American Sign Language Interpreters Becoming More Valuable During Pandemic
The World Health Organization states that about five people of the American population is deaf or hard of hearing. The point has made it essential for American sign language or ASL interpreters to be made available throughout the country. The point has become more essential during the coronavirus pandemic.
With various state officials issuing daily details on what they are doing surrounding the pandemic, many interpreters are necessary. Interpreters have appeared alongside many governors and other officials around the country to relay information to those who are hard of hearing.
Many Parts of Communication Are Critical
The ASL interpreters who provide information do so with multiple parameters in mind. The hand shape and palm orientation are critical for explaining the content. The positioning of a sign on the body and the intensity of hand movements also influence how serious or critical the information might sound. The facial expressions that one conveys while signing may also suggest that certain points are more important than others.
Various Interpreters Become Noteworthy
Many of the ASL interpreters who have appeared during conferences have become visible. The workers are often reflective of the needs that people have. Jonathan Lamberton, the interpreter for New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, has stated in an interview that many deaf and hard of hearing people often put more trust in the mayor’s words when they are signed. Also, Lamberton used distinct expressions in his work to illustrate de Blasio’s disgust over how the city wasn’t getting enough help.
Virginia Moore, the interpreter for Kentucky governor Andy Beshear, has also become noteworthy for her expressions. Part of this included her interpretation of Beshear’s anger over people holding “coronavirus parties.”
Some interpreters have become prominent mainly for comical reasons. The interpreter for a recent conference with Georgia governor Brian Kemp was highlighted online for how he looks very similar to former late-night talk show host David Letterman.
Are There Enough?
ASL interpreters have become vital during the pandemic. But there have been some frustrations surrounding how some briefings don’t have interpreters. It was not only a few weeks into the situation that New York governor Andrew Cuomo had an interpreter at his events. Interpreters have also been absent from most White House briefings.
The National Association of the Deaf has been trying to get the White House to include interpreters at its events. There are also efforts out there to try and make them more visible in various other places.
The argument is that sign language is easier to note than closed captions on a screen. The physical movements and expressions of an interpreter can do more to convey a message and illustrate its meaning or significance. The layout of ASL is distinct enough to where people see it as a completely separate message.
How Is “Coronavirus” Conveyed?
One other topic about interpreters entails how they explain the coronavirus to people. Some will finger-spell COVID-19, while others will use a closed fist with an open hand behind it to illustrate the general shape of the viral organism.