Barriers Broken Between The Deaf and First Responders
by Marcus Washington
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - During a disaster every second counts when you're trying to get someone to safety, but when there is a language barrier, the rescue can be different, especially when that language is sign language.
Tuesday afternoon, there wasn't much talking, but there were a number of conversation in progress at the meeting in Living Well Bridges building in downtown Nashville on Tuesday afternoon. The conference room was full with emergency responders, some deaf and blind people are communicating, learning what they need from each other, to make it out of a disaster alive.
For instance in a fire, what if a neighbor was inside and a deaf person tried to tell someone else needed help? It's a situation those without the ability to hear think about.
"I had no idea what was going on until I saw the building collapsed," Trina Baylor explain with the help of an interpreter.
Baylor was born deaf, was a student at NYU when 9/11 happened.
"I saw my residential advisor. They knew I was deaf and they were able to go with me to find a safe place. They had interpreters there, so it was great relief that we had communication access during that time," said Baylor.
It's a situation more first responders have to think about more, when 35 million Americans are hearing impaired.
"When you get to the scene, you're trying to communicate what needs to be done. What you need the person to do, how can they help you get them to safety?" fire instructor Michael Newberry said.
First responders are learning techniques to help people get out of dangerous situations quickly.
"We didn't know to make contact with a person if you walk over and with your fingers mark an "X" on their back. Just that gesture communicates, I need you to come with me right now," said Newberry.
It's a communication barrier, that's being broken with understanding, patience and preparedness.