Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Virginia becomes first state to offer real-time ASL support for COVID, vaccine information
editor's pick

Virginia becomes first state to offer real-time ASL support for COVID, vaccine information

  • 0

A volunteer holds up a sign during a vaccination effort on Wednesday, March 24, 2021 at a Vaccination Clinic in Ashland, Virginia.

Here's a look at the 15 Virginia localities with the most COVID-19 cases during the first 12 months of the pandemic.

Virginia added American Sign Language to its vaccine call center on Tuesday, becoming the first state to offer real-time ASL support for COVID-19 information. 

Through either clicking "ASL Now" on the website where people pre-register for a shot, or by videophone at 1-877-VAX-IN-VA, deaf and hard of hearing Virginians can connect with ASL-fluent representatives and have their questions or concerns regarding vaccinations addressed. 

The call center addition was done in partnership with Communication Service for the Deaf and is operated by Deaf employees, many of whom were recently hired, and who are fluent and trained in clarifying COVID information. 

"Many state services, including health services, are often inaccessible to Deaf ASL users," said Craig Radford, vice president of strategy at CSD. "We encourage more state governments to follow Virginia's lead."

This is the latest in the state's push to improve language accessibility for residents wanting to sign-up for a dose through the seven-day-a-week phone line launched in February.

Last week, the VDH expanded its phone menu to include Arabic, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese — the most spoken languages in Virginia other than English and Spanish —  in its language options callers can press to be connected with someone fluent. 

The Americans with Disabilities requires government entities to ensure people with disabilities aren't excluded from services, and at least 37.5 million adults in the U.S. have reported having trouble hearing.

Yet access has severely lacked for deaf and hard of hearing communities, even in a years-long public health crisis, said Eric Raff, director of the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

And not all available options work, Raff added, using phone calls made through the Video Relay Service, a federal resource with ongoing accessibility issues, as an example.

Dr. Norman Oliver, state health commissioner, said Tuesday's announcement marked a critical move in vaccinating the state's population against the virus. 

"Virginia is a trailblazer," Oliver said. "Leading the way for other states to follow suit."

For more accessible COVID-19 information, visit

(804) 649-6103

Twitter: @sabrinaamorenoo

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

  • Updated

A body found near Avon in Friday morning is that of Erik Mezick, whose truck plunged off the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel in December, according to the family. A local resident reported finding the body of a male at 9:14 a.m. on the beach between the villages of Salvo and Avon within the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. It appeared to have been in the ocean for a long time, according to a ...

Apr. 6—The case of a North Carolina child who police say came to school lugging about $30,000 worth of cocaine is making international tabloid headlines. The identity and age of the elementary school student have not been released, but it's the amount of drugs involved that is getting all the attention. "Child shows up to North Carolina elementary school with more than half a POUND of cocaine ...

Virginia’s coronavirus vaccine supply will be dealt a blow next week, following a factory mixing problem that ruined 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s shots. Instead of receiving the expected 125,000 doses from the maker, the state will get just 15,000 next week, said Dr. Parham Jaberi, Virginia Department of Health’s chief deputy commissioner for public health preparedness. The state ...

Recommended for you

Welcome to the Conversation

No name-calling, personal insults or threats. No attacks based on race, gender, ethnicity, etc. No writing with your caps lock on – it's screaming. Keep on topic and under 1,500 characters. No profanity or vulgarity. Stay G- or PG-rated.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


Breaking News

News Alerts