On Friday of last week, I received word that former Representative Tom Perriello would be in Harrisonburg on Saturday morning, February 4th. Mr. Perriello is one of two candidates seeking the Democratic nomination to be Virginia’s next governor. Although I knew the time and location of the event, the Lucy Simms Center, I had no other details.
When I arrived, I discovered that it was a forum hosted by Virginia Organizing. However, one surprising element was that it was a gathering designed specifically for deaf individuals. As such, much on the discussion took place through sign language. Mr. Perriello brought an interpreter with him. Although she seemed to have no difficulty translating his words into sign language, she had a bit of trouble explaining what some of the attendees were saying. Then again, given that much of the conversation focused on technical terms relating to the deaf community, it was understandable. In fact, even after translation, some of the terms were still foreign to me. Fortunately, there was another interpreter in the audience so they worked together; one translated Mr. Perriello’s comments into American sign language while the other converted the sign language into English. However, it was difficult to follow chunks of the conversation.
The event highlighted quite a few areas where deaf people face obstacles, many of which the average Virginian is likely unaware of. But, whether intentional or not, one of the major points I drew from the gathering was that Tom Perriello seemed to advocate greater government power as a solution to many of the issues and concerns of the deaf community, although that seemed to be the message Virginia Organizing was promoting as well.
Before leaving, demonstrating his knowledge of sign language, Perriello made signs for the various letters of the alphabet.
I appreciate that Mr. Perriello visited Harrisonburg. The next time he comes, I’d like to learn more about where he stands on a number of important issues such as fiscal restraint, restricting the growth of government, eliminating needless laws and bureaucracy, and expanding personal and political freedom here in the Commonwealth.