Football Helmets For Quarterbacks Who Communicate With ASL In The Works
AT&T has joined forces with Gallaudet University to unveil football helmets designed for deaf and hard-of-hearing quarterbacks who communicate with American Sign Language (ASL).
Unveiled on Oct. 5, the new helmets will allow coaches to call a play via a tablet that will appear on a small screen inside the player’s helmet during the game.
Gallaudet, an institution for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, will debut the technology on Oct. 7 during its home game against Hilbert College.
“We work out the same way as every other college football program, we practice the same way, we compete the same way,” Gallaudet Coach Chuck Goldstein said. “The difference between coaching a hearing team compared to a Deaf team is first the communication.”
The university has worked alongside AT&T for the past two years to improve inclusion for the Deaf community.
“We came up with ideas on how to make this helmet more effective (and) we’d interact with (players and coaches),” said Corey Anthony, AT&T senior VP of networking engineering and operations. “They would give us feedback. We’d go back, make changes, work on it. It’s just a beautiful relationship that we have with that university.”
The Deaf community has been advocating for consideration not only in sports but on social media and in entertainment. Many social apps now include ways for users to add captions to their videos, while several brands, including Target and Subaru, have launched campaigns exclusively featuring ASL.
In 2022, “CODA”– a film that chronicles the life of a child of deaf adults and the only hearing member of her family—took home the Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay statues at the 94th Academy Awards.
Many universities also offer free virtual and in-person ASL classes for those wanting to broaden their communication horizons.