DENVER — Brice Christianson went to sporting events as a child and realized how inaccessible that world was for his deaf father.
On Wednesday night, he stood 10 feet from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman translating English into American Sign Language for the annual state of the league address at the Stanley Cup Final. Christianson was shown picture-in-picture on NHL Network interpreting Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly’s remarks.
Sign language interpreters have been present for national anthems, but this represented the NHL’s biggest step yet to make the stories around hockey available to the deaf and hard of hearing community.
“We’re just scratching the surface,” said Christianson, who is the CEO for P-X-P, which specializes in making sports and entertainment more accessible for the deaf and hard of hearing. “Before, we always felt like we were lucky. Like I felt like we were lucky to be here, they’re giving us an opportunity, and I don’t mean this arrogantly, but now I feel like we belong.”