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D/deaf community takes center stage at Super Bowl LVI

The D/deaf community played a starring role in this year’s Super Bowl. For the first time in its 56-year history, all of the Super Bowl’s musical performances were made inclusive to the D/deaf community through ASL performers.

Sandra Mae Frank was the ASL interpreter for the three pre-game musical performances, with Mickey Guyton singing the National Anthem, Jhene Aiko performing “America the Beautiful,” and Mary Mary, a gospel duo of sisters Erica and Tina Campbell, performing “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Deaf artists Warren “Wawa” Snipe and Sean Forbes signed the halftime show that featured Mary J. Blige, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dog, Eminem and Kendrick Lamar.

And another piece of deaf culture played a starring role before the big game started.

Four members of the football team from the California School for the Deaf, Riverside, joined Billie Jean King for the coin toss that determined which Super Bowl team would receive the football first. The four young football players were captains for the Riverside Cubs, which made history by taking their team to the state division championship game for the first time in the school’s 68-year history.

The Riverside team was also featured in a video before the coin toss that celebrated inclusion in light of the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the law that prevents gender discrimination in U.S. school athletics. The Riverside Cubs were undefeated as they entered the state semi-final game. Though they lost that game, they won the hearts of many and a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Super Bowl.

Whether you liked the final score of the Super Bowl or not (the Los Angeles Rams beat the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20), we can all probably agree that D/deaf culture was a winner with tremendous recognition on an international stage.

Photo of California School for the Deaf, Riverside, Cubs team captains with Billie Jean King, courtesy of the Los Angeles Daily News

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