Deaf students attend Sixers game bringing visibility and awareness for those with communication needs

For anyone who has gone to a Philadelphia 76ers game, you know it's is all about the sights and sounds in the arena. But, for hundreds of fans, the Wells Fargo Center was silent Thursday night.

It was Deaf Awareness Night at the Sixers game against the New York Knicks. More than 200 fans in attendance were students of the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf in Germantown.

It was a night to bring visibility to those with communication needs and a unique identity.

"Yes, the basketball game, the players, the score, the contest but, also the opportunity to sit back and see our language in use" said Melissa Draganac-Hawk, Head of School at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf.

That language was on full display as the national anthem was performed in American Sign Language by Philadelphia’s own Justina Miles.

"I want people to learn that deaf people exist. But the culture exists as well. And it’s really prominent," said Miles.

Miles went viral with her ASL Halftime Performance with Rihanna when the Eagles played the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl in Phoenix. She says that performance was a game changer.

"I see a lot of people trying to cure deafness. But deafness is beautiful. Hearing does not prevent experience, expression. And ASL is how we express" added Miles.

For many fans the night was a fun, Philly way to spread their message and help others understand about deaf culture.

"What we see for sporting events is closed captioning. Which is a wonderful opportunity for access but not full access for the community. Having American Sign Language available for the community is the language we use every day so it’s great to see it tonight" said Draganac-Hawk.

The Flyers are hosting a Deaf Awareness Night next month.