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Advocates & Parents Angered After Youth Baseball Organization Bans Interpreter Dad From Dugout
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 1, 2005

LIHUE, KAUAI --Disability rights groups in Hawaii have taken action to make sure a 10-year-old deaf boy can have a sign language interpreter in his baseball team's dugout to translate instructions from his coach.

Justin Kapono "Pono" Tokioka was told by the PONY Baseball organization that his father -- who acts as his interpreter -- would have to stay behind a low concrete wall outside the Hilo Boys and Girls Club field dugout during games because his presence would amount to having too many coaches inside the dugout.

Some advocates said the organization does not understand that the interpreter does not act as a coach.

A PONY official told the Honolulu Advertiser that the local league should have found a coach that knew sign language.

Challenge Maui and Handicapped Advocacy Works of Kona have filed complaints with Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim and with the U.S. Department of Justice, saying PONY is discriminating against the deaf player in violation of federal law.

Parents, including those of other teams, said they were disturbed by PONY's decision, because they saw no reason Tokioka's father could not interpret for his son in the dugout.

Pono's mother, Beth, said: "It's just amazing what a nerve this is striking."

"Deaf boy winning plenty of support" (Honolulu Advertiser)


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