Silent parades?

News­man who can’t hear uses drum booms to re­port

China Daily - - FRONT PAGE -

RIO DE JANEIRO — Aulio No­brega can’t hear a thing when hun­dreds of drum­mers march into Rio de Janeiro’s Sam­bo­dromo, or when thou­sands sing or the crowd cheers. But he feels the vibe — lit­er­ally.

No­brega, 40, works as a jour­nal­ist for TV INES — a chan­nel aimed at deaf peo­ple, where the cor­re­spon­dents re­port in sign lan­guage — and his chal­lenge on Mon­day night was to cover samba parades fa­mous for their deci­bel lev­els.

Be­fore every pa­rade, the noise on­slaught starts with fire­works an­nounc­ing the new samba school. It sounds like a bat­tle.

Next the drum sec­tion fires up, hun­dreds of drum­mers work­ing in uni­son. Then come some 3,000 cos­tumed dancers singing the school’s an­them, which si­mul­ta­ne­ously belts out from loud­speak­ers.

And that’s be­fore you fac­tor in the cheer­ing and singing of 72,000 fans crammed into the nar­row sta­dium.

The whole drama passes in si­lence for No­brega, yet some­how needs to be de­scribed to his equally deaf view­ers.

And that’s where the vi­bra­tions come in.

No­brega says the mu­sic doesn’t have to reach his ears: it cour­ses through his en­tire body.

“I hear none of the mu­sic, re­ally noth­ing, but I feel the vi­bra­tions. It’s as if there’s a force that I feel on my skin,” he said, speak­ing in sign lan­guage through one of TV INES’s hear­ing-ca­pa­ble in­ter­preters.

“The vi­bra­tions are real. I feel it ... It’s re­ally good. It’s re­ally emo­tional.”

Brazil has a long way to go in pro­vid­ing ad­e­quate help to the hear­ing-im­paired, said Daniela Abreu, who can hear but learned sign lan­guage from her deaf par­ents and works as a TV INES in­ter­preter.

For ex­am­ple, pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions like the po­lice do not pro­vide ac­cess to a signer. “You have to bring your own,” said Abreu, 35.

Stan­dard tele­vi­sion out­lets, in­clud­ing the huge Globo net­work, of­fer sub­ti­tles but not sign lan­guage.

“Text only works if you have enough ed­u­ca­tion. My mother, for ex­am­ple, can’t read well enough,” Abreu said. “Peo­ple like that are pushed to the mar­gins of so­ci­ety.” TV INES started five years ago in hopes of reach­ing the for­got­ten.

Its videos cur­rently get around 10,000-13,000 in­di­vid­ual views, with traf­fic ris­ing steadily among Brazil’s es­ti­mated 10 mil­lion deaf peo­ple, or­ga­niz­ers say. This was its first cov­er­age of the Sam­bo­dromo fes­ti­val.

“It’s im­por­tant for so­ci­ety to un­der­stand there is this di­ver­sity,” No­brega said.

As he spoke, the Unidos da Ti­juca samba school swung into ac­tion for its pa­rade down the Sam­bo­dromo piste: first the fire­works, then the drums.

For any­one un­able to use sign lan­guage, at­tempt­ing to talk had be­come use­less.

It was time for the deaf cor­re­spon­dent and his cam­era team to go catch some samba vibes.


Per­form­ers from the Salgueiro samba school pa­rade dur­ing Car­ni­val cel­e­bra­tions at the Sam­badrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Tues­day.

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