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Meet the woman with ‘the fastest hands in the west,’ the Governor’s sign language interpreter


Every week, the eyes of North Dakotans all over the state tune in to the Governor’s COVID-19 press briefings. While updates on the pandemic are the primary focus, the center of attention tends to turn to the sign language interpreter.

Learning how to sign is pretty similar to learning a foreign language, except a little more fun. Lindsey Solberg Herbel has been an interpreter for 22 years now but has been signing for a lot longer than that.

“When I was young we had some neighbors that lived around the corner from me, Sarah and Stephanie, and their grandma was deaf. And there was a period of time where we were in between daycares so my mom had made an arrangement with Grandma Doris, that my brother and I would go and she would take care of us. So Grandma Doris took care of us and taught us our first signs, and so from a very young age I knew that using sign language as a way of communication was just like talking and it was just like everybody else communicating,” said Solberg Herbel.

Recently, she has gained the nickname “The fastest hands in the West” for her interpreting at Gov. Doug Burgum’s press conferences. And while that has turned a lot of attention to her, she says she would much rather be getting attention for her latest project with fellow interpreters and the North Dakota Joint Information Center. They’ve been producing sign language videos to teach beginner signs, like the A-B-C’s, colors and numbers.

“We thought with all the attention on interpreters and sign language, we thought this would be a good way to maybe encourage people to use some sign language, learn some sign language, include your neighbors. And we just made five very short videos. If people like them and we get a lot of positive feedback then we want to expand the series. And that’s probably the more exciting part is if we can expand it,” said Solberg Herbel.

Now that school is ending these videos can be something fun and easy to learn because signing is fun for everyone.

Click here to watch Lindsey’s videos.

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