COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Thirty-five American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreters attended an Emergency Training Workshop on March 13th-14th. Interpreters were exposed to the federal incident command system and gained knowledge on how they can integrate into, and aid in communication with, people who are deaf during a public emergency. The Independence Center, an Independent Living Center for people with disabilities, decided to host this workshop after seeing a need for the coordination of interpreters. The training is an opportunity to kick off a statewide project to formalize a network of interpreters, and how they will be implemented, during future disasters.

The training is the first step in a multi-series project to prepare interpreters for their role during disasters. Nick DeSutter, Emergency Program Manager for The Independence Center and project administrator, said “It is important for communities to think about the various ways in which to communicate with diverse populations of people during a disaster. We are truly excited that the Colorado Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, partnered with us to fund this event.”

The workshop offered ASL Interpreters continuing education credits and was held at the El Paso County Emergency Operations Center. Naomi McCown, Staff Interpreter for The Independence Center and lead workshop coordinator said, “It is really awesome to see such a wide participation from colleagues across the state. This training is a great example as to how various organizations like the Independence Center, Colorado Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and El Paso County work together to prepare for threats that face our communities. This sort of inter-organizational training is important not only for people who are deaf and hard of hearing but also for a wide range of people with various disabilities.”