Working as a sign language interpreter for over 20 years I have been almost daily a witness to the injustices they face. It is not my role to ever intervene, doing so would be against the code of ethics that governs our profession. It would be paternalism... With that being said, there have been circumstances where I felt that the Deaf person SHOULD stand up and defend themselves, demand their rights, force the issue! I'm always there, ready to voice their signs, to back them up - but many times, they just don't want to. They let it go...

Why?

Some tell me they are too tired to "die on this hill." Or, they plan to continue a relationship with the person (who is their doctor, counselor, boss or co-worker) and don't wish to "poison the well." Maybe they are busy and don't have the time. Maybe I'm more offended than they are.

Each time this happens, I experience a bit of frustration. I think 'things will never change until they stand up for themselves.' But, it is not for me to choose their battles, or force them to the front lines.

Being Deaf in a hearing world isn't easy, ever....but it is their world and theirs alone - to change, shape and improve as they see fit. The best thing I can do is be a good interpreter. I can make sure they understand what is going on, then stand back and allow them the autonomy and dignity to make the choices they feel are best.

I guess this long message is just to say, I feel you, I do. But, perhaps Mr. Cooper deserves the same freedom to choose.

Interpreter, Teacher, Artist.

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