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November 16, 2004

Deaf students struggle during walkout

From: Web Devil - USA - Nov 16, 2004

Espinoza says class lasted 'an eternity' without usual aid

by Ryan Kost

Marisa Espinoza sat at the front of her 1:40 p.m. personal finance class staring at the notes on the overhead and the professor's lips.

But she could hear nothing but mumbling, and there was no sign language interpreter present to help.

ASU interpreters staged a walkout Monday, leaving some deaf and hard of hearing students without interpreters. The walkout came in response to low pay that they said is well below rates offered elsewhere in the Valley.

Espinoza, an interdisciplinary studies senior, uses ASU's interpreting services in her classes, but was left without any today.

"It felt like an eternity," Espinoza said of her class once it was over.

ASU must provide translating services to any deaf or hard of hearing student who wishes to use them according to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Staff interpreters have said they receive about $21 per hour if certified, whereas one Valley company offers $38 per hour and hires only certified interpreters.

Finance lecturer David Hoffman taught using detailed overhead notes but there were times when the material could only be presented verbally, leaving Espinoza out of the loop.

Hoffman was aware of Espinoza's situation at the beginning of class. He said that he tried to write notes and equations on the board as much as possible but that the material is difficult to grasp using that alone.

"I think that explanation is just as important as the notes," he said.

Espinoza said the notes were helpful, but she still had to spend about ten minutes after class clearing up the material with Hoffman.

"Without the interpreters, I can't put [the notes] together," she said.

She also said that had it not been for the person sitting next to her, she would be unaware of the quiz next week as well as the extra credit Hoffman offered to students today.

A budgetary meeting between administrators and officials from the disability resource center is being held today to discuss interpreter wages.

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