Photo: meagan.sklar
Photo: meagan.sklar

Bobblehead is a nod to Ohio’s celebrated sign language interpreter

Ohio’s best-known sign language interpreter, Marla Berkowitz, is now a bobblehead.

Hot on the heels of the release of Gov. Mike DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton bobbleheads, the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum in Milwaukee has released a version of Berkowitz. 

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The bobblehead depicts Berkowitz making the American Sign Language symbol of love with her hands. The hands as well as her head bobble. 

Berkowitz has gained notoriety for her facial expressions as she interprets Gov. DeWine’s coronavirus press briefings. Twitter memes and a Facebook fan page have been created as tribute. 

“The responsibility is enormous when it comes to interpreting for the public, especially during crisis times,” Berkowitz said via email in an interview with The Ohio State University. 

“Deaf people who use ASL deserve to have first-hand information at the same time as their hearing counterparts about their health and safety. For me, the ASL interpreting profession is sacred.” 

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Berkowitz, who is deaf, is a senior lecturer with American Sign Language program in the Center for Language, Literature and Culture at The Ohio State University. 

"Bobbleheads are the ultimate honor, and we think Marla Berkowitz deserves it given the unheralded work she has done and continues to do for the deaf and hard-of-hearing people in Ohio during the battle against COVID-19,” Phil Skar, National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum co-founder and CEO said in a release. 

“After releasing the bobblehead of Governor DeWine and Dr. Acton, we received a lot of requests for a bobblehead of Ohio’s No. 1 interpreter and we are excited to make it happen.” 

The bobblehead is available through the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum’s online store. They cost $25 each plus a flat-rate shipping charge of $8 per order and will ship in July. 

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The museum will donate $5 from every Marla Berkowitz bobblehead to Columbus Colony Elderly Care, a nursing care and rehabilitation facility owned by the Ohio School for the Deaf Alumni Association. 

The funds will be used to purchase special masks with clear visibility surrounding the lips for deaf, deaf-blind, deaf-disabled, and hard of hearing patients.

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