More people than ever are being exposed to sign language through Covid press briefings as interpreters work to pass on vital information
Saamanta Serna describes herself as a Coda – the child of a Deaf adult. She grew up up with a Deaf mother and a father who is hearing and an American sign language (ASL) interpreter, and later decided to pursue interpreting herself after high school.
Now a certified ASL interpreter, Serna has done frequent in-person interpreting for medical appointments during Covid. She has also noticed a change in the world’s perception of sign language since the beginning of the pandemic: more people are paying attention.
Conveying updated information to everyone in the time of Covid is a matter of life or death, as the Trump administration learned recently after losing a groundbreaking federal lawsuit to the National Association for the Deaf, which ensured that a sign language interpreter must be present in Covid briefings and visible on the live feed from the White House. The Trump White House did not include its first sign language interpreter on a Covid briefing until 11 November, a full nine months after the pandemic reached America.