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"Eurovision Sign" project - we write history

18 May 2015 at 22:09 CEST
By broadcasting the Eurovision Song Contest in International Sign, ORF in cooperation with the EBU create not only an accessible event. For the first time, the Eurovision Song Contest is also organised as a fully-inclusive event: Performers and interpreters, even the live interpreters, are deaf. Only team leader Delil Yilmaz and a "feeder“ (interpreter who supports deaf presenters during the live presentation) hear.

The press conference about the Eurovision Sign project has just taken place in the Wiener Stadthalle. ORF and the EBU came together to create something very extraordinary and completely new - two Semi-Finals and the Grand Final will be presented in International Sign. This project will take place for the first time in the history of ORF and the Eurovision Song Contest.


Jon Ola Sand, the Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest, said that EBU were approached with this idea by ORF after Conchita’s victory in Copenhagen. "This is a great idea to come on board and to broaden the scope for the Eurovision Song Contest to reach more audience. It was a fantastic opportunity that was given to us. We worked on this project over five - six months, contacting broadcasters. This already has quite some interest in the Nordic region where some programmes, also music programmes are shown in the Sign Language."

Nine countries, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Finland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Slovenia are already on board and will broadcast the show also in the International Sign. There is still the possibility for other broadcasters to join this project. 

Eva-Maria Hinterwirth stressed how important it was to find support from the EBU. "After we knew that the Eurovision Song Contest would take place in Vienna, we thought about how we could organise such a project. We decided to make it inclusive that means:  we invite interpreters and performers to show in a casting how to work with music."

Gallery: "Eurovision Sign" project for the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest

"Music is a language which is understood by everyone" - Let us make it possible!

There are around 750.000 deaf people in Europe who communicate in the Sign Language. "We always say that music is a language which is understood by everyone. And we felt that we should make this word come reality, and to offer music to everyone, including deaf people."

This project is planned to be realised in the International Sign. The team consists of six professionals - people with charisma who are willing to learn the International Sign. "It is not the translation what we do. We present the whole Eurovision Song Contest in the International Sign," said Ms. Hinterwirth.

Two principles of the performance in International Sign

Eva-Maria Hinterwirth explained the principles of the project: “There are the horizontal and vertical lines. Horizontal one means that our performance of the song has to match the original performance, showing what’s going on stage, but it shouldn’t steal the show. Vertical line means that the song has to be presented as a story. We have to introduce the emotions that should be transferred to the deaf people. The main target is a storytelling.”

Delil Yimaz explained the work of two different types of interpreters, one hearing interpreter and one deaf interpreter. "My colleague is translating in her head in German, and then put it in the Austrian Sign Language. Our deaf interpreter transforms in to the International Sign."This was exactly the process, the professionals did within the last months. The team leader also told that one entry took them more than five hours to produce it.

During the press conference, it was emphasised how important the exact interpretation is. "The Eurovision Song Contest is a huge music event for hearing people, and Eurovision Sign is a project following a new concept which makes this event accessible for deaf people." The aim of the project is not about to interprete the entry word for word. The professionals try to visualise emotions behind the lyrics. That’s why they interpret and perform every entry in the same time. The story, including the main message, was created for each song. The target is to reach the deaf people all over the world. That's why International Sign was chosen.

"International Sign is a system and not a language. It hasn't its own grammar," - Sandra Schügerl, the Sign Language Interpreter told.

You will be able to find the live stream on and ORF, and also watch it on demand one week after the Grand Final on the ORF web site.