October 27, 2018 UPDATE! CAD President Kavita Pipalia sat down with LEAD-K National Director Sheri Farinha for an interview on the agreement between LEAD-K and Alexander Graham Bell Association on LEAD-K Legislation.
Image Description: Two mid-aged women are seated in an angle facing each other in front of a muted neutral picture depicting white flowers. The woman on the right is Kavita Pipalia, California Association of the Deaf (CAD) President and the woman on the left is Sheri Farinha, LEAD-K National Director. Kavita is an Indian woman with peppered black hair and a black-rimmed glasses wearing a black sleeveless blouse and black and white patterned skirt. Sheri is brown-haired woman wearing a dark purple glasses, black and white marled shirt with a flowing dark purple cardigan and black pants.
Kavita: Hi! Good morning. Here is Sheri Farinha and we will interview her. My name is Kavita Pipalia. Sheri is a former California Association of the Deaf (CAD) President. I am thrilled to have her here.
Sheri: Thank you. Thank you. Hello!
Kavita: I want to ask you a few questions related to LEAD-K Summit here. LEAD-K just experienced a historic moment in gaining Alexander Graham Bell Association’s support for the bill. What’s your perspective and feelings on this historic moment?
Sheri: We’re very excited about the opportunity to work with Alexander Graham Bell (AGB) on our LEAD-K legislation. For the different states that are currently working on their own LEAD-K bills, Alexander Graham Bell Association will also support their efforts. This is very important and long over-due and this was not something that was executed at the last minute without any careful thought and planning. As AGB has been opposing our bill(s) and our efforts and we have been constantly trying to clarify our bill and position, LEAD-K decided to reach out to ask AGB to stop opposing and targeting our states. Some of you may have already seen my letters and posts to this effect and my posts were interpreted by an ASL Interpreter, Jay Kreiger – thank you, Jay! For one year from September to September, we’ve had a back and forth discussion and my goal was to get us to sit down for a meeting. We needed to decide how to set up the meeting and we agreed on a two-day meeting between five people from each team, AGB and LEAD-K, facilitated by two facilitators, one hearing and one Deaf. From our team, we had Julie Rems Smario, Marla Hatrak, Alan Amann, Lucia Rogerson (hearing parent of a Deaf child), and myself. Their team consisted of AGB Board members, Board Chair Catharine – last name eludes me at this moment (pause) – Catharine McNally was the board chair, board member John Stanton, parent of a Deaf child and lawyer Bruce Goldstein, Policy Consultant Joni Alberg, and their Public Relations/marketing person, Gayla. We met and spent a lot of time airing out differences and we explained that the bottom line is that we were not there to solve all of the problems we’ve had and all of the sins that have been done. We asked them to support our LEAD-K bill and that is basically what our meeting focused on. This became a step forward and the mutual agreement between AGB and LEAD-K and many state representatives here at the LEAD-K Summit is very thrilled as they have faced difficult resistance and opposition. The resistance and opposition created difficulties for the state representatives to work with legislature in their state to support their bill as they generally are not willing to support divisive legislation. So, we’re happy to see that there is an effort for partnership on our LEAD-K bill to work towards ensuring ASL and English readiness for kindergarten. Our bill was amended with some of their input but our main focus and components have not changed at all, which is to ensure ASL and English language readiness. It is all good!
Kavita: What are the next steps for LEAD-K?
Sheri: After this LEAD-K summit, the state representatives will return to their states and collaborate with their community through the support of the 9 coalition agencies and organizations as each one of them offered their members to work with their LEAD-K state team. The LEAD-K state teams are very excited to work with them all – for example, the National Black Deaf Advocates have representatives in every state and they will be getting involved with the state teams. (Clip ends and new clip begins). This is very exciting. Very exciting! And the California Association of the Deaf (CAD) has been an awesome supporter throughout. Thank you, CAD!
Kavita: We are excited to continue our collaboration with LEAD-K in 2019 and we are happy to offer our support to the states who are working on their LEAD-K legislation.
Kavita & Sheri: Wave applause!!!