Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Ottoman Empire used a Secret Sign Language

Ottoman court signer from a  17th-century
costume book (via Wikimedia Commons)
"In the 1600s, the court of the Ottoman Empire employed some 40 deaf servants," professor Sara Scalenghe writes. "They were chosen not in spite of their deafness, but because of it. The deaf servants were favored companions of the sultan, and their facility in nonverbal communication made them indispensable to the court, where decorum restricted speech in the sultan’s presence." Scalenghe tells the facinating story of the deaf servants here

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

How deaf researchers are reinventing science communication

Science jargon can be a barrier to deaf researchers when there isn't a good sign for an English word. In an attempt to avoid a ridiculous amount of fingerspelling, there is an effort "to help ASL catch up by inventing new signs." Verge Science visited graduate student Lorne Farovitch in his Rochester, New York lab to find out more.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Getting Police up to speed with Terp App

Bellingham’s Hearing, Speech and Deaf Center in Washington State is working with the local police department to get officers access to live interpreters for the deaf. KIRO-TV has a video report.

On this date in 2013: the fake interpreter at Mandela’s memorial service

During Nelson Mandela’s memorial service in Johannesburg on this date (Dec. 10) in 2013, a man pretending to interpret for the dignitaries that spoke was declared a fraud by South Africa's deaf federation. U.S. President Barack Obama was among the heads of state attending the service at the 95,000-seat football stadium when Thamsanqa Jantjie took to the stage. The incident raised security concerns and is an embarrassment for the South African government, Bruno Druchen, the National Director of the Deaf Federation of South Africa, posted a statement on its Facebook, which reads in part:
The so called “interpreter” who interpreted at the Official memorial service for late former president Nelson Mandela at FNB stadium has been dubbed the “fake interpreter” and the Deaf community is in outrage. This man is not in fact a recognised, professional South Sign Language Interpreter. He is not known by the Deaf Community in South Africa nor by the South African Sign Language interpreters working in the field... This ‘fake interpreter’ has made a mockery of South African Sign Language and has disgraced the South African Sign Language interpreting profession. The organisers of the memorial service, and indeed any event, should have contacted organisations who coordinate South African Sign Language interpreting services to secure a professional, trained experienced interpreter.
It turned out that Thamsanqa Jantjie was once charged with murder, according to a eNCA TV network that also said he has a history of lying and fraud. Jantjie admitted to being violent and claimed to have been "hallucinated during the memorial service as he was gesturing incoherently." Here's a early SkyNews report (with captions).

Happy Birthday, Thomas Gallaudet!

Born - Philadelphia on December 10, 1787

Family - Oldest of 12 children

College - Attended Yale at age 14, graduating with highest honors at 17

Ministry - Ordained in 1814, sometimes preaching at church

Deaf Interest - Became interested in deaf issues when he met a 9-year-old deaf neighbor

School - Founded The American School for the Deaf during 1817 in Hartford, Connecticut

Travels - Learned the manual form of sign language used in France when he visited

Marriage - In 1821, he married a former student and had two sons

Edward - Gallaudet's son who founded Gallaudet University in Washington, DC

Thomas - Ordained as an Episcopal priest, working to provide religious services for the deaf

Saturday, December 8, 2018

‘Silent restaurant’ opens in Beijing

The Forgive Barbecue in Beijing, is, according to one of the employees, "A bridge to connect hearing-impaired people with other people." The entire staff is deaf. Read more in the Inquisitor here.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Getting to Know.. Dr House

It was on this date (Dec. 7, 2012) that Dr. William F. House died in Oregon at the age of 89. Dr. House is credited with installing the first cochlear implant in 1961. He was told by experts the electric current he was using would destroy the ear, but that didn't stop him. He believed in what implants could do to change someone's life. Here's a little about him.
  • Known as the "father of neurotology."
  • He received his doctorate in dentistry from the University of California at  Berkeley.
  • Practiced medicine in Newport Beach, California until 2000, when he moved to Aurora, Oregon, next door to his son.
  • His cochlear implant was approved by the FDA in 1984.
  • When he started performing the cochlear surgery on children some claimed he was just after money.
  • His half-brother, Howard P. House founded the House Ear Institute which became the House Research Institute.
  • He completed some 3,000 implants throughout his career.
  • Developed a new approach to removing tumors on the nerve that connects the ear to the brain.
  • Created a new surgical procedure for Meniere's disease, an inner ear disorder contracted by Astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American in space. He couldn't have flown to the moon had it not been for House's surgery. He wrote a memoir called The Struggles of a Medical Innovator

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Looking Back... Kitty O'Neil

It was on this day (Dec. 6) in 1976 that professional stuntwoman Kitty O'Neil set a record for land speed by a female driver. It was in Oregon's Alvord Desert that Kitty hit 512 miles per hour.

Childhood diseases left her deaf and nearly killed her. She became a champion diver at a young age. Her work later as a Hollywood stuntwoman was featured in TV shows like Quincy, Baretta and The Bionic Woman along with movies like Smokey and the Bandit, The Blues Brothers and Airport '77. 

She set a record for the highest stunt fall by a woman (105 feet).  She has held as many as 22 speed records on land and water.

A movie was made about her life in 1979 titled Silent Victory: The Kitty O'Neil Story.  She died Nov. 2, 2018 from pneumonia at the age of 72. Read more about her amazing life in a Washington Post article here. Below is a video report on Kitty from the Midco Sports Network put together in 2015.

Brewery wants to make great beer — and serve the deaf community

Three Gallaudet University graduates opened a brewery this fall in a DC suburb just 4 miles from the school. Streetcar 82 in Hyattsville, Maryland gives "the deaf and hard of hearing a place to work and unwind." The Washington Post offers a profile here. Below is a video telling how they came up with the name.

Nursing Home Must Pay for Hanging up on Deaf Woman

New Jersey state officials are fining a nursing home $2500 after a worker repeatedly hung up on a deaf social worker. Nicole Perkins needed to discuss a client with Atrium Post Acute Care in Wayne, New Jersey. Attorney General Gurbir Grewal released a statement saying:
photo from Atrium Post Acute Care 
This case should serve as a message to healthcare facilities and other businesses around the state that we are serious about promoting and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities,” “This was a troubling case because there simply is no excuse for a nursing home – of all places – to repeatedly refuse to accept a telephone call from an operator calling on behalf of a deaf person. We are committed to enforcing the LAD, our nation’s oldest and most comprehensive civil rights law, and we are committed to holding accountable those who violate it. This was a troubling case because there simply is no excuse for a nursing home – of all places – to repeatedly refuse to accept a telephone call from an operator calling on behalf of a deaf person,” Grewal said in a statement.
The nursing home will lose $10,000 more if it fails to follow the Attorney General's requirements. Read more here.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Deaf HS Football Player in LA

A Los Angeles high school football player says being deaf hasn't held him back from contributing to his team. Desis Gonzales Jr. plays for San Gorgonio High School and NBC-4 has more on his story in this video report.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Wearable Tech to Listen to Live Music

A company called Not Impossible Labs says it has come up with a new wearable technology that "allows deaf and hearing users alike to experience musical vibrations through their skin for a true 'surround body' experience." The tech is called Music: Not Impossible and it works directly with a sound system. Read more details here.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Deaf students struggle with getting last minute interpreters

Students at one Texas school are having problems getting interpreters when they need them. The student paper at the University of Texas at Austin quotes a communication sciences and disorders major as saying, “A few weeks ago, my professor made last-minute office hours. On the same day, he said the review session would be moved back an hour. I can’t do anything about that. I knew that if I submitted a request, I would not get (an interpreter).” Read the full story here.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Happy Birthday, Linda the Librarian!

Linda Bove was born on this day (Nov 30) in 1945. She’s remembered as the deaf lady on Sesame Street. Bove was a regular on the show from 1971 to 2003 as Linda the Librarian, introducing thousands of children to sign language and deaf community issues. In 1991, she and her husband founded DeafWest, a resident sign-language theater in Los Angeles which has produced several award-winning shows. Here's a video of her from 2010 talking about Why We Need Deaf Actors in Deaf Roles. Happy Birthday, Linda the Librarian!

The Hoops Coach and his Viral ASL Video

A viral video of the basketball team for the Mississippi School for the Deaf has become an educational moment for those who don't know ASL.