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Sign Language Gibberish Prompts Bill On Hurricane Briefings

A warning about pizza and a big bear as Hurricane Irma approached Florida is prompting a bill addressing how the state communicates with hearing impaired residents during weather emergencies.A House unanimously approved a bill Tuesday that would require the officials to include a qualified sign language interpreter at televised hurricane briefings.

Democratic Rep. Richard Stark said his bill was inspired in part by news accounts of a sign language interpreter who signed gibberish during a televised briefing in Manatee County, including the pizza and bear warnings.

Stark said while he first chuckled at the news account, for hearing impaired residents “this is anything but funny.”

Interpreters would have to be certified by the National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf or the Florida Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf.