Updated 02/07/12 – 4:45 p.m.
INDIANAPOLIS (CBS) — Miss Deaf America – Arlington Heights native Rachel Mazique – was invited to the Super Bowl to sign the national anthem and “America the Beautiful,” but nobody saw her on TV.
Now, as WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports, Mazique’s supporters are demanding an apology from NBC and the NFL for not showing her.
TV cameras showed Kelly Clarkson singing the national anthem, along with the players, the coaches, a choir, and even soldiers in Afghanistan, but did not show Mazique signing the lyrics.
As CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports, the slight – or oversight – was getting plenty of attention from activists online.
An online petition has been mounted via Change.org, demanding an apology from the NFL and NBC. As of Tuesday afternoon, it had collected more than 3,000 signatures.
“Millions of people had the opportunity to see the song signed beautifully by a young Deaf woman who had a genuine intention of nothing but getting the message across that Deaf people can do anything,” the petition says. “This moment has passed by and it never can be redone again. The opportunity is gone. Young children and adults from all over the world missed the chance of seeing that Deaf people like Ms. Mazique can be successful in the real world and barriers can be broken.”
Health and Disability Advocates CEO Barbara Otto said she signed the petition as soon as she saw it.
“It could be either a slight, or it could be an oversight. One thing I do know is that it’s behind the times and, whether it is the NFL or whether it’s NBC, they kind of have to get with the program,” she said.
The situation has upset many groups advocating on behalf of the disabled community. Mazique herself – an Arlington Heights native – is quoted on the petition as saying, “I’m as disappointed as you are that American Sign Language gained no exposure. I am so sorry you didn’t get the chance to see me on TV, and I thank you all for your support and excitement.”
The online group wants more, though, and Otto said attitudes still have to change.
“I still think there’s a lot of labeling of people with disabilities as being the other or being different. And, as I said, it’s time for all of us to start thinking beyond the label, because all of us have something that’s different or uniquely different about us.”
The deaf community is rallying behind Miss Deaf America, saying her treatment was unacceptable, and the community says it will be heard.
Mazique told the Daily Herald that not only did she not get on TV, but she doesn’t think she ever made the JumboTron either. She also was not positioned near Clarkson, and was not even invited to stay for the game, the Daily Herald reported.
The NFL did not respond to requests for comment.