Monday, August 1, 2011

Yvonne Mattiello Ward 6 Speech

        Thank you for this opportunity. My name is Yvonne Mattiello and I am a free-lance

certified deaf interpreter working primarily out of Ward 6.  I work down the street at

Gallaudet University and at other interpreting agencies in and around Washington, D.C.

        I have enjoyed playing online poker and other online games for years with my deaf

friends at home and at tournaments hosted by the National Deaf Poker Tournament

(NDPT) at Atlantic City, NJ.  I was asked by a group of Deaf poker players to come and

share with you our experiences playing at casinos and online games.

       Before NDPT was found and while I lived in Philadelphia before I moved here, I used to

go to Atlantic City to play games alone or with a few deaf friends. I don’t go there

anymore except for NDPT tournaments, which are held twice every year in March and

November. When I discovered and tried out online games, I like it much better for many

different reasons, in addition to the reasons you may have seen mentioned anywhere in


        Online games gives more various solutions as well as equal access to different groups of

people like deaf people, hard of hearing people, deaf blind people as well as foreigners

who cannot understand English in live games. There were many misunderstandings that

happened to us, deaf and hard of hearing people at live games because many of us were

not able to solve or express our concerns. I know some deaf blind people who prefer

online games better because they do not have to depend on others for communication or


        My deaf friends and I have experienced discrimination or barriers many times at various

casinos. For instance, hearing people who were friends together could play together at

cash tables but my Deaf friends and I could not play together sometimes at the same table because dealers were “concerned” thinking that we could cheat because we could

communicate in sign language that was unfamiliar to them and hearing players. This kind

of barrier is not unique to deaf and hard of hearing players, as some foreigners might

experience similar communication barriers or discrimination due to language differences.

           The other main reason why I like online games especially poker is that I can see typed

announcements and chat with other players in chat boxes. I can choose which games I

want to play online while at casinos, I missed many last-minute announcements over

loudspeakers and could not play games that I wanted to play. I also missed my name

being called when I waited for an open seat at the table of my choice. I could not follow

the conversation or discussions over rules that occur frequently at the tables. The

dealers and hearing players become impatient or aggravated when a deaf player like

myself misunderstands certain verbal instructions. I have been accused for causing

these problems a few times and as a result, I either do poorly in the game or was forced

to leave the table before the game was over. When things go well as they rarely do, it is

mostly because dealers, waitresses, casino workers and other players are aware of the

communication barriers that Deaf and hard of hearing players face every day.

         The third and last reason is that the buy-in fees at cash tables in the casinos sometimes

got increased to $10 or more and schedules were announced over the loudspeakers with

no written information that it became impossible to find a table where I could play for five

dollars or less. It would cost me much more money to go out to casinos than playing

online. I tend to spend up to 100 dollars per month online or at casinos depending on

how many dollars I have available to play with.

         I strongly support local government-run online games because they can collect revenues and

provide solutions that we all need in our local communities.

I hope you will put these under your consideration and let us play online. Thank you for hearing me out. 

FROM WARD 6 COMMUNITY MEETING - NOVEMBER 20 - 6:30pm-8:30 - Eastern Market - North Hall

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