NORMAN, Okla. – A meteorologist in Oklahoma is making forecasting more accessible and inspiring the next generation of meteorologists along the way.
Mikayla Smith launched "Signing Science with Smith," a forecast featuring American Sign Language.
The freelance weekend meteorologist at KXII, a CBS and FOX affiliate in Sherman, Texas, said she has always had a soft spot in her heart for the hard-of-hearing and deaf community. And with social media often lacking closed captions or accurate captions, she felt the need to start talking about the weather in ASL and incorporate it into her meteorology.
"I was expecting, maybe, you know, a couple of likes and shares, and I was absolutely blown away," Smith said.
Smith said she is happy to see the impact and hopeful this new trend starts to spread, helping other communities that may not necessarily get the news and weather normally.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Communication Disorders, one in eight people in the United States aged 12 years or older – roughly 30 million – has hearing loss in both ears, based on standard hearing examinations.
Smith gets her passion for sign language after an introduction to it at a young age when her mom went to college for special education.
She started learning ASL in seventh grade and said she was lucky enough to continue through her senior year.
While Smith said she will still continue her live forecast, she hopes "Signing Science with Smith" will become its own segment.
"I'm going to continue to post things on social media and my YouTube page and TikTok," Smith said.
@mikaylasmithwx Goodmorning! Let’s talk how to measure that snowfall you saw yesterday and overnight! #okwx #snow #ASL #SigningSciencewithSmith ♬ original sound - Mikayla
Smith said she has already had dozens of meteorologists reach out to her, wanting to learn ASL and asking where to start. She hopes her social media presence will be a starting place for others to come and learn a few signs here or there.
"Maybe it'll spark a passion in them, too," Smith said.
And hopefully, it inspires to have a lot more communication across many languages, including sign language.