By Hank Tester

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In the age of COVID-19, sign language interpreters have become essential for those who rely on them for help.

Whether it is ‘signing’ for Governor Ron DeSantis or for school children during a remote learning session.

“Absolutely vital to the deaf community. They need full and clear access to information everyone else has to keep safe,” explains deaf interpreter Marlene Llanes.

The interpreters are certainly visible with the high profile politicians, but Cheryl Mullininx, Brenda Adkinson, and Marlene Llanes, three interpreter professionals will tell you their role is critical during the coronavirus pandemic.

For example, across the county, they are critical in assisting hospitals and emergency rooms.

“Communication is key when you are delivering medical care. We know when we communicate clearly we prevent medical errors. If we prevent medical errors, we save a life,” said Dr. Jamie Sepulveda from South Miami Hospital.

“We have clear plastic shields when we go in. We go in, we are putting ourselves on the front line just like doctors and nurses,” Cheryl says.

They have stepped up for children who are hearing impaired during remote-learning Zoom lessons.

“It is really difficult with the video gallery looking to see who is talking, who is asking questions. Who is responding. It is very challenging,” says Marlene.

They plan on being there when courts reopen.

“They have not opened for jury trial yet. Hope to open in June,” Cheryl says.

In Miami, there are always unique and special needs especially when interpreting in different languages, different signs.

“I sign in Cuban sign language. I sign American sign language. I read and write in English. I have all languages under my belt,” Marlene says.

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