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Deaf Interpreters Laid Off

 

The deaf and hard of hearing community joined with state public service workers June 29 in Hartford to protest the Malloy administration’s decision to lay off the entire Deaf & Hard of Hearing Interpreting Unit within the Department of Rehabilitation Services (DoRS).

“Both my parents were deaf, so I grew up seeing the value of interpreters and communication access,” said Tammy Batch of AFSCME Local 2663, one of the 30-plus interpreters who were the latest in a growing list of state employee layoffs. “Working for the people of Connecticut was not simply a job for me. It was a calling.”

The deaf and hard of hearing community has mobilized in support of our members and to call out the administration for abandoning a vital public service.

“This means I will have no access to communication with the hearing world like all of you. [It’s] very sad, very upsetting for us,” Luisa Soboleski said through sign language. “We're back to square one. We’re going to have to write with paper back and forth to communicate with doctors, hospitals, police officers.”

Soboleski served on the DoRS Interpreting Unit Advisory Board.

Emily Crawford, a deaf college student attending Central Connecticut State University, described the closing down the interpreter branch of the DORS as “possibly the worst thing to happen for the deaf community and the people who work for them. I’m a senior this fall, I am too close to graduating that I cannot possibly transfer out of state because my access to education has been deprived.”

State Rep. Cathy Abercrombie (D-Meriden), who co-chairs the legislature’s Human Services Committee, also decried the layoffs.

Local 2663 members and deaf interpreters James Cusack, left, and Tammy Batch at June 29 rally.

“This is an ill-advised budget cut that not only will deny some of our citizens services, but will cost taxpayers more in the long run,” Abercrombie said, adding that the DoRS interpreter cuts “will add to our fiscal woes, not alleviate them.”


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