High-energy, enthusiastic interpreter speaks importance of sign language at concerts

Group helps bring music to hearing impaired
Sign Language Interpreter at Taylor Swift concert

By now you've heard it or heard about it.

Taylor Swift's Reputation Stadium Tour was the largest production the Shoe has ever put on with almost 100,000 in attendance.

All of them came to hear the pop star sing.

Advertisement - Story continues below

Well, almost all of them.

That's why she does what she does.

"I was a big fan of the first song," Lena Smith said. "I thought it was a cool way to open the show."

Smith is a provider of equal opportunities.

"To be able to go to shows and provide equal access to those events that's the goal at the end of the day," she said.

She works with Artistic Sign Language Services, signing for the deaf at concerts and plays. Saturday, she was in the Shoe for Swift's concert.

"Sometimes I get so excited that I forget that I need to focus," she laughed. "And, not go too much because I have a habit of being a little over expressive."

She says performing at concerts is more than just making hand motions.

"There's a whole bunch of things that are incorporated," Jody Daulton said. "Much more than meets the eye."

Daulton is the director at Artistic Sign Language Services. She says interpreters try not to read lyrics. They try to memorize them to be on beat while translating the song as best they can while keeping close to the original lyrics.

She says showmanship is also important.

"It has to be a performance as well," Daulton said. "Just like the band has to perform. You don't have a drummer just sit there. They're giving a performance while they're drumming and, so, it's the same thing."

"I really do enjoy it and it makes me feel more included in what everyone else is there experiencing," Julie Stewart said.

Stewart is deaf. She couldn't make it to the Taylor Swift show, but she loves concerts. She's seen Katy Perry, Beastie Boys, Run DMC and New Kids on the Block to name a few.

She doesn't hear it. She feels it.

"Yeah, you can feel the crowd getting excited," Stewart said with an interpreter. "They're cheering, they're getting louder and louder before the artist comes on stage and you feel those goosebumps and those chills."

Smith's enthusiastic, high-energy performance is deemed by the deaf community as necessary and appreciated.

"I mean if the interpreter was just stone-faced, interpreting, I would see the singer moving around having this performance and it doesn't really correlate," Stewart said. "But, the interpreter is matching what the singer is doing and you kind of feel that connection across the board."

It makes her feel more included. And, why not? She paid for a ticket, too.

"They have to give a performance," Daulton said. "The deaf people paid for something."

Daulton says the Americans with Disabilities Act requires venues to be accessible for the disabled, but the actual performance is different. She says the venue will find the best interpreter for shows only after one is requested.

Daulton says Artistic Sign Language Services interprets for at least two plays or concerts a month.

The video of Smith signing during Swift's show has reached more than 142,000 views on social media.