RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Deaf and hard of hearing Virginians now have a new resource for COVID-19 information.
The Virginia Department of Health says Virginia is the first state to offer real-time ASL support. ASL users can call via videophone at 1-877-VAX-IN-VA (1-877-829-4682) or by clicking the “ASL Now” button at vaccinate.virginia.gov. The center can be reached from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.
Callers are now able to directly connect with ASL-fluent representatives via videophone or webcam.
“This is important, because ASL is not English “on the hands;” it has its own grammar, syntax, vocabulary, and cultural context different from, and uninfluenced by, English conventions,” VDH says.
VDH says the service also uses deaf employees, creating jobs for the historically under-employed community.
“Deaf people using video interpreters may not always have effective communication when making phone calls through the Video Relay Service,” said Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing director Eric Raff. “I am pleased that VDDHH was able to work with VDH to ensure Deaf people can directly call Vaccinate Virginia and get crucial and accurate information to protect their health during this pandemic.”