EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. - Ryan March is a familiar face in Southern Colorado. She was the American Sign Language interpreter during the Waldo Canyon Fire and is now the interpreter for the Black Forest Fire. March stands by fire officials at media briefings and uses sign language to interpret what they say for the deaf and hard of hearing.
March spoke with KRDO NewsChannel 13 after Sunday's noon press briefing.
"I feel like this is just my little way to maybe help out and be involved," March said.
During the Waldo Canyon Fire, it took a few days for authorities to bring March into the picture -- literally. March said that since last summer, officials have had a better dialogue about the needs of the hearing-impaired. When the Black Forest Fire erupted, authorities were better prepared to handle that aspect of communication.
"I can't speak for the deaf and hard of hearing people," March said. "But I think it's a really good, positive step forward to see that access. Equal access is something that's really needed."
March started learning American Sign Language at age 10. She said she admired her cousin, who taught at a school for the deaf and blind in Arizona.
"I grew up seeing her sign and it's a beautiful language. I'm grateful to use it," she said. "So I took everything I learned and it became a job. A great job for me."
On KRDO NewsChannel 13's Facebook page, the response to March's presence has been overwhelmingly appreciative.
One person wrote, "As a proud deaf girl living in pre-evac, I thank you so much!"
Even those who are not hard of hearing find her captivating.
"I always watch her totally amazed and I found myself listening to them but looking solely at Ryan," another Facebook user wrote. "She is beautiful and wonderful and I can see how hard she works."
March told KRDO she is grateful for the comments and continues to strive to better serve the deaf community.
"I really feel like this is a great way for the deaf and hard of hearing community to be completely involved and knowing what is happening in their own homes and their families' homes," March said. "To be a part of that is really humbling and inspiring."