As Manitobans hear news about COVID-19, an organization is helping residents see the news.
Doug Momotiuk, President of the Manitoba Deaf Association, shares that the addition of sign language interpreters is giving the local deaf community the information they need.
Momotuik says that approximately one per cent of the population in Manitoba is deaf and without interpreters, they may not be able to know what is happening regarding the pandemic.
"For the first two days, the deaf community was very concerned," Momotuik says through an interpreter about the beginning of the pandemic. "There was no information given to them on television, there was no closed captioning, there were no interpreters available. Afterwards, the deaf community was able to get the same information that everyone else was getting."
He adds that a sign language interpreter needs to be present during emergencies thanks to an act from the province.
The purpose of interpreters is to help those who have difficulty hearing still learn what is happening in situations such as COVID-19. The interpreter program was set up with the Accessibility Act for Manitoba.
The Accessibility Act for Manitoba is an act that requires information to be given by methods such as closed captioning an emergency sign language interpreters.
"We would have had to ask the authorities to come and talk to the deaf community directly (before the act)," Momotuik says.
"Pop boxes" at the corner of the screen with an interpreter inside, or an interpreter on-screen with speakers have made a large difference in aiding Winnipeg's deaf community.
"Deaf communities were often left out of what was going on...now we have the complete information that everyone else would have."
Momotuik says that interpreters require a background that allows the viewer to easily see them and a camera angle that captures the interpreter from the waist up as well as their facial expressions. He says that whoever is filming is responsible for assuring the interpreter is seen.
"The deaf community uses these interpreters a lot," Momotuik says. "These are very qualified, professional interpreters."
The professional interpreters seen at press conferences come from the ECCOE in Winnipeg.