“D-PAN aims to make music and music culture accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing community, and to give recognition to deaf and hard of hearing artists everywhere”
D-PAN, The Deaf Professional Arts Network, is an internationally-known nonprofit organization dedicated to making music and music culture accessible for the deaf and hard of hearing community. Established in 2006, D-PAN has created American Sign Language (ASL) music videos of popular songs featuring deaf and hard of hearing performers expressing the song’s lyrics through ASL.
Our first ASL music video release, “Where’d You Go” by Fort Minor, was performed by D-PAN co-founder Sean Forbes and Rosina Switras. Generating over half a million hits on YouTube, it was obvious that people were starting to take notice.
After the first video, we wanted to create something powerful, something resonant within the deaf community. We chose “Waiting On The World To Change” by John Mayer, and it was a smash success. Featuring performers from across the country, the words of the song addressed sentiments of oppression and frustration felt by a community that has been misunderstood and discriminated against for years, and the visuals in the video drove the point home. The song has since become an anthem for the deaf community: we are waiting on the hearing world to drop their prejudices and acknowledge us not as a lesser group, but as equals. From the video’s success, D-PAN decided that creating positive and meaningful music videos was the path to take.
Fittingly, the next video was Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful.” It gave us an opportunity to talk about beauty through the deaf community: the video doesn’t show the faces of the performers, making the user focus on the sign language in the video and driving home the point that beauty isn’t about what’s visible at first glance, it’s about what comes from expressing ourselves.
D-PAN then created their first DVD, “It’s Everybody’s Music” Volume One, which included
• James Brown, “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World”
• Will Young, “Evergreen” (Performed in British Sign Language)
• The Killers, “Mr.Brightside”
• All American Rejects, “Swing Swing”
• Signmark, “Our Life” (Ft. Brandon)
• Eminem, “Lose Yourself” (performed by Sean Forbes)
Released in 2008, the DVD has sold over 10,000 copies worldwide.
In 2010, D-PAN co-produced a DVD called “WeeHands™,” designed for parents, educators, and those with infants and children, to help introduce their children or students to the world of ASL.
It was directed by D-PAN’s resident cinematic wiz kid, Adrean Mangiardi, and has been lauded for its fun, catchy songs that just keep kids coming back for more!
2011 was a landmark year for D-PAN. We continued to create new content, producing ASL music videos and creating opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing artists and entertainment professionals. We hosted our first ever D-PAN Music Video Camp, an effort to provide young members of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community with training and hands on experience in the fields of entertainment, media, and visual arts.
D-PAN then began producing new ASL Music Videos, starting with The White Stripes’ “We’re Going To Be Friends.” Uploaded on October 24th, 2011 the video was a massive success, with over one million hits to date! It was featured on The Today Show, The Huffington Post, CBS.com, with Jack White himself giving it his blessing.
D-PAN’s second collection of ASL music videos, “It’s Everybody’s Music” Volume Two, is available now, and features songs from The White Stripes, Carly Rae Jepsen, The Clark Sisters, and an original song from Sean Forbes.
D-PAN is going big to make sure this DVD is an even greater success than its predecessor, planning a nationwide tour and premiering “It’s Everybody’s Music” in each city they stop in. While there, they’re inviting deaf and hearing entertainers from their respective areas to perform, as well as providing a premiere of the DVD, topped off by a concert by co-founder Sean Forbes.
We at D-PAN have never slowed down in our mission to bring music to everyone, and we don’t plan to. We have the power to level the playing field and bring music to everyone, and we’re not going to stop. It’s everybody’s music.