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Groom learns sign language in 3 weeks, ASL music videos go viral on YouTube

Sign language interpreter Tina Cleveland wants her October wedding to fiance Paul Sirimarco to be memorable, so what better way than to teach the groom ASL?

Paul and Tina Sirimarco find a new YouTube niche with ASL sign language music videos
Paul and Tina Sirimarco @YouTube

According to a story published on Aug. 23 by ABC13 news in Chatsworth, Calif., the couple decided to learn "You're the One That I Want" from the "Grease" soundtrack and were practicing the song, intended to be performed at their upcoming wedding, in the car during a long road trip. On a whim, Cleveland decided to record the lesson and post the results to Facebook and YouTube.

More than a million hits later, the couple's channel is going viral, with thousands of deaf viewers subscribing and clamoring for more. And, oh yeah. Until three weeks ago, Sirimarco didn't know a "word" of ASL.

"We feel like we're bridging a little bit of the gap between the hearing and the deaf community," Sirimarco told ABC7 in San Francisco. "They get to enjoy music, just like hearing people do."

Filling a niche on the web that has been, so far, overlooked, is no small accomplishment. And the couple are committed to following up on their surprising success with more sign language music videos, now closed captioned and already increasing in quality and sophistication.

Even YouTube is taking notice. The company has offered the couple a free production studio to expand the idea and, hopefully, help close the gap between the hearing and non-hearing alike.

It's kind of hard to believe this hasn't been done before. The couple promises to record the wedding video and post the results to YouTube. And, it looks like an old saying gets a new twist: "Music is the universal (sign) language."

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