Deaf, hard-of-hearing interpreters speak out amid layoffs - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Deaf, hard-of-hearing interpreters speak out amid layoffs

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Deaf, hard-of-hearing interpreters speak out amid layoffs (WFSB) Deaf, hard-of-hearing interpreters speak out amid layoffs (WFSB)

State employees who interpret for the deaf and hard of hearing said they've been laid off.

They said the state cut the entire Deaf & Hard-of-Hearing Interpreting Unit within the Department of Rehabilitation Services as part of the state's budget realignment.

The workers' union, Council 4 AFSCME, held a news conference and a brief demonstration to protest the layoffs on Wednesday.

It said the cuts included all interpreters and support staff who provide services to the community.

Faith Posner, her brother and two friends are all deaf. The Posner family said their children are losing an interpreter they're comfortable with, and who they rely on at school.

"I don't like this idea. I want to be able to communicate. It's not fair at all," Faith Posner said. 

They all go to public school, learning with the help of an interpreter, so they can fully understand everything during the day.

"I'm not sure what they're thinking by cutting the agency," Rachel Posner, Faith's mom, said. She is also deaf, and said the layoffs go beyond schools, but affect the need for interpreters in courtrooms or hospitals.

People who rely on the service were protesting the job cuts on Wednesday. 

"We were told today so we got two weeks notice," said Jim Cusack, who was recently laid off.

Workers said about 30 interpreters were laid off, but according to the state they expect little changes in services.

They believe many interpreters will continue to provide service through private providers.

Overall, it is expected to save money.

It costs the state $100 per hour to provide interpreter services. Private providers charge $60 per hour.

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