Maryland School for the Deaf thrives in pandemic: ASL actually is an advantage to health safety


"The Governor having an ASL interpreter at all press conferences means the world to us."

FREDERICK, Md. (WDVM)– In a world full of face coverings and online meetings, the deaf community could be facing abnormal struggles during the coronavirus pandemic. However, Maryland School for the Deaf see’s using american sign language to communicate as a huge advantage to health safety.

“Now sometimes if I was to go visit friends, we’re going to practice physical distancing,” said Superintendent James Tucker. “Sign language really has an advantage because you can sign 10-to-15 feet away from the other person and talk to them comfortably.”

MSD moved to online learning in late March, and with 500 students navigating the pandemic, Superintendent Tucker says the deaf community historically has always been ahead of the technology curve. More than 95-percent of students consistently log on to their Elearning courses.

“We’re always in search of visual technologies and we capitalize on them before everyone else uses them,” said Tucker. “Right now with the covid-19 epidemic, I think deaf people in general by and large are adapting pretty well.”

Even more so, connecting the bridge between the deaf and hearing communities is actually easier now more than ever, all people have to do is actually try.

“I think we’re in a time where humans need each other, it’s the best way to bridge that divide by simply communicating, but just try,” said MSD Principal Kevin Strachan. “It’s a different language, it’s a different culture, I get that but people just need to try. A lot of the divide is internal, humans need each other, but we create that divide.”

Superintendent Tucker believes the face masks with the plastic mouth coverings or clear face shields will be the face coverings of the future, to help keep the deaf community in mind during the pandemic. Tucker continued to thank Governor Larry Hogan and others for consistently always having ASL Interpreters on every coronavirus press conference. To the deaf community, he says it shows the importance of communicating to every person in the state, every person.

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