ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Progress for Abilene’s Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing community was made in the Abilene City Council meeting Thursday by using a virtual ASL (American Sign Language) interpreter.

The move was presented when closed captioning couldn’t keep up with meetings.

For the first time Thursday, Abilene City Council used an ASL interpreter for the recording of its meeting. Council used a 24/7 remote video language line, similar to a zoom call. Video of the interpreter was visible in Thursday’s meeting recording at the bottom right hand side.

The interpreter was able to listen to Council’s meeting and interpret what was said in video.

This was a much-needed opportunity to serve Abilene’s residents who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

City Manager, Robert Hanna told KTAB/KRBC he hopes the move will improve community relations.

“It speaks to who we are as a community,” Hanna explained. “You know, we believe in an open government and we believe in citizen participation. That means everybody ought to have a chance to do that.”

Now, with the help of interpreters, people who sign can not only understand city issues, but they can sign to the interpreter to get the guidance they need back from the city.