TOLEDO, Ohio — Toledo’s 10th anniversary of Pride kicked off Friday night and along with the music, dancing and performing, a volunteer group is making sure the event is enjoyable for everyone, including the deaf community.
“We really want to emphasize that accessibility for deaf people is needed for understanding, for communication, for a variety of reasons,” Toledo Pride Interpreting Team member David Kaiser, who is also performing as Enya Vesla said.
“We really strive as interpreters, the number one goal is access, not performance, but some music interpreters do get some attention as the focus because it can be entertaining to watch,” Toledo Pride Interpreting Team Coordinator Emmah Artino said.
This year, not only will they be interpreting, two members are performing too.
“Well, it is a big challenge especially for a deaf performer with music, that’s really the most difficult part. I have to do a lot of practicing, but really, I’m excited because this is the first time. I’ve never done this on the Pride stage before,” Kaiser as Enya Vesla said.
This is their first time taking the stage in drag at pride, but as the opening number for the celebration, they helped set a tone of inclusivity for everyone in the audience.
“While it’s not for us to perform for attention purposes, it’s for us presenting as the performer presents themselves as well so the deaf audience member truly feels integrated into the experience,” Artino said.
You will be able to see the Toledo Pride Interpreting Team at the main stage Saturday with most of the drag performances. They encourage you to ask any questions you may have about getting involve in the American Sign Language Community.