Meet Randy, the ASL interpreter at Alberta's COVID-19 updates
EDMONTON -- You probably don't know his name, but Randy Dziwenka has been at most of Dr. Deena Hinshaw's COVID-19 updates in recent weeks.
For many Albertans, Dziwenka is a lifeline during this pandemic. He's one of the deaf interpreters sharing the government's updates using American Sign Language (ASL).
"My role here is to simply provide information," Dziwenka told CTV News Edmonton through an interpreter. "In the face of an emergency or a crisis, the deaf community need access to this information. So I am here."
Dziwenka has been involved in the deaf community his entire life. He comes from a family of siblings who are all deaf and has taught ASL for 42 years.
He has also received crisis training, preparing him for this experience of emergency interpreting.
He works with a hearing interpreter to communicate the COVID-19 updates.
"It's challenging information, " Dziwenka said. "But it's important for the information to be shared out there."
Until recently, ASL did not have words for COVID-19 or coronavirus. When this happens, the community comes together to find something that makes sense for them, Dziwenka explained.
Facial expressions are also an important part of ASL.
"It is a visual language, it is an expressive language," he said. "The grammar is inclusive in that expressiveness. And so what you're seeing on the facial expressions denotes the grammatical features of the language."
He hopes his role as an interpreter will help spread the advice of the chief medical officer of health more widely and reduce the spread of COVID-19.
"I feel very, very honoured to be here to share this information with the community," Dziwenka said.