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October 27, 2004

Sign language lets deaf citizens see Kerry's words

From: Green Bay Press Gazette - Green Bay,WI,USA - Oct 27, 2004

By Nathan Phelps

Beth Urquhart listened to every word John Kerry spoke, turning his words into sign language for the deaf and hearing impaired.

At both campaign stops in the Green Bay area this week, the 28-year-old University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee employee was the intermediary between the thousands of words spoken though a public address system and those that couldn't hear them.

There's a simple reason why she does it. "Equity. Giving everyone an equal opportunity to make an informed choice is what it is all about," Urquhart said.

She has signed at other Kerry stops in Wisconsin and said her biggest challenge is conveying the full impact of the words being spoken by the politicians and Kerry.

"If you've done it for a while, it's not difficult," she said. "But you always wonder if you're matching someone as powerful as John Kerry."

Outside of the Kerry stops, Urquhart is a sign language interpreter and academic advisor at UW-Milwaukee.

Copyright © 2004 Gannett Wisconsin Online.