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ASL Version of “Let It Go” Featuring RIT/NTID Alumni Released

25 Jan

Two graduates from Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf whose prior performances have been viewed by millions now are featured in an ASL version of the song "Let It Go" from the popular Disney movie "Frozen."

Amber Zion, ’04, an actress who signed the national anthem at last year’s Super Bowl, and Jason Listman, ’07 and ’09, an assistant professor who teaches American Sign Language to interpreting students at NTID, star in the video, which was directed by Jules Dameron.

The video, which RIT/NTID helped sponsor, involves other graduates of the university, including Jess Thurber, ’06, assistant producer; Ruan du Plessis, ’11, director of photography; and Erik Call, ’06, who worked behind the scenes.

The video is on the YouTube page of the Deaf Professional Arts Network, or D-PAN. The network was created by Sean Forbes, an ’08 RIT/NTID Applied Arts and Sciences graduate who performs in live shows and an array of music videos.

“We are proud of the role a number of our talented alumni are playing in the rise in popularity of music videos in sign language,” said NTID President Gerry Buckley. “And we are pleased to support this video as a way to ensure that all audiences—deaf and hearing—get to enjoy the richness and beauty of signed expression.”

Disney authorized use of the song for the video, which was filmed over three days in September in Paso Robles, Calif., a community two hours north of Los Angeles.

“It was a phenomenal experience to work with a deaf crew, especially with Amber and Jules,” Listman said. “I think the song is perfect because it represents the value of social justice, the concept that everyone deserves equal opportunities in this society and can challenge the status quo. We should embrace ourselves and be true to ourselves. Let it go! This applies to a lot of deaf people with multiple identities, too.”

“Because the song has metaphors, it is nice to open your mind and translate that into ASL,” said Zion. “I love the challenges, to put all of my hard work into it.”

She said Disney released numerous versions of  “Let It Go” in various languages. “They haven’t done one in ASL. I really hope they would add this music video into their list.”

Forbes said he is happy to add the “Let It Go” video to his website. “I’ve always admired Jason and Amber’s work, shown their videos on D-PAN and am glad to see them working together on this project.”

The video is the latest of a series of music videos performed in sign language and posted on YouTube. The technology didn’t exist when Listman was growing up. He discovered music when he was 13, and has since posted five ASL music videos, generating more than 1 million views cumulatively. He says he’s happy there is an outlet that allows him to share his struggles and joys through translating songs into ASL, show others that songs can be translated in sign language and show hearing people that deaf people should be in the spotlight when it comes to signing songs in ASL.

 “It makes me feel good,” Listman said. “I’m excited to know I inspire a lot of people out there, especially in the deaf community.”

View the video at: https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=g1HVoEW5s50

RIT/NTID-sponsored ASL Version of ‘Let It Go’ Featuring Alumni Released on Sunday

22 Jan

Two graduates from Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf whose performances have been viewed by millions will star in an American Sign Language music video of the popular “Let It Go” song, from the Disney movie Frozen.

The video will be released Sunday, two days after an invitation-only screening and networking party Friday at the Complete Actors Place in Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Starring in the video are Amber Zion, ’04, an actress who signed the national anthem at last year’s Super Bowl, and Jason Listman ’07,’09, an assistant professor who teaches American Sign Language to interpreting students at NTID. The video had an all-deaf crew, including noted film director Jules Dameron.

Other RIT/NTID graduates involved include Jess Thurber ’06, assistant producer; Ruan du Plessis ’11, director of photography; and Erik Call ’06, who worked behind the scenes.

The video is expected to be released at 11 a.m. (EST) Sunday on the YouTube page of the Deaf Professional Arts Network, or D-PAN. The network was created by Sean Forbes, a 2008 RIT/NTID Applied Arts and Sciences graduate who performs in live shows and an array of music videos.

“The rise in popularity of music videos in sign language is due in large measure to people like Jules, and RIT/NTID alumni Sean Forbes, Amber, Jason and all those who worked on this video,” said NTID President Gerry Buckley. “We are proud to help sponsor this video as a way to ensure that all audiences—deaf and hearing—get to enjoy the richness and beauty of signed expression.”

The video, which is co-sponsored by RIT/NTID and was approved by Disney, was filmed in September over three days in Paso Robles, Calif., a community two hours north of Los Angeles.

“It was a phenomenal experience to work with a deaf crew, especially with Amber and Jules,” Listman said. “I think the song is perfect because it represents the value of social justice, the concept that everyone deserves equal opportunities in this society and challenge the status quo. We should embrace ourselves and be true to ourselves. Let it go! This applies to a lot of deaf people with multiple identities too.”

“Because the song has metaphors, it is nice to open your mind and translate that into ASL,” said Zion. “I love the challenges, to put all of my hard work into it.”

She said Disney released 25 versions of “Let It Go” in various languages. “They haven’t done one in ASL. I really hope they would add this music video into their list.”

Forbes said he is happy to add the “Let It Go” video to his website. “I’ve always admired Jason and Amber’s work, shown their videos on D-PAN and am glad to see them working together on this project.”

The video is the latest of a series of music videos performed in sign language and posted on YouTube. The technology didn’t exist when Listman was growing up. He discovered music when he was 13, and has since posted five ASL music videos, generating more than 1 million views cumulatively. He says he’s happy there is an outlet that allows him to share his struggles and joys through translating songs into ASL, show others that songs can be translated in sign language and show hearing people that deaf people should be in the spotlight when it comes to signing songs in ASL.

“It makes me feel good,” Listman said. “I’m excited to know I inspire a lot of people out there, especially in the deaf community.”

Behind the Scenes with RIT/NTID’s Joe Hamilton

9 Jan

For nearly 20 years, Joe Hamilton has been behind the scenes of more than 100 productions at RIT/NTID. He and his theater practicum students have designed, constructed and painted those scenes. Watch video.

RIT Named a ‘Best Value’ Private University

19 Dec

Photo by: A. Sue Weisler

Photo by: A. Sue Weisler

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance ranks RIT on its annual list of private universities and liberal arts colleges that provide high-quality academics at a reasonable cost. More.

RIT’s Medical Program Matures to Fill National Need

4 Dec

RIT's physician assistant class of 2016 is the first to go through the five-year B.S./M.S. degree and represents a new phase of the Physician Assistant program at RIT. The cohort class is training to be nationally certified, state-licensed medical professionals who practice medicine on health-care teams with physicians and other providers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks physician assistants as the 13th fastest-growing occupation in the country, with faster-than-average increases expected to reach 38 percent by 2022. The median annual wage as of 2012 was $90,930. More.