Mainers Can’t Get Enough Of Gov. Mills’ Sign Language Interpreters
Like most folks, I've seen pretty much every press conference Gov. Janet Mills has done recently. Usually, I'm streaming it through some link off Facebook, so inevitably the comments start rolling in. At first, it's the usual deeply nauseating partisan political drivel from both sides of the street. But lately, there's another buzz happening that's fantastic.
When Mills speaks, there is always a sign language interpreter. And at some point, a lot of comments start to shift about how entertained they are by watching the interpreter. And why wouldn't you be?! Even though I can't understand a single bit of it, it's incredibly beautiful to watch. And, one you learn more about the purpose of the expressive movements and facial expressions, it's even more interesting.
And let's be real, sometimes it's downright puzzling, too.
I mean absolutely no disrespect. It's just sometimes the facial expressions that accompany the signing don't seem to fit the content. That's just because I don't understand it.
The woman who I saw most recently, Dr. Regan Thibodeau, is not only a certified interpreter, she's also deaf. So her actions are far beyond the concept of authentic. All the exaggerated movements and facial expressions are vitally important to properly conveying the message. Here's more from Thibodeau herself on the purpose of her expressive technique, speaking to WGME - TV13:
...we need to provide this information to people who can’t access it through spoken English. Facial expressions provide the emphasis that provides access to the entire state of Maine and the audience watching.
Because of the context, she says the deaf community in Maine generally prefers interpreters to closed-captioning.
I think Dr. Thibodeau is awesome. Obviously, she's providing an incredibly vital service to an equally incredible group of Mainers. Maine CDC head Dr. Nirav Shah said as much at Thursday's news conference at which Dr. Thibodeau was working.
In reality, Dr. Thibodeau and other folks doing the awesome work she does are helping us all get though this. By getting out information to make people safe, and doing it in a way that can also help people see the outbreak from another perspective, that's the hero we need right now.