Some new accessibility news from The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences this week, as the organization gears up for this weekend’s Oscars, its one big annual night in the spotlight: This year’s telecast of the event will be the first ever to be accompanied by a stream of American Sign Language interpretation.
Said stream will be hosted on the Oscars’ YouTube Live page, and will be in front of the paywall for the telecast at-large. The upshot of that decision is that you’ll be able to watch the Oscars with a second screen running, broadcasting the ASL stream for the show. (That’s in addition to the closed captions that ABC has been putting on the broadcast for years.)
The news comes as we approach the second Oscars in a row with a Best Picture contender featuring deaf actors, and a focus on the Deaf cultural experience in America; Sound Of Metal won two awards at the 2021 ceremony, while CODA (which takes its title from the acronym for “child of deaf adults”) is considered a possible frontrunner for Best Picture on Sunday night.
This is all per THR, which ran an interview this week with Jeanell English, VP of Impact and Operations for The Academy, whose job it is to bring the broadcast’s accessibility standards up. (Up to and including incorporating a wheelchair ramp into the design for this year’s bizarre-looking conch shell of a stage.) Speaking about the additions to this year’s program, English said that,
We’re really proud of what we’re doing here. The ASL interpreters are incredible. We’re working with certified deaf interpreters this year who will be delivering that service on YouTube Live with the broadcast. It will be an incredible feature for anyone who wants to tune in and pull up that feed and watch the show with our interpreters.
This year’s Oscars kick off on Sunday, 6 p.m. Central on ABC.