Here’s a fact that might surprise you if you don’t happen to be deaf, but deaf people can be music fans too. They can even enjoy concerts. See, just because you can’t hear live music, doesn’t mean you can’t experience it.
Just ask Amber Galloway Gallego, a professional sign language interpreter who specialises in helping deaf people understand music and who over the years has shared the stage with Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd, and more.
She’s the subject of an ABC Story Hunters segment, which you can check out via ABC iView. According to the filmmaker, he first discovered Amber when she was on stage signing for Santigold.
He also talks to Emily, a 20-year-old deaf girl who loves music and has seen Sam Smith, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, and others in concert. We even get to follow Emily as she and her friend go to see Methyl Ethel.
As Emily explains in the mini-doco, she loves concerts because “they’re visual, I can feel the music as well”, but admits that if she doesn’t know a particular track, she has to wait until they play a song that she knows.
While her friend does her best to help her out by signing for her and as one deafness expert explains, the part of the brain that handles sound adapts to feel vibrations in deaf people, Amber says more venues and artists need to hire the services of people like her.
Amber has signed at more than 400 concerts and festivals, preparing extensively for each one. She signs both the instruments and words and says what she does is more about “painting pictures” than “just following word by word”.
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As a result, she memorises the entire set list of the band or artist she’s signing for.