Deaf, hard-of-hearing interpreters rally at State Capitol - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Deaf, hard-of-hearing interpreters rally at State Capitol

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Members of the Deaf & Hard-of-Hearing Interpreting Unit rallied after layoffs in June. (WFSB) Members of the Deaf & Hard-of-Hearing Interpreting Unit rallied after layoffs in June. (WFSB)

Dozens of interpreters, who were laid off by the sate, gathered on the steps in front of the State Capitol in Hartford on Tuesday morning.

They were laid off as part of the state's deep budget cuts and Department of Rehabilitation Services was closed on July 15.

Members of the deaf and hard of hearing community joined the laid off interpreters. Workers said about 35 American Sign Language interpreters were laid off.

"I think there will be a lot of people hurt by this closing," interpreter James Cusack said. "Not only the deaf people but the hearing people who interact with them and care for them." 

The governor's office plan to use an outside company to hire interpreters. The state expects to save money nearly $30 per hour by using a private company. 

"The state must adjust to a new economic reality and we must align our spending and revenue - this is one way to achieve those goals. There is expected to be  little, if any change in services while we achieve significant cost savings for the state," the governor's office said in a statement on Tuesday. 

The Connecticut chapter of We the Deaf People, which is a nonprofit that defends rights of deaf community, said many of the laid off interpreters will move out of state to find work. 

"This is a disturbing development for Deaf people, not only in Connecticut, but throughout the nation. The Americans with Disabilities Act supposedly guarantees that our communication rights be respected . . . so imagine our feelings of outrage and betrayal when essential services to the Deaf community are cut by the very government that is suppose to support our rights! We are beyond tired and beyond infuriated when decisions directly affecting Deaf people’s quality of life are made without their input. Is Governor Malloy perhaps unfamiliar with the meaning of the slogan ‘Nothing about us without us," We the Deaf People Founder and President Matthew S. Moore said in a statement on Tuesday. 

“American Sign Language, or ASL, is the primary language for us as Deaf people and those interpreters are experts at facilitatingcommunication between ASL and English. Without them, we as Deaf people will not feel that we area part of the nation in which we live. Without them, we feel that we will not be seen as important and will be forgotten. Please reopen our Interpreter Department now," Houston McBride, who is the Connecticut Coordinator for Deaf People United, said in a statement on Tuesday. 

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