Some local news channel meteorologists are looking to make critical weather broadcasts available to the deaf community by providing sign language interpretation when they appear on TV. For the more than half a million Americans who rely primarily on American Sign Language, local weather forecasts are difficult to access: Because ASL and English are different languages, closed captioning often does a poor job of translating what’s being said on air, while some people who rely on ASL may struggle with English grammar and/or have difficulty seeing.
Vivian Rennie, of KSBY in San Luis Obispo, California, was inspired by the ASL interpreters who were a fixture on the regular press briefings given by state and local officials in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. Then a reporter and meteorologist in Sioux City, Iowa, Rennie contacted Tara Burglund, a representative for the local deaf community, who taught her words in ASL such as “tornado,” “emergency,” “it’s not safe to drive now,” and “the storm has passed.”
“Hearing people don’t know … how important the necessities are to the deaf communities,” Burglund wrote. “I hope that hearing people would just listen to us, the deaf community, for our accessibility needs.” (Washington Post $)