Welcome to Yosemite Deaf Services! We are dedicated to connecting the Deaf community to everything Yosemite has to offer. Sign language interpreting and assistive listening devices are available for free for all park programs. If you would like to make a request, or if you have other questions, contact us at 209/222-3944 (VP), 209/379-5250 (v/txt), or by email. Below are answers to some frequently asked questions and check out our blog for updates. We also have a handout [240 kb PDF] with more details about the Deaf Services Program.
Currently, all videos are presented in American Sign Language only with transcripts available for each video. Email us if you have a question you wish was answered here in sign language.
If you would like to request services, it is important to contact Yosemite Deaf Services before you arrive. This video explains how we handle requests throughout the year. (No audio, but transcript available.)
Every summer, Yosemite has a full-time sign language interpreter who tends to work from June and August. The interpreter's schedule is not the same everyday; it is constantly changing. That means if you would like to meet the interpreter, you must let us know ahead of time. At least a day or two before you arrive, contact us by phone, email, or text. For example, tell us, "Hey, I'm coming to Yosemite in July and will be staying near the Valley. I'm not sure if I'll want interpreting while I'm there." The interpreter will then put those dates on the schedule and be prepared if you do want services during your visit. If you don't contact us ahead of time, the interpreter may be off that day, or out of the office without cell phone service, and unfortunately, you will miss each other. So please understand, it is essential that you contact Yosemite Deaf Services at least a couple days ahead of time.
That's in the summer. During the rest of the year, things are different. If you request interpreting during the rest of the year, Yosemite will contract with an outside interpreter. That means if you want an interpreter, you must make your request early. You should request an interpreter about two weeks before you come to the park.
I'm excited that we finally have a public videophone at Yosemite. It's at Yosemite Lodge. Just go to the front desk and ask for the remote and key. When the clerk gives them to you, walk down the hallway to the right of the front desk; the videophone is at the end. It's available all day and all night. You can make outgoing calls, but the videophone does not accept incoming calls.
Sign language interpreting is available for many activities in Yosemite. This video is a brief guide to those activities. For a current schedule of events in the park, download the Yosemite Guide. (No audio, but transcript available.)
Interpreting Services are available for three different things. 1) Visitor center appointments. I will meet you at a visitor center to answer questions and chat with you in sign language so that communication is easy. 2) Scheduled activities. A list of events is published in Yosemite Guide, about every three months. You can download this guide from the Internet or get a copy here in the park. There are many different activities: ranger presentations, guided hikes, movie showings, theater performances, formal tours, even art and photography workshops. You can request an interpreter for any of these scheduled activities. 3) Emergencies. If an emergency medical or legal situation occurs, interpreting services are available.
Driving around Yosemite is much different than driving around the rest of California. Here are some things to remember if you are planning to explore Yosemite by car. (No audio, but transcript available.)
Driving is Yosemite is different. Rather than large, 8-lane freeways, we have 2-lane roads, and those roads are not straight and direct, they are windy and hilly, which makes for slower driving. The speed limit here is 45 mph, and in some areas of the park, it's even slower than that. If there's snow, chains may be required, which will also slow you down. In the summer, the park is very busy, which means there could be lines of cars at the entrance stations and stop-and-go traffic in the Valley. If you want to drive from one part of the park to another, it is common to get stuck in a line of cars behind a slow-moving RV. So if you look up a map on the internet before you get here and think that a 30-mile drive in the park will be no big deal, maybe just about a 30-minute drive, you are mistaken. Driving in Yosemite tends to take about twice as long as driving elsewhere.
Did You Know?
The Yosemite Leadership Program partners with UC Merced, to bring students to the park each summer for hands-on professional development through internships. Students work alongside scientists, educators, interpreters, business managers, and many other professionals of the NPS and park partner organizations. Some go on to become National Park Service rangers.