Jonathan Brostoff Uses ASL to Talk About AB 250

By Mary Pat Luetke-Stahlman

June 20, 2019 - Representative Jonathan Brostoff has not cut his hair for over a year and said he will continue refusing to cut it until the legislature passes a bill to address Wisconsin’s shortage of ASL interpreters.  Four months ago in February, Alanna Vagiamos with The Huffington Post wrote that Bristoff co-authored a bill in 2017 that had unanimous bipartisan support but failed to pass the Assembly in the final hour. Brostoff is trying again this year and the Assembly successfully passed Assembly Bill 250, which means he is one step closer.

Brostoff released an announcement on his official Facebook page sharing his sentiments:

“Today, I am thrilled to say that Assembly Bill 250 - our landmark sign language interpreter bill to protect Wisconsin’s Deaf and interpreter communities - has passed the Assembly unanimously! I want to sincerely thank Representative Ken Skowronski and his staff, Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt and his staff, the Wisconsin Association of the Deaf, WisRID, former Rep. Kleefisch, and everyone else who has played a role in getting this bill drafted and passed. It’s been a long road, and I am so happy to be another step closer to passage and another step closer to establishing the protections Wisconsin’s Deaf and interpreter communities deserve. On to the Senate!”

Standing in front of the Assembly, Brostoff signed a thank you message to Wisconsin’s communities for their support. “This bill is not the only solution but it is an important step in the right direction,” Brostoff signed on the floor. Brostoff also acknowledged his privileges as a hearing person, emphasizing that the life of a deaf person is complicated and his daily experience is easier than a deaf person’s, and AB 250 will provide more access to interpreters.

Making comments in American Sign Language on the floor in the Assembly was a unique step that Brostoff took in shifting the focus to interpreters and ensuring that Deaf and hard of hearing people have full access to information. Justin Dean Vollmar, a community member, shared a video (which was recorded by the Wisconsin Association for the Deaf) and exclaimed, “What a historic moment in Wisconsin! An elected representative signs in the favor of [a] bill.”

The Deaf Report contacted Brostoff directly for an opportunity to share his reflections now that AB 250 has passed in the Assembly, and his response is shown below:

“This is an important step for Deaf Power, in Wisconsin and across the nation. It’s been an honor to work on this important issue, but we’ve got more work to do. And a special thank you to Representative Skowronski and Senator Testin for their partnership on this effort.”

The Wisconsin Association for the Deaf (WAD) made a separate announcement about the bill: “AB 250 has passed the Assembly! Now it's time to send letters of support for SB 265 (the Senate version of our bill).”

Wisconsin residents can e-mail letters of support to Senator Kapenga before Tuesday, June 25, and Senator Kapenga’s e-mail address is sen.kapenga@legis.wi.gov.

WAD wrote that “this would not be possible without the support of Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, Senator Patrick Testin, Rep. Ken Skowronski and Sarah Gibbs along with our lobbyist Joel Kleefisch.”

For more information about AB 250 (it is called SB 265 in the Senate) for the Wisconsin State Legislature, click here to read the bill.

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