COLUMBUS, Ohio — During the COVID-19 press conferences held by Gov. Mike DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton that have been engrained in all of our lives as a 2 p.m. staple, one woman has become the star of the show, and for good reason—the sign language interpreter Marla Berkowitz.
But who is she?
A senior lecturer at the Ohio State University, Berkowitz is a deaf sign language interpreter. Actually, she is the only certified deaf interpreter in the entire state, according to the Caroll County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
During the daily press conferences with DeWine and Acton, Berkowitz is signed to, interprets those signs and relays the message back in easy to understand sign language—an important task during a pandemic sweeping the state.
If you were wondering why Berkowitz is so expressive when she signs, there’s a good reason. Facial expressions are extremely important to American Sign Language and help convey context, tone and emotion, among other nuances.
“When I interpret, I have the deaf, deaf-blind, deaf-disabled and hard of hearing (D/DB/DD/HH) community in the back of my mind, which is a responsibility I embody to ensure they are understanding the critical situation we're faced with coronavirus,” Berkowitz told the Ohio State University.
Since Berkowitz joined the COVID-19 press conferences with DeWine and Acton, she has acquired quite a large fan base and even has a fan page on Facebook.