Saturday, January 31, 2015

Interpreters for the deaf tell of their role

One of the students taking the Issues in Interpreting course at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf says interpreters have to be careful because "People's lives can be impacted in a devastating way" as a result of poor interpretation. Read the full story in the Democrat and Chronicle here.

School gets $1 million gift

An anonymous donor is giving one million dollars to California's Fresno State. The money is designated for helping families with deaf children who have other special needs. The money will be distributed through a program started by deaf studies professor Paul Ogden. This isn't the first gift intended to provide services for families with deaf children. The school got a $1.5 million gift and another $2 million gift a couple of years ago. And last year the Education department gave the school more than a million dollars. Read more about the most recent gift here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

How NY mayor's terp got his job

screenshot from YouTube
The sign language interpreter for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio got national attention last fall after a news conference about Ebola. New Yorkers saw Jonathan Lamberton again when the Mayor spoke about the potential blizzard that could affect the city. The Village Voice got to checking on how Lamberton got the job in the first place. Read the full story about the California native who graduated from Gallaudet and ended up getting a position next to the New York mayor here.

Are Smartphones killing off deaf social clubs?

"Before technology made things easier, sign language users would drop in to deaf clubs so they could have conversations with those who spoke the same language as them," William Mager writes. But things have changed and the producer of the show See Hear speculates as to why things have changed. Read the full story here.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Voice messages into Text

Facebook is testing a new feature as part of its Messenger app that allows you to automatically convert voice messages into text. “We already offer a feature that enables people to send voice clips to their friends without having to type out the text. Today we are starting to roll out a small test that helps people read the voice clips they receive instead of having to play them out loud,” wrote the vice president of Messaging. If the testing goes well, Facebook will make it more widely available. Read the announcement here.

School Museum packed with history

A museum at the New Mexico School for the Deaf tells the story of this institution that opened its doors in 1885. Read about the small museum packed with 130 years’ of history at the The Santa Fe New Mexican here. There's information from the school about visiting the museum here.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Hearing through your tongue

Researchers claim they have combined a Bluetooth earpiece with a retainer--a special retainer, to be able to transmit information that the brain will understand as sound. The Colorado State University team says when the wearer presses the tongue to the retainer, their device skips the ear altogether. There's a news release here. Below is a video about the "tongue mapping" research underway at Colorado State.

Meet a VSDB staff member

Chris Bo Payne loves his job at the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind. He tells the Staunton Virginia News, "I was thrilled by the opportunity to return to a school that had played such a big part in giving me a fulfilling life. I am now dorm monitor for students ages 8-13. I love every minute of my job." Read the full story here.

Tickets & Seating an issue in OK

Members of the Deaf community are expressing their frustration with the Bank of Oklahoma Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The arena forces deaf ticket buyers to sit in places where they can either watch the stage or the interpreter but not both at the same time. KJRH-TV has a report on what's being done to make changes here.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Turning shelter dogs into service dogs

A Colorado organization that finds "dogs from local animal shelters and trains them to be hearing dogs for people who are deaf and hard-of-hearing by identifying noises like alarms" is getting some attention in the Denver Post. The executive director of International Hearing Dog told the newspaper, ""When a dog is matched with a person and they come together as partners, it's an incredible, emotional thing." Read the full story here.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Deaf pressman retires

James Krakowiak has worked at the newspaper plant that publishes the Arizona Daily Star for 42 years. It all started when he took a printing class at the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind. Krakowiak found his vocation. But now "Jimbo" is retiring. Read about the legacy he leaves here.

Friday, January 9, 2015

First Teacher of the Deaf

A Spanish monk in the 16th century named Fray Pedro Ponce de Leon is recognized by most historians as the first teacher of deaf children, though some experts point to Spanish painter Juan Fernandez Navarrete, who lived in the earlier part of the century and was himself mute. Ponce de Leon was a Benedictine monk who took a vow of silence and developed a form of sign language to communicate. He apparently taught finger-spelling to deaf children who probably arrived at his monastery already knowing some home signs.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Top Engineering Award to CI Developers

The National Academy of Engineering is giving five of the people who played important roles in the development of the cochlear implant one of the highest awards in engineering. Receiving the 2015 Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize--along with half-of-a-million dollars are:

  • Graeme Clark, an Australian doctor who was motivated to pioneer the first multi-channel implant by watching his deaf father struggle in his daily life.
  • Austria electrical engineer Ingeborg Hochmair worked with her husband, Erwin Hochmair, to develop their own multi-channel implant in Europe, eventually starting MED-EL--one of the "big three" cochlear implant makers. 
  • Blake Wilson, co-director of the Duke Hearing Center. He is strategy advisor for MED-EL and is credited with inventing many of the critical signal processing strategies used in implants today.
  • Michael M. Merzenich, a neuroscientist and professor of otolaryngology at the University of California at San Francisco, established some of the fundamental design for Advanced Bionics.

A ceremony will take place in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 24. There's more information from the National Academy of Engineering here.

Getting to Know... Service Animals

What is the legal definition of a service animal?

Therapy Animals are not legally defined by federal law but there is a legal definition for service animals in the Americans With Disabilities Act. Service animals are specifically trained to help the disability-related needs of their handlers and are not considered 'pets'.

Is using a service animal protected in public places?

Federal laws protect the rights of individuals with disabilities who are accompanied by their service animals in public places.

Does a guide dog have to be certified by the State to be an “official” guide dog?

No. Any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability.

Can a business owner insist on proof of state certification before letting a service animal into the business?

No. ADA regulations only allow animals to be excluded from a facility if it is a direct threat to the health or safety of other people or will disrupt the regular operation of the business. Local laws may restrict pets from restaurants, housing, and theaters, but these rules do not apply to service dogs. However, handlers of service animals must obey local leash and vaccine laws and must have their dogs under control at all times.

Are therapy animals protected in the same way?

Therapy animals are considered pets and do not fall under the regulations provided by the ADA.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Deaf Church on Chopping Block

The Catholic Church is planning to shut down the only church in the Archdiocese of New York with a priest who is fluent in sign language. Unless something changes, Church of St. Elizabeth of Hungary will close in August. WCBS-TV in New York has a video report.

Getting to Know.. Greg Hlibok

image from Gallaudet University
Greg Hlibok took over the FCC's Disability Rights Office four years ago. Hlibok has been profoundly deaf since birth. After studying engineering, he later became the first deaf law student at Hofstra University and at the age of 43 has became the first chief of the office to have a disability. His job is to help put into place a law that requires digital technology creators to make their materials available to the blind and deaf. Hlibok is best known in the Deaf community as the student body president of Gallaudet University during the 1988 Deaf President Now protest. He holds a bachelors degree in government from Gallaudet University and a juris doctorate from Hofstra University School of Law.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Age-Related Hearing Loss

About one-out-of-three Americans over the age of 60 have age-related hearing loss. The condition is known medically as prebycusis. It happens naturally with age. It can be caused by changes in the inner ear, auditory nerve, middle ear or outer ear. Some of its causes are aging, loud noise, heredity, head injury, infection, illness, certain prescription drugs, and circulation problems such as high blood pressure. Studies indicate it is probably inherited.

Deaf woman reunited with service dog

Sue Perry got the best gift possible on New Year's Day. The Canadian woman's service dog was lost and after months went by it looked like there was no hope of seeing Milo again. See what happened in this video from CBC news. No captions but you can read the story here. Below the CBC video report is a video of the entire reunion.


The Pioneer who gave us hearing tests at birth

image from Marion Downs Hearing Center 
One of the people most responsible for newborn hearing screening in the U.S. died this past November. Audiologist Marion Downs was 100 years old. She published two books and over 100 articles on the topic during her lifetime. The Marion Downs Hearing Center opened nearly a decade ago at the University of Colorado Medical Center. WVXU radio in Cincinnati has more on this remarkable woman here.