Second Wave - Shandra Martinez

"I was blown away," Nancy Piersma says, recalling when she saw someone on a screen at Gerald R. Ford International Airport relaying messages in American Sign Language alongside captions at the bottom.

The Grand Rapids airport was one of the first in the nation to try the new technology.

"At first, I noticed just a hand moving, and so I turned and looked at it, and then I came over and started watching it. It made me happy," says Piersma, speaking by phone through an ASL interpreter. "Sometimes there's a little issue with little lag times and little, little glitches, but I would say it's 90% perfect."

Piersma was among the first people from the Deaf community asked by the airport to check out the technology unveiled in November. A community education and advocacy coordinator for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services, Piersma is a native deaf facilitator who does cultural and sensitivity training for the deaf, hard of hearing and the deaf-blind communities. 

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