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Importance of ASL interpreters to help everyone get key messages with COVID-19

Dr. Tony Myers, of Mercy Medical Center, right, speaks at a press conference at the Cedar Rapids Public Library on Monday, March 30, 2020. (Mary Green/KCRG)
Dr. Tony Myers, of Mercy Medical Center, right, speaks at a press conference at the Cedar Rapids Public Library on Monday, March 30, 2020. (Mary Green/KCRG)(KCRG)
Published: Apr. 10, 2020 at 2:13 PM CDT
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State and local leaders have news conferences all scheduled for daily or less frequent updates on COVID-19. Making sure everyone gets the message is crucial, including those who are hearing-impaired.

Jennifer Keaton is an interpreter with Hands-Up Communications in Cedar Rapids. You may have seen her working on the news conferences in Linn County.

Keaton teams up with a hearing interpreter to quickly get the message out to people who can't hear.

She notes American Sign Language is not a visual form of English, it's its own language. She added that the expressions and movements are a big component of the language itself.

Keaton said, "It's a completely independent language involving culture and community. If you try to eliminate the inflections, you're gonna lose the language and the message would be lost or even broken. "

She says interpreters are especially important during this time in spreading the message while helping to stop the spread of the virus.

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