ESPN College GameDay at Baylor Accessible to All, Thanks to Sign Language Interpreters

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Baylor's Perry Jones III
March 4, 2011

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Baylor University and the city of Waco will be the epicenter of the college basketball landscape on Saturday, March 5, when ESPN's College GameDay Driven by State Farm broadcasts live from the Ferrell Center from 9 to 10 a.m. on ESPNU and continues from 10 to 11 a.m. on ESPN. Later that night, the Bears will host long-time rival Texas for the regular-season finale.

As part of the GameDay experience, Baylor's Office of Access and Learning Accommodation - which is committed to assuring equal access for Baylor students in all aspects of the college experience - will provide two sign language interpreters so the university can serve all sports fans regardless of ability.

It's part of an ESPN initiative that began during the fall college football season. The network began contacting universities participating in their ESPN College GameDay remotes to provide sign language interpreters, so all fans could enjoy the College GameDay atmosphere.

Shirley Gerhardt, coordinator of sign interpreters at Baylor, and Lori Wrzesinski, senior lecturer of communication sciences and disorders and director of the American Sign Language Program at Baylor, will work as a team, interpreting the two hours of the GameDay program from 9 to 11 in the morning.

"Not everything we do requires two interpreters," Gerhardt said, "but many events require two interpreters because of the fast nature or the technical nature or the length, and GameDay is all of those."

While Baylor offered the interpreters, ESPN provided Gerhardt and Wrzesinski with the platform, credentials and headsets/communications that will allow them to do their jobs.

"We're really excited to do it," Gerhardt said. "It needs to be done because it's providing equal access, and anytime we can do that, it just shows heart. It's the right thing to do. Baylor stepped right up to the plate and said, 'Yes, we'll provide interpreters for this.'

"Having a sign language interpreter at the game Saturday is a great way, not only increase awareness about hearing impairments, but to involve an even broader part of our community," said Dae Vasek, director of the Office of Access and Learning Accommodation at Baylor. "At Baylor, our office daily serves students with hearing impairments and a variety of other disabilities. We strive to ensure that all students with disabilities have access to information that will aid in their academic success, as well as allowing them to participate in Baylor activities."

College GameDay Driven by State Farm will feature host Rece Davis with analysts Jay Bilas, Digger Phelps, Hubert Davis, Bob Knight and sideline reporter Erin Andrews. Admission for the morning ESPN College GameDay broadcast is free. Seating will be general admission and doors will open at 7 a.m. The live national broadcast airs from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on ESPNU and continues from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on ESPN.

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275

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