Monday, August 9, 2010

SMG in the News: BOK provides for its deaf, hearing impaired patrons

Complete article at

by: CARY ASPINWALL World Scene Writer
Sunday, August 01, 2010
8/1/2010 4:43:05 AM

Papa doesn't hear the lyrics as most of you hear them. But he feels them, in the vibrations of the seats, floor and railings, on his shirt sleeves against his arms and in his heart.

He sees Gene Simmons' wild makeup, his pornographic tongue wiggling while the guitarist wails on a solo, and he knows.

Papa wants to rock 'n' roll all night and party every day. He can't hear the words, but the music speaks to his soul.

In the corner of the BOK Center at almost every concert or show, you'll see patrons who are as much a music fan as anyone in the venue. They just can't technically hear the music because they are deaf or hearing impaired.

They understand the heartache and desperation in Eric Clapton's voice when he sings "Layla" because an interpreter signs it for them, and they see it in his face.

They can feel the music, even if their ears don't translate the sounds for their brains.

Papa is a rolling stone

Papa is what everyone calls Rodger Cameron, a 59-year-old who travels regularly from his home in Copan to attend concerts and shows at Tulsa's BOK Center.

In one week, he attended the Professional Bull Riders rodeo, WWE Monday Night Raw and Rascal Flatts. ...

Papa can speak to you, but he can't hear what you're saying (or singing). For that, he relies on the help of Total Source for Hearing Loss and Access, the local agency that provides American Sign Language interpreters for the BOK Center and other venues. ...

Some venues don't have a section specifically set aside for deaf patrons. They'll put an interpreter up front somewhere, but it's not the same. Having the interpreter close by, and a dedicated section for deaf patrons, makes it easier for them to understand what's going on and to communicate with one another.

Papa goes to events everywhere, all the time, and he'll gladly tell anyone that the BOK Center is the best facility for the deaf in Oklahoma.

"No doubt," he says. ...

The universal language

When Papa gets tickets for a concert or show he wants to see at the BOK Center, he calls guest services at least three weeks in advance to request an interpreter. He doesn't have to pay extra, as the BOK provides the service as a courtesy to deaf patrons.

An interpreter's work begins way before the show, Rene Ryan explains. She downloads the songs on her iPod, looks up lyrics to songs, tries to find set lists for the tour online. Part of the interpreter's job is to convey the tone and feel of songs for deaf people, through their hands and expressions.

"So that their understanding is the same," Ryan says. ...

Perhaps you saw Papa rocking out in section 102. You'll likely see him at future shows, from Celtic Woman to Carrie Underwood.

"For me," he says, "a life without music would be pretty boring."