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story.lead_photo.caption Brown performs interpretive services during the news conference where Dr. Randall Williams addressed reporters. Photo by Julie Smith / Fulton Sun.

Anyone who runs into Jes Brown may not know her, but they may have the feeling they should.

Her face might be familiar.

Brown is a member of Missouri Certified Deaf Interpreters and may be seen anywhere deaf interpreters are used.

She recently interpreted during one of Gov. Mike Parson's COVID-19 updates.

The 37-year-old from Tebbetts is married and has two children. She was born in Texas but grew up in Gypsy, a small community on the southern edge of the Mark Twain National Forest.

All of Brown's family are hearing but her. She attended three different schools, which exposed her to a variety of classroom settings and curricula.

"A lot of my upbringing was a series of trials and errors — with (American Sign Language), speech therapy and hearing aid devices, ranging from transistor hearing aids to digital hearing aids to cochlear implant," Brown said.

A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted electronic device that can partially restore hearing.

Brown began learning sign language at about age 2, when her parents took her to Texas School for the Deaf so she could begin communicating with other family members, including her siblings. She continued learning at Missouri School for the Deaf.

While in Missouri, she became determined to be a certified deaf interpreter but had hurdles to overcome, Brown said. She had to take numerous workshops and traveled to other states to be certified before she finally passed the Missouri certification near the end of 2017.

From there, Brown became a sort of community/freelance interpreter before landing a job as an interpreter at Missouri School for the Deaf.

She went on to be an interpreter at William Woods University in Fulton.

Brown said she especially enjoys interpreting in live TV settings, educational settings and other places.

The pandemic has also created challenges, Brown said.

"Regional signs are ever-changing within this fast-paced language, and it is crucial that I am able to keep up with those changes, adapt my language accordingly and still give my best work," she said. "Pandemic signs are like a new language in and of themselves, and making sure that the information being portrayed matches the language is critical."

She relies on peers and colleagues to help her keep up with "community-approved signs."

There aren't enough deaf interpreters available to do all the work that needs done, Brown said. Deaf interpreters can work in any kind of everyday assignment.

"We have a natural cultural intuition that makes our job easier," she said. "And when utilized correctly, it makes the assignment even more effective for both myself and my team."

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