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My name is Cooper, and I am 12 years old and in the seventh grade at Watkinson School. I moved to West Hartford from New York City in the summer of 2019.
My mom and I recently went to the “Holiday Stroll” in West Hartford Center and Blue Back Square. It was great to be out in the community and walking around after many many events have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic! We tasted some amazing food, checked out some stores, and enjoyed the entertainment on both stages. My mom was happy she had a big hot apple cider, and my favorite was the cotton candy.
I am writing this letter because I was very surprised there were no sign language interpreters on either of the stages for the Holiday Stroll. The performances were not at all accessible for attendees who are deaf or hard of hearing.
With the American School for the Deaf here in town, I would have thought providing this sort of access would have been a no-brainer for West Hartford. If the event was accessible? Maybe some of the deaf students in the dorms at ASD could have attended with staff. Or maybe some of the deaf teachers who work in West Hartford every day would have gone and brought their families. It is also not fair to the deaf residents living in West Hartford that are not able to have access to a town event.
I first thought about writing a letter when the West Hartford Pride event did not have sign language interpreters, but I decided it must have been a mistake or something else happened. I never thought the town would intentionally have an event that is not accessible to all the people who live here.
I hope that West Hartford thinks about better access for all in the future. There is no reason why accessibility should not be high up on the list of things that are necessary when planning an event for ALL the residents of West Hartford in the future.