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Deaf Inc. Interpreter Signing Walmart Events

By: 4 June 2010 One Comment

BENTONVILLE — Candace Woodside swung her hips, paused to play air guitar, used phantom drumsticks and used her hands to sign lyrics.

Woodside was popular  at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, Ark., where she signed the songs by REO Speedwagon and the Barenaked Ladies.

A spotlight was on Woods and her hands. It helped the deaf  and hearing impaired Walmart employees —  coming from across the United States and from around the world to attend the week’s annual shareholder meeting events — understand  lyrics and enjoy concerts just like anyone else.

The dancing, air drums and hip swaying Woodside does while interpreting song lyrics isn’t just for her enjoyment: It has a purpose.

“If I hear drums, I am going to show the drums. If I hear music, I want them to know what is going on, what equipment is up there, what is rocking out so they can be involved in the whole thing,” Woodside said.

That gives the deaf and hearing impaired an experience richer than only feeling music vibrations and seeing signs for the music lyrics.
“How boring would that be if I was just signing, word after word after word?” Woodside said.

DEAF Inc. interpreter/sign language artist Candace Woodside.

Barenaked Ladies singer Ed Robertson gave a mid-concert shoutout to Candace. He said he was glad the interpreter signed the song lyrics, as Barenaked Ladies is the number one band among deaf people.

Woodside also was a Twitter celebrity, as many tweets from concert goers mentioned “the sign lady” and her dance moves, how she was “rocking out” and “is as entertaining as the bands!”

Woodside began the art and the science of sign language about 15 years ago, when she was attending college in Mississippi. She met some deaf people, wanted to communicate and changed career paths.

She began taking sign language classes. Woodside earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in school counseling.

Along the way, Woodside worked for a domestic violence and crisis counseling center, where she was an advocate working with deaf women.
Woodside, 40, now lives in St. Louis and works for Deaf Inc., The Deaf Empowerment Awareness Foundation.

The firm and Woodside wound up at the Walmart shareholders’ meeting because of contacts from former Arkansas resident and now Deaf Inc. lead interpreter Brenda Kappos.

Deaf Inc. interpreters are not just signing what bands sing. They also are signing for the deaf what guides say on tours, what executives say or what the words are in videos played at Walmart shareholders’ meeting events.

Woodside said she also has to give the words she signs some context, because the deaf or hearing impaired might not get the slang phrases or idioms used in every day conversations.

For example, Woodside would sign the exact words if a speaker said “I’m going to paint the town red.”

She also would sign an explanation, that the phrase means someone is going to go out and have a really good time.

“It’s the same with lyrics. There is so much meaning in songs. Maybe my perception of that song is one thing and a different person would take it differently,” Woodside said.

Between signing the actual words in conversation or the lyrics in music, and the accompanying explanation, Woodside is saying with her hands twice to three times what people say with words.

However, she insists her hands don’t get tired.

“My brain gets tired quicker than my hands, trying to take everything in and interpret it accurately. We do stretches and exercise just like you do in a sport,” Woodside said of sign language interpreters. “If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t do your job effectively.”

About: Lana F. Flowers:
Lana F. Flowers is a gifted Arkansas reporter who can handle news about Walmart and retail, movie and book reviews, human interest stories, features and anything else you'd care to mention. She lives in Rogers, Ark., with her husband Jesse, daughter Layla, cats Lottie Boots and Emmy, and dog Fuzzy. Send an email --

One Comment »

  • Chris Woodside said:

    Candace is stink in ASL. I dont like her!

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