Thursday, April 30, 2009

Save Our School

Parents, alumni and administrators from the Scranton State School for the Deaf made their voices heard at the Pennsylvania state capitol yesterday. They rallied to bring attention to plans that would shut down the school. Carrying signs that read Save Our School, they were joined by state legislators from the northeastern part of the state. The demonstrator left a stack of petitions at the governor’s office with more than 51,000 signatures opposing the school's closure.

Matlin Gets Her Star

Actress Marlee Matlin will get her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame next Wednesday. Long-time friend Henry Winkler and the president of Disney/ABC Television Group will take part in the ceremony along with children from the International Center of Deafness & the Arts. Matlin’s star will go in front of Musso & Frank Grill on Hollywood Boulevard. She’s also due to pick up the Mary Pickford Award at the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Community Foundation’s Women of Distinction luncheon. The youngest to win the best actress Academy Award, Matlin's autobiography titled I’ll Scream Later hit store shelves just three weeks ago.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Poetry Out Loud

A Oregon deaf student became the first Poetry Out Loud contestant to compete on a national level for the top price using ASL. Tiffany Hinano Hill attends the Oregon School for the Deaf didn’t make it into the final round but says she was just happy to compete. William Farley of Arlington, Virginia won the recitation contest for high school students. The contest is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. Hill was the first deaf student to compete in the competition in Oregan. You can see a video of her work here.

Academic Bowl Results

University High School of Irvine, California is winner of Gallaudet’s 2009 Academic Bowl national championship. They beat defending champion the Indiana School for the Deaf. The Maryland School for the Deaf came in third by beating the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind. University High senior Gianni Manganelli won the Outstanding Player award. Florida’s South Plantation High School received the Team Sportsmanship award. You can watch the tounrnament online here.

Baseball Tourney

The Indiana School for the Deaf baseball team has won the Hoy Classic. The tournament is just for deaf schools and is named for onetime major league baseball player Dummy Hoy. The Deaf Hoosiers beat the California School for the Deaf at Fremont for the championship and went 4-and-1 overall. The Fremont school hosted the event. Indiana’s Tyler Crace won Most Valuable Player Award. He struck out 16 on his way to two victories.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

School Closure Petition

Several families have gone to court to try to stop the closure of Pennsylvania’s Scranton State School for the Deaf. So far, the state has no plans for the students, according to the petition. The doors at Scranton are set to close at the end of June. At the same time, lawyers for the school have filed a motion objecting to the change. The motion has the support of the school’s superintendent, the head of the school’s board of trustees and a state representative. A private facility, the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf is expected to take over operations

Pastor in Murder-for-hire Scheme

A pastor in Baltimore is accused of paying a hit man $50k to kill a blind and deaf man for insurance money. The body of Lemuel Wallace was discovered in a park bathroom earlier this year. Prosecutors say Kevin Pushia had taken out six insurance policies on Wallace for more than one million dollars. Another pastor has been arrested in South Carolina related to the same crime.

Talking to Yourself

Some hearing people wonder if the deaf talk to themselves. The answer is obviously “yes”. The only difference is that while hearing people will talk to themselves in speech, the deaf will do it in sign language if that is how they communicate. They may rehearse a speech, mull over a conversation in their head or simply ramble internally about the day’s happenings. Imagine waving good-bye or blowing a kiss. That’s a ways hearing people talk with gestures. Imagine expanding that into a whole language of signs with grammar and its own set of rules, the greater your ability to talk to yourself without verbal expressions.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Implant House

On tonight's episode of Fox's hit series House, a deaf teen and his mother face a decision about whether to use cochlear implants. They decide against the implants - but Dr. House decides to go ahead with the surgery any way. The boy rips the implant out but his mom decides to have the doctors put it back. Ryan Lane plays the 14-year-old wrestler. He is a deaf actor who also appeared on the show Cold Case. If you missed the show, you'll be able to watch it online next week at Hulu.com. New episodes are posted eight days after their initial TV broadcast.

The Vagina Monologues

The Vagina Monologues was performed solely in American Sign Language for the first time this weekend at the University of Texas at Austin. Sponsored by the Gender and Sexuality Center, proceeds from the performances benefited went to groups like SafePlace-Deaf Services (which assists survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault or rape).

iPod Hearing Loss

WTHI-TV in Terre Haute, Indiana files this video report on Ipods and hearing loss.

Amazing Race: Episode 10

There are only four teams left on the Amazing Race and one is a deaf man and his mom. During last night's episode, the teams made their way to Beijing where Marge and Luke must get a foot massage. Sounds simple but it’s painful. Luke decides to holds hands with a member of another team (Tammy) and share their pain. The teams next have to swim eight lengths of a pool or do a synchronized dive together. Margie and Luke choose to swim laps and moved through the relay quickly. Viewers who tuned in last week saw Luke get into a confrontation with another team, sisters Jen and Kisha. Ironically, it's Jen who’s in trouble this time. She falls apart over the requirement to swim. Margie makes fun of Jen and Kisha's lack of swimming ability after she thought that Jen was making fun of Luke’s deafness last week. Later, Luke can be heard saying, ''I'm gonna make it to the final three…and kick their ass.'' The episode ends without showing who is eliminated. With only have two more episodes to go, we can expect one team will be eliminated next week, leaving three to battle it out for the one million dollar prize.

Getting to Know... Auslan

Auslan is the short-hand term for Australian Sign Language. It differs from American Sign Language in several ways. Auslan uses two hands for each letter of the alphabet while the ASL uses one hand. ASL words sometimes incorporate the letter shapes, but the Australian words are more likely to rely on gestures. And there are some gestures that mean completely different things in each language. For instance, the sign for "where” means "what" in Auslan.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

One Year Ago.. The North Pole

Oliver Westbury become the first deaf man to walk to the North Pole one year ago. He raised more than $47,000 to pay for the adventure that meant temperatures as low as 22 below zero Fahrenheit. Oliver was diagnosed with a profound hearing loss as a toddler. Half of the money he raised is going to the UK organization National Society for Deaf Children. Oliver is a web designer from the English town of Waterlooville. To prepare for the North Pole, the 27-year-old ran in eight marathons in eight world capitals over a two year period.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Is Luke Spoiled?

Bloggers are attacking the mom of Amazing Race contestant Luke (who is deaf). Luke had a run-in with another player on the CBS show and Marge immediately defended her son. One of them calls Luke "spoiled and mollycoddled" and writes:

"It really bit my butt that Margie automatically defended Luke's actions and accused the entire hearing world of thinking deaf people are dumb... When he acts up, she needs to see his behavior and call him on it. She can't just base all things on the world being against him because he's deaf."

You can read more here.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Disney Devices

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts is offering a new hand-held device to guests with hearing or visual disabilities. At little more than half-a-pound, it fits in a patron’s palm. It amplifies audio and shows closed captioning. Disney plans to expand the use of it beyond its parks through software developer Softeq.

First State to Require Implant Coverage

Wisconsin is one step closer to becoming the first state to require insurance companies to cover cochlear implants for children. Both houses of the legislature approved the bill this week and the governor is expected to sign it into law. It also requires insurance companies to cover some hearing aid costs. Some Republican lawmakers complained that the new requirement will drive up the cost of insurance for small businesses. But supporters say it ultimately saves taxpayers money by cutting special education costs. The new law would affect those covered by private insurance plans but not self-funded plans. Wisconsin has more than 1200 deaf children and about a third of them already have implants.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hockey Championships

The US won a bronze medal in the World Deaf Ice Hockey Championships after a victory over Russia. Finland won the gold and Canada took home the silver at the Winnipeg competition.

Deaf Student Scholarship

A new scholarship at a West Virginia college will provide aid to deaf-students. The William Johnson Memorial Scholarship will provide two $1,500 scholarships to Marshall Community and Technical College. William Johnson was denied admission to college because he was deaf. His widow, who is also deaf, cried when she found out about the scholarship in his honor. Johnson lived his life by the motto Deaf can, yes!

Gallaudet Time Capsule Found

Construction of a new building at Gallaudet University paused after workers discovered a time capsule buried in the walls of a building that went up in 1958. The hearing and speech facility was state-of-the-art at the time. In its place will go the James Lee Sorenson Language and Communication Center. The sealed copper box near the cornerstone contained 1958 issues of The Buff and Blue, the Gallaudet Record, the Gallaudet Alumni Bulletin and American Annals of the Deaf, articles about hearing and speech, an Audiology Department faculty and staff photo and a vintage hearing aid.

Gallaudet's Graduation Speaker

For the first time Gallaudet University has chosen an ASL student as a speaker at the May 9th commencement. Lorna Francis says her mother is deaf and her dad is hard of hearing. She will be speaking on behalf of the graduating class at this year's commencement Francis will transfer to Texas A&M University-Kingsville System Center-San Antonio next year and hopes to find a career in interpreting for courts. Nearly 650 students are expected to walk the stage at the ceremony.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

School’s Top Pitcher is Deaf

Cascade High’s Brian McPartland is a standout athlete at the Everett, Washington school. He’s the baseball team’s number one starting pitcher with a 3.04 ERA and carries a 3.9 cumulative grade-point average. McPartland reads lips and uses hearing aids. The teenager credits sports with bringing him out of his shell. The team uses special signals to help when he’s pitching. If McPartlan doesn't see or hear a runner attempting to steal a base, the catcher will raise both hands high. If someone hits an infield pop-up, fielders use hand signals to indicate which player should catch it. McPartlan plans to attend Everett Community College. Here's a video interview with him from the local newspaper.

Deaf Acting Teacher

Chicago's WLS-TV reports on a deaf actor who teaches his craft to hearing students.

Deaf Weak on Cancer Prevention

The Deaf community has some wrong ideas about cancer. That’s the finding of a study at the University of Michigan. After watching a informational video in American Sign Language, participants in the study took a quiz and got less than a third of the answers correct. That was low compared to other groups. Researchers say the deaf who spoke English at home with hearing persons and with physicians scored higher than those who only use ASL. Those with hearing spouses did better than those with hard of hearing or deaf spouses. The lead author of the study says communication is so difficult that the deaf are the most likely among minorities to have misunderstandings with their physicians.

One Year Ago.. Matlin Hangs Up Dancing Shoes

Marlee Matlin was voted off Dancing with the Stars one year ago. The deaf actress thanked the judges, her family and Henry Winkler for his support. She also thanked Fabian her dance partner "for giving me the most beautiful art of dance in my life."

Violent Traffic Stop

A Fort Worth deaf man was injured in a tussle with police a year ago. Now the city is paying him $50,000 to drop his lawsuit against it. Christopher Ferrell was stopped for speeding but wound up with a broken nose. Officer JA Miller says he though Ferrell was going for a gun, so he slammed his head into the rear windshield. Miller was suspended for two days without pay but he has appealed that decision. You can see the video of the arrest here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Airline Challenges Deaf-Blind

Air Canada is challenging a deaf and blind man's right to fly without an attendant playing babysitter. The airline already lost one battle in Canadian court in January over the issue. The lower court ordered the airline to pay Eddy Morten $10,000 in damages. Morten says he’s been self-sufficient all his life, traveled a great deal with a service dog and even won a Paralympic bronze medallist in judo.

Spike in Video Phone Cost Dropped

Time Warner has backed down from a plan to charge more based on how much customers stream data. If the plan had moved forward, it might have priced the Deaf community out of using video phones because they require high speed internet to provide a smooth, real-time conversation. The cable giant’s plan was to price its home broadband service in tiers and bandwidth-heavy applications would have seen the most dramatic shift in cost. Rochester, New York was supposed to be a test market but an outcry from the large Deaf community there and hearing customers made the company think twice.

Marriage.. By the Numbers

Only one out of 10 deaf people in the US will marry a hearing person, according to studies by Gallaudet University.

Promising Stem Cell Research

Scientists at the UK’s University of Sheffield say cochlear stem cells from aborted fetuses may lead to the development of ways to regenerate or repair ear cells. They have been able to make them behave like delicate auditory hair cells. This is the first time they've been able to grow them in a lab. Even though human trials are several years away, this could lead to a way to repair damaged ears using these cells. Hair cells bend in response to sound, generating electrical signals that are sent to the brain. The researchers were also able to come up with another recipe that created auditory neurons which serve as a go-between, receiving signals from the hair cells and transmit them to the brain. Details of the study are in the journal Stem Cells.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Deaf Pro Soccer Players

▪ Mainz defender Stefan Markolf is German soccer's first prominent deaf player.
▪ Southampton midfielder Jason Euell, who is deaf in one ear, has spent 12 years in the English leagues and represented Jamaica's national team.
▪ Canadian goalkeeper Tony Chursky, who played in the North American Soccer League from 1976 to 1982, was also deaf in one ear
▪ Early in the 20th century, Englishman Albert Gardner, who was profoundly deaf, played for Birmingham.
▪ Matthew Eby is former Gallaudet University sports star who now plays reserve defender for the Real Maryland Monarchs.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Conflict on Amazing Race

On this evening's episode of Amazing Race, teams flew to China where Margie and her deaf son Luke argued with sisters Jen and Kisha. Luke pushed at Jen who calls him a bitch. Luke didn’t hear it, of course, but Margie did. And she tells her son what Jen said to him. At the next clue box, they have another confrontation. Luke pushes Jen into the clue box.

The CBS show made each train birds to retrieve fish in the middle of a lake. Luke tried to direct the birds with sign language and Jen laughed when one of the birds bit him. Margie and Luke then had to find a calligraphy station and copy four Chinese characters in calligraphy.

Jen and Kisha arrive at about the same time as Margie and Luke but the sisters are declared the winners and win a trip to Barbados. Luke signs his frustration and declares that Jen is a bitch. Kisha and Jen start laughing which upsets Marge because she thinks the sisters are laughing at Luke's deafness.

Stuntmen Mark and Michael are the last team to finish and are eliminated from the race.

State Lawmakers Tackle Insurance Woes

A bill moving through the Wisconsin legislator would ensure insurance coverage for hearing aids and cochlear implants for children. A state Senate committee approved the measure on a 6-1 vote. It now moves to the full Senate for consideration. One of the considerations motivating lawmakers: Some health insurance companies consider cochlear implant surgery a cosmetic choice.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Marlee Matlin Interview

ABC News interviews Marlee Matlin about her new book I'll Scream Later. She talks about her drug addiction and abusive relationship with a Hollywood star.

Prez Pick : Gallaudet Alum

A Gallaudet alum is taking over as president of Mount Olive College. Philip Paul Kerstetter will take over the top position at the North School after serving in the same post at Kansas Wesleyan University. Kerstetter earned his Ph.D. in special education administration at Gallaudet University.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Tiny Molecules

An international team of researchers say they’ve figured out something that could lead to major breakthroughs in treating certain kinds of hearing loss. Scientists from Purdue and Tel Aviv University say they’ve figured out that the lack of tiny molecules lead to progressive hearing loss. These small DNA building blocks called microRNAs are critical to the survival of hair cells. MicroRNAs regulate genes by selectively preventing certain genes from making proteins. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Deafness Research Foundation among others. Other recent studies in Spain and the United Kingdom have shown a mutation in just a single microRNA could cause deafness in humans.

Marlee Matlin on CNN (captioned)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Helping the Deaf to Love Music

The Vancouver Sun reports on the Vancouver Oral Centre for Deaf Children.

Marlee Matlin Claims Abuse

Marlee Matlin's Confession

Actress Marlee Matlin says she was in rehab when she found out she had been nominated for an Oscar. The Children of A Lesser God star tells the story in her new book I'll Scream Later. She remained in California’s Betty Ford Clinic for nearly a month, trying to overcome addiction to cocaine. Matlin says most of her friends never knew what she was going through. She also writes about a violent courtship with William Hurt. Matlin says he was physically abusive and she had new bruises every day. They met as co-stars on the set of Children of a Lesser God. She claims Hurt was battling alcoholism at the time while she wrestled with her drug addiction.

Ways to Save Your Hearing

1. Wear earplugs

2. Turn it down

3. Get better headphones

4. Give your ears a rest

5. Quit smoking

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

New Yankee Stadium

The new Yankee Stadium will have closed captioning, and free listening devices for those with hearing loss. This settles a lawsuit over access for the disabled. At the old Yankee Stadium. There is a closed captioning screen next to the massive HD scoreboard in center field and two others located in left and right field. The federal government is calling it “a model of accessibility to people with disabilities”

Margie and Luke Winners!

Margie and Luke (who is deaf) won another leg of the CBS competition Amazing Race in the episode that aired Sunday night, earning themselves a free trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Margie was quick to figure out how to attach a propeller to the long-tail boat using a set of tools.. Teams also had to match five dental patients with an appropriate set of false teeth. Luke's struggle with the task was funny. The long-suffering patients patiently let him shove poorly fitted dentures into their mouths. No one was eliminated.

OneYear Ago.. A First For Japan

Japan’s first school dedicated to the use of sign language opened in Tokyo one year ago and teaches about 40 students. It’s the effort of a nonprofit organization called Bilingual Bicultural Education Center for Deaf Children. Japanese sign language has long been unofficially used by deaf people in Japan to communicate because the focus has been oral education. Until last year, the education ministry had rejected requests to use of sign language and the BBEC had to ask for donations at fundraisers and over the Internet.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Helen Keller's Religion

While many people know of Helen Keller as an inspirational figure, an advocate for the disabled, a feminist and a champion rights, few are as familiar with her religious leanings. Her book My Religion explained how she became a follower of Swedish Christian mystic Emanuel Swedenborg. Swedenborg held that there is a spirit world corresponding to the physical world, and in that spirit world the senses are perfect. Ray Silverman chaplain at Bryn Athyn College of the New Church in Pennsylvania put together a new edition of Keller's book and called it Light in My Darkness.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Risks of Interpreting

Sign language interpreting is one of the jobs most likely to give you a problems with carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis. A study by the Rochester Institute of Technology that came out last year suggests interpreting causes more physical stress than jobs like assembly line work. The study goes even further, suggesting there’s a link between increased ergonomic risk and the mental and cognitive stress of the work. Details are in the journal Ergonomics and more studies are planned.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The First Recorded Deaf Artist

Quintus Pedius, the first recorded deaf artist, painted for Julius Caesar.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Deaf Man Beaten on Video

KSAZ-TV in Phoenix says two men beat a deaf when he failed to respond to their requests for money - and it was all caught on tape.

Explaining Cochlear Implants?

A cochlear implants is surgically placed in the inner ear and connected to a receiver placed around the ear. It picks up sound and transmits it as electrical impulses to the brain. The way the receiver does this is through a processor. It converts audio streams into digital data. The data then goes to another chip where the data is translated into electrical impulses. The electrical impulses are then passed down an electrode, which stimulates a nerve that causes the brain hear sounds. The implant system effectively bypasses the damaged sound-detecting hair cells an directly stimulates the auditory nerve. They are of no help to people with a damaged cochlea or auditory nerve.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Verizon Expands Videophone Service

Verizon is making itself available to more customers through videophone. The service is already available in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C., Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island. Now you can add to that list Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The Verizon Center for Customers with Disabilities allows people to use a videophone or Web camera to connect to a company representative who is proficient in using American Sign Language.

One Year Ago.. A Gallaudet First

Gallaudet University created its first chair fully endowed by a deaf person one year ago. The Gerald “Bummy” Burstein ’50 Endowed Chair in Leadership will now begin appointing scholars to study and research leadership in the deaf community. The $1 million chair was set up nine years ago by Burstein who picked up the nickname because of his support for his hometown team, the Brooklyn Dodgers, also known as “Dem Bums.” The Dodgers eventually moved to California and so did Burstein. He was the first deaf person to receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Gallaudet and is credited with introducing Americans to deaf applause as hands waving in the air. He first saw it in France. Bummy is also an expert parliamentarian with several books to his credit.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Deaflympics Facts

▪ First Deaflympics 1924 with 24 athletes from 9 countries
▪ Founder - deaf Frenchman Eugene Rubens-Alcais
▪ First Named - International Silent Games
▪ Last Time - 2001, including 2,405 competitors from 71 nations
▪ Next Time - The 2009 games will be in Taiwan
▪ Frequency - Held every 4th summer
▪ Requirements - Team members must have at least a 55 decibel loss in their better ear to be eligible
▪ US Requirements - The United States Deaf Olympics Association expects its coaches are competent in ASL
▪ US head coaches must take at least 1 college class in the subject ▪ Rules - At no times is a player allowed to be wearing hearing aids

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Deaf Man Murdered in Texas

A deaf Houston teenager was murdered. That’s the finding of the Harris County Medical Examiner's Office. The body of 19-year-old Spencer Vogt after questioning a man who was driving Vogt's car in Georgia. The man was carrying a handgun and arrested. Police say he told them where to find Vogt’s body and claims the shooting was an accident. The two apparently met in a chat room.

Diving into History

The most decorated diver in the history of the University of Georgia is deaf. Florida native Chris Colwill was born with less than half of his hearing intact. He won SEC Diver of the Week six times along with NCAA titles on the one and three meter boards in his junior season. Colwill was a member of the United States Olympic team that competed in Beijing.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Hearing Loss in Low-Income Families

Hispanic children or those from low-income families are more likely to have hearing loss.
Researchers took a look at five studies conducted between 1966 and 2007. Lead author of the hearing study was Dr. Donald G. Keamy who is both an instructor at Harvard Medical School and a surgeon at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. Details are in this month’s issue of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

Hearing loss is one of the most common birth disorders in the US. Two to four of every 1,000 children are born either deaf or hard-of-hearing.

MegaDeaf Conference

The Kentucky School for the Deaf recently hosted the first MegaDeafConference. The two-hour teleconference included more than 40 institutions that educate the deaf in 21 states along with Northern Ireland and England. The program of student-produced offered presentations included:

  • The Ernest C. Drury School for the Deaf in Ontario showing drama productions
  • The Kentucky School for the Deaf showed its award-winning program Idioms of the Week
  • The Montana School for the Deaf and Blind offered a virtual ski trip
  • The journalism class of the Minnesota’s North Star Academy took participants on a tour of its online newspaper
  • The Ohio School for the Deaf showed off its recycling project called Goes Green!
  • The Kansas School for the Deaf presented famous deaf Kansans.

Sue Thomas F.B.Eye

Animal Planet will begin reruns of a TV series about a deaf woman working for the FBI starting tonight. Sue Thomas F.B.Eye ran from 2002-06 and starred Deanne Bray. It was on Animal Planet because the character has a hearing dog named Levi.

What many viewers don’t know is that the series is based on a real person. The real Sue Thomas is a deaf fingerprint technician whose lipreading ability won her a job on the FBI's elite surveillance team.

Her story is told in the book Sue Thomas: Breaking the Sound Barrier.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Gallaudet Numbers Rising

This year’s Commencement could see the largest graduating class from Gallaudet in the past 10 years. At the same time, ACT scores of incoming freshmen at the highest of the past decade and so is the retention rate of first-year students.

Animated ASL Dictionary

The first animated American Sign Language dictionary for children is being put together by the nonprofit Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf and marblemedia. The financing is coming from the Inukshuk Wireless Learning Plan Fund which supports the development of new online learning content. Visit DeafPlant.com to get an idea of what it will look like. Deaf 3D animator Braam Jordaan is contributing from his base in South Africa.

Friday, April 3, 2009

ASL as Foreign Language Requirement

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania may add American Sign Language to the list of courses that can fulfill the business school’s foreign-language requirement. The effort is being encouraged by the student Undergraduate Assembly. The University already offers the option in the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Nursing. So do many top business schools.

Court Interpreters

A seminar will be held in Delaware for sign language interpreters who work in the court system. Widener University School of Law's Legal Education Institute is offering the program over the course of two weekends at Widener's Brandywine Hundred campus. The court system presents special challenges for interpreters especially regarding liability. And court interpreters are not permitted to speak with witnesses outside the courtroom. The National Center for State Courts is working to come up with proficiency tests for court interpreters. Sign language court interpreters already must pass RID’s certification test. There are only about 200 people specializing in interpreting ASL in courts around the country. Here is more infomation on the seminar.

Congressional Resolution about Gallaudet

Congress has passed a resolution to recognize both Abraham Lincoln's role in the establishment of Gallaudet University.

The resolution was introduced in the House of Representatives by California congressman Lynne Woosley and Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio who are both member sof Gallaudet's Board of Trustees .

Here's the full resolution:

Whereas in 2009, the United States honored the 200th anniversary of the birth of President Abraham Lincoln;

Whereas on July 4, 1861, President Lincoln stated in a message to Congress that a principal aim of the United States Government should be `to elevate the condition of men--to lift artificial weights from all shoulders--to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all--to afford all, an unfettered start, and a fair chance, in the race of life';

Whereas on April 8, 1864, President Lincoln signed into law the legislation (Act of April 8, 1864, ch. 52, 13 Stat. 45) authorizing the conferring of collegiate degrees by the Columbia Institution for Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind, which is now called Gallaudet University;

Whereas that law led for the first time in history to higher education for deaf students in an environment designed to meet their communication needs;

Whereas Gallaudet University was the first, and is still the only, institution in the world that focuses on educational programs for deaf and hard-of-hearing students from the pre-school through the doctoral level;

Whereas Gallaudet University has been a world leader in the fields of education and research for more than a century; and

Whereas since 1869, graduates of Gallaudet University have pursued distinguished careers of leadership in the United States and throughout the world:

Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), That Congress—

(1) congratulates and honors Gallaudet University on the 145th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's signing of the legislation authorizing the establishment of collegiate programs at Gallaudet University; and

(2) congratulates Gallaudet University for 145 years of unique and exceptional service to the deaf people of the United States and the world deaf community.

Passed the Senate March 24, 2009

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Green Gallaudet

The campus of Gallaudet University observed Earth Hour this past weekend. The activity was organized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and asked people around the world to dim their lights for an hour. The goal was to raise awareness about climate change. The student organization Green Gallaudet worked with Campus Facilities to extinguish all non-essential lights in main campus buildings and members asked dorm dwellers to sign a pledge to save energy during that time. In exchange, they received a big thank you and a mini flashlight. The flashlights were given away so that participants could play a game of charades or other group activities during Earth Hour. Nearly 90 students participated.

Marlee Matlin in Seattle

Marlee Matlin spoke last night at the Council for Exceptional Children Convention and Expo in Seattle. Here's an article in the local newspaper about the event.

Mexican Sign Offered on VRS

Language Line Services out of Tucson will begin offering Video Interpreter Service for Mexican Sign Language (LSM, Lengua de SeƱas Mexicana). Hospitals and clinics in more than 20 states use the Language Line Video Interpreter Service.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Growing Hair Cells

Scientists at England’s University of Sheffield say they’ve come up with a way to grow hair cells using stem cells. The researchers were able to grow these stem cells in the laboratory and encourage them to turn into hair cells. They hope this will lead to cell transplants for those with sensorineural hearing loss – one of the most common forms of deafness. We’re about a decade away from seeing human patients receive stem cell transplants, though new drugs may be developed sooner based on these findings.