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COVID-19 pandemic boosts visibility of sign language, increases accessibility for deaf community

Sign language interpreters said that they hope increased use of interpreters during major events helps increase accessibility for the deaf community.

The COVID-19 pandemic changed daily life for people across the world. With new safety guidelines requiring people to wear masks and practice social distancing and companies changing how they do business, people are having to adapt.

However, some of those changes could increase accessibility for the deaf community in Tennessee. As a result of more events being held virtually, officials said that sign language's visibility has increased.

Sign language interpreters are featured during important announcements about the coronavirus, and during major events like the Inauguration of President Biden. One interpreter said that she hopes this leads to more access for the deaf community since they are being featured more.

"To see that, on stage, in the spotlight, a woman signing and they showed her the entire way — it was very inspiring," said Mandy Turner, who works with the Colorado Commission for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind. "We're starting to see those barriers break down."

Sign language interpreters help with communication between all kinds of government services at the local and state levels. They help the deaf community engage with their local governments.

Officials said that they hope increased accessibility for people who are deaf, hard-of-hearing and deaf-blind becomes more normalized in the future.

    

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