Deaf community wants to be recognized in Mississippi

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – A rally raising awareness for the deaf community in Mississippi was held on the steps of the state capital.

This group wants lawmakers to know about the challenges they face every day, including simply finding a job.

There’s more than one way to get a message across.

For those that are deaf, using their hands to speak is the best way, but not everyone understands them.

“Communication. Communication is a daily challenge for us,” said Nancy Mears, a rally participant.

Mears spoke Interpreter Keila Adams at the rally.

She says she faces problems with everyday tasks most people take for granted, like scheduling an appointment at the doctor.

There have been times when her appointment has been changed but the office did not notify the interpreter.

It’s hard to explain what’s wrong.

“They did not inform the interpreter that the time was changed. So they’re stuck without having an interpreter and it’s very frustrating. And it’s wrong,” said Mears.

George Jennings tells me he was abused by a police officer who thought he was drunk.

“Asked me ‘If I could talk or voice?’ and I said ‘No’. I can hear your voice but I can’t understand the words that you are saying. The cop got frustrated and started abusing him. Then threw him (me) in jail for eight days.” Said George Jennings, a rally participant.

Jennings says he suffers from a cracked rib and feels that he should have been given an interpreter.

Chadwick Savoy, with Interpreter Darren Reed, says he wants lawmakers to understand discrimination they face inside the workplace.

“Deaf people have many skills. They can work well. Stop blocking deaf people from working,” said Chadwick Savoy, with Deaf Mississippi Grassroots.

The group believes American Sign Language (ASL) should be taught in schools.

Interpreters Keila Adams and Darren Reed are students at Hinds Community College.

They are enrolled in the ASL Interpreter program with hopes of one day being able to be a voice for the deaf.

“I started to learn sign language and from there it just changed my life,” said Keila Adams, of the Hinds Community College ASL Interpreter Training Program.

“Deaf culture is so beautiful. They have the right to equal access to communication. That’s something that I want to help out,” said Daren Reed, of the Hinds Community College ASL Interpreter Training Program.

Rallies were held across the nation today at 45 different capitals in the United States.

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