Eurovision is all about spectacle, and – alongside all the glittering frocks and surreal dance moves – one of the best moments of this year’s competition was the sign language interpretation of the United Kingdom’s entry Electro Velvet.
For the first time ever, The Eurovision Song Contest was simulcast in International Sign Language, and interpreter Delil Yilmaz, who is able to hear, was responsible for signing during Saturday night’s live Grand Final in Vienna.
The point of Eurovision’s sign language broadcast wasn’t to interpret each song word for word, but rather to give deaf viewers a sense of the song’s mood, melody and feeling as well as the lyrics.
“You just have to put the emotions behind those instruments into a story,” Yilmaz told the BBC before the final, explaining how he would be signing the story of Electro Velvet’s song:
“When I turn to the right, I act like a man, very macho with a beard and when I turn to the left side, I am the woman with make-up and perfume.”
Austrian broadcaster ORF said it was inspired by Conchita Wurst’s triumph last year to make the contest even more inclusive.
“Eurovision is European – so let’s make it for the deaf community too,” said ORF’s Eva-Maria Hinterwirth. “It is always said music is a language that is understood by everyone, so we thought, let’s make it reality and bring music closer to deaf people.”
And let’s face it, if this sign language version of Electro Velvet’s song had represented Britain instead, we might have got a few more points…