Signing and Interpreting During a Pandemic

"I think one significant thing is that we don't feel isolated, that we're able to stay connected," said Hoppe.

DULUTH, Minn. – Maggie Hoppe is a deaf person who lives in Duluth. She says that she is used to having obstacles when talking to people.

“I’m used to communication barriers with hearing people in general, and sometimes people will come up to me and talk to me and I won’t understand them because I can’t hear what they say and it’s hard to read lips,” said Hoppe. “I try to do that sometimes but you can’t get that one hundred percent.”

However, with masks, it is difficult for deaf people to communicate in person because part of the grammar structure is in what is said with one’s mouth. But now with the combination of technology and interpreters, deaf people are not feeling as isolated during this time period.

“I think one significant thing is that we don’t feel isolated, that we’re able to stay connected,” said Hoppe. “It’s important to talk with other people. I think that’s a really significant thing for us.”

Interpreters, including Doug Bowen Bailey, who has worked for the City of Duluth signing during its press conferences, says that incorporating social distancing into one’s signing is an added challenge to communication.

“You have that added layer of thinking about, oh is someone in my six-foot bubble, what does that mean, how do you navigate that, that’s just an added challenge we all have to face,” said Bailey.

With resources readily available for deaf people, deaf individuals are able to connect with others in the community. Check out the Minnesota Department of Human Services – Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division or the Minnesota Association of Deaf Citizens for more resources.

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