Provide Communication Access for UC Berkeley's 1st Deaf Visiting Student Researcher
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We the undersigned concerned undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, staff and community members around the country and the world strongly support Nancy Barker and her demands for communication, resource and educational access stated below. Nancy, a Deaf PhD student whose primary mode of communication is American Sign Language, was invited to UC Berkeley as a Visiting Student Researcher for the 2016-17 academic year to make use of the resources on campus to analyze her data and complete her dissertation in ecological sciences and conservation.
When she arrived on campus in September 2016, however, Nancy found that the University did not have policies in place to provide her, as a Deaf Visiting Student Researcher, with the accommodations she needed. This resulted in Nancy spending first 12 of the 15 weeks of the fall semester with no sign language interpreting services for her classes or other academic activities on campus. Nancy was finally granted 21 hours of interpreting services per week at the beginning of the spring semester, but two weeks later, the UC Berkeley Disabled Student’s Program (DSP) cut Nancy’s services to just 8 hours per week without explanation. Nancy now has interpreters for her classes but, DSP has refused to grant her the autonomy and flexibility to schedule interpreters as needed for her labs, meetings with professors and colleagues and to take advantage of other resources on campus.
The University has clearly been in violation of The Americans with Disabilities Act (The ADA), which requires all public accommodations, including public universities, to provide Deaf students with effective communication. Effective communication for a Deaf student, whose primary mode of communication is American Sign Language, means providing interpreters for all critical communication on campus.
With such limited access to sign language interpreting services over the last six months, Nancy has been cut off from the resources, people and knowledge she needs to help her progress towards the completion of her dissertation. Due to the University’s refusal to provide communication access for most of the fall semester and only limited access during spring semester, we believe it only fair for UC Berkeley to extend Nancy’s Visiting Student Researcher appointment for an additional semester so she can complete her dissertation work as originally intended. Nancy’s financial backing, provided by her department for the 2016-17 year will soon be exhausted. Therefore, we also believe the University should provide her with the standard financial support for Visiting Student Researchers (but that this funding should NOT come from Nancy’s department as they were not at fault for denying her access to the accommodations she needed to succeed).
We therefore DEMAND that the UC Berkeley Administration immediately grant Nancy Barker:
1) One additional semester as a Visiting Student Researcher on campus with full financial support
We demand that Nancy’s Visiting Student Research position be extended to the Fall Semester of 2017 so that she can complete her data analysis and dissertation as planned. We demand that she also be given the standard financial backing for Visiting Student Researchers for this additional semester.
2) Full autonomous access to 30 hours of sign language interpreting services each week
We demand that Barker be given a block of 30 hours of sign language interpreting services each week to attend classes, labs, lectures, meetings with faculty and colleagues and take advantage of other campus resources as needed for the remainder of the Spring 2017 semester and the entirety of the Fall 2017 semester. We also demand that Barker be given the autonomy to schedule interpreting services directly with the interpreting agency, to expedite service provision.
3) No reprisals
Finally, we demand that there be no reprisals for Nancy or any of her supporters in her campaign to gain full access to her education at UC Berkeley.
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