Before kickoff this Sunday, be sure to catch one of the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf’s graduates, Amber Zion, who will be signing the national anthem, as well as “America the Beautiful.”
Signing at the Super Bowl would be a dream gig for anyone, but especially for someone like Amber who uses American Sign Language every day. The Penn Hills native has been deaf since before the age of 3 and relies on ASL to communicate on a daily basis — but proficiency in ASL alone did not get earn her the coveted spot. Her acting background (she has appeared in a recent commercial, as well as in CSI:NY) has helped her, as well, as a video submission of herself signing led to her call to audition. “Just like there are different touches in singing the song, there are different ways to convey the words and concept of the song through ASL,” she told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The official announcement that Zion had been selected was made just 10 days ago on January 21st.
The ASL interpretation of this year’s national anthem bears special significance because one of the Seattle Seahawks’ running backs, Derrick Coleman, is legally deaf. He is the first deaf offensive player in the NFL and has won hearts for his extraordinary work ethic as well as for the adversity he has overcome. The Super Bowl has a history of supporting deaf rights, and in 2008 aired a “silent” ad performed exclusively in ASL.
Zion graduated from WPSD to go on to Rochester Institute of Technology, where she earned a degree in graphic design. She is “thrilled” to have achieved the honor, and though she has signed the anthem at other NFL games, the Super Bowl has a special significance to her: “There’s nothing bigger than the Super Bowl,” she said. In preparation, she consulted last year’s signing talent (and viral superstar), John Maucere.
In other Super Bowl news, VITAC is proud to be captioning the entire event, beginning with pregame coverage on Sunday morning.