Letters to the editor: Oct. 19, 2009. Where are the interpreters at CSUN?

Dear Editor,

I am a student in a COMS 356 class with two deaf students.  Throughout this semester these students have been without an interpreter for five out of the 12 class meetings.  I have watched their frustration and emotions overwhelm them to the point of walking out of class in tears.  This makes me feel guilty. As a hearing student that I am able to keep up with the curriculum and they are falling behind at no fault of their own.  What has happened to this school that we are allowing this to happen? Are the budget cuts that severe that we are letting some students’ education fall by the wayside?  This is unacceptable! I try to imagine what it would feel like to be sitting in a class and not be able to follow the lecture.  It is extremely frustrating!!  These students paid the exorbitant tuition that was required of all of us, and yet they are not receiving the same education.  I call to all students, faculty and the community to take a stand against this terrible situation and put a stop to this!!

In this together,
Krystal Hughes

Hi, My name is Kylie Kimura and I am currently a junior here at CSUN.   I am also a communication studies major. I am writing to you because I just got home from my morning class of which I have two deaf students in and the interpreter did not show. This is the fifth or sixth time that the interpreter has not come and we have called different departments over and over again and nothing has been done. This is completely unacceptable. The reason I am writing is because I want to raise awareness. I want to get the word out. These students are paying the same tuition as us, if not more for international fees, and they do no get the same, fair education as us. As a class collectively, we have decided that if this happens again, we shall sit in silence, as our deaf students have been forced to do so. In the event of our silence, we invite you to come visit our class. Intercultural Communication is held on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9:30-10:45 a.m. and is taught by Randi Picarelli. I am in no way writing this to vent and blame anybody, but to try to make a change. I think that as hearing students we take learning for granted. But could you imagine sitting in a silent class seeing everyone’s mouths move and not knowing what is going on? I think it is completely unfair. Deaf students come to CSUN because of its renowned reputation for deaf studies and these events are only demeaning the program. Thank you for your time in this matter and I hope that I can continue to get people’s attention.

Kylie Kimura

  • Kylie Kimura

    Not really liking your attitude Anonymous Suggester. It shouldn’t have to be that way. Deaf students deserve the right to an equal education at CSUN and that is the purpose of raising awareness on this cause. Deaf students should not be forced to transfer to Gallaudet to have 100% accessibility. And sorry, but no. We can’t just “forget the whole thing.”

  • Suggestion

    Forget the whole thing at CSUN… Go to RIT/NTID or Gallaudet University… 100 percent accessability…

  • Tammi

    Hi, I was reading the article regarding the interpreting issues at CSUN. I have a question, why are the interpreters not showing up to class?
    I am a certified interpreter and know many certified interpreters that are always looking for work. In fact, we would love to have full time work!
    I am sorry to hear to hear about the lack of interpreters for the Deaf students at CSUN. Great job on getting the awareness of this issue out in the public, never know. Stay positive!

  • Jeannie

    Hello all, I am one of the students as a junior transfer and my first semester, who have the same issues here at CSUN. I had expressed all my concerns and emotionals to the people about it and have had a meeting today with the Vice President of Student Affairs and it turned out good. She will do best in an efforts to make sure that all of us have a full equal access..from my understanding it wasn’t in their control as they have tried… it was the UNION that decided the furloughs because of the economy budget. So all of us, Deaf and Hard of hearing students, we all need to face and meet with the senator and or a local governor to express our frustrations about our access with the interpreters or a real life time captionist that we all must have one!!! I really felt out for those students who have no interpreters/real life captionists in their classes and it makes me angry, frustrating, and I support and advocate each and everyone of you!! We needed to build our power of our voices to be heard asap!!! We need to fight for our rights. I am sure that NCOD is doing the best they can do to provide services… We just need to keep on fighting untit we get our ways!!! Don’t give up or stand back, we all need to show them more the better of our voices being heard! So they all can understand how we felt and why it is so important to our education.
    Maria~~~ thanks for being part of this and I know you are one of those frustrating students that are dealing with the issues with no services in your classes I really feel you!!! We are going to fight even if we have to protest together!!!! Hang in there!
    Thank you for reading my comments… we all need your help and support!!

  • Deaf Studies Major

    I feel disgusted by the mere fact that Deaf students are not being provided interpreters for their classes, not even to mention other services they are being denied due to a communication barrier such as the Counseling Center. Something has to be done! Feel as though we should all protest by not showing up for our classes hoping that somebody will notice the oppression that is taking place here on our campus at Cal State Northridge

  • maria

    Oops!. I noticed there are some errors. Please forgive my grammars. It is my second language. I wish I could go back and edit it.

  • maria

    NOW, WHAT NEXT STEP? They said to contact senator in our area and contact local of governor. We need your support! We did our action step by step. I am NOT the only person who fell farther behind in classrooms. The system must be fix and must be improve! GOVERNOR, We are SCREAMING for you fix the problems! Hire more FULL TIME INTERPRETERS AND IMPROVE THE SYSTEM to meet ADA law, Civil Rights, and U.S Department of Education.
    Interpreter would be ONLY available to classrooms first than other services. Excuse me, Wow, Deaf and Hard of hearing do not have the same access like hearing students do? However, we all pay the same tuitions. This fall CSUN made us to pay to increase the cost about percents than tuition cost. It does not meet us as equal education. At the beginning was rough without interpreter. Then after my mom’s loss, they told me that I would not have interpreter for my counseling session at CSUN for my grief of my mother’s loss . Because it was no longer chargeback and they can provide only to classroom first! PLEASE HIRE a few SIGNER counselors or provide interpreter at Student Health Center for counseling session to help them to stay in school if we need to express in their language. Student Health Center told me they can try to communicate on the machine as best as they can, If you were me, would you go there for counseling session to use keyboard to communicate on the machine to express than express without your speaking? No. I am sure you would find other place to go where you can communicate. It has been very crisis for me to hold on.. I rather nearby where I can go to than driving all the way south to Santa Monica. But my van was down for awhile. How to success my school without my support ? Without resource to reach my goal? Hearing students can benefits from Student Health Center and other services at CSUN. it’s very hard to stay focus of what has been going on! When fifth times or sixth times without interpreter, I became outrageous! I had to walk out of the COMS 356 classroom and I went to NCOD, nothing was back up. I was emotional and I decided to go to the Student Health Center WALK IN like hearing students can go anytime if they want to express. As for me, it took us about 2 hours or so to communicate on the keyboard machine. That was nightmare. It was not easy. Afraid to misunderstanding, avoid frustrating, or time consume :( Plus image FIVE or SIX absent of interpreter I was there with my deaf classmates and I even can’t particulate in group discussions in COMS 365 class! We felt so lost! It was very hard for me to keep up because teacher spoke too fast and went on. Notetakers are only to volunteer and was not paid to work for CSUN, but she has absent a lot. We cannot always rely on people who are just volunteer! My COMS 356 Professor was fed up due to no interpreter at the fifth time or sixth time, and asked the COMS 356 students what they have seen and ask my class what we learn that apply to the textbook we saw today). I was grateful what she did contact NCOD why we did not have interpreter and met with us and make sure the notes was cleared. It is not fair after I got back from my mom’s loss, I was not allowed to make up first exam. She said she did not my late paper in verbal. With my daughter’s illness recently, I have to be absent this week. It was like hopeless! You know what? Today my COMS professor just emailed me that she was thinking about me to drop the class because she said I missed class a lot lately and she felt that I did not learn anythings in class. she wants to talk with me about withdrawal. What the (BEEP!)…That PUNISHES me being absent? because FIVE OR SIX OF NO INTERPRETER in class, absent due to my mother’s loss and absent due to my daughter’s illness? That is so ridiculous and I feel discouraged. What I have learn from COMS 356? For example IDENTITIES myself that apply to my life as a Deaf, latina/mexican, single mom, hard worker,fighter, educator, straight, and christian/catholic person. As VALUE, I value my education, languages, cultures( Mexico, America, and Deaf Community).The terms are such as HEGEMONY,VALUE,DOGSMATIC, MONCHRONIC, POLOGCHRONIC, POWER-DISTANCE, UNCERTAINTY AVOIDANCE, STANDPOINT, RACISM, and OPPRESSION because I am in minority group. I learned ONLY from COMS 356 TEXT BOOK, EXPERIENCING INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION BOOK, somewhat in class discussion with interpreter in few times, met with my professor in her office hours a few times, and I look up the notes that apply to me today I made an action this happen this semester and my past experience! I cannot drop this COMS 356 class because my deaf studies major is required me to take that course as upper division. I am a senior this year. I will be expecting to graduate in May 2010. I would like to catch up with my school work.I do my best as I can when they provide an interpreter or hire a signer counselor at student health center. Last year was great and was benefits me when i was transfered student. I enjoyed working with my counselors.

    As for Deaf International student was more harder and did not have same rights as we do. For example, my deaf classmate in COMS 356 is an international student and told me that she feels she does not have same rights like I can complaint because I am a Citizen of U.S. That makes me so ANGRY and SAD because she paid out of state tuition cost and did not have the same rights like we do. I did for my deaf community,my deaf classmate and myself.

    Most of my deaf studies courses I am taking, these teachers understood my situations and they would me to keep up my courses. I feel encouraged by them. I am blessed to have them. I am thankful for the Deaf Studies professors and staffs there to support me. I can’t go on without them. I felt I was not alone. Sadly, COMS 356 hearing teacher does not understand that I have been through a lot.
    I couldn’t recall where I find, in the articles of President Obama’s quoted which I would like to “Without resources, we cannot success our dreams.” and “we cannot do this alone, work together will do.” :)

    • maria

      Oops. I noticed that I made some errors. Forgive me for my english grammar. It’s my second language.

  • Kylie Kimura

    Thanks for the replies! I am glad that my email got somebody’s attention! It is people like you who are going to help change this! =)

    • Kathryn J. Stiles Cook

      Thanks for bringing this to our attention!!

  • Pam

    Where is the great Roz Rosen in all of this? Maybe if she had been more interested in CSUN students instead of pursuing the presidency of Gallaudet, this wouldn’t be happening. I hope she will respond. This is her responsibility. She is to blame.

  • Martin Watkins

    Mary, I agree that it is wonderful that so many other hearing students are noticing what is happening around them.
    This is an abomination that out of everything that this school does that could be cut, they chose interpreter service. I recently read an email that suggested fund-raising. I agree. Although it should not be our place to have to fund-raise for a service of our school that is technically required by LAW, I agree that it is up to the entire student body to do something for their fellow students and classmates. How about another Change Drive? Only this time, for an actual CHANGE in how things are being done on campus.

    Anyone know who needs this money to directly fund the interpreters?

    Also, one thing I MUST stress: Although this is a horrible thing that is happening, if you are a Deaf Studies Major, EVEN IF you are an interpreting concentration and haven’t yet graduated, you CAN NOT INTERPRET. It is illegal if you are not a certified interpreter. Help a Deaf classmate in the class, fine. But you are not allowed to sit in your seat the entire length of the class and interpret. Sorry, I know it’s hard not to do because you want to help, but there are other ways.

    • Kathryn J. Stiles Cook

      What law says that a student cant interpret if they are not certified? Please show me the facts behind your statement. The reason I ask is because the Independent Living Resource Center which is funded by state and federal dollars provides qualified yet not certified interpretors. So show me the law. I think I need to learn a new lesson.

      • CSUNstudent

        If you go onto the RID website there is a code of professional conduct.

        RID.org is the website and you can educate yourself on the bylaws on interpreting.


        It is not illegal for a student to interpret a whole class, it is just unethical. This also goes for Interpreting Training Program students who have not finished with their ITP’s yet. Although you may want to help, volunteering for interpreting in classroom settings where you are not nearly qualified is unethical. You become the oppressor when all you were trying to do was “help.”

        It blatantly states that you shall “Do No Harm.” This means do no harm to our friends that do not have interpreters. Do not try and interpret if you are not qualified.

  • Cat

    When I attended UCSB, I worked for the “Disabled Students Program” which covered providing access and notetaking for ANY and ALL students… from Joe-Anyone who broke his leg on the ski slope to the newly-diagnosed Dyslexic to visual impairments to hearing impairments. When a last minute study session was thrown together and one of the students who happens to be deaf couldn’t get an interpretter scheduled in time, I went as a notetaker and assistant. I took long-hand notes as fast as possible, and carried on written conversations with the student at the same time, even able to ask questions on behalf of the studen when necessary. There’s no reason for registered students to not get even note-taking assistance in class. Working for DSP didn’t pay much in money, but paid a lot in friendship and good will, feeling like I made a difference in a fellow student’s life.

  • Moonshine

    As an interpreter, although not at CSUN, I am happy to see that people are noticing this as well. I am friends with some of the Deaf students at CSUN. I can tell you that if the hearing students are noticing this now, it has been going on actually for quite some time and the Deaf students at CSUN have been suffering for quite a while with having no interpreters, unqualified interpreters, and just lousy services in general.

    The Deaf students HAVE complained. The interpreting department regularly denies requests for interpreters, or tells the students that have no interpreters available (hire more?)Recently as well, the Department has been denying interpreters because “that’s not your class” when a Deaf student has been asked to present in another professor’s class to HELP EDUCATE others about various aspects of Deaf Culture.

    The link some one posted in a comment above – http://www.csun.edu/accessibility/
    points to a very scary experiment that CSUN is involved in – at the beginning of this year they wanted to drop ALL Interpreters and go with Computer aided translation.
    Guess what – that does not work for some Deaf people. I happen to know that when this was pointed out to the people in charge, they didn’t care.

    Here is the link to the office in charge of providing interpreters
    If you want to protest (and I think you should) go sit in front of their offices and protest.
    Or / and read this very deceptive letter from the director http://www.csun.edu/ncod/director/
    In it she states, “CSUN is recognized as a flagship university and model for academic and support services for all the members of our university community.”

    From my conversations with Deaf and hard of Hearing students at the CSUN campus – this is simply not true.

    Only through unity and with persistence will you all get it changed. Go protest – because it is a load of garbage that the University receives Federal, as well as State funding as a “Model of academic and support services” when in actuality they are providing less and less service every term.

  • It’s wonderful that hearing students in classrooms are noticing that interpreters have been missing and that equal access has not been granted to many Deaf students this semester. The Deaf Studies Association and Deaf CSUNians will be having a silent demonstration outside the library on Tuesday, November 3rd, 10:30-3:30, to raise awareness of Deaf oppression (a term referred to as “audism”). Our event is called Stop Audism Day, and if any of you would like to come join us, or just find out more about audism, you are more than welcome to. It is important that people are aware of this important issue.

  • Kathryn J. Stiles Cook

    This is the year 2009!! The civil rights act and Americans with Disabilities Act (Rehab 504) were passed long ago!! Having no interpretor in 5 out of 12 classes is clearly a violation of the American’s with Disabilities Act!! 5/12=42% That is an F-!!

    That means, students have missed 42% of the material. They are getting further behind. Have you ever tried to catch up when drowning? CSUN needs to give students who require an interpreter to learn an opportunity to catch up without penalizing them.

    The worst part is CSUN claims they are making the school accessible. Just check out http://www.csun.edu/accessibility/

    Would you expect a person in a wheelchair to wheel up a set of steps? Would you expect a person who is blind to read text without the use of a Braille Reader or a Computer to read it to them? I think not!!

    Contact California Disability Rights to make a complaint.
    San Diego Regional
    1111 Sixth Avenue, Suite 200
    San Diego, CA 92101

    Office of Clients Rights Advocacy
    100 Howe Avenue, Suite 240-N
    Sacramento, CA 95825
    TTY 877-669-6023

    Los Angeles Regional
    3580 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 902
    Los Angeles, CA 90010-2512

    We must all write and let them know what an abomination this is!!


    Kathryn J. Stiles Cook
    28 year professional
    working with People who have disabilities

  • Concerned Student

    Why are interpreters being cut? Besides classes, they are also being cut from the student productions that we have. Are deaf students going to be denied their right to equal access in the classroom as well as entertainment? While having only 1 interpreted night per production is ‘okay’ in these tight times, these students NEED to be able to understand and follow their professors so they can pass thier class and graduate. NOT fail due to the lack of communication. PLEASE re-arrange the budget so we can have funding for the areas that need it. NOT for things like Matador Nights and such. Matador Nights is fun and I appreciate it being free and fun, but do we need it? Or need it to be free?