Sign language for the marijuana community in Colorado

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Being deaf in the growing marijuana industry is proving to be a challenge

The marijuana market has been developing so quickly that some segments are not able to keep one. One of the most notable is the deaf community, which is at a loss due to a lack of terminology that could be signed by a word, instead of having to be spelled out. Going to a dispensary and wanting to say cannabidiol is anything but easy.

American sign language hasn’t come up with the pertinent translations yet that would make the visits less stressful. Fortunately, there’s a non-profit organization out of Boulder, CO that is hoping to change this. The ECS Therapy Center is diligently working to create a new vocabulary specific to the cannabis industry.

For example, the current interpretation of marijuana is figuratively holding a joint to one’s lips. However, you can’t necessarily use this translation if you want to discuss cannabis or cannabis oil. The center is pooling industry resources to create a new dictionary, bringing in deaf professionals and interpreters so that everyone can collectively develop the new translations.

The glossary should be completed at some point net year. It is only an informal dictionary, but the organization is confident that it will ultimately be accepted by the Sign Language Academy.

A perfect example of where the assistance is needed came recently through a medical marijuana conference. One of the speakers, Larry Littleton, indicated that there were no mechanisms in place to assist the hearing impaired. Littleton, who is deaf, stated, “There was [sic] no interpreters offered, no real-time captions offered and no way to understand what was being presented. It’s important to be able to communicate. That’s the bottom line.”

According to ECS Therapy Center’s Regina Nelson, “As a social scientist, language is what normalizes things and so to help empower the deaf community to develop language around this is what will help normalize medical cannabis use.” Nelson and a group of volunteers are now visiting dispensaries and grow facilities in order to expand their database of information.

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