NHL 1st major sports league to broadcast games in American Sign Language | CBC Sports

While interpreting the annual pre-Stanley Cup final state of the NHL address into American Sign Language for the first time in 2022, Brice Christianson worried that it was a one-time thing, his only chance to open the door to hockey for the Deaf community.

Two years later, it is difficult for him not to get emotional as the league takes another big step.

The Stanley Cup final, starting Saturday at 8 p.m. ET, will mark the first time a major sports league airs games in ASL, with each game of the series between Edmonton and Florida featuring Deaf broadcasters doing play by play and colour analysis.

“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, the founder and CEO of P-X-P, which is doing the telecasts that will be available on ESPN+ and Sportsnet+. “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.”

This next step in the NHL’s partnership with P-X-P, a company that works to make sports more inclusive through interpretation comes on the heels of another history-making moment: TNT doing an ASL broadcast of the U.S. Women’s Deaf National Soccer Team’s match against Australia last weekend. Reporter Melissa Ortiz was on screen describing the action in ASL.

That will be the case in the Cup final for Jason Altmann, who is third generation Deaf and P-X-P’s chief operating officer, and Noah Blankenship from Denver’s Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services. Having that representation is more significant than closed captioning because it serves the Deaf community directly rather than making members read words about the games.

“For us to be able to have this real-time coverage of play by play and colour commentary in American Sign Language being called directly as opposed to a re-interpretation is really what the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community want,” said Kim Davis, the NHL’s senior executive VP of social impact, growth initiatives and legislative affairs.

Click below to read more: