Letters to the Editor

Week of March 27, 2002

Sound and Fury

At Cal, the deaf aren't being heard: In Lisa Davis' “Missed Interpretation” (March 13), we are given a bird's-eye view of the barriers to academic success at Cal for what is described as a “handful” of [deaf] students — as well as details regarding the cost to Cal in defending [its] position rather than providing appropriate accommodations. Although the number of deaf students at Cal is small, the sociolinguistic realities they face [are] highly representational of deaf university students' experiences nationwide, with one major exception: To my knowledge (as a deaf graduate student myself and member of deaf academic circles) most deaf students are able to arrange for accommodations with minimal duress.

In this context, Cal lawyer Jeff Blair's comments can be fully appreciated for the grossly misleading and paternalistic tripe they are. That he might struggle with grasping some of the issues faced by deaf students is not surprising to me: It takes a great deal of sophistication to enter the world of another so different from oneself. What is difficult to fathom is his lack of understanding of the legal implications of infringing on the rights of equal citizens under the law. Blair also responds dismissively to complaints, attributing student problems to their own immaturity or inability to follow procedure.

Although not a focus of the article, there is a litany of student complaints not limited to issues of interpreter competence alone: failure to maintain professional communications, failure to respond to student requests, failure to conduct interpreter evaluations, failure to provide individually compatible accommodations, and so on. In short, the complaints against Cal's DSP [are about its] failure to assure deaf students equal access and participation in the intellectual circles at Cal, and this more than anything has eroded any credibility or legitimacy DSP might have enjoyed in the eyes of deaf students and the local deaf community.

Paul Dudis

Critics Corner

OK, you're nitpicky: The American Conservatory Theater's student production of Peer Gynt managed to elicit from both Michael Scott Moore and [me] fairly guarded praise (capsule review, Stage, March 13). If the translated, condensed three-hour text (from a sprawling six-hour original) has deficiencies, then this was more than offset by the ambition of staging it at all, as well as by commendable acting.

However, at 210 words, the analysis was too brief. I feel some mention of the 15 actors playing in excess of 60 roles between them was warranted. Were the passages Moore felt “lacked urgency” due more to the cast or the director, otherwise unmentioned? And what about the absence of any background music, particularly that first composed by the Norwegian Ibsen's compatriot and contemporary, Edvard Grieg? Go ahead and call me nitpicky: True lovers of theater (and its critics) wouldn't be otherwise.

Robert Arnold

Never Say Die

Hmm. Do you have a Plan C?: We cannot allow Mark Leno, a candidate handpicked by Willie Brown, to represent us in the state Assembly (“Mark of Effectiveness,” Matt Smith, Feb. 27, which endorsed Leno for the Assembly seat)! Leno is a politician who cares more about downtown than the down-and-out. Harry Britt needs to step in as the Green Party candidate in the November election.

Progressives have ample reason to celebrate with the defeat of [Public Defender] Kimiko Burton, but our work is not done. Go Green Harry!

Richie Setipane

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