How Marilyn Teague serves the deaf community

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Community Connections: Marilyn Teague .Marilyn Teague, is a 73-year-old sign-language interpreter for the deaf community.Officially, she is Language Services Coordinator at Latin American Translators Network.She's been at LATN for the past six years.For 25 years, she's worked as a coordinator of sign language interpreters.I became hooked on sign language when I met a lady who was deaf on the bus on my way to work. I had learned a few signs from watching TV, and we were writing notes back and forth, Marilyn Teague

Each month, as part of our Aging in Atlanta series, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution introduces readers to a local member of the city’s thriving 55+ community. This month, we profile Marilyn Teague, a 73-year-old Atlanta native living in Doraville. Teague has a passion for volunteering, sign language and sci-fi conventions. She tells us more in the conversation below.

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Q: Tell us a bit about your educational background. Where did you go to school, and what did you study?

A: I went to E.R. Carter and E.C. Clement Elementary Schools. I graduated from H.M. Turner High School and graduated from Clark College, now Clark Atlanta University, with a B.A. in psychology. I also have an A.A.S. in Sign Language Interpreting from DeKalb Community College, which became Georgia Perimeter College, and is now Georgia State University.

Q: What type of work do you do and why is this field something you’re passionate about?

A: For the last 25 years, I have been a coordinator of sign language interpreters. For the last six years, I have been with Latin American Translators Network (LATN). We provide translations of written documents and interpretation of spoken and signed languages. That’s the difference — translation involves written documents, whereas interpretation involves speaking or signing languages.

I have always loved languages. In high school, I took classes in Latin, German, French and Spanish.

I became hooked on sign language when I met a lady who was deaf on the bus on my way to work. I had learned a few signs from watching TV, and we were writing notes back and forth. She invited me to her church, the Cruselle-Freeman Church of the Deaf, and to her home, where she and her husband were helping me to learn American Sign Language.

I went to college to learn how to become an interpreter, but did not pass the test, so I am considered a signer. I find that people who are deaf, deaf-blind and hard of hearing have unique challenges in their daily lives. I like to educate the public about these challenges.

Q: What are some of your other favorite activities? What hobbies do you enjoy?

A: Oh, my! I love to attend sci-fi conventions and volunteer.

I volunteer for a company called Argonne Parades. We handle parades such as the Atlanta Braves’ victory parade, the Patrick’s Day Parade, the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Sandy Springs Sparkle Parades.

I was the first director of the Dragon Con Parade, and first director of Disability Services from 2004 to 2008 or 2009. I have been a Dragon Con volunteer since 1986, day one. I started as Director of Registration, adding interpreting for deaf attendees. I was also with a disability rights organization for fans called “Electrical Eggs” that was started before the American Disabilities Act became a law.

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Q: What are your favorite ways to stay active?

A: I keep moving and I volunteer.

I attend Dragon Con and do a lot of cosplay — Agent Peggy Carter, yes, at my age! And I love “Star Trek” conventions. My son, Chris, and my husband, Robert, and I were so involved. Both have passed on, six years ago, but I stay involved. I also cosplay Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, who was communications officer aboard the USS Enterprise.

Q: How do you best enjoy staying involved with your community?

I have volunteered for the Peachtree Road Race since 1983, and for their Thanksgiving half-marathons for the last three years. I was the Volunteer of the Month for December 2021 for the Atlanta Track Club. What an honor!

So, volunteering when I can — wherever I can — for parades, conventions and the Atlanta Track Club. My three favorite things.

Q: If you had to pick a favorite quote that helps you stay positive and motivated or one that uplifts you, what would it be?

A: Oh, I love collecting quotes, another hobby. I would have to choose, “the reward of a thing well done is to have done it,” by Ralph Waldo Emerson. It says it all for me!

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