Share article:
Share article:

Belgium’s coronavirus experts get sign language names

Credit: © Belga

Belgium’s coronavirus experts team have been given their own sign language names by members of an online mute-deaf community.

Members of a mute-deaf Facebook group came up with signs to name the health officials who have become the public faces of Belgium’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The team includes virologists Marc Van Ranst and Steven Van Gucht as well as Emmanuel André, a clinical biologist in the KU Leuven laboratory, and the spokespersons for Belgium’s Crisis Centre, Yves Stevens and Benoît Ramacker.

A deaf group member shared proposed translations of the team’s names into Flemish Sign Language, saying his partner had come up with it because it would make their conversations about the press conference easier, VRT reports.

“She came up with a gesture for [virologist Steven] Van Gucht which he thought was quite good, that’s why he asked the rest of the group for opinions,” Els Demarre, VRT sign language interpreter said.

The names given to them draw from a distinctive trait or a personal characteristic, such as the V-neck sweaters of Van Ranst or the checkered shirts of André.

While the name gestures were thought up in an informal setting between members of an affinity Facebook group, the officials who are tasked with live-translation of the press conferences have since adopted, and thus officialised them.

 

Ver esta publicación en Instagram

 

Una publicación compartida por VRT NWS (@vrtnws) el


Marc Van Ranst

While The Dutch-speaking virologist does not take part in the daily press conferences, his media profile has risen considerably since the start of the epidemic, as he goes on news shows and gives radio interviews to deliver insights into how the government is managing the outbreak.

His trademark V-neck sweaters have caught the eye of the public and were also chosen as the main feature for his Flemish name sign, with the gesture for naming him consisting of mouthing the word “Marc” while mimicking a V-shape down the middle of the chest.

Steven Van Gucht

A downwards gesture made with the thumb at one corner of the mouth was chosen to name Steven Van Gucht, the virologist with public health institute Sciensano who delivers daily figures in Dutch.

The gesture was created to reference a scar that Van Gucht has on his lower lip.

Emmanuel André

Charged with updating the French-speaking public on the daily evolution of the pandemic, André can often be seen wearing a plaid shirt.

The name sign given to him mimics the checkered pattern on the shirt by dragging four fingers across, then from top to bottom across the chest.

Benoit Ramacker and Yves Stevens

Ramacker and Stevens are the spokespersons of the country’s Crisis Centres, tasked with coordinating responses to nationwide crises such as the 2016 terror attacks.

The gesture to name Ramacker beings wit the five fingers of one hand pressed together while the palm faces down and continues by turning the palm upwards and opening up the fingers in a fluid motion.

The gesture chosen for Stevens uses two fingers of one hand and the palm of the other to mimic a person standing on a platform, and was chosen because the Dutch-speaking press officer often stands during the press conferences.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Ruined photos from flood victims restored for free
Much of what victims of this summer’s deadly flooding lost is irreplaceable, but when it comes to photographs that were ruined, a Brussels company is ...
New Belgian video game aims to help children who stutter
A new video game by Belgian-American start-up Say It Labs aims to teach children with a stutter various techniques to improve their speech.  ...
More than 1 in 4 Belgians use mobile phones whilst driving
A recent European study into the use of mobile phones whilst driving highlights some alarming results: 26% of Belgians read or send messages on their ...
Belgium in Brief: Memories Of Masks
Belgium's experts are concerned with the rising coronavirus figures. One possible solution could be that, once again, masks are used more widely. ...
Museum Nights Fever returns to Brussels on Saturday night
After a break last year, Museum Nights Fever 2021 is back again with free visits to 32 museums hosting performances, music and other events. The ...
More than €1.5 billion injected into SNCB
More than €1.5 billion in additional funding has been injected into the Belgian railways, Federal Mobility Minister Georges Gilkinet told the House ...
Non-vaccinated applicants no longer welcome at ZNA hospitals in Antwerp
The Antwerp hospital group ZNA is only taking on new employees who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to reporting from VRT. ...
Pharmacies prepare to administer more rapid antigen tests
From November, anyone presenting coronavirus symptoms for less than six days will be able to take a rapid antigen test in a pharmacy, announced the ...
Chocolate, Christmas, and cocaine
Do you consider yourself a news buff? Someone constantly on top of what's going on? Then maybe you have what it takes to ace The Brussels Times ...
Introduction of Covid Safe Ticket leads more in Brussels to get vaccinated
The introduction of the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) in the Brussels-Capital Region on 15 October seems to have led to a higher number of residents ...
More and more testimonies, and a second rally against sexual violence in Brussels
A second rally against sexual violence was held in the Brussels neighbourhood of Ixelles on Thursday evening, and a sister-rally was held ...
Over 1,000 Covid-19 hospitalisations for first time since early June
The number of patients hospitalised in Belgium as a result of the coronavirus has again exceeded 1,000, climbing to 1,032, according to figures ...