Qualified sign language interpreters crucial during COVID-19

Local News

LUBBOCK, Texas – The City of Lubbock has been utilizing interpreters during their press conferences in an effort to make COVID-19 information more accessible for everyone.

Johnny Hill, a Texas Tech University professor and member of the deaf community, said it can be difficult to get information through online and other media because of the lack of interpreters and monitored closed captioning.

“Even the White House briefings currently are not including any interpreters or closed captions online,” he said.

Hill said it’s important to understand that American Sign Language and spoken English are two different languages and that interpreters should be screened to ensure they are qualified.

“An example of this happened in Dallas, Texas where an individual who we would call a signer in our community relayed to everyone that it was okay for people to start going back to church,” he said, “The rest of the message that she interpreted was incomprehensible to me.”

Amy Stoesser, coordinator at Regional Day School Program for the Deaf at LISD, said her school has added sign language interpretations to their videos online to ensure more students and parents have equal access to information.

“We just moved what we do every day to the classroom,” she said. “We have had help from other interpreters, other districts who are all trying to figure out the same things we are so we have a wonderful deaf education community as well as deaf education interpretation community working together to solve these problems so we can make sure we are meeting the needs of our students.

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