During Hurricane Irma, we saw several ASL interpreters at the emergency briefings. Take a look
Some of them are certified deaf interpreters
One of them was not a certified interpreter
This garnered attention from the deaf and ASL communities, which sparked controversy and concerns, especially during an emergency like this.
We at DTV News are beyond thrilled to see accessibility for such critical information;
The officials at the Manatee County Emergency Operation Center informed residents there was a mandatory evacuation for residents in Zone A. However, the interpreter was conveying nearly all of the information incorrectly. The deaf community relies on ASL for its facial expressions as grammar. It’s crucial to have a certified interpreter during emergencies.
VisCom is a sign language interpreting agency that provides services in Florida. VisCom’s owner Charlene McCarthy reached out to the Manatee County Emergency Management team to inform them their company is available to provide interpreters if needed. However, the office never followed up to book an interpreter.
It is extremely dangerous not having an interpreter at emergency briefings. It is strongly encouraged that all government agencies have a certified interpreter, especially a CDI, ready at all times, especially when it comes to emergencies like this. Someone knowing little sign language does not automatically qualify them to interpret. It is also encouraged to have a camera on the interpreter, because it’s considered disrespectful to the deaf community when the interpreter is not visible. How else can the information be accessed by the deaf community?
We at DTV News are hopeful this will encourage government agencies to always be ready with an interpreter.