Lawsuit: Allow interpreter for deaf wrestler in more places

AP News
Posted: Dec 03, 2015 1:32 PM

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (AP) — A deaf high school wrestler in suburban Detroit filed a lawsuit Thursday to try to get a sign-language interpreter closer to the action.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association said an interpreter is allowed in the same area as a coach, typically the corner of a mat. But lawyers for wrestler Ellis Kempf of Royal Oak High School said it's not close enough and unfair, especially when an opponent can hear guidance from a coach without looking around.

A referee disallowed Kempf's interpreter during a match last season, according to the lawsuit.

"We aren't seeking money and he doesn't want an advantage," the teen's mother, Elizabeth Kempf, said in a statement. "He just wants to continue using his interpreter so he can understand what his coach wants him to do during matches — that's all."

MHSAA spokesman John Johnson said he can't comment on the specifics of the case, and the association plans to file a response in court.

"An interpreter is allowed," Johnson said.

Kempf, who wrestles in the 152-pound weight class, has been deaf since age 2 due to meningitis. Cochlear implants allow him some hearing, but he can't wear the external components during wrestling matches.