Montreal Deaf community speaks out about lack of access to English interpreters – Montreal

Montreal native Jacques Volpe was born severely deaf.

He uses American Sign Language for communication and frequently uses an interpreter, especially for medical appointments.

He usually asks a local organization for an English interpreter, but was recently informed that the service was temporarily suspended.

“They say they don’t have the money to pay for professional interpreting services or the administrative coordination of those services,” says Volpe. “We’ve been trying to make our voices heard, but can you imagine having an emergency medical situation and no professional interpreting services available? That has a huge impact on us.”

Quebec has two Deaf communities. English-speaking people, who use American Sign Language (ASL), and French-speaking people, who use Quebec Sign Language (Langue des signes québécoise (LSQ)).

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English speakers who need an English interpreter can request one from the Metropolitan Montreal Deaf Community Center (MMDCC) free of charge.

But earlier this month, the organization said it had run out of interpreter budgets for the year.

MMDCC President Louis Belleau said:

“We have asked many times to continue our service and this needs to be addressed. We need a solution immediately.”

The organization is funded by PSOC, a support program for community organizations managed by the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal.

Belleau admits that this isn’t the first time English interpreters have run out of money.

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Dr. Aselin Weng, a Montreal doctor who specializes in deaf and hard of hearing patients, says freezing is unacceptable.

“The deaf community is being unfairly punished because every taxpayer with a RAMQ card should have access to medical services,” she said.

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Global News reached out to local health officials for comment but did not hear back by the deadline.

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