To the delight of the deaf and hearing-impaired in the area, the Freeman Stage will provide an interpreter at the upcoming Bruce in the USA concert on Friday, Sept. 6.
“We’re really excited about it,” said Barbara White, who is hard of hearing. Her husband, Ocean View Town Councilman Bruce White, is too, and started the practice of having an interpreter at town council meetings.
“It will be wonderful to see a high-quality concert. I could hear the music if I wore my hearing aids. Without hearing aids, I can’t hear anything. I would be able to hear the rhythm, but I wouldn’t understand the words. Sign language is a visual language, and it gives people the words and expressions and emotions. It’s a unique skill to know,” Barbara White told the Coastal Point.
Ocean View’s deaf community is growing, she said, adding that about 10 hearing-impaired fans will be at the 7 p.m. show, “A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen.”
White said she’s grateful to Patti Grimes, executive director of the Freeman Stage, for arranging for the interpreter.
“They have a policy that if you call the office and give a few weeks’ notice, they will automatically provide interpreters. We’re working with them for other events, too,” White said.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, companies are not permitted to increase the ticket price if special accommodations are made.
Grimes said that when a request is made, “We do some research and see if we can accommodate it.”
“We get many requests throughout the year, like a group of 20 coming for somebody’s birthday or Mrs. White asking for an interpreter. Regardless of what the request is, we see what we can do, and this gave us the opportunity to get an interpreter. We have to be advised in advance and have three weeks’ notice,” she said.
Guests will know if a show has an interpreter by looking for the American Sign Language symbol on the Freeman Stage website. The symbol looks like a silhouette of two hands with the thumb and forefinger of each touching, and other fingers extended.
Grimes declined to give the interpreter’s name, saying she didn’t have permission.
“We’re pleased we are an inclusive venue, where we welcome everyone, and we are thrilled to be able to partner with the deaf and hearing-impaired community — especially at the end of our season, to have them join us in a way that they can celebrate the arts,” Grimes said.
Barbara White, who was born with normal hearing, had both measles and chicken pox within a short time when she was a child, both with high fevers, causing damage to her hearing.
“I had some hearing; then over the years it gradually became less. Also, I had a test and found some genetic connection for the deafness gene,” she said.
She studied at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., a federally-chartered private university to educate the deaf and hard of hearing. She also taught there and met her husband at Gallaudet.
Bruce in the USA features Matt Ryan, who began playing Springsteen in 2000 in the Legends in Concert Las Vegas show. He now performs worldwide, presenting what is described on the Freeman Stage website as a “high-end, powerhouse band.”
For more information, visit https://freemanstage.org/.
By Susan Canfora