Deaf Community protests Seattle Men’s Chorus concert

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by ADAM MERTZ / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on December 23, 2013 at 1:52 AM

Updated Monday, Dec 23 at 11:54 AM

SEATTLE- Protesters want the Seattle Men’s Chorus to replace the sign language interpreter at concerts. Several dozen people held signs outside a chorus concert at Benaroya Hall Sunday night. Katie Roberts, who is deaf, said she couldn’t understand the interpreter at a show last week.

"He wasn't communicating with anyone who is deaf so I think there was some issues with his inappropriate use of language," said Roberts. 
 
Seattle Men’s Chorus Executive Director Frank Stilwagner said they support their interpreter, Kevin Gallagher, who has been with the chorus for over 30 years. Stilwagner said they could provide Gallagher with more training and explore other options to improve the show for those in the deaf community.
 
"If his services aren't reaching everyone in the community then we need to take a look at that," said Stilwagner. "Their concerns are being addressed and we will continue to address them."
 
Gallagher responded to the criticism last Thursday. 
 
“The folks who have attended the concerts have told the chorus they have been understanding,” said Gallagher. 
 
At a concert Sunday night, the lyrics to the songs were transcribed and put  on a screen. Stilwagner said the chorus is committed to catering to all audience members.
 
The protesters said things are moving in the right direction, but believe the chorus should consider bringing in other interpreters.
 
"We have a right to have full access to the entertainment here. We want to be part of this," said Roberts.
 

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