Sign language interpreter becomes familiar face at LA teachers' strike news conferences

If you've been following news of the Los Angeles teachers' strike, you may have noticed a very expressive gentleman doing sign language interpretation during news conferences.

Justin Maurer, who interprets on behalf of the The Sign Language Company, said his mission is to get the message to all deaf students and teachers during the strike, now in its fifth day.

"There are over 800,000 deaf people in LA, so there are many deaf teachers, students and parents who are really affected by the strike," Maurer told FOX 11.

Sign language interpreters often use facial expressions to further convey the meaning of a sign. Some on social media pointed out Maurer's interpreting during United Teachers Los Angeles news conferences.

According to Signing Savvy, an online sign language video dictionary and learning resource, the same exact hand-shape and movement can completely change meaning because of the facial expression used to accompany it.

"We're here to provide equal access to communication. Our expressions -- a lot of people have commented on that -- and really, when there's emotion in a voice, our facial expressions show that intonation of vocal emotion," Maurer said.

He also said working alongside the educators has inspired him.

"Of course, we're getting caught up in it because we also work in schools, and so technically we have to be neutral as interpreters politically, but it's been really inspiring to see the teachers out on the street," Maurer added.

On Friday, teachers picketed and rallied as the strike against the Los Angeles Unified School District closed out the week with a new round of contract negotiations.

The battle over pay, class sizes and support-staff in the nation's second-largest school district led to its first strike in 30 years.