Tonight CHS is hosting a special fundraiser and awareness event at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. We’re thrilled that we have the chance to profile some of our services and programs in a new venue and introduce ourselves as an organization to many people who don’t already know us.
What makes this event really unique is something that many people will be seeing for the first time. Sure, the TCA has been dark to large-scale musical productions since the days of Garth Dabrinsky and Livent and the current main-stage feature is a critically acclaimed production of “My Fair Lady.” But what really sets the whole evening apart is that the performance is accessible to people who are deaf, deafened and hard of hearing.
Someone who is profoundly deaf usually indentifies with one of two groups: oral deaf or culturally Deaf. Some people who are oral deaf use sign language such as American Sign Language (ASL) or la langue des signes québécoise (LSQ) to communicate. Others use speech to communicate, using their residual hearing in combination with hearing aids, communication devices or cochlear implants, and lipreading or speechreading.
The term culturally Deaf refers to individuals who identify with and participate in the language, culture, and community of Deaf people, based on sign language. Deaf culture, indicated by a capital “D,” does not perceive hearing loss and deafness as a disability, but as the basis of a distinct cultural group. Culturally Deaf people can sometimes also use speechreading, gesturing, spoken language, and written English to communicate with people who do not sign.
As for someone who identifies as hard of hearing, they tend to wear hearing aids and effectively communicate using residual hearing, speechreading, and other strategies.
I think the next question for most would be what makes a performance accessible? In the case of My Fair Lady, there will be ASL interpretation as well as FM systems which are devices that amplify sound.
Sheila Johnston will be interpreting the performance along with Kathy Boyce-Munroe. Sheila is the Manager of the CHS Ontario Interpreting Services (OIS) Internship Program, which trains highly qualified interpreters to work in the community. Sheila’s amazing – she’s interpreted some large scale productions including the Lion King and Aida. I can’t even fathom what it takes to interpret such a thing as a musical stage production! Did you know, in the case of My Fair Lady, two interpreters take on the roles of over 35 characters?
Aside from some acting talent and a ridiculously accurate memory, I have to wonder what makes a good ASL interpretation and what makes a great one. After tonight’s performance, I’ll ask my Deaf colleagues and let you know what I find out.
I’m excited about tonight. I’m excited to see our consumers there. I’m excited to meet potential new donors, members, and volunteers because I believe that when people get to know what we do at CHS they won’t be able to resist us. And, most importantly, I’m excited to see the commitment and dedication behind our Vision and Mission in action once again.