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Music program brings hearing, deaf communities together

Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 04/12/07

Rock ‘n’ roll music performed by and for deaf and hearing-impaired students is a bridge to understanding and a vehicle for fun as well.

“The rock ‘n’ roll show is amazing. It is something you see, hear and feel. It gave me a better understanding of the differences between American Sign Language and English,” said Nicole McManus, a second-year student in Ocean County College’s Interpreter Training Program, which presents the rock ‘n’ roll show.

McManus, of Toms River, also is vice president of the program’s Sign Club.

“Our original idea had been to present the show once a year, but the deaf community loved the show so much, which was very humbling, we now present it at least a couple of times a year,” said Kathy Basilotto of Ocean County College.

Basilotto, of Brick, is the lead instructor at the college’s Interpreter Training Program, which she began five years ago.

“It’s been going strong ever since,” she said. “It had actually been my vision for a very long time because of my background: I’m one of 10 children, six of my siblings having been born deaf. I’ve been a signer all my life, and we were raised with music always in the house.

“My hearing siblings and I would interpret the music to our deaf siblings, so this concert is near and dear to my heart.”

The concert, presented by the program’s Sign Language Society, is an evening of rock ‘n’ roll with tunes by artists ranging from Tina Turner to Kiss. Basilotto says the deaf and hearing performers, including herself, dress up as the singers they’re impersonating; she’s appeared as Turner in the past. Continue

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