NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Shari Bernius is someone you have probably seen many times but never heard. Yet, she speaks to many who need vital information.

She’s been a local American Sign Language interpreter for most of her life, growing up in a home where signing was necessary to communicate.

“Yes, both of my parents were deaf. Actually, sign language is my first language,” said Bernius.

From that early education at home, Bernius parlayed those skills into a lifelong career.

WGNO’s own Curt Sprang profiled Berius’s work in the early 2000s.

“Professionally, 44 years, but I interpreted for my parents as a child,” said Bernius.

Bernius is one of the busiest ASL interpreters in the region, often accompanying elected officials when something important needs to be said to the community.

“As we’re being intentional about the information that we share and how we share and embracing our people living with disabilities as we’re giving the information, it doesn’t get any better than that. Having Ms. Shari by my side gives me a calm that I can’t even explain,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell.

Most of Bernius’ work is not in front of the cameras, but providing daily services to deaf people need through her company, The Deaf Action Center of New Orleans.

“The majority of our work is medical because we follow the deaf person to their appointments. Maybe law enforcement needs to talk to a deaf person, so we’re called out to interpret there. When I’m finished here, I have another appointment in physical therapy with a deaf person. We’re called wherever a deaf person needs the service,” said Bernius.

Bernius says as a child, she wondered why she had the burden of deaf parents that she had to interpret for and now sees that as a blessing.

“Now as an adult, I truly understand now that it’s a calling. It’s what God put me here to do,” said Bernius.

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