IM this article to a friend!

November 15, 2004

Editorial: ASU interpreter dispute turns a deaf ear

From: Web Devil - USA - Nov 15, 2004

You're sitting in a class, but you don't understand hardly anything your professor is saying. No, you're not a native English speaker in Arabic 101 or in a required entry-level math class.

You're deaf.

Luckily, ASU is required by law to hire interpreters for you so you too can get a degree from a major public university and succeed as a savvy business person, a writer, an engineer, a nurse or whatever your heart desires.

Really, interpreters fall into the same category as phones, computers, the Internet, electricity and pictures of Angelina Jolie: You just don't know what you would do without them. And you never imagine your life without them because they're always there.

Unfortunately, today, deaf students at ASU have found themselves between a rock and a hard place.

Their interpreters are virtually going on strike due to low pay from the University, leaving deaf students with nowhere to turn to understand what their instructor is teaching (see page 1).

Many deaf students have said they support their interpreters and they agree that ASU is not paying up.

But really, it's not about the interpreters getting short-changed. It's the deaf students who are getting stiffed.

While there might be a budget issue involved, the bottom line is whom is ultimately affected, and in this situation, it's a group of people who aren't directly involved in the cash dispute between the University and the interpreters.

It's Ian Park or Mario Noriega who, if they go to their physics class this week, could miss out on most of the lesson because they can't understand what their professor is talking about.

On top of that, ASU officials decided to wait at least until Tuesday -- after being given two weeks notice -- before making a decision on the interpreters' pay because they couldn't get all their committee members in one place.

Two weeks to decide ... that's 14 days -- half a month really.

Were they playing chicken?

Regardless of the reason, waiting this long to make a decision that could potentially involve a legal battle down the road isn't something we think is the best idea, not only in the University's interest, but especially in the interest of deaf students.

Even though this issue is revolving around little green papers with dead presidents on them, we ask both sides to take a look at who is really suffering from the problem. Not you.

Don't you owe it to your students to work this out as quickly and as painlessly as possible? After all, ASU is lauded as one of the best schools for disabled students -- equipped with tons of resources to boot.

Surely this a key factor in where deaf and other disabled students decide to go. So how about living up to it?

Copyright 2001-04, ASU Web Devil. All rights reserved.