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Mayor Young’s interruption of sign language interpreter was a mistake | READER COMMENTARY

Mayor Jack Young held a news conference at Baltimore City Hall last Tuesday to announce a new coronavirus testing site in the city.
Mayor Jack Young held a news conference at Baltimore City Hall last Tuesday to announce a new coronavirus testing site in the city. (Emily Opilo/Baltimore Sun)

I want to thank reporter Talia Richman for covering the interpreter incident at Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young’s press conference last week (“Baltimore Mayor Young apologizes to deaf community after cutting off ASL interpreter during coronavirus news conference,” April 23).

This incident could have been overlooked, but I believe it offers a good reminder that communication matters and that it doesn’t fit a certain mold. Interpreters, like myself and the one at City Hall, are present to communicate anything audible to those in attendance, not just the words coming from the speaker’s mouth. We seek to translate the experience — laughter, applause, tone of voice. By placing restrictions on interpreters, you’re limiting a deaf person’s ability to participate.

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While the mayor’s intent was likely to maintain control of the situation, the result was removing language access for a group of people. Crisis or no crisis — the deaf community deserves all information, not filtered versions of events.

Dave J. Coyne, Baltimore

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The writer is the language access and inclusion director of the non-profit Hearing and Speech Agency (HASA) of Metropolitan Baltimore, Inc.

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