Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Six years ago today

On November 25, 2008, the man who wrote the play about Helen Keller called The Miracle Worker died. William Gibson's story of Helen Keller’s relationship with her teacher, Anne Sullivan, won the 1960 Tony Award for best play and is still regularly performed around the country in community theaters. Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke, played the stage roles of Sullivan and Keller, respectively. They went on to win Academy Awards when repeating the parts for the film version in 1962. Mr. Gibson was nominated for an Oscar for his screenplay. Twenty years later, he wrote a sequel about Sullivan called The Monday After the Miracle but it flopped on Broadway. Gibson died at the age of 94 in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Church for the Deaf Opens Doors of New Facility

The Oakwood Baptist Deaf Church opened the doors to its new facility for the first time Sunday morning in Lubbock, Texas. KAMC-TV has a video report.

Looking Back... Nov 25,1854

Deaf Bible Scholar John Kitto died on this day in 1854. He's remembered for putting together one of the best Bible encyclopedias up to his time, the Pictorial Bible and Cyclopaedia of Biblical Literature. Born in Plymouth, England in 1804, he was pressed to work as a child because of his family's poverty. Kitto fell 35 feet while carrying slate tiles up a ladder. He recovered from his injuries except for the loss of his hearing. Kitto endured a difficult childhood, eventually finding his way to drawing illustrations for Bible stories and becoming a printer. A missionary group sent him to Malta and he eventually made his way to Russia, Turkey, Egypt. Kitto died at the age of 50, but not before he was granted an honorary Doctor of Divinity and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Arrest in FL hit and run that killed deaf couple

A deaf couple died a year ago when a truck driver didn't stop for them--now he has been arrested. It happened on the east coast of Florida, near Fort Pierce. Mariah King and Vincent Mathews were changing a tire. The Orlando Fox station had a report about it when the Florida Highway Patrol was still trying to find the truck driver. You can read that report here. They say Robert Bates hit the couple and then left his semi truck at a storage yard. Read more on the arrest from WFTV here.

Prediction about the future of Deaf Culture

One of the contributors to the Auslan dictionary, Trevor Johnston, who is a Professor of Signed Language Linguistics at Sydney's Macquarie University says "There will be a time in the next 50 years where I feel comfortable to say the deaf community won't exist." Find out why he says this in an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Getting to Know.. Cochlear Implants

The FDA first gave approved the use of cochlear implants in the US during of December 1984.

The first successful human implant for hearing was performed in Memphis by surgeon John Shea.

At first, only profoundly deaf people were potential implant patients. That has changed because the electrodes threaded into the inner ear have become much smaller over time. Now, there’s less chance of damaging healthy tissue during the operation.

About 70,000 people in the U.S. have received cochlear implants, according to the FDA.

Some 250,000 people worldwide have received cochlear implants.

Doctors implanted cochlear devices in about 17,000 people worldwide last year.

The implants can cost $25,000 and the surgery can run as equally high.

About 12% of students at the American School for the Deaf in West Hartford, Connecticut have cochlear implants. A decade ago only 3% of students had the devices.

More than 80 percent of children who are or were hearing impaired now attend their local schools. Just a couple decades ago, 80 percent of hearing impaired children attended deaf schools.

Only about one in four of the million or so deaf people in the US are considered good candidates for an cochlear implants, according to The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

It's estimated that some 100,000 people have one cochlear implant but only 5,000 have two.

Children with two cochlear implants gain language skills similar to hearing children within a couple of years, according to a 2011 study out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Advanced Bionics recalled the HiRes 90K implant in 2010 after two patients suffered from severe pain and overly loud sounds.

Australian company Cochlear, LTD voluntarily recalled its Nucleaus 5 unit in the fall of 2011 because moisture caused a few of the implants to shut down.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Happy Birthday Mojo!

Mojo Mathers was born on this date (Nov 23, 1966). The 48 year old became the first member of New Zealand's parliament when she ran as a Green candidate in 2012. New Zealand became the first country to adopt sign language as an official language in 2006. Some 25,000 people use sign language in the country. The New Zealand government provides interpreters in Parliament as well as for major speeches and announcements. Read more about her here.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Deal cut to get Captioning in more Movie Theaters

Owners of movie theaters have made an agreement with groups representing the deaf and hard of hearing to get closed captioning in theaters. The deal still needs the approval of the Justice Department. If approved, the National Association of Theatre Owners would have to have a dozen devices available for reading the closed captioning at megaplexes. Theaters would also have to keep up with how much the devices are used--and have more available if the demand requires it. Plus, theaters would be required to put information on websites as well as on tickets as to which movies have captioning available. And all this would all have to be in place within two years of the agreement's approval.  Groups involved in the negotiations include the National Association of the Deaf, the Alexander Graham Bell Association, the Association of Late Deafened Adults and the Hearing Loss Association of America.

"Crisis" in Scotland

A staff member at a school for the deaf in Scotland had been suspended--amid claims of sexual offenses at the school. Police are investigating Donaldson’s School in Linlithgow.  The Edinburgh News calls the situation a "crisis" in its report, which you can read  here.

LA jail getting redesign

Changes are coming to the Los Angeles County jail. Officials have agreed to redesign it--because a lawsuit filed six years ago. The agreement to settle the suit still needs a judge to sign off on it Monday. Read details at the LA Times.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Deaf Students Train Police Cadets

Police cadets in Norman, Oklahoma are getting training from deaf drivers to help them understand how to deal with drivers who won't be using spoken English when they are stopped. KOKH-TV has a video report.

Gally Frats get White House approval

A video put together by a Gallaudet fraternity has White House approval. The Kappa Gammas video offers an ASL version of a White House PSA about sexual assault.

7 steps to creating a brain implant

Some people who are deaf are opting for brain implants to regain some of their hearing. The BBC has a guide to understand how brain implants are created here.

Two Shot Near Gally

The crime rate is rising faster around Gallaudet University than any other part of Washington, DC. The situation is so bad public officials gathered with residents Monday night to talk about what to do about the problem. Within hours, two people were shot close to the school. WRC-TV has a video report (no captions but you can read part of the report here).

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Purple closes IP Relay

Purple Communications has closed its IP Relay service, leaving Sprint as the only service in operation. Last year Sorenson discontinued its service. A Purple spokesperson said in a video blog post, the move comes in response to the FCC's decision to curtain reimbursements. Earlier this year, the FCC said it was fining Purple millions of dollars for improper billing--a claim Purple has denied. You can read more here. IP relay is a way for the deaf to connect through computers or a smart phone. In the video below, Purple's senior director of operations Diana Herron explains more.

80-year-old man beaten by Police

Bill Swan has bruises all over his face and arms after police officers beat him. Relatives say the 80-year-old man probably couldn't hear their command that he get off of his tractor because his hearing is severely limited. Missouri's KCTV has a video report posted below.


Parole Denied for Florida Deaf Man

Felix Garcia didn't have an interpreter in court when he was convicted for murder at the age of 19. At his parole hearing this week, more than three decades later, his siblings testified they had framed him. But the parole board decided to keep him in prison. Tampa Bay's WFTS-TV has a video report.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Baby registered with a sign name

Image from BSL Zone video
Tomato Lichy and Paula Garfield are both Deaf. They gave their second child the English name Hazel. At first the government balked at their attempt to register the baby’s British Sign Language name. But with a lawyer's help, that has changed. Now, the child's name, written in sign notation as UbOtDDstarL, is listed on her birth certificate. The family explains what happened in their own words in a video here.

Best Candidates for Cochlear Implant Surgery

· People with severe sensorineural hearing loss* in both ears but with a still functioning auditory nerve

· Those who have lived only a short time with hearing loss

· Those with good speech and English language skills

· People living with family willing to work hard in support of the candidate toward acquiring speech and language skills

· Those physically able to handle anesthesia and surgery

· And those who have a desire to live in a hearing world and have realistic expectations about the procedure

*note: Sensorineural hearing loss is a destruction of the hair cells in the cochlea of the inner ear that transmit sound signals to the auditory nerve

Monday, November 17, 2014

ASL application wins HackPrinceton

One of the winning teams of a Princeton University hack contest created a devise for sign language users. Ethan Gordon, David Liu and Jeffrey Han took the best hardware design category this past weekend for their ASL Tegra. Using a camera to detect gestures, it translates them into text. Some 600 hackers were challenged to build something in 36 hours during the HackPrinceton event. First place earned team members hard drives, a remote-controlled helicopter and $1000 in cash. There's more details on the event here.

Getting to Know...The Big 3 Implant Makers

Cochlear implants are likely to become a lucrative market in the future as baby boomers grow older and the number of people suffering from hearing loss increases. There are three main companies making implants.

· Cochlear Limited – This Australian company got its start the early 1980s. Cochlear dominates the market with 70% of the market share and $700 million in sales each year. Cochlear makes the Nucleus cochlear implant, the Hybrid electro-acoustic implant and the Baha bone conduction implant. It  voluntarily recalled its Nucleaus 5 unit in the fall of 2011 because moisture caused a few of the implants to shut down.

· Advanced Bionics – Started in 1996 and acquired by Massachusetts-based Boston Scientific in 2004, Advanced regained its independence in 2007. A Swiss company, Sonova Holding, bought the Valencia, California-based cochlear-implant maker in 2009. With about one fifth of the market, Advanced is number two in the field, though a recall forced the company to make layoffs this year. Phonak is one of its brands. Advanced Bionics recalled the HiRes 90K implant in 2010 after two patients suffered from severe pain and overly loud sounds.

· Med-El – This Austrian company founded in 1989, the company received approval for distribution in Europe in 1994 and FDA approval in 2001. Its U.S. offices are located in Durham, North Carolina.

Student offers music for the deaf

A college senior created a musical experience for the deaf for his thesis. Zachary Bush's program included an orchestra, sign language interpreters and visual accompaniment on a projector. Read more about it in the Colorado State University student newspaper here.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Deaf man hit by car in NY

A deaf man from North Carolina is in critical condition in a New York Hospital after being hit by a Cadillac in New York. The deaf man was walking across West 34th Street yesterday with a woman who lives in the Bronx. The New York Daily News reports the driver was not charged and has more information here.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Deaf referee

Ron Bibler is a high school referee who is deaf. "I'm a coach's dream in most cases, because they can say whatever they want behind me. But for me it's an advantage. I don't get distracted when coaches try to sell me a call or at any of the crowd noise. I just concentrate on the situation" he tells Montana's KPAX-TV. the station profiles the Great Falls native here.