Misrepresentation for the Deaf community amidst Super Bowl LVI


Naomi Lopez

A silhouette of Wawa Snipe and Sean Forbes as they perform during the Halftime Show.

Olivia Mendoza

Leading up to Super Bowl LVI, the NAD, or the National Association of the Deaf announced that the event would be inclusive to those who are part of the Deaf community. 

For the first time in history, the world renowned Halftime Show would become accessible with the help of interpreters Warren “Wawa” Snipe and Sean Forbes. Along with their performance, Sandra Mae Frank was set to interpret alongside Mickey Guyton as she sang the National Anthem. 

While the National Anthem was set to be signed in ASL, or American Sign Language, Frank was only seen on the screen of NBC for less than 5 seconds of her entire performance. 

Before kickoff, the California School for the Deaf was recognized for their historic football season. As the captain of the Cubs stood on the field during the coin toss, the entire team was highlighted for making it all the way to the state divisional championship. With great tenacity, the Riverside Cubs only lost to one team the entire season.

While this was a great act of recognition for the Deaf world, there were unfortunately additional inequalities that were presented on February 13th.

The community was outraged by the final production of the Halftime Show. In preparation for the performance, Snipe and Forbes had been working alongside Dr. Dre, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, Snoop Dogg and Mary J. Blige. 

However, when the time of the actual performance rolled around, the two Deaf rappers were set up behind the field goal, secluded and far away from the center of all the action. The dark lighting that they performed in was anything but optimal for the entire Deaf audience. 

“I felt that it was just unfair to these individuals who had put so much time into their performance to be overlooked and pushed off to the side like that,” junior Kaylie Do, membership officer of ASL, said. 

In an interview before the show, Forbes stated that he would accompany Snoop Dogg and Eminem. Yet, this failed to occur on screen. 

In fact, this entire performance failed to be broadcasted on live television. Those who were interested in watching their exuberant interpretation had to download the NBS Sports App on their personal devices. 

With multiple instances of disconnect in regards to communication, the NAD came out with a video last week in response to the outrage from the community. 

“I was taken aback and felt disappointed. I shouldn’t have felt that,” President Melissa Draganac-Hawk said. 

While this isn’t the first time the Deaf community has been misled, it is certainly not the last.

“People still just view the Deaf community as a smaller ‘lower’ class of people,” Do said. “They simply don’t get the recognition they deserve for being on equal terms as the hearing community.” 

Now is the time to stand alongside Deaf individuals who are in need of advocating for equality throughout the media. Their voices and stories deserve to be heard and recognized worldwide. 

There is absolutely no reason why the Deaf and hearing world cannot co-exist. 

ASL teacher, Natalie Cooney, suggested that the NFL consider using split screens for both hearing and deaf individuals. 

“In the future I would like to see the interpreters on the main stage so everyone has an equal opportunity to enjoy the Halftime Show,” Co-President of ASL Club Kira Co (12) said. 

“Hearing people tend to tell the Deaf community what they think is best, but in reality, Deaf people should take the lead on their own social issues,” Mrs. Cooney said.