More than words: Interpreters provide deaf, hard of hearing music lovers avenue to enjoy Hangout Music Festival

BY JEFF CLARK
Special to Gulf Coast Media
Posted 5/23/22

Hangout Music Festival featured a diverse musical lineup that included artists from the genres of hip hop, rock, country, EMD and pop.Food vendors both local and from around the country sold various …

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More than words: Interpreters provide deaf, hard of hearing music lovers avenue to enjoy Hangout Music Festival

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Hangout Music Festival featured a diverse musical lineup that included artists from the genres of hip hop, rock, country, EMD and pop.

Food vendors both local and from around the country sold various products, including burgers, tacos and vegan and vegetarian options.

The three-day festival has built a reputation for diversity and inclusion with attendees of all ages, genders, ethnic backgrounds and races filling the sand in front of stages. Thanks to Amber G. Productions, that also includes includes those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The Austin-based company owned by Amber Galloway provides interpreters for music events, giving the deaf and hard of hearing an enhanced experience at Hangout. The musical interpreters use sign language to offer visual lyrics to those who need it. The interpreters are usually found at the front of the stage, signing the song's lyrics as the artist performs in real-time.

"For deaf consumers, we always want to have interpreters — we don't just focus on deafness, as sometimes people think that deafness means you can't enjoy music," interpreter Martise Colston said with Kelly Kurdi interpreting into spoken word. "But being deaf is on a spectrum. Some people are hard of hearing and love it, and some people are profoundly deaf and love it. We come here as staff interpreters to provide access for our deaf community — deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind. What got us inspired was accessibility."

Amber G. Productions, which has an online request form, sends a team to festivals and concerts wherever they are asked.

"We definitely enjoy what we do," interpreter Shawn Self said through Kurdi. "It's really a dream of mine to interpret for many artists. I truly enjoy learning the lyrics and working with my team, participating in teamwork and collaboration and coming to festivals and enjoying festivals. We want to see more deaf people coming to festivals, enjoying festivals and getting the benefit of interpreters."

The interpretive team at Hangout provided signing for many of the lineup's biggest performers, including Maren Morris, Leon Bridges and Post Malone. The signing service provided additional lagniappe to ensure everyone could enjoy the festival. An ADA section was offered at the main Hangout Stage for people to sit and watch the show and the interpreter's broadcast.

And Colston said the love for music was mutual between the interpretation team and festival attendees.

"If we didn't enjoy music personally, then we wouldn't be here," he said.

For more information on Amber G. Productions, go to ambergprductiions.com or find them on Facebook.

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