Former Guam resident to serve as sign language interpreter at pr - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Former Guam resident to serve as sign language interpreter at president's funeral

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A nation is in mourning as former President George H.W. Bush lies in state at the U.S. Capitol.

One woman with close ties to Guam reflects on the impact Bush Senior made to provide equal access for people with disabilities. In fact, she's practicing signing his name for his funeral.

Heather Zimmerman spent much of her childhood on Guam and is a proud graduate from the GED program at the Guam Community College. Now she's pursuing a Ph.D. in the nation's capital.

Proficient in sign language, she was tapped to be an interpreter at Wednesday's funeral of the late President Bush.

“I was pretty young when President Bush was in power, but it's an honor to be a part of history,” she said.

History in the making, Zimmerman reflects on the legacy of the late President, who in July 1990 signed a piece of legislation meant to increase equal access for Americans with disabilities.

“His history is kind of controversial,” she said. “Some people really love him and other people wish he could've done more....but he did amazing things for people with disabilities. And because of the American Disabilities Act, a lot of people have been able to go to college to find access in employment.”

For Guam, Zimmerman is eager to provide access to equal opportunity to residents. It’s where she helped craft and run a summer camp for deaf children, a program that continues to draw her back to the island.

“Our island is so much about inclusivity and about cherishing each other for who they are and family and if we really want to take that to heart to the next level...and include this whole act of American with disabilities act and really honor our values and traditions then why doesn't everybody learn sign language,” she said. “Why don't we teach it in school?”

Zimmerman stays in touch with friends and family on island and hopes with the proper direction Guam can be a leader in accessibility and inclusion.

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