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“I have no idea what you were saying up there, but it looked so beautiful!!” Hearing American Sign Language Interpreters Andrew Tolman and Lauren Tolo briefly explain the history, process, and role of ASL Interpreters, hoping to inspire hearing people to do what they can daily to bridge the gap between Deaf and Hearing parties. Community building starts with educating the general population about how hearing privilege can be used to leverage change and promote full accessibility and inclusion in all spaces. Andrew Tolman is a 29-year-old musician and ASL Interpreter currently living in Portland, OR on historically Clackamas Chinook and Molalla land. Inspired by their time working for the historic Philip J. Wolfe Portland City Council campaign, OCCUPY ICE PDX, Don’t Shoot Portland, and the Central American Refugee Caravan (among many others) as a Sign Language Interpreter, Andrew found himself joining the unbroken chain of resistance thousands of years old and invigorated by a new mission. Currently, Andrew finds himself working closely with both Hearing and Deaf activists and fighters to bring accessibility to the front lines. Through the founding of their group ‘FingersCrossedInterpreting.com’, Andrew hopes to continue to build bridges by making it easy for community-based Hearing activists to reach into Deaf and Hard of Hearing activist spaces and make meaningful connection, empowering both communities with resources and information to strengthen the fight for equality. The fact is that accessibility benefits everyone because everyone has a story to share. Andrew hopes to continue serving his community in solidarity for as long as possible and to inspire other interpreters and communities to proudly do the same.

Lauren began working in the classroom at the Arizona State School for the Deaf and Blind as an Intervener, working one-on-one with DeafBlind students providing information that the individual is unable to gather on their own. She was inspired to dedicate her professional life to facilitating communication and bridging the gap between the Deaf and hearing worlds. Out of this experience emerged her career as an educational interpreter. Now, living in Central Oregon, she interprets for a Deaf student in a general education classroom. Lauren is committed to providing full inclusion, and strives to always empower Deaf and Hearing children, regardless of their identity otherwise, with the knowledge to advocate for themselves, discover themselves, broaden their horizons, and accomplish their dreams. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx

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