Monroe County Executive Adam Bello has signed legislation that will require there be an American Sign Language interpreter at all county government press conferences that are held during emergency situations.
Bello was joined Thursday by deaf and hard of hearing advocates from IGNITE Deaf Advocacy, MCDHub, Partners in Deaf Health and Rochester School for the Deaf to commemorate the approval of the local law.
Monroe County has one of the largest per-capita populations of deaf or hard of hearing individuals in the United States. Officials note that according to the National Association for the Deaf, deaf and hard of hearing individuals frequently experience additional difficulty preparing for and recovering from emergencies and disasters, in part due to the inability to receive potentially life-saving information from government agencies.
“We are deeply appreciative that Adam Bello recognized and supported the need to provide full language access to the Deaf community in Monroe County. Utilizing Deaf and hearing ASL interpreters during emergency press conferences brings ASL users in the Deaf community up to par pertaining to urgent and immediate information in real time, which is overdue,” said Susan Demers-McLetchie, Executive Director of IGNITE.
Bello said that his administration “was proud to work with deaf and hard of hearing advocates to propose this legislation that will help bring awareness and safety to these individuals when it is needed most.”
This story is part of Move to Include, a public media initiative supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. Additional funding provided by the Golisano Foundation.