Standing on the far side of the stage, someone’s hands move swiftly and decisively to words ringing out from the podium at the center.
Sometimes they’re recognizable, but to most hearing people, they are a blip in peripheral vision, and rarely thought of. American Sign Language interpreters are doing a hugely important job, particularly when it comes to politics, according to Annie Urasky, Director of the Division on Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing at the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.
“Providing interpreters as an accommodation ensures equal access to the information relayed at events,” Urasky, who is deaf, said via email. There was not an interpreter available at the time of the interview. She went on to say when ASL interpreters are there translating in real time, it allows the deaf and hard of hearing to be full participants in events rather than having to wait for information most others get straight away.
A study from the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education estimates that 1 in 20 people or roughly 10 million Americans are deaf or hard of hearing.
For scale, that’s greater than the population of New York City by almost two million people. Of them, about one million people use ASL as their primary language.
Very obviously mixing a fact with non-fact works for them as it does in the UK in suggesting 1m is actually 10 times that amount, and 9m HoH are actually 1m deaf people. They didn't actually identify in the 'Deaf and Hard of Hearing' terminology, HOW MANY USA HoH are actually daily sign users, or how many ASL terps support that area. It's unheard of in the UK.