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The NHL has entered a season-long partnership with P-X-P to provide a greater experience for Deaf and hard of hearing fans.
P-X-P will provide American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation for fans at signature events including the 2023 Discover NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park in Boston on Jan 2., the 2023 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina on Feb. 18, the 2023 Stanley Cup Final and others.
The League deepened ties with P-X-P after Brice Christianson, the company’s founder, CEO and a professional sports interpreter, interpreted NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman’s State of the League address before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Colorado Avalanche and the Tampa Bay Lightning at Ball Arena in Denver on June 15.
“Our partnership with P-X-P is opening our minds to thoughtful, creative possibilities that improve the entertainment experience for our Deaf and hard of hearing fans,” said Kim Davis, NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Social Impact, Growth Initiatives and Legislative Affairs. “We are bringing to life a strategy that incorporates representation, performance and substance — informed and inspired by those from within the community.”
Christianson said the interpretation of Bettman’s address was welcomed by the members of the Deaf and hard of hearing community who face obstacles when it comes to enjoying sporting events, whether it’s at an arena or watching on television or other video devices.
“Sports have a profound ripple effect with a lot of different sectors in society,” he said. “What you see in sports, I think, it grabs awareness, it grabs attention. And when you have an organization like the NHL show that they can be accessible and inclusive, and they can do it right: There’s no technology glitches, they’re willing to work with the quote unquote, ‘experts in that field.’
“The big concern was will this be consistent, is this a one-time thing?” he said. “And what the NHL has shown is that they’re investing in this consistency, and we’re looking forward to executing it.”
About 30 million Americans over age 12 have hearing loss in both ears and about two to three out of every 1,000 children in the U.S. are born with a detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
There’s an estimated 357,000 people in Canada who are culturally Deaf and 3.21 million who are hard of hearing, according to the Canadian Association of the Deaf.
Christianson had been working as an ASL interpreter for concerts and events at Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum in 2019 when he asked for permission to interpret postgame news conferences of Mike Budenholzer, coach of the Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball Association.
That caught the attention of the NHL when Kieran Nulty, who was the team’s vice president of arena experience, mentioned Christianson to Melissa Parnagian, NHL manager of growth strategies for social impact and legislative affairs.
That led to talks between Christianson, P-X-P chief operating officer Jason Altmann, and NHL officials throughout the fall and winter of 2021, leading up to Bettman’s address.
Christianson said he hopes the experiences during the 2022-23 season lead to even deeper ties with the NHL. He envisions a day when P-X-P does real-time play-by-play and color commentary interpretation during games.
“Ideally that’s one of the things that we’d like to check off our bucket list,” he said. “The goal is to make the NHL the most accessible and inclusive sport on the planet.”
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