Indy Pride, Inc. exists to unite and serve its members and the LGBTQ community of Central Indiana and those with disabilities through leadership development, educational and support programs, and community events that achieve inclusivity, equality, strong community connections, and awareness of LGBTQ issues. Indy Pride also puts on a large festival and a variety of events during the year. Their biggest event, Circle City IN Pride, is preceded by Pride Week, a full week of events which serves as the largest fundraiser for Indy Pride, Inc. PRIDE week and Circle City IN Pride occurs annually in June with a wide range of events in venues throughout Indianapolis and seeks to celebrate the Central Indiana LGBTQ community.
For 28 years Indy Pride has held one of Indiana’s largest one-day festivals: Circle City IN Pride, attracting upwards of 100,000 people. The festival, attracting individuals from the neighboring states of Ohio and Kentucky, brings in crowds of attendees regardless of age, language, religion, race, or sexual orientation. The diversity of attendees poses a challenge of inclusivity and assurance that all individuals receive the adequate and equal support needed to enjoy this festival. Members of the Deaf and hard of hearing communities who previously attended the festival found it difficult to communicate due to the lack of qualified interpreters available.
During the Circle City IN Pride 2016 festival, the only American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters provided were volunteers and in some cases lacked the skills required to effectively communicate with Deaf and hard of hearing communities. Even though Indy Pride is a volunteer organization and relies primarily on volunteers to facilitate the operations of their events—they recognized this is a service that requires professional interpreters to ensure they adequately meet the needs of their attendees within the Deaf community.
Understanding the need for appropriate language access for all attendees of the festival, and in partnership with the Global Accessibility Project, Indy Pride organized a proactive Accessibility Team to evaluate, access, and diagnose potential areas of concerns regarding individuals with disabilities at Indy Pride events. Indy Pride realized they needed experienced and certified ASL interpreters for their events to ensure greater inclusivity of the Deaf community. They established a disability focus group and reached out to members of the Deaf community to ask who their preferred vendor was based on their experiences. Members from the Deaf community recommended LUNA Language Services.
With over ten years of experience providing ASL and language access services across the state, as well as being the coordinating unit for ASL services for the state of Indiana, LUNA Language Services is one of the largest contract interpreting agencies for this language group. Possessing strong ties with the Deaf and hard of hearing communities and partnerships with Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDIs), Indy Pride partnered with LUNA for the Circle City Indy Pride 2017 festival and intends to continue their partnership with LUNA as their preferred vendor for future events.
Elizabeth (Longcore) Goldman, Indy Pride’s Accessibility Coordinator, said LUNA’s certified ASL Interpreters were “…professional, on time, and had an amazing balance of being at the festival to do the job and make it fun for the Deaf community attendees, but also have fun at the same time!” In addition to having interpreters at all of the performance stages throughout the day, there was also a “floater” onsite that could assist with any additional needs such as assisting with vendor communication. LUNA’s streamlined coordinating processes allowed for responsive communication between Goldman and LUNA’s coordinating team. As a result, LUNA’s involvement in the festival produced positive outcomes for everyone: the Deaf community, Indy Pride, and LUNA.
Additionally, the feedback Indy Pride received from the Deaf community after the festival was all positive. The Deaf community felt the festival was more inclusive due to LUNA’s certified interpreters and their ability to advocate for the Deaf and hard of hearing communities by providing accurate interpreting services. The positive feedback from these communities affirmed Indy Pride’s mission of creating an inclusive environment for all festival guests and LUNA’s goal of providing language access services.
Goldman said, “In order to provide the best experience for our Deaf and hard of hearing attendees, it was of utmost importance to us to ensure that members from that specific community were the ones spearheading the identification of needed supports in order to ensure that our event is not only accessible—but culturally responsive as well. My favorite outcome of this experience is that we have now added “Deaf Pride” to our list of 2018 events leading up to the festival so that Deaf culture within the LGBTQ community is not only inclusive—it is celebrated!”