DEAF - L:  Interpreting Shortage
Key words:  Deaf Education Information, deaf related issues, sign language

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From: Richard Clark Eckert <rceckert@UMICH.EDU>
Subject:      News from California (fwd) CSUN Thing
Return-Path: owner-deaf-l@SIU.EDU

Forwarded is the LA Times article concernng the CSUN problem with getting

Richard C. Eckert

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 23 Feb 1999 11:17:48 -0500 (EST)

>From the newsroom of the LA Times, Saturday, February 20, 1999 .....

Deaf Students Protest Interpreter Shortage
CSUN: About 80 demonstrate to complain the situation is affecting their
education. Official sees no quick solution.

By SOLOMON MOORE, Times Staff Writer

NORTHRIDGE--When Jessica Guarino learned about Cal State Northridge and
its famed National Center on Deafness, she knew it was the place for her.

As the only deaf student in her New Orleans high school, she longed for an
environment where she could meet other deaf students and live where her
needs would be understood. She got her camaraderie at CSUN, but it has come
at a price.

"I graduated [high school] with a 3.6 grade point average," she said,
signing through an interpreter. "But last semester I made a 2.5 because I
couldn't get an interpreter that I could understand."

Frustrated over long delays, rigid schedules and poorly trained
interpreters, Guarino and about 80 other deaf and hard-of-hearing students
protested the shortage of sign-language interpreters Friday afternoon on
the main quadrangle.

One by one, students stood on a bench and described humiliations, missed
opportunities and dashed expectations.

"I came here from Colorado because I heard about all these great
interpreters they had," said Trudy Marie Sluyter, 23, a liberal studies
major. "I had an interpreter for two years, and then the third year my
interpreter was gone and I just sat there in math for months. They wanted
me to go to a different class with all deaf students--that meant I couldn't
follow my own schedule."

As a result, Sluyter said, she will graduate a semester late. Damion Brown,
25, arrived at CSUN last month from Boston with the expectation that he
would have no problem finding an interpreter to help him through his
finance classes. After three weeks, he's still on the waiting list, he said.

Some complained about sign-language interpreters who abandoned students if
they were late to class. Others complained of interpreters who were late.

Herb Larson, who will retire next month from his position as director of
the National Center on Deafness, said he understood the students'
frustration, but was unable to offer a quick solution.

"Absolutely there's a shortage," he said. "But it's not just us here facing
this problem. This is affecting all post-secondary programs--there's just
not enough interpreters going through interpreter-training programs.

"It's not a budget problem," he added. "Money isn't an issue."  Larson said
256 deaf and hard-of-hearing students attend CSUN, but that the center only
employs about 100 interpreters--about 90% of whom work part time. In all,
interpreters are needed at 424 classes.

Interpreters are paid between $10.84 and $29.93 an hour, plus benefits.

Students complained that interpreters, who need to be highly skilled to
translate academic subjects, should be paid more and given full-time jobs
more often to encourage them to stay. Larson said wages and hiring
practices were out of his control and were a labor matter to be negotiated
by the Cal State system and its unions.

Still, some students said they felt duped by the much-touted National
Center on Deafness, noting that recruitment materials sent out by the
center do not mention the shortages.

Said 25-year-old April Edwards, a recent CSUN graduate, who used the
center's services: "They have a reputation that they don't live up to."

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