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National ASL Day: Sign language keeping hearing-impaired citizens informed during pandemic

Posted at 9:48 AM, Apr 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-15 10:48:13-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — For people that are deaf, like Dan Fox, it's always been a non-traditional route to find news and information.

"I've been staying at friends in California since the coronavirus outbreak," Fox said. "The two of us watch the news, and they actually know more than I do about it, and then they'll kind of fill me in on details, so I know how to be prepared like washing your hands and wearing a face mask and a variety of things like that."

Fox has relied heavily on his own community, along with technology, to stay up-to-date. When asked how news outlets and political leaders can do better to communicate during this pandemic, he said, "I think it's already improved, always having an interpreter in the news for us to watch and follow along."

You may have noticed wider shots, or even two boxes during press conferences to show interpreters providing information to those that are deaf or hard of hearing.

One of those important people is Sharon Sinkler, who has signed for some of the most recent press conferences in the City of Omaha.

"As people who can hear, we are constantly exposed to information and a lot of it is incidental," Sinkler said. "You know, you overhear something here, or you just take that for granted. That isn't the case always for people that are deaf or hard of hearing. They have to actively seek out information."

Sinkler adds that information is often in the English form, not their native language which is American Sign Language.

Fox and Sinkler agree that there is a lot to celebrate this National ASL Day as the world is navigating a global pandemic. They just ask us to be more mindful of the different paths we can use to communicate with one another.

Fox said he will be celebrating the day from his home by watching community videos featuring ASL poetry and video chatting with friends.