Disabling the Disabled

Aaron Lugo
KTSW News

According to Art Junior Cat Cassidy, this semester, there have been some changes in the leadership of the Office of Disability Services, particularly in the way the interpreter services are run for deaf students like Cassidy. Up until this semester, the sign language interpreters have been coordinated by Linda Lovelace. This semester, the university has hired Dawne McDougall as the assistant director of disability services. For Cassidy, this change has not been a easy one, who communicates through an interpreter during her classes and daily activities.

Cassidy

“Having an interpreter here, she’s the bridge between the two of us and we don’t want to have a bad bridge.”

-Cassidy

Cassidy believes that the change in directors at ODS, for whatever the reasons, haven’t been for the best, and she says she’s scared that her grades and overall academic experience will suffer as a result. Cassidy started noticing the changes right away and says, that the quality of service she is receiving like night and day.

“It’s a huge difference, there’s no instantaneous communication, before when Linda was here I had somebody on call, I mean two times it had happened where…my interpreter hasn’t shown up and I just send Linda a text saying “hey there’s no interpreter here …and she came in and started interpreting for me herself. I had that assurance.”

-Cassidy

According to Cassidy, several of the current interpreters recently quit working for the university. Cassidy’s interpreter, who requested not to be named, was one of those.

To Cassidy, having a quality and familiar interpreter is a crucial part of her learning experience. Just the same way any student gets to know the way a certain professor lectures, or how a worker develops a relationship with a boss or supervisor, a deaf student and interpreter develop a bond over time that is personal, a bond that Cassidy says, is really difficult to replace.

“I’ve been here for two years as a student, so I’ve been building up relationships with my interpreters so it’s to the point where they already know me…They know me well enough to where I’m looking down writing, they’ll wait and when I look back up they’ll fill me in. The new interpreters don’t know any of this so they’re just sitting there going and I’m trying to write, I feel stressed cause I need to look at them and try to fit them, and really they’re supposed to fit me, and accommodate me.”

-Cassidy

She says situations like this are the only things that make her wish she wasn’t deaf.

“I love being deaf, I love it it’s great, I love the fact that I’m very comfortable being quiet, it’s perfect that’s like the best position, the only time it sucks being deaf is the attitudes of others.”

-Cassidy

Cassidy has been organizing her fellow deaf students to discuss the issues at hand, and says she doesn’t want to stir up trouble, but work together with ODS to find a solution.

“I think right now, I would love to have an open meeting, with…ODS, and then the students would be represented and then the interpreters would be represented. And just have like an open meeting, and have like an advocate there, have a lawyer there because there is a lot of legal issues and a lot of lawsuits could happen out of this and just talk about it ya know. Let’s do it now, we don’t need to wait, and that’s the only solution it seems like.”

-Cassidy

Cassidy remains optimistic that the future will get better for deaf students and she hopes that ODS can turn around quickly.

Listen to the story here

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