Max announces an ASL version of 'Barbie' coming soon

A little 'Barbie' for all.
By Chase DiBenedetto  on 
A group of coordinated Barbies and Kens dance on a brightly lit, pink dance floor. A woman in a black shirt interprets in ASL in the bottom right corner of the screen.
Coming soon to mojo dojo casa houses: "Barbie" in ASL! Credit: Warner Bros.

Barbie is coming to dreamhouses nationwide, as Max announces the blockbuster film will be released to streaming on Dec. 15.

Even more exciting? The movie is launching with an American Sign Language version, in true "Barbie is for everyone" fashion.

On Dec. 4, the company unveiled that the mid-December release would be accompanied by an ASL interpretation in collaboration with Warner Bros. and with oversight from Deaf community leaders. The interpretation is performed by Leila Hanaumi, a deaf creator, performer, and writer well known for her viral song interpretations. Hanaumi has also performed as part of Deaf Austin Theatre and in popular music videos. Hanaumi will appear at a special Dec. 14 screening of Barbie ahead of the release, alongside star Margot Robbie and hosted with Deaf West Theatre and RespectAbility.

"Max is the premiere destination for storytelling, so being able to share the biggest movie of the year in ASL, the first language for many, will make this story resonate in a more meaningful way. By offering sign language interpretation, we will build upon the film’s empowering message of inclusiveness and offer a unique viewing experience for the Deaf community to enjoy with family and friends," wrote Casey Bloys, chairman and CEO of HBO and Max Content.

Margot Robbie as Barbie drives a pink convertible. A woman in a black shirt interprets in ASL in the bottom right corner.
Credit: Warner Bros.

Max currently offers closed captions for most of its movies and TV shows, and provides audio descriptions for select content. Closed captions can be turned on using the settings options on screen. To find content with audio description, users can either search directly on the site for "Audio Description" or "DVS," or scroll through the "Audio Description" page under genres.

Accommodations such as these are quickly becoming the standard among streaming giants and major studios, as more and more viewers demand accessible viewing options alongside the push for more authentic representation on screen. The entertainment industry at large has only recently stepped up to the demands of viewers with disabilities in such ways, however, including the addition of customizable captions on streaming sites and the expansion of open caption screenings at nationwide movie theaters. Live entertainment, such as award show programming and sports, have also introduced expanded viewing options for those with disabilities, including ASL streams.

The ASL release of Barbie — a record-breaking film at the box office and a model for many embracing the film's empowering, community-building message — adds another dimension to the accessibility charge.

To riff on the Barbie quote, "Max has a great day everyday, but viewers with disabilities only have a great day when studios make their movies available for everyone."

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Chase sits in front of a green framed window, wearing a cheetah print shirt and looking to her right. On the window's glass pane reads "Ricas's Tostadas" in red lettering.
Chase DiBenedetto
Social Good Reporter

Chase joined Mashable's Social Good team in 2020, covering online stories about digital activism, climate justice, accessibility, and media representation. Her work also touches on how these conversations manifest in politics, popular culture, and fandom. Sometimes she's very funny.

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