If we had to choose one word to describe the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community, tenacious is the first thing that comes to mind. When the global health crisis began and public officials started making daily press briefings, those watching for sign language interpretations were quick to notice inaccurate signs, extraneous hand movements, and overall unqualified signers. These signers paled in comparison to the experienced, skillful, polished professionals usually seen during high profile events. Even those who do not know or use sign language were able to recognize there was something not quite right with the signers on their screen.
This is where the concept of tenacity came into play. When the deaf community learned that unqualified and uncertified signers were used to dispense critical lifesaving information, they got to work. Through a virtual community uprising, Dallas County was inundated with emails, video phone calls, texts, and social media posts demanding change. The Deaf and Hard of Hearing community is persistent and dedicated to doing whatever it takes to accomplish a goal; giving up is not an option.
In a matter of days, the county made a change in their use of interpreting services. Deaf Action Center was called upon and eagerly offered to provide adequate interpreting services. Since then, certified Deaf interpreters and certified, qualified hearing interpreters have made clear the instructions and counsel coming from government and health officials. These interpreters have clearly and articulately relayed accurate messages to the thousands of Deaf and Hard of Hearing community living in North Texas.
The Deaf and Hard of Hearing community rose to the occasion and used their collective power to create change. That’s the sort of tenacity that is often seen. That’s the sort of tenacity that is able to outlast oppression, discrimination, and audism. That’s the sort of tenacity that helps us survive.