Three Incredible Female Sign-Language Interpreters

contributed by: Jennifer Murphy


We live in a hearing-centric world, where many activities require the ability to hear sound; especially music. But for those Deaf or Hard of Hearing, this can feel alienating. However, sign-language interpreters can help this music come to life. According to the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, women represent 84% of sign language interpreters. We love that some of these women like Holly Maniatty, JoAnn Benfield, and Amber Galloway Gallego bring more to their sign language performances than only translating words. From Snoop Dog concerts to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, they appear to translate the music itself, aiming to express the music’s true intent.


In this week’s blog, we want to celebrate these incredible female sign-language interpreters:


Amber Galloway Gallego




  • Her childhood dream: being the first white female rapper.

  • In 2002, a battle with meningitis caused her significant hearing loss.

  • She used her passion to specialize in music interpreting, especially hip-hop and rap.

  • She founded Amber G Productions to provide the Deaf community with a musical experience.

  • In the future, her hearing loss will progress, but this increases her motivation to continue performing.


Watch Amber sign ‘How Far I’ll Go’ from Moana:


Holly Maniatty


(Facebook/Holly Maniatty)


  • She can sign impromptu freestyle raps.

  • She has interpreted performances for over a decade.

  • She studies an artists’ music for 50-80 hours before a show.

  • At the show, she uses cultural directional signs depending on the artist’s origin.

  • Her goal: to capture an artist’s essence, breathing into their music to evoke their personal style.


Check out Holly interpreting for Wu-Tang Clan:


JoAnn Benfield


(youtube D-PAN interview)


  • She works as a music interpreter while being deaf herself.

  • She believes in heart-felt lyrical research, discussions, and translation.

  • When she performs songs, they can be emotional for clients but also for her as an interpreter.

  • Since 2011, she has coached the award-winning Texas School for the Deaf cheer team.

  • She was an adjunct professor in the department of English for Speakers of Other Languages at Austin Community College.


Watch JoAnn sign ‘Clarity’ at ASL Fusion 2013:




Gallego, Amber Galloway. “History and Mission.” Amber G Productions. Amber G Productions,

n.d. Web. 14 Aug. 2017. <>.


Hudson, Laura. “FREQ #16: Amber Galloway Gallego: Turning Music into Sign Language.”

Medium. Medium, 07 July 2017. Web. 14 Aug. 2017. <



“JoAnn Benfield Selected as Director of Gallaudet University Regional Center-South.” Gallaudet

University. Gallaudet University, 17 June 2016. Web. 14 Aug. 2017. <>.


Nelson, Amy K. “Meet Holly Maniatty, the Wu-Tang Clan’s Sign Language Interpreter.” Slate

Magazine. John Alderman, 21 June 2013. Web. 14 Aug. 2017.




Simmons, Julie. “Music Interpreters for the Deaf: Do You See What I See?” Music Makes You

Think. Music Makes You Think, 17 Feb. 2017. Web. 14 Aug. 2017. <>.

Felicia Gonzalez