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Inclusive Media is the New Trend

As an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, I’ve witnessed firsthand the profound impact that inclusive content can have. The recent Barbie movie, which included an ASL interpreter for its streaming service, is a shining example of this. It’s not just a step towards inclusivity; it’s a leap towards a world where entertainment is accessible to all. Because of the large impact it has made, I want this to not be just a trend, but a permanent addition to our media going forward.

Breaking Barriers in Entertainment

For decades, people who use sign language to communicate have been overlooked in mainstream media. The inclusion of an ASL interpreter in the Barbie movie marks a pivotal change.  This type of inclusion is a recognition that entertainment isn’t just a luxury; it’s a universal right. By incorporating ASL, the movie has opened doors for millions who were previously left out of the narrative.

“My hope is that the Barbie movie will set an example and a standard of what accessibility and inclusive experience looks like not just for deaf children, but for adults as well for the community at large,”

– Leila Hamaumi, ASL Performer

The Demand Speaks Volumes

The overwhelming demand for the Barbie movie with its ASL interpretation speaks volumes about the need for inclusive content. This type of language access comes with a clear message from the audience: inclusivity is not just preferred; it’s desired. This demand should be a wake-up call for content creators and movie productions everywhere. If a single movie can create such an impact, imagine the possibilities if all content embraced this level of inclusivity.

Inclusivity: A Net Good for Society

Inclusivity in media is not just a ‘nice-to-have’; it’s a net good for society. When we include diverse modes of communication like ASL, we’re not only acknowledging the existence of different communities but also valuing their participation. Inclusive content fosters empathy, understanding, and respect among viewers, contributing to a more inclusive society.

The success of the Barbie movie with ASL interpretation raises an important question: Why isn’t all content this inclusive? The technology and resources are available. The demand is clearly there. The answer may lie in a lack of awareness and understanding. Recognizing the diverse needs of their audience by content creators is crucial, and needed in order to take proactive steps to address them. Content creators hold the power to shape narratives and influence societal norms. By including ASL and other inclusive features in their productions, they can set a new standard for the industry. Creating content that everyone can enjoy should be the goal, regardless of their abilities or backgrounds.

Looking ahead, I believe 2024 will be a landmark year for inclusivity in entertainment. The success of the Barbie movie is just the beginning. It’s a catalyst for change, inspiring content creators to follow suit. In an increasingly diverse world, egalitarian in content is not just a trend; it’s the future.

The inclusion of ASL in the Barbie movie has a ripple effect beyond just the signing community. It sets a precedent for other forms of equality, whether it’s subtitles for different languages, audio descriptions for the visually impaired, or content that represents various cultures and backgrounds. Inclusivity in one area paves the way for inclusivity in others.

A Call to Action

As an ASL interpreter, I call upon content creators, movie studios, and streaming services to take bold steps towards inclusivity. It’s not just about adding an ASL interpreter or subtitles; it’s about rethinking how we create and present content to make it accessible to everyone.  The Barbie movie with its ASL interpretation is more than just a film; it’s a beacon of hope for a more inclusive world. It shows us what is possible when we embrace diversity in all its forms. As we move forward, let’s not view inclusivity as an option, but as an essential component of all content creation. In 2024, let’s commit to making inclusivity the norm, not the exception.

By Dave Coyne

First published on January 30, 2024.

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Gateway connects people to their worlds and aids individuals in their ability to understand and to be understood. Gateway has grown into an organization that serves more than 4,000 children and adults every year, helping them communicate more effectively. With programming both on our Baltimore campus and through community-based programming, we provide education, access, and medical support to anyone who needs it.

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