If you lived through the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in BC, then you probably recognize Nigel Howard.
The expressive ASL interpreter present at many COVID-19 briefings from the provincial government became an icon in March 2020.
Now, a new documentary called Who the Hell is Nigel? – available for free online – dives into Nigel’s work and highlights the importance of inclusion.
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The film’s release date on December 3 coincided with the UN’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
It’s an especially important day because persons with disabilities are among the hardest hit by COVID-19 and, Howard is among those who supported the community during a difficult time.
His interpretations brought the significance of the messages from Dr. Bonnie Henry to the deaf community in a way that clearly communicated the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“ASL is a visual language. Captions provide a 2D stream of linear English words, the meaning is easily lost in the process,” Howard says in the film. “My job as the interpreter is to make that information accessible.”
Spoken language relies on inflection to convey tone, while ASL relies on visual facial expressions to convey tone.
Since captions don’t convey tone, the ASL interpretation is extremely helpful and meaningful for true inclusion for the broader deaf community.
The full documentary is less than 30 minutes long and you can watch it for free online now: