For first time ever, NHL airs broadcast of Stanley Cup Final in American Sign Language

SUNRISE, FLORIDA - JUNE 08: Carter Verhaeghe #23 and Aleksander Barkov #16 of the Florida Panthers go up against Cody Ceci #5 of the Edmonton Oilers in Game One of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final at Amerant Bank Arena on June 08, 2024 in Sunrise, Florida.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Stanley Cup Final made history during Game 1 Saturday by offering an alternate broadcast in American Sign Language.

The NHL is the first major sports league to air games in ASL. According to The Associated Press, each game of the Stanley Cup Final will feature deaf broadcasters conducting play-by-plays and color analysis during the games.

“These games are the first major sports telecast dedicated fully to the Deaf community, featuring live Deaf broadcasters calling real-time play-by-play and color commentary entirely in ASL,” the NHL said on its website. The broadcasts will have graphics that will show a large, metered, real-time bar that will be able to demonstrate the levels of noise from the crowds plus other visuals, ESPN reported.

It is a project that has been in the works for nearly two years, Brice Christianson, the founder and CEO of P-X-P, a company that aims to elevate accessibility and inclusion in professional sports for the Deaf/hard-of-hearing community, said, according to ESPN.

“This is a great first step of having representation, having deaf people on screen, having the Deaf community connect to people like them,” said Christianson, according to the AP. “For the NHL to sign off on this and to believe in this, it’s groundbreaking. It’s truly historic and also they’ve doubled down and said that they want to continue to do this.”

“Our continued partnership with P-X-P allows the NHL to do something no other professional sports league has done before: provide a fully immersive, unique, and accessible viewing experience that specifically meet the needs of the Deaf community,” said Kim Davis, NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Social Impact, Growth Initiatives and Legislative Affairs. “This NHL-led production further exemplifies the League’s commitment to producing accessible and interactive content for all of our fans -- including underserved communities. Fans of all abilities are encouraged to tune in to experience this first-of-a-kind broadcast as a way to understand and share the experience with someone who is Deaf.”

“The first-of-its-kind production is something we hope and plan to expand on beyond the Stanley Cup Final and into the 2024-25 season,” Steve Mayer, NHL Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Content Officer, said.

The NHL said that more than 30 million Americans and over 4 million Canadians are affected by hearing loss.

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