Every year an article gets passed around about interpreters at concerts. Last year – actually, two years ago – it was the Washington Post’s, focussing on Lady Gaga. At every L. Gaga concert in the United States stand a gaggle of teenage girls, and a few special boys, watching the interpreters. This year it’s all about Holly Maniatty, who admittedly does krazy shit and gets paid peanuts for it, which is more than a crime.
Then people start asking, either innocently or disingenuously, “Deaf people go to concerts?” Yes. Even stone-deaf people (this means teens and young adults) will go, but the more hearing you have the more likely you are to go to a concert. (That’s true whether you consider yourself deaf or Deaf or whatever else.) And you go because you can: Organizers have to provide interpreters, captioning, or whatever else you need.
Those reasons you could have researched yourself. But you won’t know about this one. Deaf people go to concerts because an entire generation has grown up with captioned music videos. There are tales of one or two videos having been captioned before 1989, but that was the year captioning became the norm for major-label music videos. And that happened only because Ed Stasium, a record producer with a hard-of-hearing daughter who is surely all growed up now and could look up this post quite easily; Donna Horn, then of the Caption Center and latterly of the abomination known as CaptionMax; and I all made it happen. Ed used his label contacts and influence; Donna patiently explained how the process works to one label, producer, tape house, and broadcaster after another; and I wrote a couple of articles on the topic, chief among them an op-ed in Billboard that everyone would have seen. (I also persuaded some of the Canadian funding bodies to require captioning and sometimes to pay for it. Ask me about getting strung along endlessly by MuchMusic.)
Thousands of (usually ill-captioned) videos later, deaf kids have grown up just accepting they will have some access to music, however limited or not by their hearing impairment. So of course they’re gonna show up at concerts.