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National Group Weighs in on Interpreter

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LITTLE ROCK -

Dissatisfaction over the state's hiring of a sign language interpreter is spreading beyond Arkansas' borders.

A national organization is going straight to the top…urging Governor Beebe to get involved.

It is a letter dated today…and it is a letter that goes over the head of Department of Career Education Director Bill Walker in hopes of affecting change.

The National Black Deaf Advocates bills itself as the leading advocacy organization of black deaf and hard of hearing people in the U.S.

In a letter to the governor's office dated August 27th, the "NBDA expresses great concern on behalf of the deaf community in the state of Arkansas."

The letter goes on to say "We believe ARS failed to follow the principle that individuals must have national or state level credentials in order to provide professional interpreting services."

It warns that "…your state could potentially face a violation of the civil rights of deaf clients of Arkansas Rehabilitation Services as well as a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act."

"Black deaf and hard of hearing Arkansans have a right to the best the state can offer in quality interpreting."

The letter closes by suggesting that Arkansas "…re-evaluate and reconsider the hiring practice" that allowed this current situation.

Agency Director Bill Walker was appointed by Governor Beebe five years ago.

Walker stands firm in his belief that the woman picked for this interpreter position was a good hire despite a growing number of complaints.

A spokesman told us Governor Beebe had yet to receive or read the letter and therefore was not prepared to comment.

Air date:  August 27th, 2012