The Deaf Services Program in Yosemite National Park in California was established in 1979 with its first American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, Maureen Fitzgerald, and has been steadily growing since. Yosemite is considered to be the only National Park that offers a full Deaf Services Program, which involves more than simply having a sign language interpreter on hand for tours; it involves social activities, a Junior Ranger program, special nature walks, etc.
According to Yosemite ranger Jessica Cole, Yosemite was also the first National Park to have a public video phone (VP) installed. Because cell reception can be spotty, pay phones are provided around the park for hearing people. Since videophones have become one of the standard methods of communication in the deaf community, the park rangers considered having a VP in Yosemite as necessary to ensure equal access to communication.
The celebration of the program’s 35th Anniversary will be held October 24th through the 26th in the Yosemite Valley area of the park. There will be special programs presented in ASL and volunteer interpreters ready to interpret any of the regularly scheduled park programs. The weekend’s programming will include an ASL Social in Curry Village, an ASL Junior Rangers Program, and other activities, including a formal Yosemite Deaf Services 35th Anniversary ceremony.
The event is open to the public. For more information, visit the Yosemite National Park website at http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/deafservices.htm
Sorenson VPS website: http://www.sorensonvrs.com/september_2014_deaf_events_in_yosemite
ASL and captioned video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySfwUvy2bU4&feature=youtu.be