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Richmond Fire Department trained in sign language

August 21, 2018

Being able to communicate with the public in times of emergency can be critical to quality care. The Richmond Fire Department recently collaborated with a team of young people who are helping fire departments understand how to enhance communication with members of their community who are hearing impaired.

The team, led by Megan Welty who is working on obtaining The Gold Award in Girl Scouts (comparable to the achievement of Eagle Scouts in the Boy Scouts), is working with fire departments in the Fort Bend County area to learn about American Sign Language (ASL). The team, also made up of Ruth Murray, Cameron Grant and Eugene Penzien, instructed members of the department about the basics of sign language. They also provided study material that will allow fire department instructors to continue educating the remaining department members on the importance of being familiar with sign language.

Battalion Chief Bryan Lewis said, “We gained a great deal of knowledge over the two days about recognizing and using sign language. Megan and her team also made the course enjoyable as well as enlightening!”

It was interesting to learn, that around the world, deaf communities either originated their own sign language or included aspects of other sign languages. Some of the vocabulary of ASL today resulted from French sign language developed over 180 years ago, combined with what was already used indigenously in the United States. And with each generation, sign language continues to experience refinements to the language.

“The Richmond Fire Department is committed to providing quality, caring service to our community. Learning more about how we can communicate with all citizens in such a diverse area as where we live, should be part of our focus and training” said Fire Chief Mike Youngblood. Visit www.richmondtx.gov for more information about the department. Visit www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/american-sign-language to learn more about sign language.

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