I was a kid in the 70s and 80s. I grew up in Utah, so I always watched general conference at home. I was thinking the other day of a few changes that have happened at general conference that I never really noticed until lately.
1. The ASL translator signing in a bubble on the corner of the screen is long gone. Does anyone else remember that? I used to love watching her sign. It seemed like it always was a woman, and she wore a black turtleneck so that you could see her hands better. That was a very distinctive part of watching conference when I was a little girl. Closed Captions became available, and I assume that’s when they stopped having an ASL interpreter in the corner of the screen.
It’s my understanding that most people who are deaf prefer to watch American Sign Language (ASL) over reading closed captions in English or another language. ASL is not just a signed version of English; it is a complex foreign language, so closed captions are a poor substitute for ASL. Those who wish to view conference with an ASL interpreter should go here: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/sessions?lang=eng&clang=ase
This is what the modern ASL interpretation of general conference looks like. (I couldn’t find a picture of the old fashioned lady in bubble that was broadcast in the 70s and probably in the early 80s.)
And here’s an interesting video about ASL and General Conference
2. Women speakers don’t wear fresh flower corsages anymore. Corsages just aren’t as popular as they used to be. I remember when all the moms at Church would have a flower corsage on for Mother’s Day. And not the wrist kind that girls wear to prom these days; the kind you pinned to your dress.
But Sister Burton did have a charming fabric or knitted flower ‘corsage’ or pin on at the General Women’s Session on Saturday.
3. The clunky teleprompter is gone.
Actually, when I was a child I thought it was bulletproof glass to protect the prophet. Never mind that there wasn’t a piece of glass in the front, but only on the sides, which wouldn’t have made for very good protection. I still thought it was for protection. The Prophet Joseph Smith was murdered. People in The Bible and The Book of Mormon were always trying to kill the prophets of old, so I just assumed that my brave President Kimball was escaping from bad guys regularly (with the help of the Lord, of course.)
I loved the story that went around school that ‘someone’ had seen President Kimball at Lagoon, and he had on cowboy boots and a cowboy hat, and he had bodyguards with him. Now, I don’t know how true that story was, but that seemed like the perfect thing to me for a Hero-Prophet to do on his day off; to go to Lagoon in his cowboy boots. With body guards.
If you had told me it was a teleprompter, I wouldn’t have believed you. I was a little kid, and memorizing was a very important thing in school, so I was sure all the prophets memorized their talks. That was the only proper way to do anything in grade school. You memorize it. I didn’t understand the nuances of public speaking, and how useful a teleprompter is.
The teleprompters in the new Conference Center are invisible to the audience, but here’s what they look like with the lights up and from behind the pulpit. It looks like they keep some glasses of water and a bowl of cough drops or mints under the pulpit, too. That’s really thoughtful of someone.
But during conference, the teleprompters are invisible to the audience. The speaker can read the words on them, though. I have no idea how that works, and I’m fairly savvy.
So, there’s my little post about 3 things that changed about general conference since I was a kid. I didn’t really notice it when the change happened. They’re not the hugest changes, but they kept coming to my mind, so maybe someone out there needs something contained in this post. I always hope that my blog posts will do significant good for at least one person who sees them or sees the memes from them or follows one of the links to LDS.org. Then after that, I hope that my posts get shared on a larger scale to do perhaps a smaller amount of good, like uplifting someone for 5 minutes or just making them smile. That’s my hope and prayer. Have a wonderful general conference.