On May 11, 2018, a small group of individuals with Hearing Loss and Deafness joined the huge crowd enjoying the Hurricane Awareness Tour at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport. The group was met by Teresa Cornett, the Airport Property Manager and Jenny Sykes, City ADA Specialist.
The tour was interpreted by Barbara Ledford and her staff from Inspired Interpreting. The group’s activity was initiated by Jackie Bowman of the City’s Lakeland Alliance for Accessibility, and co-founder of the Lakeland chapter of the Hearing Loss Association. Ms. Bowman had contacted the City’s ADA Specialist to request that sign-language interpreters be at the event so that individuals with hearing loss or Deafness could participate.
The group made their way from table to table gathering information about the U.S. Air Force’s WC-130J Hurricane Hunter fleet and Emergency Planning tips. At each step of the way, presentations, questions and answers were interpreted with sign language. This included learning more about shelters in Polk County available during emergency situations, including shelters designated to assist individuals with disabilities. Some of the heartier members of the group then braved the heat to join others on-line to board the WC-130J Hurricane Hunter aircraft and have information about it interpreted for them.
The tour wrapped up with the appreciation from the group both for the information shared and for providing the interpreters, and plans to come to future events at the airport.