Austinites are accustomed to seeing live music on nearly every corner of the city. We have the biggest festivals such as SXSW and ACL, but we also have a large deaf community that sometimes doesn’t always get the same access to shows.
That’s something one group, LotuSIGN, is working to change.
The group is comprised of ASL interpreters, but what they do is far beyond your typical translating.
"To follow the music and the rhythm and the feel of the music,” explained founder Barbie Greenwater .
She was introduced to signing 25 years ago. Since then, she has built an organization dedicated to bringing the vibrancy of the music world to the Austin deaf community, including everything from country to rock.
"Songwriters are intentionally vague, they don't clearly state exactly what they mean,” she said.
It’s her team's job to find the intent of the artist without applying too much of their own meaning, while also being the vessel that carries the spirit of the song to avoid a static approach.
"Unless you're just standing there signing, you're not conveying that feeling that all the hearing people are hearing,” Greenwater said.
She feels It's not about being as good as the performer, instead the spotlight should be on giving justice to the artist's work and the connection they want.
"For their audience and what it means for them,” Greenwater said.
And with the live music capitol constantly growing, the LotuSIGN founder believes more deaf interpreters are needed.
"Austin is such a strong music community, I would like everyday events to have interpreters without people having to request the service,” Greenwater said.
She feels both hearing and deaf audiences deserve the best experience possible.