by Deaf individuals from the Pepsico workforce, EnAble. If you haven’t already seen it (or if you have!), watch it below:

In 2011, the NAD teamed up with the NFL and Fox Broadcasting Company, the network airing Super Bowl XLV, for a historic achievement – the first Super Bowl to be fully captioned, including all national commercials and promotions. While the Super Bowl game had been captioned for years, not all commercials had accompanying captions, excluding the Deaf and hard of hearing community from the newest creative ads that keep Americans talking for days.

In subsequent years, PepsiCo and NAD have continued to unite the hearing and Deaf worlds by bringing various Deaf actors and performers onto the field to perform the National Anthem in ASL alongside the sung performance. In 2013, John Maucere took to the football field to sign the National Anthem alongside singer Alicia Keys, and in 2014, Amber Zion signed alongside singer Renée Fleming.

For the Super Bowl 2015 National Anthem, Treshelle Edmond took to the field and NBC gave her continual coverage, showing Edmond and Menzel’s performances side-by-side. Props to NBC!

We love PepsiCo’s dedication to featuring the artistry and linguistic importance of American Sign Language on a national level, and hope to see ASL in the spotlight even more in future years!

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About Joy Miladin