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25-Mar-2024

GFL makes theater accessible to hard of hearing audiences

GFL's Southfield, Michigan, team partnered with a local theater company to hire American Sign Language
(ASL) interpreters for their production of The Miracle Worker, thanks to the support of the Full Circle
Project (FCP).

“Through the Full Circle Project we were able to support the arts in the community and also help people
with disabilities,” said Joseph Munem, GFL’s Michigan director of government affairs. “The Miracle
Worker was the perfect show to do that.”

Put on by the Ridgedale Players in Troy, Michigan, The Miracle Worker tells the story of the relationship
between teacher Annie Sullivan and her student, Helen Keller, who lost her sight and hearing when she
was 19 months old.

Sullivan taught reading and writing to Keller who went on to become the first deafblind person to earn a
Bachelor of Arts degree. Keller wrote 14 books and gave hundreds of speeches over the course of her
career.

Munem directed the play and GFL Michigan Legal Counsel Mike Fish acted in it, and together they
contributed hundreds of volunteer hours.

The US$4,000 FCP donation enabled the theater company to hire ASL interpreters for three out of 10
performances of the play.

As well as allowing hard of hearing audience members to get more out of the show, news coverage on a
Detroit TV station sparked the interest of other ASL interpreters who attended to learn how they could
sign a play too.

“It was the second best-selling non-musical show the Ridgedale Players have put on in decades,” Munem
said. “Thank you to FCP for helping to make the play truly inclusive for the hard of hearing community."

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