BELLINGHAM, Wash. — When Joel Bergsbaken and James Christianson walk into their regular downtown Bellingham coffee shop, Joel is bombarded by all the usual sounds — beans grinding, steam compressing and the cash register.
But James hears only silence. And if you think that makes ordering a latte intimidating, imagine trying to report a crime you just witnessed to a police officer who doesn't know you're deaf and doesn't know American Sign Language.
Joel and James are advocates at Bellingham's Hearing, Speech and Deaf Center—Joel is hearing, James is deaf, and both saw the need to open a dialogue between the city's police department and the city's deaf community.
It's an entirely different language—James says—not a visual version of English, so writing is not equivalent to translating.
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