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Advocates Call For More Resources For The Deaf During Pandemic

Advocates for the deaf say there need to be more ASL interpreters and resources to help convey life-saving health information to the deaf community during the coronavirus pandemic.
WMFE
Advocates for the deaf say there need to be more ASL interpreters and resources to help convey life-saving health information to the deaf community during the coronavirus pandemic.

Advocates for the deaf say there need to be more ASL interpreters and resources to help convey life-saving health information to the deaf community during the coronavirus pandemic.

Angela Roth is the founder of ASL Services and serves as an interpreter at Orange County and city of Orlando press conferences about the virus. 

Roth says closed captioning can be difficult to follow in real-time because it can be incorrect or incomplete and lacks any indication of tone.

“It is very hard to read as well as to capture the essence. Because we really get the essence,” Roth said. “And that’s why we’re often seen right there where you can see the person whose speaking.

“Because you can’t get all the emotion, the concern, if something’s very important or if they’re really pausing to make a point. That’s not going to come through at all.”

Roth says she wants to see more public service announcements in American Sigh Language or quick ASL video summaries at the top of online articles to encourage face masks and social distancing.

“So that at least before they start reading it. They see in sign. What is this article going to be about? And that will give them a better chance as they read it to kind of catch on,” she said. “Because again it is a different language.

“So anybody who has earned a second language would appreciate, ‘OK, somebody tell me what it’s going to be talking about in my language?’ ”

According to the Florida Department of Health, more than 56,000 Floridians have been infected with COVID-19.