Deaf Grassroots Movement rallies at state Capitol for access to jobs and ASL education

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HARTFORD–A group of Deaf protesters joined at the Capitol on Wednesday to push for improved access to education for deaf children.

The Deaf Grassroots Movement is an organization that pushes for Deaf rights, such as an end to discrimination in jobs and education and to provide equal access for all.

The activists held signs that said things like “72% Deaf Americans are unemployed!” and “Deaf kids need Deaf schools” and “Give us choice.”

“And it’s time today that we come here and spread the word and teach everybody that we have to improve language improve language for deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind children,” said one of the activists at the rally, Patty Wilson, of Newington.

One of the biggest issues that the activists were fighting for was access to education in American Sign Language for deaf children.

While many deaf children are pushed into mainstream education, there are some options for children who live close enough to enjoy them. In fact, the oldest permanent school for the deaf in the United States–the American School for the Deaf–is right in West Hartford and has been operational since 1817. However, there are only just over 100 schools for the deaf across the entire country, and only one fully deaf college (Gallaudet University), greatly limiting access.

Across the country 50 states held their own DGM rallies on Wednesday.

(Note: Deaf with a capital “D” represents those with hearing loss who utilize sign language and are immersed in the Deaf community. Deaf with a lower case “d” is the medical term for those with hearing loss.)

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