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May 16, 2003

Deaf umpire obtains interpreter for varsity training

From: Newsday - May 16, 2003

By JEFFREY GOLD Associated Press Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- A deaf umpire will get sign language interpreters at meetings conducted by groups governing scholastic sports, his lawyer and the groups said Friday.

Peter J. Rozynski in December said the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association and New Jersey State Baseball Umpires Association violated the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and the state Law Against Discrimination.

An umpire since 1988 for slow-pitch and fast-pitch softball leagues, Rozynski said the groups impeded his entry to varsity officiating by refusing to pay for a sign language interpreter to accompany him to their certification classes.

After working junior varsity games, Rozynski said he asked for interpreter services in 1998, 1999 and 2001 so he could attend the course required for varsity certification, and was refused each time, so he sued.

Rozynski, 49, of Roselle, said he ultimately paid an interpreter $230 to attend some of the eight classes with him. He passed the exam and started working varsity games last spring, he said.

The lawsuit sought reimbursement, along with unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

His lawyer, Clara R. Smit, said the settlement covers his past expenses. She declined to give further details, saying the parties agreed not to comment beyond a brief joint statement.

Umpire association lawyer Alan S. Goldberger also said he would have no additional statement.

Rozynski has been deaf since age 2. He played baseball at the New Jersey School for the Deaf and later pitched three years for the semipro Clifton Tigers, he said.

Rozynski has been a software engineer for Verizon for 30 years. In a December e-mail, he called a sign interpreter "essential" in class to relay information not only from the instructor, but from other students.

On the field, Rozynski said coaches and players write down their words if he can't read their lips.


On the Net:

National Association for the Deaf news release:

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