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Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen improves accessible communication

Action urged to use professional sign language interpreters
From left Arlene Brenner and Janice Lyons of Advocate Accessibility Partners and Marie Clarke, COI Certified American Sign Language (ASL)/English Interpreter present information about improving accessible communications at a Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen meeting. (Contributed)

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen is working to improve accessible communication during emergencies.

On Nov. 16, the regional district’s corporate services committee voted unanimously to provide a letter of support to Advocate Accessibility Partners.

The volunteer group is preparing a petition to request the province take immediate action to use professional American Sign Language/English interpreters and include closed captioning, open captioning or subtitles during important government announcements.

READ ALSO: Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen examining emergency plan contract

“I believe that a letter of support from the board would greatly enhance the credibility and impact of this initiative,” said Arlene Brenner of Advocate Accessibility Partners. “It would also signify the board’s commitment to inclusivity and accessibility for all residents in our community.”

During major emergencies such as wildfires and floods, the regional district’s Emergency Operations Centre hosts live video updates to provide real-time information.

Mark Pendergraft, chair of the regional district, said the Emergency Operations Centre is exploring options to incorporate professional ASL/English interpreters into its online emergency broadcasts

“This is a major step forward in accessibility, and it will require a reconfiguration of the video updates to ensure interpreters are front and centre,” he said

Closed captioning is available during online broadcasts, and regional district staff are working to improve the accuracy of captions on the Webex and YouTube platforms.

John Arendt

About the Author: John Arendt

John Arendt has worked as a journalist for more than 30 years. He has a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism degree from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.
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