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Actress to sign the national anthem at Super Bowl XLVIII

While many viewers listen to Renee Fleming and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra perform the national anthem at Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium, not everyone will be able to hear it. Which is why each year the National Association of the Deaf and PepsiCo select someone to perform the anthem in American Sign Language. This year that honor goes to actress Amber Zion.

Amber recorded the national anthem with us in advance of her upcoming performance at one of the most-watched events of the year. We break down the signs to the lyrics with the idea that anyone can learn how to sign this song and enjoy this great tradition.

While Amber performs Sunday night, one player in particular will likely be paying attention from the sidelines. Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman is the first legally deaf player to be part of an NFL offense.

See the video below for Amber's rendition:

Have you noticed that each time an artist sings the national anthem, certain notes are held out longer or shorter, and certain phrases are emphasized? On Sunday, Amber will add those nuances through specific emphasis or reduction in the movements of her hands, arms, face and body. See below for our Q&A and more interesting facts from the NAD:

AOL: How is inflection denoted in sign language? Each time an artist sings the national anthem, certain notes are held out longer or shorter, and certain phrases are emphasized. How do you add these nuances and emotions to signing?

NAD: Inflection and emotion is conveyed in American Sign Language through specific emphasis or reduction in the movements of the hand, arms, face and body as well as with facial expressions. With a song like the national anthem, the length of each note can be varied depending on the duration and tone of the sign used. Like vocal singers, each ASL artist has his or her own style and way of showing the meaning and concept of the song in ASL.

AOL: What's your favorite type of music or spoken word to sign?

Amber: Adele's "Rolling in the Deep," which I did a music video of some time ago. Available on YouTube. I also like "Believe in Dream."

AOL: What is the biggest challenge when signing?

NAD: It is one thing to be performing a song in American Sign Language as a single artist. It is another thing to perform the song in ASL while integrating a singer's version with the ASL rendition. This can pose a challenge because ASL has its own structure and grammar. Not only does the signer determine on how he or she wants to render the song in ASL, but the signer must also take into account the vocal singer's interpretation of the song.

AOL: Do you rehearse with a singer before signing a song?

NAD: Yes, whenever possible we ensure that the signer rehearses beforehand with the singer. As is true in any form of show business, anything can change quickly so we do all we can to go with the flow and be prepared. You can see some of Amber's prep for her Super Bowl performance in a video posted at our site.

AOL: Aside from the Super Bowl, is there another event you'd like to see incorporate sign language?

NAD: The National Association of the Deaf advocates for American Sign Language rendition of the national anthem at all sporting events. We would like to see it at the World Series, the NHL Stanley Cup finals, the NBA and WNBA basketball finals, and March Madness among others. We believe that these ASL renditions should be performed by deaf performers who are fluent in ASL.

AOL: It seems that the National Anthem is a common song to sign, but are there others that most sign interpreters know?

NAD: A deaf artist such as Amber Zion is a performer rather than a sign language interpreter (the terminology used is important for the sake of clarity). Artists like Amber are well versed in rendering many kinds of music through American Sign Language.

AOL: Do you have a pick for the Super Bowl?

NAD: Both football teams are excellent contenders for the Super Bowl title, but we want to share our excitement about a deaf football player who will be in the Super Bowl this year – Derrick Coleman of the Seattle Seahawks. By all accounts, he is the first deaf player to ever be in the Super Bowl. We wish him well and hope to see more deaf and hard of hearing football players in the NFL and in other major sports. We also want to tell everyone that they can watch Amber's entire performance of the National Anthem online at FOXSports.com/super-bowl or through your tablet (such as an iPad) with the FOX Sports GO app.

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linda February 06 2014 at 9:07 PM

IM PROFOUNDLY DEAF SINCE THREE AND I DID SING SILENT NIGHT FOR 16 YEARS AT CHURCH AND I STOP BECAUSE I MOVE AWAY...........EVERYONE LOVE MY SINGING AND ITS SAD ABOUT AMBER ZOIN DIDNT SINGING IN SIGN LANGUAGE AT ANTHEM AT SUPER BOWL JUST FOR FIFTEEN SEC DO TV STATION ARE EMBRASSEMENT BECAUSE SHE IS DEAF
IF FOR REAL ILL BE PRIUD OF HER OR OTHER DEAF OR HARD OF HEARING SINGING AND I DO WISH THAT DERRICK COLEMAN NEED TO SING IN SIGN LANGUAGE SO EVERYONE COULD LEARN THAT DEAF PEOPLE CAN DO ANYTHING LIKE NORMAL PEOPLE DO PLEASE THINK ABOUT IT NEXT YEAR IN FULL OF SINGING IN SIGN LANGUAGE AT ANY WORLD SERIES SUPERBOWL AND ANY SPEICAL ITS VERY SAD FOR AMBER ZOIN...........

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Lois February 06 2014 at 5:54 PM

Saw her for abouit 4 or 5 m inutes on TV..TV does not really show the signing..! Same thing every year..!

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suzzz45aug February 04 2014 at 2:46 PM

Why go through the bother to select ANYONE to sign the National Anthem when the veiwing audiance doesn't see them???? I would have LOVED to see Amber Zion. But I saw her sign for less than 15 seconds!! I have tried to find a YouTube of her signing it - NADA - NOTHING - ZERO!!! Who were you serving ??????
Why each year, does the National Association of the Deaf and PepsiCo select someone to perform the anthem in American Sign Language?????? That's right!! There ARE those of us who can not hear!! So let us see her sign it!

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bettybecker1 February 02 2014 at 7:43 PM

Why is the ASL signer for the National Anthem not shown on the tv or at least not in all areas? Very frustrating for the deaf who are waiting anxiously to watch!!!

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1 reply to bettybecker1's comment
suzzz45aug February 04 2014 at 2:51 PM

I'm with you Betty!
I was so upset because I saw only 15 sec. of Amber signing the National Anthem!!
Same goes for the first song that Queen Batisha sang. Amber also signed it --- but we weren't allowed to see her signing it!!
WHY??????

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slouer7 February 01 2014 at 9:41 AM

I enjoyed her performance and interpretation. She will be with Renee Fleming and this seems to be right.

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Esther February 01 2014 at 4:18 AM

I don't know if she was trying to be dramatic or not but she wasn't signing fast enough with the pace of the song. Starting around 40 seconds she lagging.

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1 reply to Esther's comment
suzzz45aug February 04 2014 at 2:47 PM

Where did you see her perform this???
I saw all of 15 seconds of it!! I wanted to see her sign the National Anthem.

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punnster February 01 2014 at 3:05 AM

Learn to finger spell 1st that way you can finger spell the words you do not know how to sign or forget how to sign. Yep, I often had to resort to finger spelling.

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horsestoy February 01 2014 at 2:03 AM

When I wrote all of them, I meant sporting events!

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horsestoy February 01 2014 at 1:58 AM

I think it's fantastic! I learned to sign for my great aunt when she went deaf and She would still sing around the house (not in front of people outside the family, she was self conscious) she used to sing in the church choir. She missed hearing music, but she remembered the tunes in her head. So if she were still alive, she would think this was really cool. So I am really thrilled they are doing this for the deaf people watching the game. I think they should do it for all of them! Why not?

And I had no idea Derrick Coleman was legally deaf. I don't mean it should be a big deal, but I would think it would be a little difficult playing any sport being deaf, you have to pay really close attention. I don't mean to sound ignorant, so please no one take offence!

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Love ya Baby February 01 2014 at 1:29 AM

I'm so glad they're having this sign language, I 'm one of those who need to see what theirs are singing in signing, keep up and there so many out there is watching.

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