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  • Gary Noll

Deaf Awareness Sports Events in the NY/NJ Metropolitan Area

Gary Noll

Gary Noll, born Deaf in a New Jersey Deaf household, is a huge New Jersey/New York Sports fan.  He proposes and raises awareness of Deaf and ASL (American Sign Language) sports events.  Gary is an advocate of accessibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion, including promoting captioning and ASL communication technology during NJ/NY metropolitan sporting events.


Metropolitan New Jersey/New York Sports Stadiums and Their Efforts to Host Deaf Awareness Events


1. New Jersey Devils NHL pro hockey (Prudential Center, Newark, NJ) recently hosted its fourth annual ASL night (group events) twice within 12 months (March 12, 2023 and March 7, 2024). They plan to host it again next season (2024-2025).  Kean University ASL, Marie Katzenbach School for the Deaf MKSD), and Ocean County ASL group participated with NJ Devils on March 7, 2024.  NJ Devils ASL t-shirts spell out Devils.

Devils t-shirt in ASL

ASL on Prudential Center video board

2. New York Islanders NHL pro hockey  (UBS Arena, Belmont Park, NY) hosted its second annual Deaf Awareness Night in a year (February 24, 2023, and December 7, 2023)   using an array of ASL communication technology.  It included live ASL interpreters via public announcements and broadcasters, provided by Mill Neck ASL, family services and foundation.  In 2023, UBS Arena added closed captioning to their in-house program at the concession areas.

They offer an application called Isles+, where you can view the scoreboard videos with closed captioning. To use, when you get to the arena, type into your phone’s browser (ensure you have location services turned on).  Isles+ is only available in UBS Arena (source: Islanders game presentation team).

The Islanders had a scarf with Islanders spelled out in ASL for the February 24, 2023 game.  On the December 7 game, they offered a hat with “LGI” spelled out in ASL (Source: NY Islanders hockey game presentation team).


They plan on hosting a third annual Deaf Awareness Night next season (2024-2025).

Sign Language Interpreter on UBS Arena Video Board


3. New York Mets MLB pro baseball (Citi Field, Flushing, NY) hosted a Deaf Awareness Day on July 30, 2023.  They used ASL communication technology through live ASL interpreters via public announcements and broadcasters.  SignNexus, an interpreter service provider from NYC, delivered the ASL interpretations. 


So far this season (2024), the Mets hosted the New York School for the Deaf (Fanwood) on April 17, 2024, where they distributed 290 tickets. Bravo to John Plata, Deaf employee, for his great leadership and being the point of contact during the April 17, 2024 event.

NY School of Deaf Signing the National Anthem at Citi Field

There is a possibility the Mets will have a Culture Day for all on Aug 13 and 14, 2024, and a Deaf Awareness Day may be incorporated into that.  But Gary and staff hope there is a separate Deaf Awareness Day.


4. New York Yankees MLB pro baseball (Yankees Stadium, Bronx, NY) will host its first Deaf Awareness Day Sunday, September 29, 2024.   The Yankees plan to have an ASL group event ticket package and a T-shirt that spells out Yankees in ASL.  The Yankees are reaching out to some foundations, including Gallaudet University Athletics  for assistance and education on ASL communication technology.  Gary encourages all fans to come, visit, and support the effort.

Closed Captioning on Yankee Stadium Scoreboard with Gary in the Foreground


5. New York Liberty WNBA pro women’s basketball (Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY) will host its first annual Deaf Awareness Day this coming June 30, 2024.


6. Brooklyn Nets NBA pro men’s basketball (Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY) was supposed to host its first annual Deaf Awareness Day on March 2, 2024, but that did not happen.  A team at the Barclays Center is currently working on getting real-time captions in the arena for all its sporting events.  Once they finalize an agreement with a closed captioning provider, they will look to host a Deaf Awareness Day.  Gary expects this to be announced sometime in May or early summer 2024.


7. New York Knicks NBA pro men’s basketball (Madison Square Garden MSG, NYC) has not yet hosted a Deaf Awareness Day.  They have celebrated an All Abilities Night, which included the ASL signing of the National Anthem.  MSG has captioning on its ribbon boards for all sports and has mobile captioning QR codes for scanning for Knicks and Rangers games.  Gary expects when the arena hosts a Deaf Awareness Day, it will be for the Knicks because of Mike Glenn, a former Knicks and NBA great who runs a successful NBA camp and is an ambassador for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing campers and the community.  


8. New Jersey/New York Gotham FC pro women’s soccer, 2023 NWSL champions (Red Bull Arena, Harrison, NJ) has not yet had an American Sign Language or Deaf Awareness event.  Red Bull Arena does have large live captions on two of their video boards. 

9. Rutgers Scarlet Knights football (SHI Stadium, Piscataway, NJ) has small print closed captioning on its ribbon boards; the team has not yet had an American Sign Language Day during its Big Ten conference football games.  


10. Billie Jean King USTA (US Open Tennis Center, Flushing, NY) offers excellent accessibility for deaf and hard-of-hearing tennis fans, and it continues to improve those efforts.   The US Open tennis officers are looking into a possible ASL event this coming summer (2024). 

Gary has already provided ASL logistics and guidance to various departments in New Jersey’s and New York’s stadiums and teams.  He continues advocating ASL interpreters be available for live broadcasting and public address announcements throughout Deaf and ASL awareness events.  Gary continues requesting dedicated Deaf Awareness Days/Nights to teams and stadiums who have not yet held them.



What criteria make attending an ASL or Deaf Awareness sporting event successful for deaf and hard-of-hearing fans?


  1. The arena provides functioning live caption boards throughout the venue for fans who cannot hear the announcements.  Display information like the plays-by-play, referees, and other messages from the announcers and broadcasters.

  2. The team offers ASL (American Sign Language) interpreters on the site throughout the arena. - On the Jumbotron (national anthem, public address announcements, in-game contests, trivia, safety information, and etc. - On the main concourse at a designated table or booth 

  3. The Jumbotron and/or ribbon boards supply a mobile captioning QR code for fans to scan for messages.   

  4. The team offers special event day promotional items like t-shirts, scarves, hats, etc., where fans can pre-order and pick them up at an ASL sponsor table before or during the event.  

  5. The game is well attended.  


Thanks to those who host these events, and thanks to Deaf and ASL fans for your ❤️ support. Thanks to stadium and arena staff and departments for everything ❤️ 


What is missing with ASL at Awareness Games:

1.       The events have not used Certified Deaf interpreters (CDI)

2.       The ASL national anthem and ASL group performances should be broadcast on live TV, streamlined, or on social media platforms during the Awareness Day

3.       The sports arenas need to hire more staff who can communicate via ASL

4.       A mechanism for the organizers to identify high-talented National Anthem Deaf performers, signers, and artists to participate in a Deaf Awareness Event


Lastly, in 2023 and 2024, sports venues in the NJ/NY metropolitan area have shown good progress in including the National Anthem ASL performers.  Recent sports events in the NJ/NY Metropolitan area where ASL performers signed the National Anthem:

  • New Jersey Devils ASL night (March 12, 2023 and March 7, 2024) 

  • New York Islanders Deaf Awareness Night (February 23, 2023 and December 7, 2024)

  • New York Mets Deaf Awareness Day (July 30, 2023)

  • New York Mets (NY School for the Deaf - Fanwood (April 17, 2024)

  • Seton Hall University men’s basketball game (vs Rutgers) at Prudential Center, Newark, NJ (December 9, 2023)

  • NHL Stadium Series - Philadelphia Flyers vs New Jersey Devils at the MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ (February 17, 2024)

  • NHL Stadium Series - New York Islanders vs NY Rangers at the MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ (February 18, 2024)

  • Rutgers vs Virginia Tech football game at SHI Rutgers Stadium (September 16, 2023)

  • Big East men’s basketball tournament at Madison Square Garden (March 16, 2024)

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