American Sign Language service added to vaccine information site
The Virginia Department of Health is offering a COVID-19 vaccine information service for Deaf and hard of hearing Virginians who use American Sign Language. The commonwealth partnered with Connect Direct to provide information in ASL for the Vaccinate Virginia Call Center.
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Virginia is the first state to provide ASL support for COVID-19 vaccine information. The service uses Deaf representatives fluent in ASL to answer vaccine-related questions, ensuring communication and access to the vaccine. It is available on the Virginia vaccination website.
The department also points out that the service creates jobs for a demographic which is frequently under-employed. Research shows more than 40% of people with hearing loss are not in the workforce.
Eric Raff, director of the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, said communication may lack when Deaf people use video interpreters through the Video Relay Service.
“I am pleased that VDDHH was able to work with VDH to ensure Deaf people can directly call Vaccinate Virginia and get crucial and accurate information to protect their health during this pandemic.”
The addition of ASL to the vaccination information center makes the commonwealth a trailblazer, said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD.
“Introducing the ability for the Vaccinate Virginia call center to communicate with Virginians using ASL is an extremely important step toward vaccinating the population against COVID-19.”