The Associated Student Government is setting aside $1,000 to provide American Sign Language translators for deaf students attending City College club meetings.
“The ASG represents all students irrespective of race, disabilities or color. For now, we’re working with $1,000 because we’re almost at the end of the semester and we believe it will cover every student who will have a need for a translator,” Senator Kenny Igbechi said.
The senate first heard of this need from Student Senate Advisor Amy Collins Friday, who also works for the Office of Student Life. Collins was contacted by Natalie Holdren, who has assisted the Neurodiversity Club as an advisor, about a student who wanted to join the club but needed a sign language translator to do so. Holdren gave Collins the impression Disability Services and Programs for Students had already been contacted about the issue and the program had not provided the assistance the student needed. She asked Collins for advice on what to do.
Collins decided to ask the Student Senate if the group would help provide the funding to pay a translator for that student, who she said might cost the senate $40 to $58 for every hour the translator works.
“ASG charters all clubs and is the voice of the students,” Collins said in her statement to the senate. “We want to help as much as we can.”
Collins added that the student was no longer attending the club, but she was bringing it to the senate’s attention in case the need should ever arise again.
Although all the senate members appeared to agree they should help fund a translator, there was some initial disagreement about how to do so.
Senator Kevin Ni emphasized the senate’s attention should be focused on lobbying DSPS to provide funding for students engaging in extracurricular activities, but also suggested the senate could create an online fundraising campaign to raise the money to provide translators. He also raised the possibility of using Santa Barbara community volunteers or student volunteers who have graduated from or are currently taking City College’s sign language program.
Senator Lucas Perry was in favor of student translators, saying it would be more cost-effective and students would feel less like they are being given special help if a fellow student was their translator. Lee and Collins were against it due to mistranslation concerns.
Senator Vanessa Vera said a system could be established in which DSPS students could request a translator to help them with up to 12 hours of club meetings per semester, which would cost no more than $720 per student based on Collin’s estimate, and unused requests could be given to other DSPS students who need more than the 12 hours.
The senate ultimately decided to designate $1,000 from its Student Representation Fee budget in case two students make requests for one this semester, leaving over $130,000 in the budget that the senate has not made plans to use this year.
The Channels reached out to DSPS Director Jana Garnett about the issue of providing a translator, and she said the student had not made a formal request to DSPS, but that if the student had, he or she would have been accommodated.
“The college is required to provide equal access per ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and appropriate funding would be identified to pay for the accommodation,” she said.