A group of Deaf Queers and allies plan to protest the lack of ASL accessibility at Boston Pride today at 3 PM in front of the main stage.
“The time for action is now,” said Ayisha Knight-Shaw, a Deaf Lesbian who is organizing the protest. “[This protest is] in response to the blatant lack of preparation from the Boston Pride Committee to provide ASL interpreters.”
According to Knight-Shaw, Boston Pride did not put in a formal request for interpreters with the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH) until Wednesday, three days prior the event. With such late notice, MCDHH was only able to find one available interpreter for part of the event. Expecting one interpreter to interpret for more than an hour without a team is unrealistic, as a result deaf people attending Boston Pride this year will not have communication access at the event.
“It is especially infuriating because Pride Boston has a long history of providing interpreters,” said Susan Strange, an ASL interpreter. “I remember attending the 1988 Pride, 25 years ago, and interpreters were on stage.”
Deaf Gay Albert Sifuentes, one of the founders of the Deaf Gay Napoleon Club of New England, posted his thoughts regarding the protest on Facebook, “Unfortunately we just found out there will be no interpreters from 12pm to 6pm [at Boston Pride]. MCDHH did find one interpreter, but only one will be willing to work. But only one! So there will be no interpreters tomorrow. We realized that and the lesson we learned is that no one is to blame for this oversight. Yes, Boston Pride Committee (and we agree) should be knowledgeable about accessibility for our D/HH GLBT people. At the same time, I think we should be aware that we should request interpreters in advance of time.”
Lani Verges-Radack posted on Facebook that she thought the whole thing was absurd. “As is the argument that it’s not the Pride committee’s fault,” she added. “They should absolutely be responsible and have the foresight to secure interpreters, regardless of anyone in the deaf community making requests or not. It’s a public event and deaf/hoh folks come every year. I dare say no one makes requests for port-a-potties, but the committee manages to remember those. It’s not rocket science.”
Boston Pride could not be immediately reached for comment. The bostonpride.org website was also down at the time this article was posted.