KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City woman has dedicated her life to serving the Deaf community.
Peige Turner launched an agency called NERDterpreter in January 2022 that aims to provide live interpreting services at community events.
“Deaf people have the right to do everything that hearing people have to do as well,” Turner said. “We have so many deaf people in the community that just need interpreting services for basic, simple things, doctor’s appointments. Everything that we take for granted deaf people also need.”
Turner attended an interpreting training program in the '90s and fell in love with the Deaf community. She began interpreting professionally in 2011, which led her to start NERDterpreter.
She now hires freelance and contract employees for the agency and primarily focuses on providing services at entertainment events.
“We need more interpreters that are well-versed in high quality interpreting in fun scenarios, like comic book conventions and anime conventions,” Turner said. “I want a deaf person to come into a convention, comic book, anime, whatever, and look through the schedule and pick whatever they want.”
From doctor’s visits to a live music concert, Turner says those in the hearing community take for granted the ease with which they can navigate these environments. She hopes society will take a more proactive approach to inclusion.
“The Deaf community seems to have such a large responsibility to educate the hearing community when it shouldn’t necessarily be on the Deaf community to do that,” Turner said.
About 11.5 million Americans have some sort of hearing impairment, ranging from difficulty in hearing conversations to total hearing loss. That number encompasses about 3.5% of the population, according to census.gov.
Turner says being an advocate for this community of people is a humanitarian act, and one with lasting impacts.
“If you do the work and you show that you have deaf heart, then you are gonna get customers, friends, business just by making that effort,” Turner said.
Jason Tercey, a deaf man with cerebral palsy, says he and his twin brother Jeremy were labeled deaf around 2 or 3 years of age. He has navigated his whole life through perceptions and signing.
“You feel a sense of being lost,” Tercey said. “The hearing world doesn’t understand the Deaf world, just as the Deaf world doesn’t understand the hearing world. So really communication is key, and we have to make sure that those accommodations are there and they are not.”
He says communication is often a barrier at work and social gatherings. While there are interpretation resources, they are not as reliable as a real-life interpreter.
“I will look at something, and I will miss a lot of it. If I see people nodding up and down or laughing, and I’m not doing the same because I don’t know what’s going on, I will feel like a fool,” Tercey said. “We are heavily dependent on interpreters being there for communication — for the success of communication, for making sure that it’s correct and not having any barriers or misunderstandings.”