Laid-off sign language interpreter is worried about family and clients

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (WTNH) — On June 29th Tammy Batch was told she would be out of a job and July 15th was her last day. She says there was no transition plan put in place for her hearing impaired clients.

We met her and her kids at a park in New Britain.

For ten years she worked for the interpreting unit at the state Department of Rehabilitation Services which shut down last week. 40 people 35 of them interpreters like her are now out of work.

“Can’t even put into words how tough it is,” says Batch.

She tried her best to sign as she spoke with us while holding her daughter Penny. Her son Paulie played nearby. She’s worries about her family and her clients.

“Besides the fact that I lost my job the second instinct was just that my heart aches from them,” says Batch.

The state expects to save money by contracting with private agencies which can be found by calling 211.

Daniel Pinnell’s group ‘We the Deaf People’ released a statement to News 8 saying “This has thrown the entire Deaf population of Connecticut into turmoil.”

It goes on to say “… private interpreting agencies do not have the capacity to support the huge number of requests formerly served by the Interpreter Unit.”

Batch says she would interpret for people in all different situations including at schools. “From kindergarten to college, graduate level, hospital emergency rooms, surgeries, doctor’s offices, dentists offices… we’re in prisoners, we’re in the courts,” says Batch.

She says the deaf community had to fight to have interpreters. “My parents are deaf so I’ve seen how the world was without interpreters,’ she says.

Now Batch says they all must fight to get the interpreters they lost back.

“We need to continue to get the word out there,” says Batch. “We need to ask people to contact their state… their senators, their representatives and let them know what happened that we were all just abandoned.”

Her daughter Penny needs surgery in October and that is when Batch’s medical benefits could run out so there are even more concerns for her family.

Members of ‘We the Deaf People’ and other groups representing the deaf community plan to file a complaint on Monday at a hearing put on by the Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities or OPA.

The hearing will be held at 10 a.m. at the Legislative Office Building also known as the LOB in Hartford.

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