Cue the signing!
In light of Conchita Wurst’s barrier-breaking win last year, the Eurovision Song Contest has decided to include sign language interpreters during broadcasts of the massive competition. A team of six interpreters will help translate the songs into International Sign, a broad-ranging version of non-spoken language that can reach a majority of deaf viewers.
The annual competition, now in its 60th year, attracts around 180 million viewers worldwide. An estimated 750,000 deaf or partially deaf people live in the European Union, according to the European Center for Modern Languages.
“We always say that music is a language which is understood by everyone,” a spokesperson for ORF TV, the Austrian network broadcasting the contest, said. “We felt that we should make this [a] reality, and to offer music to everyone, including deaf people.”
A preview video of the contest’s signers already looks pretty epic.
Earlier this year, a video of interpreter Tommy Krångh performing a song during a Swedish singing competition went viral, thanks to his gusto and spot-on signing.
Despite that signer’s enthusiasm, Kathrin Zechner, managing director ORF TV, said the Eurovision interpreters were there to supplement the contest, not steal the spotlight, the BBC reported.
“They are supporting and interpreting for the artist and the viewers,” she said. “They are stars but they are not ego-centric; they’re spreading the emotion.”
The finals of the Eurovision Song Contest will be broadcast on May 23. Nine countries — Austria, Denmark, Germany, Finland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Slovenia — will broadcast the sign language translations, which will also be viewable online.
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