© 2023 WEKU
Central and Eastern Kentucky's Radio News Leader
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Today's Interview: Listen to or Read; ASL Interpreter Virginia Moore

virginia_moore.jpg
KCDHH
/

On Monday Governor Andy Beshear’s official recommendation that people wear masks in public goes into effect. Any kind of face covering poses a serious problem for hearing impaired people who rely on lip reading to communicate. Samantha Morrill talked to Executive Director of the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and ASL Interpreter Virginia Moore on Today’s Interview.

A full transcript can be found below. The transcript was edited for clarity.

People like you value experienced, knowledgeable and award-winning journalism that covers meaningful stories in Central and Eastern Kentucky. To support the content you depend on, please make your contribution to WEKU today.

Samantha Morrill 

“Virginia thank you so much for giving us the time today.”

Virginia Moore 

“Oh, You're quite welcome. Thank you for having me on.”

Samantha Morrill 

“You've brought a lot of attention to the needs of the deaf and hard of hearing community through your involvement in Governor Andy Beshear's daily coronavirus briefings. What has the response from that community been in regard to the pandemic and you being there each day bringing them this information?”

Virginia Moore 

“Well, as the Executive Director of the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, we are a state agency under the education workforce development cabinet. And we actually work and we and one of our mandates is to advise the governor so this makes for a perfect partnership opportunity. This is the first time that the governor's administration has ever included us on a briefing or stage so we really owe a lot of gratitude to Governor Beshear for allowing us to open up this door to access. He really wants to include everyone. This is very difficult on individuals, anyway, the Coronavirus. But when you have an individual that has a hearing loss, and has to work very hard to live, read or understand what's going on,  this actually compounds things even more. And it's scary to not get information. To get information firsthand is fabulous. This is what the governor's allowing us to do provide that information out to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing population, which in Kentucky, there's a little over 700,000. And it's very, it's very difficult to get all that information out.”

Samantha Morrill 

“How much of that population rely to some extent on lip reading? May 11th the recommendation goes into effect that we all wear face masks that are supposed to cover your nose and mouth. How is this going to affect those people?”

Virginia Moore 

“Well, that's one of the biggest issues that we're dealing with right this minute. And that is because most of that community in fact, almost all of the 700,000 would rely on it somewhere. Because it is very important that they are able to lip read if they do not have a sign language interpreter or other forms of communication. So the masks have created a real issue in the sense of trying to lip read as you can imagine. A lot of the grammar in between if an interpreter is there, a lot of the grammar is on their faces.”

Samantha Morrill 

“Yeah, during the daily briefings you're very expressive and listening to Governor Beshear and you can see that played out in your expressions.”

Virginia Moore 

“Absolutely. It's hard to tell whether somebody is frustrated, mad, angry, without having the whole face because that's where a lot of the grammar is. So it's an extreme concern for us all. And I'm currently trying to work with University of Louisville's engineering department to try to come up with masks that are more clear. They make them and most of them are disposable. I'm trying to work with the University of Louisville's engineering department to come up with a mask that is fault free, clear, and can be wiped out and used again.”

Samantha Morrill 

“Wow, what has the progress been on that?”

Virginia Moore 

“Well, we're waiting to hear. They were excited to work with us on this. They apparently have a grant to try to develop some PPE and they find this to be a specialized area that they think they're going to be able to help us with. We've started our discussion and we're still we're waiting to hear back on what designs they come up with. In fact, a deaf individual that works at Kroger helped connect us with University of Louisville [because of the issues that she was having] and we're grateful.”

Samantha Morrill 

“So until a design is finalized and approved and is safe, what are some of the recommendations for communication? I assume you have to remove the mask and stand six feet apart.”

Virginia Moore 

“That is one option. That is certainly one option. There are some masks available right now that individuals are actually making here in Kentucky, they're sewing fabric around where it ties and then they put a clear sort of a window where the lips are and that is a great option. We just know that we need to get something that is engineered a little bit better. And that can we can send out to the masses. So there are options and definitely if you have to take the mask off for a few minutes and stay six feet apart, to try to get your point across. Yes. But as the governor said yesterday in his briefing, when we speak, we can't help but to spray a little bit from our mouth. That is just a natural reaction when you speak. We're trying to make sure we keep this population safe.”

Samantha Morrill 

“If you're just tuning in, I'm joined by phone with Virginia Moore, Executive Director of the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The state is constantly trying to expand testing. Are there any issues for the deaf and hard of hearing community when it comes to actually going and getting a test for the coronavirus?”

Virginia Moore 

“Well, of course, yes. You have a communication issue but something that the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing did right away as soon as they started opening testing sites and drive through testing sites and working with the hospitals too. [Was] we got with Dr. Stack's group and we developed a COVID point communication card. Where you can point to, if you have a fever, how many days, this is how the test is going to look. There's graphics on it. It shows how the test is going to be taken up through the nose with the swab. And it asked certain pertinent questions that [a patient] may ask. So it's a communication card. Actually, it can be used as English as a second language. So if a Hispanic individual came through to take the test, they could actually use this communication card.”

Samantha Morrill 

“Non-emergent medical care has been suspended for some time. People can't go and renew their eyeglasses prescription or really anything of that kind. Has this impacted people?”

Virginia Moore 

“Well, it's going to impact the deaf and hard of hearing community just like it did anyone else. If their hearing aids have gone bad, and they need their hearing aids desperately to communicate, that has become an issue. In fact, I do know one of in one individual in particular, that was having problems with her hearing aids and she could not get on a Zoom meeting because she did depend on her hearing aids for communication. She was able to get them fix and they figured out a way to do that. Also going to the doctor or having to do telemedicine. If you need to use telemedicine, then they need to incorporate either an interpreter who can use American Sign Language or a captioning company that will do remote captioning to try to help make sure that communication happens. And some of the doctors offices and hospitals that have tried to use telemedicine has not been that easy. So we're trying to advise individuals on how to hook in a captioner or American Sign Language interpreter to try to get telemedicine working.”

Samantha Morrill 

“So many Kentuckians right now are filing for unemployment. There's a backlog of cases. What are some of the issues that deaf and hard of hearing people face when they're applying for unemployment and calling and trying to get help on these applications?”

Virginia Moore 

“Absolutely. It is a very difficult issue. We're trying to work with unemployment, we're trying to work with individuals that have been trained to let them know if [someone] calling through a relay service. There's over 1000 plus individuals that are taking these calls. And if there's a delay or if it sounds like it might be a robo call or scam call in whatever way they're, they've been hanging up and that's difficult. Also, when they call back, they may have to call back through the service. Trying to get online is very difficult because not everybody has internet services. And when they do get online, some of the questions are a little complicated. You have to understand, individuals that depend on American Sign Language, English is not their first language. So that is something that we're also having to deal with. So the commission is trying to work, especially in the last two weeks to help individuals resolve problems, make sure they are able to get their application through.”

Samantha Morrill 

“Virginia Moore, Executive Director of the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and ASL interpreter for Governor Andy Beshear's daily coronavirus updates. Virginia, thank you so much for joining us today.”

Virginia Moore 

“Well, thank you for contacting us to make sure that some of these issues are are highlighted and that we can all work together to come to resolution. So I appreciate it very much.”

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

WEKU depends on support from those who view and listen to our content. There's no paywall here. Please support WEKU with your donation.