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For the first time, the PGA Championship will have ASL interpretation

The PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford has been sold out.
Oak Hill Country Club
The PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford has been sold out.

The following is a transcript of a conversation between WXXI's Beth Adams and Mark Pfuntner, associate professor and chairman of the Department of Business Studies at RIT's National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

Beth Adams: History will be made at Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford next week. For the first time in PGA of America's history: American Sign Language interpreters will be at the presentation of the Wanamaker trophy honoring the new PGA champion.

In fact, throughout the tournament, which begins on Thursday, May 18, ASL interpreters from RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf will be stationed at information booths for spectators who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Here to talk about the significance of this, with the help of an interpreter, is associate professor Mark Pfuntner. He is chair of NTID’s Department of Business Studies. Welcome. It's wonderful to have you on the program.

Mark Pfuntner: Thank you so much. Thank you for having me this morning.

Listen to the conversation
When the Wannamaker Trophy is presented at Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford on May 21, it will be the first time in the more than 100 year history of the PGA Championship that American Sign Language interpreters will be present. NTID professor and avid golf fan Mark Pfuntner explains what this means to him and others in the deaf community.
Mark Pfuntner, assoc. prof. and chairman of NTID's Department of Business Studies

Beth Adams: I am told you are a self-described golf fanatic. Will you be at the tournament?

Mark Pfuntner: Yes, that is very true. I've been playing golf for about 47 years now. Yes, I will be there at the tournament.

Beth Adams: What does the inclusion of ASL interpreters at the PGA Championship mean to you personally?

Mark Pfuntner: Well, for me, it's really significant moment for us. And the people in the deaf community here. There are a lot of people who are deaf who love golf, and they don't have the same access for information and information sharing that's easy to obtain as the rest of the hearing community does. So this being in place for us makes it equal for us to get the same information, whether or not we are addressing the public and having a public announcement, whether there's announcements about who the winner is. We don't have to wait what's on TV to see what's happening or to see the captioning, we can see it live with everyone else that's there. And that is very special for us.

Beth Adams: Is it at all surprising to you that this is a first for the PGA Championship, which has been around for over 100 years, and for this tournament in Rochester, which is known for its large deaf community?

Mark Pfuntner: Well, to be honest, it's surprising that it's even happening now. But I think that the awareness is finally growing, not only for golf, but in other sports arenas as well. And I think the time is here. And I think it's time that we start to set the precedent to see this continue and to continue of this growth again, not only with golf but with other sports as well. So many of us enjoy sports, and we want that equal access to information.

Beth Adams: Okay, professor, I have to ask you: Who is your favorite to take home the Wanamaker trophy?

Mark Pfuntner: Well, I love all sorts of golfers, to be honest with you, but I'm going with my favorite. I love Jordan. Jordan Spieth. I'm going with Jordan. I know that he withdrew because he had a wrist injury recently. But I think if that’s healing, I’m hoping he will be here for the tournament.

Beth Adams: Professor Pfuntner, thank you so much for joining us this morning, and enjoy the PGA Championship.

Mark Pfuntner: I will. Thank you for having us.

Beth Adams: That was associate professor Mark Pfuntner, chair of NTID’s Department of Business Studies.

The PGA Championship begins Thursday, May 18 at Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, and it runs through Sunday the 21st.

This interview comes from WXXI’s Inclusion Desk, spotlighting issues related to disabilities and inclusion.

Beth Adams joined WXXI as host of Morning Edition in 2012 after a more than two-decade radio career. She was the longtime host of the WHAM Morning News in Rochester. Her career also took her from radio stations in Elmira, New York, to Miami, Florida.
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