Sean Forbes (right) poses with event hosts Natasha Abner, assistant professor in the Department of Linguistics, and Michael Korleski, a deaf student in the U-M Dental School.

Deaf hip-hop artist Sean Forbes, a native of Detroit, gave a public performance at the University of Michigan recently, followed by a community discussion on accessibility. An estimated eighty people attended the unique event, which featured Forbes performing six to eight songs, each of which were accompanied by a musical track and video projection.

Forbes’ music is designed to be accessible to both hearing and deaf audience members, with lyrics co-presented in English and American Sign Language. Between songs, the artist spoke about his experience growing up deaf, participating in both hearing and deaf communities, and getting started and succeeding in the music industry. Following Forbes’ performance, the event transitioned to a question-and-answer session and a community discussion on accessibility, facilitated by University of Michigan deaf student Michael Korleski.

Multiple event sponsors from the University of Michigan included the Initiative on Disability Studies, the Department of Linguistics; Institute for the Humanities; Office of Research; Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; and the Sign Language and Multimodal Communication Lab.