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Interpreter provides Indiana deaf community with vital COVID-19 updates

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Hearing is a luxury not everyone has, and it’s unfortunate when we’re getting updated coronavirus information daily.

But, some steps are being taken to make it easier for people who are deaf.

It’s almost a given, if you see Gov. Eric Holcomb’s face during recent news conferences on the state’s coronavirus response, you’re gong to see Andy Rork. He’s the American Sign Language interpreter who’s making sure that the deaf community gets that vital information in real time.

Rork works with his hands. American Sign-Language is his area of expertise. Lately, his office has been the Statehouse. “I always knew it was important,” he said. “Just doing it on the fly, it’s what we do most of the time.”

He added, “Written English is deaf people’s second language. American Sign Language would be their first.”

Rork works for LUNA Language Services, which provides translations of all kinds.

While it’s his job, his roots in the deaf community run deep.

“My parents are deaf so I grew up with the language already and I have an older sister who is an interpreter as well.”

He said people who can hear may not immediately recognize the importance of American Sign Language interpreters. Some may think subtitles are enough, but they aren’t. Many who are deaf can’t read English and those who can may end up seeing gibberish.

“A lot of subtitling software does not caption things correctly. So there is a lot of trying to figure things out,” Rork said.

While it’s not clear when we’ll see relief from the COVID-19 pandemic, until we do, Rork says he is ready to work.