Deaf wrestler, MHSAA reach agreement on interpreter

December 15, 2015 / Athletic AdministrationWrestling
Ellis Kempf, a deaf Michigan high school wrestler, has reached an agreement with the state’s athletic association over the use of his interpreter.

MHSAAKempf had filed suit against the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA), arguing it did not allow him “full use” of his interpreter. His lawyers argued that the interpreter was restricted to the coach’s box, preventing him from receiving instruction during matches or even knowing when a round had completed.

The Detroit News reported Monday that the MHSAA had rewritten its rules to provide Kempf’s interpreter more freedom.

From the article:

According to the Nyman Turkish law firm in Southfield, which represented Ellis Kempf, “the MHSAA rewrote its rules about interpreters for deaf or hard of hearing wrestlers, allowing them full 360 access around the mat at all matches, provided they don’t interfere with wrestlers, coaches, referees or scoring officials.”

Association spokesman John Johnson said Monday both sides moved quickly to resolve the issue.

“We think that this gives the young man the opportunity to be communicated with during the course of the action, but still make things on the mat to be as safe as they can be for all parties,” Johnson said.

He added that although the specifics of the agreement weren’t readily available to him, he believed the agreement went into effect Wednesday in time to cover a scheduled match.

In larger venues, interpreters must stay six feet from the wrestling circle, but in smaller venues they can move closer if it’s agreed upon by the match referee, according to the article.

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