In a hearing like me blog, Ellie Parfitt writes about Good Vibrations, the first deaf accessible music festival. “Being profoundly deaf myself,” she writes, “for the first time in my life I finally felt included at a music event.”
What set Good Vibrations apart? It wasn’t just the ASL interpreters stationed throughout the grounds, or the live captions on the big screens, but the vibrating backpacks. These backpacks – provided by Subpac – allowed hard of hearing wearers to feel the music’s pulse and bass. “It was truly the best day of my life…,” Parfitt continues. “Let’s hope this will be the start of many more to come.”
New technology and new, inclusive focus have allowed event organizes from around the world to cater and market to the deaf community. Two film festivals – one in Seattle and one in New Zealand – advertise themselves not only as deaf friendly, but as crucial community and cultural events. The Seattle Deaf Film Festival boasts a whole range of films by deaf filmmakers, actors, and crew, while the one in Wellington strives to bridge “the gap between deaf and hearing communities.”
A theme many deaf events share is one not of exclusivity, but of education. Whether a music festival, a film festival, or an artist performance like the ones of Sean Forbes, awareness is often just as important as a fun, enjoyable time. As Jenny Boyd – the Wellington festival organizer – tells a New Zealand website, “Many films have been collaborations between deaf and hearing filmmakers, and the festival gives both deaf and hearing audiences the opportunity to really experience the incredibly deaf talent and deaf culture we have in New Zealand.”
What does the future hold? Hopefully more events. And for the technologically inclined, a VR music experience for the hard of hearing is currently being developed.