Wednesday, March 31, 2010

New Hearing Aid Approved

For the first time, the FDA has given its OK to a hearing aid that has no externally visible components. The surgically implantable hearing system is called the Esteem. The device's components can all be implanted under the skin. That includes a sound processor, a sensor and a driver. A study showed 93% of the patients who received the implantable hearing device had as good or better hearing than they had had with an external hearing aid. However, there are some side effects: 7% of people taking part in the study experienced facial paralysis and 42% had their taste affected. Fortunately, most of those problems went away within a year. The Esteem is made by Enovy Medical based out of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Speaking in Silence

The University of Virginia student newspaper, The Cavalier Daily takes a look at the school's ASL program here.

Sean Forbes

In 2007, co-founder of Deaf Professional Arts Network, originally named Deaf Performing Artists Network

Received national attention when he began creating videos of himself performing top tracks using American Sign Language.

Next month will release his first original single, I'm Deaf, with an accompanying video

Started D-PAN Productions in 2009 to create ASL-centric entertainment media

D-PAN has sold more than 5,000 copies of its DVD It's Everybody's Music, Vol. 1

Archbishop: Don't Blame the Pope

The Catholic archbishop in Milwaukee says the pope shouldn't be held accountable for an investigation into a pedophile priest in the state who is said to have abused some 200 deaf boys. Jerome Listecki says mistakes were made in the case of Lawrence Murphy who died in 1998. Documents have revealed that when Pope Benedict was a Cardinal his office stopped proceedings against Murphy. Listecki also apologized to the victims.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Marlee Matlin's TV Show

Marlee Matlin has created a show called My Deaf Family for YouTube. The deaf actress says, "Deaf and hard of hearing people make up one of the largest minority groups and yet there has never been a show, a reality documentary series that features what life is like for them." Matlin is financing the program which follows a deaf family from Fremont, California through the eyes of a 15-year-old hearing teenager. The mom and dad both work at the largest schools for the deaf in the country, the California School for the Deaf. The pilot episode features a deaf basketball tournament with cheerleaders from all over the country who are deaf. Matlin tried to get a network to pick up the show but no one would try it. However, they did want Matlin to star in a reality show about her family. She and her husband have four deaf children. But there were security concerns because her husband works in law enforcement. The video of the pilot is below.

Man Hit Crossing Road

A deaf man is in the hospital after being hit by a car this afternoon in Lebanon, Ohio. Kenneth Martz was trying to cross the street when he was struck by a woman driving a Buick Park Avenue near the Warren County Fairgrounds. Charges were not expected to be filed and police say it appears Martz simply didn't see the car coming before he attempted crossing the 5-lane road.

New Name for Deaf School

The Clarke School for the Deaf in Northampton, Massachusetts has changed its name to the Clark Schools for Hearing and Speech. Here's a video about it from WWLP-TV in Springfield.

Singer's Son Has Hearing Loss

New Kids on the Block singer Joey McIntyre says his 3-month-old son has been diagnosed with hearing loss. McIntyre already has a 2-year-old named Griffin with wife Barrett. He says of his newborn, Rhys Edward, “Rhys’ hearing loss is part of who he is. His life is going to be as special as Griffin’s. There’s just work involved.”

Monday, March 29, 2010

Curtain Falls on Broadway Revival

The last performance of The Miracle Worker on Broadway will be Easter Sunday. The revival of the story of Helen Keller starred teenage actress Abigail Breslin 50 years after it first came to Broadway. Producers blame disappointing ticket sales. Breslin was an Academy Award nominee for her role in the movie Little Miss Sunshine. Critics praised her effort although the show itself got mixed reviews. Many in the blind and deaf community objected to the selection of Breslin for the role of Keller since no deaf or blind actress auditioned for the part. Producers insisted selecting a "star" to play the role was essential to the play's financial success. But apparently, it was not enough. The show had 21 previews and 38 regular performances. It lost $2.5 million.

Deaf Education Veto Upheld

South Dakota will not require its Education Department to set up programs to promote the education of children who are deaf or have hearing loss. State lawmakers upheld Governor Mike Rounds' veto of a bill that would have made that happen. While the South Dakota Senate voted 30-4 to override the veto, the House sided with the governor on a 33-34 vote. Rounds complained that the bill would have been too hard for school districts to accomplish because of funding shortages.

Teacher to Sue School District

A deaf physical education instructor can go forward with his ADA lawsuit. A California agency has given him the green light to sue his school district. Karl L. Glover says a the principal at Tomas Rivera Middle School in Mead Valley discriminated against him. Glover says his problems started when the principle made a joke about his condition at a meeting. Since then, Glover says the district has refused to let his wife act as his interpreter at meetings (he doesn't know sign language, but reads lips), ignored his request for a listening device and written him up more than a dozen times for small infractions.

Center in Turmoil

The future of a Philadelphia center is in question after losing its permanent director and most of its staff has quit. Services are on hold at the Center on Hearing and Deafness in West Chester after some 14 years. Board members are promising that classes in independent-living skills will go on but there is no one to teach them and the Center is more often closed than open. The director resigned after months of frighting with the board. The interim director cannot sign and has difficulty communicating with staffers, most of whom are deaf.

Abuse protesters call on Pope to resign

Pope Benedict XVI says he won't be intimidated despite growing calls for his resignation over the Vatican child abuse scandal including hundreds of deaf children. Watch or read a report from Britain's INT news here.

Kenyan Sign Language Bible

A look at a Christian ministry translating the Bible into Kenyan sign language.

SIGN-LANGUAGE BIBLE - CBN.com
Uploaded by cbnonline. - News videos from around the world.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pope Dismisses Critics

The Pope appeared to dismiss the abuse scandal now dogging the Catholic church with remarks today where he condemned "petty gossip." The Vatican is blaming the media for the outrage expressed by many over the abuse of 200 deaf children in Wisonsin and several similar incidents in Europe that have been linked to the pontiff. Here's a link to a video by Reuters about his remarks.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Stem Cell Research

British researchers say stem cells could help the deaf to hear again. They are the master cells that produce all the body's tissues and organs. University of Sheffield scientists say they've figured out how to make stem cells behave like sensory hair cells. They could potentially be be surgically inserted in the ear and restore lost hearing. The research is being conducted on animals and it may be along time before it will be offered to patients. More information on the work is in the journal Stem Cells.

Abuse Accusation Against Italian Church & Pope

A group of deaf men who say they were abused in the Catholic church appeared on Italian TV. The three former students claim two dozen priests had for decades abused children at a school for the deaf in Verona. The accused include Bishop of Verona from 1958-78 who died in 1981 and some have sought to have beatified, a crucial step on the road to sainthood. The current Bishop of Verona accused them of “hallucinating” until one of the accused lay brothers admitted sexual relations with pupils. Last summer the diocese forwarded its files on the abuse to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which took no action until last month. The Italian Bishops Conference has agreed to form a “task force” to collect evidence of paedophilia.

The Church’s account of how much the current Pope knew about a German paedophile priest is being called into question since a memo came to light, showing he led a meeting in 1980 during which the transfer of an offending priest was approved and the information about the man's abuse of children was kept from the leaders of the place to which he was being transfered. Peter Hullermann had been sent to the Munich Diocese for “therapy” after molesting a boy. Hullermann was convicted of sexual abuse in 1986. He was still working in the church until this month when he was suspended for breaking a promise not to have contact with children and young people.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Catholic Leaders Defend Pope

Catholic leaders in Europe are rising to defend Pope Benedict. The former archdiocese of Munich insisted the Pontiff did not know about the abuse of children in the city's Catholic churches even though he was archbishop of Munich in 1980. That year, a priest was reassign to a post with access to children - even though he was undergoing theropy for being a suspected pedophilia. Just a few years later, the priest was convicted of molesting a boy at another parish. The Vatican decided not to defrock a Wisconsin priest accused of sexually abusing as many as 200 deaf boys in Milwaukee during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. Several other cases of abuse in European Catholic churches have recently come to light as well.

135 Year Anniversary

The New York State School for the Deaf in Rome is celebrating its 135th anniversary this week. A deaf teacher who graduated from the New York Institution for the Deaf named Alphonso Johnson proposed starting the school. Thomas Gallaudet helped Johnson get a group of Rome businessmen to financially support the project. The school opened out of a rented two-story brick house with four pupils in 1875. It began under the name of the Central New York Institution for Deaf-Mutes. In 1931, the name of the school was changed to the Central New York School for the Deaf. The school became a state facility in 1963 and the name was changed to the New York State School for the Deaf and now sits on 17 acres of land.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Tax e-File Message

Here's a video with a tax tip from the IRS in ASL, Captions & Voice Over about e-Filing your taxes.

A Tax Scam

Here's a video from the IRS about what to do if you get an email from someone claiming to be from the IRS. The video is in ASL, Captions & Voice Over.

World Cup Protest

Some 50 people including some who were deaf, gathered in Johannesburg, South Africa to protest the lack of space for disabled fans at the World Cup which will take place in June at the South African Football Association headquarters. Some carried signs reading the deaf want to be heard." The organiztion handling the event said they hoped to resolve the matter soon.

Hearing Aids Stolen

A 3-year-old's hearing aids were stolen in Castle Rock, Oregon from the car of the child's mother. They are valued at $1,700. Shanna Blevins' daughter, Emma, has several disabilities but many people have called the Blevins to help.

New Homebuyer Credit

Here's a video from the IRS about the New Homebuyer Credit in ASL, Captions & Voice Over.

Vatican Knew Priest Molested 200 Deaf Boys

Some 200 deaf boys were molested by a priest who was never defrocked by the Catholic Church. The New York Times reports that Vatican officials, including Pope Benedict XVI were a part of the decision. The situation become public because of a lawsuit that revealed correspondence between Wisconsin Bishops and the future pope Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Five men are suing the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The letters show Ratzinger was more concerned about protecting the church from scandal than the welfare of the children. He and other officials did not alert the authorities or even discipline the priests involved in sexual abuse while he served as the Vatican’s chief doctrinal enforcer.

American priest Lawrence C. Murphy served at Wisconsin's St. John’s School for the Deaf from 1950 to 1974. He first taught classes and became effective at raising money for deaf causes and was eventually promoted to run the school in 1963 - even though church officials already knew he sexually abused children.

A group of deaf former students spent decades trying to get something changed, even handing out fliers outside the Milwaukee cathedral. Eventually, an internal investigation of Murphy showed he was not remorseful and he appealed to Ratzinger for leniency. Murphy died at the age of 72, buried in his priestly garments.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Received a Letter from the IRS?

Here a video from the IRS in ASL, Captions & Voice Over explaining what to do if you get a letter from the IRS.

Education Bill Nixed

South Dakota's govenor has vetoed a bill that would have set up a program promoting the education of deaf children. Govenor Rounds said there were parts of the measure that would have been too tough for the state's school districts to fulfill because of limited financinng and staffing.

Haven't Filed a Tax Return in Years?

Here's a video from the IRS about what to do if you haven't recently filed a tax return. The video is in ASL, Captions & Voice Over.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Suit Filed over Tasering

Antonio Love is suing the city of Mobile and Dollar General after police tasered and pepper sprayed the deaf and mentally disabled man last year. We told you about what happened back in July. Police forced Love out of the store restroom and even though he put up no resistance, he was tasered three times. Even after finding out he was deaf and there was a misunderstanding, officers still tried to put him in jail. A Mobile police internal investigation which we told you about here, said the police were justified in using force but shouldn't have tried to arrest Love. City officials have yet to respond to the lawsuit.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A 1st for the Volunteer State

Tennessee's first housing development designed for low-income deaf residents is being developed in East Nashville. Called 701 Porter, the 46,000-square-foot building is a project of Urban Housing Solutions, a nonprofit company. The 20 unit facility was first used as a nursing home.

Academic Bowl: Northeast Regional

An Academic Bowl takes place starting this Thursday at the Old Rochester Regional High School located in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts. Students will take part in the Northeast Regional Academic Bowl for Deaf and Hard of Hearing High Schools. Questions are given in ASL and spoken and written English. The five regional competitions are sponsored by Gallaudet University. The three highest ranking teams from each regional competition will travel to Gallaudet in Washington, DC for the National Academic Bowl in April. There is more information here.

"A deaf child? I can't have one of those"

Dr. Philip Zazove has a new book out called Four Days in Michigan. The fictional work is about the differences between people in the "deaf" and "Deaf" communities. His 1994 autobiography is titled When the Phone Rings, My Bed Shakes. Here's some background on Dr. Zazove.

Zazove became just the third certified deaf physician in the U.S. in 1981.

He's now a Specialist in family medicine at Michigan's University Hospital in Ann Arbor.

Diagnosed with profound hearing loss at the age of four, he had learned to speak English before losing his hearing.

He was the first deaf child to be mainstreamed in the northern Chicago suburbs even though teachers would say, "A deaf child? I can't have one of those."

Zazove attended Northwestern University in 1969 and although he had excellent grades, he applied to 18 medical schools and every one of them turned him down. But after earning his Masters, Rutgers accepted him. The only one of 30 to do so. He later switched to Washington University in St. Louis where he met his wife who is a also a physician herself.

They have two daughters: Katie, 26, and Rebecca, 28.

In 1989, he became the first deaf physician to work in the state of Michigan.

About 2,500 patients come to him and about one out of ten of them have hearing loss. Since he knows sign language, some deaf patients drive hours to see him.

In 2007, he received a cochlear implant but it didn't work well. He got another one in 2008 which helped but he still relies heavily on lip reading.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

New Schools Open

Utah's schools for the deaf and blind is open. A ribbon cutting ceremony this week officially proclaimed it ready for business. Students from preschool to high school will attend the Salt Lake City facility. Not only are there new computers but there is a bilingual, bi cultural media center. Here's a video about it from KSTU-TV.
 

Standoff Turns Out to Be Hoax

A police standoff in Brownsville Texas Friday turned out to be a hoax. The two-hour ordeal started with a fake TDD-TTY device - but the two dozen officers, bomb squad unit and tactical teams who responded to the call didn't know that. All they knew is that a man had supposidly barricaded himself inside a house with hostages, automatic weapons and explosives after killing his 14-year-old sister. When police entered the home they found no one inside. The family that lived the house was gone and not aware of the call. Authorities are now looking for the prank caller.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Service Animal Makes a Difference

A service dog joins a sixth-grader for classes at Wayne Center Elementary School in Kendallville, Indiana. The specially trained autism service dog named Jefferson helps 12-year-old Kelsey Fogle who is partially deaf and can see only shadows in her right eye. A school fundraiser at another school supplied the $11,000 to pay for the animal even though Kelsey didn't attend the school. They were joined by employees at the Walmart Distribution Center in Garrett. Her parents say, since Jefferson came into her life, Kelsey's daily "meltdowns" are a rarity.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Film Review

Variety has offered its take of See What I'm Saying which follows four deaf entertainers. Hilari Scarl's film is described as an "outstanding documentary" with "moments of hysterical humor." See the trailer here.

Celebrities Pitch for Starkey

Some celebrities are at one of the largest live music festivals in the world to talk about hearing loss. Verne Troyer, better known as Mini-Me in the Austin Powers movies and Erik Estrada, known for his role as Ponch in the TV series CHIPs and Lou Ferrigno, known for his role as the Hulk have come to the South by Southwest conference in Austin on behalf of the Starkey Hearing Foundation, which hopes to give away one million hearing aids over the next decade. The foundation is co-sponsoring a SXSW event and handing out free earplugs to concert-goers.

Ferrigno has worn a hearing aid for many years and Troyer’s father also has hearing loss. You can find out more at Starkey's site.

QuestFest

A group of Iranian deaf actors will perform in Washington, DC Saturday. Mehr-Ayeen is taking part in QuestFest, an international festival that's held once every two years. Participants use other forms of communication in their presentations, including movement, dance and digital media. Mehr-Ayeen will use movement and dance to share an epic poem written Persian poet Ferdowsi written around the year 1000 which encourages wisdom and justice . After the free presentation, the actors will hold an open forum with help from American and Farsi sign language interpreters.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

2015 Deaflympics

Vancouver will host the 2015 Deaflympics. There will be 27 events including cross-country skiing, curling, ice hockey and snowboarding. To compete, you have to have a deafness of 55 decibels or greater. Although the Winter and Summer Deaflympics happen every four years, like the hearing Olympics, they take place in odd-numbered years. The next The next gathering of athletes for the Winter Deaflympics will be next year in Slovakia.

H&R Block Cuts Deal Over ADA Violations

H&R Block has agreed to provide qualified interpreters for deaf customers as part of an agreement the company has made with the US Justice Department. The agreement settles a complaint made under ADA law against H&R Block for access to tax preparation services for deaf people. Block has agreed to adopt and enforce a deaf-friendly policy and post that policy on its Web site as well as in its offices, manuals and other print materials. The new policy will be given to current and new staff. H&R Block has also agreed to compile and maintain a list of sign language interpreter providers, staff training on the ADA and the company's obligations to provide effective communication to individuals with disabilities, create and monitor a grievance procedure for ADA-related complaints and pay $2500 in damages to an individual who filed an ADA complaint along with a $5,000 civil penalty.

Health Fair

This Saturday the University of Cincinnati will host a deaf health fair. The annual event has been going strong since 1994. For the first several years, the focus was on HIV/AIDS prevention and care. Now, the fair deals with a broad range of health and wellness issues including heart health, substance abuse, dental care, mental health and spirituality. Free screening will be offered and more than 30 interpreters will be working. The fair typically draws some 1500 people.

Job Referral Lawsuit Settled

A Wisconsin temp agency in will pay $75,000 to settle a federal lawsuit. Zachary Schaefer accued the Olsten Staffing Services La Crosse office of refusing to refer him to a position at Street Ingredients because he is deaf. Olsten is based out of Melville, New York and will offer its employees training ADA law. The company maintains it did nothing wrong.

Mother Charged

Memphis prosecutors are charging the mother of the baby thrown down a 11th floor garbage chute with making it up. Rachelle Nelson is deaf and faces as much as 12 years in prison if convicted. Nelson blamed the baby's father for tossing the child down the chute but her 9-year-old daughter contriducted that claim. Plus, police say there was contridictory evidence. Here's a video from WMCTV about the case (no captioning).

Finger Spellers

Here's a British deaf comedy The Fingerspellers. This Godfather spoof is subtitled in English in case you do not know British Sign Language. But you can certainly appreciate the humor.

Speech Champion

Aaron MacArthur of the Lincoln, Nebraska area is competing for a state speech championship Friday. MacArthur is already a conference champion, a third place district winner and almost completely deaf. Nebraska State Speech Championship. Here's a video about him from KHAS-TV (no captioning).

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Eye Problems Common in Children with Hearing Loss

Children born with hearing loss are as much as three times more likely to have vision problems. Researchers looked at 77 children born with hearing loss. About a third had an eye problem of some kind. Of those with a genetic disorder, about half had vision problems and among those without a genetic disorder, about a quarter suffered from some eye problem. The most common type of eye problem was outward or inward deviation of the eye, followed by disorders of refraction such as nearsightedness and farsightedness. The researchers from the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware say children with hearing loss should also undergo an eye exam. Details are in the Archives of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery.

Captions for Political Ads

Maryland is considering a requirement that political ads be accessible to the deaf. Several people testified yesterday before a state committee on behalf of the bill. If passed, candidates would have to provide closed captioning or transcripts for television and web commercials. Frederick County Delegate Joseph Bartlett is sponsoring the measure in the House and Senator Norman Stone is backing it in the Senate.

eBay Responds

We told you yesterday about a lawsuit filed against eBay Ebay by a deaf woman in Missouri. Now the online company is responding. In a statement just released, eBay says in a statement that it belives its polices are "consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act and related laws" and that it "strives to equally serve all of our users in an appropriate, lawful and responsible manner."

The lawsuit says eBay could easily solve the problem of communicating with deaf users by using CAPTCHAs (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) for verification. Her lawyer says the software is "easy and inexpensive to implement"."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lawsuit Against Ebay

A Missouri woman is suing eBay, claiming the auction site violates ADA law. Melissa J. Earll from the town of Nevada is deaf and has tried selling items on the auction site. But she has been stopped because the company requires sellers to verify their identities through a phone call by enter PIN numbers. Since she does not have a phone Earll has not able to complete the registration process. Her class action lawsuit is being filed on behalf of all deaf or hard of hearing persons who have been prevented from registering as sellers with eBay because of the company’s telephone registration system. Her lawyer says she has tried to negotiate another method of verification with the company but has been unsuccessful. The company has not responded to the lawsuit as of this writing. You can read the complaint here.

New LA Production

Deaf West Theatre will perform My Sister In This House officially opens April 10 and will run until the end of May. The show is based on the true story of the Papin sisters, who suffered an abusive childhood followed by a dark and foreboding workplace in 1930s France. The themes of the play are accentuated by the unique theatrical experience that Deaf West Theatre is known for: deaf and hearing actors perform in a multilingual setting of ASL, spoken English, and open captioning. Deaf West is located in North Hollywood, California. For More information go here.

Toyota Owners

Captioned video from Toyota of how to stop the car with stuck accelerator here.

No Sale on Hearing Aid Biz

Cochlear will not be buying the hearing aid business of Siemens. The German company has dropped its plan to sell the division after failing to get bids of more than $3 billion. One analyst blamed falling profits in the hearing-aid business for the lower bids. Last year's earnings for the Siemens' unit were down 5% from the previous year. For it's part, Cochlear expects a bump in profits of 15% this year, thanks to sales of its new implant, the Nucleas 5.

Teacher Faces Charges

A Hazleton, Pennsylvania teacher faces charges for allegedly threateneing to shoot the principal of her school over an assignment involving a deaf student. Cynthia Lou Deluzio has been suspended and will appear in court on April 27. Police say principal Lori Ann Herman wanted Deluzio to provide notes and lesson plans to the student. When she found out about the assignment, Deluzio is accused of saying she wanted to shoot Herman.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Baby Dropped in Trash Chute

A Memphis man is on the run after throwing his infant son down an 11-story trash chute Sunday. Both he and the baby's mother are deaf. The child was hospitalized witn minor injuries. The woman also has a 7-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son.

Hearing Aid Purchase Questioned

Financial analysts are questioning whether Cochlear, the world’s best-selling ear implants based in Australia, is making the right move by trying to buy Siemens AG’s hearing aid unit. The price tag may run up to $2.7 billion, according to Business Week magazine. Germany-based Siemens wants to focus on energy, transport and infrastructure.

Academic Bowl: Mid-Atlantic Regional

An Academic Bowl takes place starting this Thursday at the New Jersey School for the Deaf in Trenton. Students will take part in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Academic Bowl for Deaf and Hard of Hearing High Schools. Questions are given in ASL and spoken and written English. The five regional competitions are sponsored by Gallaudet University. The three highest ranking teams from each regional competition will travel to Gallaudet in Washington, DC for the National Academic Bowl in April. There is more information here.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Beyond the Court

The student newspaper at the University of Missouri offers a video and story about the basketball team at the Missouri School for the Deaf here.

Deaf Cartoonist Gets Redesign

The Antonio Treatment debuts tonight on HGTV. Antonio Ballatore will use the one-hour weekly docu-design series to help a deaf cartoonist. Antonio and his crew will turn a family room into a functional workspace for the cartoonist and his wife who is a sign language interpreter. Antonio doesn’t fit the mold of what most people expect a designer to look like from his tattoos to his mis-matched clothes.

Read more about the show here.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

March 13, 1988

On this day, 22 years ago, the Deaf President Now movement succeeds. I King Jordan became the first deaf president of Gallaudet University. Also, Deaf History Month begins today and runs through April 15.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Purple Owes more than $18 million

Purple Communications has set up a plan to repay more than 18.4 million dollars to the FCC. The video relay provider acknowledges that the FCC inappropriately paid the company $18,459,064 and will not to challenge the FCC’s position. Purple was overcompensated from the government relay fund because calls outside the U.S. are not covered by the fund nor are those made to or from Purple employees. Purple has 180 days to come up with a repayment plan.

School Proceeds to Help Students

A new Oregon law requires half the proceeds from the sale of the School for the Blind property will go towards capital improvements and maintenance at the School for the Deaf. The other half will go to the Blind and Visually Impaired Fund. State officials recently received an analysis of the property that estimated its value at up to $7 million.

See What I'm Saying Trailer

This Deaf Entertainers Documentary trailer called See What I'm Saying follows a comic, actor, drummer and singer over a single year. The world premiere is set for Hollywood on March 18th.

Truck Crashes into Kitchen

A deaf woman was killed in San Bernardino, California when a truck came through a brick wall and into her house. Glynna Rose Folkens who has been deaf since birth, was standing in her kitchen when 18-year-old Christopher Segura crashed into the room. Police say he may have been attempting suicide. He only sustained minor injuries in the accident. Folkens worked as a teacher's aide and used sign language to communicate.

Implants Restore Area Man's Hearing

Chicago's Northwestern School of Journalism looks at one man's experience getting a cochlear implant here.

More Plead Guilty

More defendants are pleading guilty in a nationwide FCC fraud case. The scam involved an attempt to defraud the government's program designed to assist the deaf by the submission of more than $2.5 million in fake billings. Now pleading guilty are the owners of Florida's Innovative Communication Services for the Deaf, Yosbel Buscaron and Lazaro Fernandez as well as Natan Zfati, a former video interpreter for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Interpreting Services in New York. They will be sentenced in June and could get as much as 20 years in prison. 11 of the 26 people who were charged in the case have entered guilty pleas. Read more here.

New York's Fire Alarm Boxes

New York's fire department wants to deactivate its 15,000 alarm boxes posted throughout the city. The move will save $6 million a year but needs court and legislative approval. In 1995, Mayor Rudy Giuliani tried to do the same thing but a judge stopped him when the Civic Association for the Deaf sued. The group argued the alarm boxes were necessary for the deaf and hard of hearing to report emergencies. The court agreed and told the city the boxes could only be removed after it could be shown that deaf people had another way to report fires. The fire department hopes to make the case that mobile phones now play that role. But Robert Stulberg, the attorney who filed the federal suit 15 years ago disagrees.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fake Helen Keller

Someone has created a fake Helen Keller Twitter feed. With more than 8400 followers, most of the tweets are nonsensical as you can see here. One blogger has picked it at the third best fake twitter feed behind one for Kelly Kapoor (based on the character from The Office) and Jesus.

Prison for Hitting Deaf Pedestrian

An Ohio judge gave a man 7 years behind bars for hitting and killing Fiery Hayes who was deaf. David M. Johnson of Columbus passed out at the wheel and ran his minivan onto a sidewalk, hiting Hayes from behind. The 43-year-old could not have heard the van coming his way. Johnson said painkillers had made Johnson drowsy.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

School Shutting Down

A charter school for the deaf in Arlington is shutting down. The Jean Massieu Academy will close after losing its accreditation. There are only four charter schools like it in Texas. The Texas Education Agency points to substandard academic and financial problems at the facility for the decision.

SpongeBob Earmolds

Some hearing aids for children now come with earmolds featuring SpongeBob, Dora the Explorer, or other characters. Starkey Labs signed a deal with Nickelodeon/Viacom to feature those characters. Read more here.

Dropping ASL

Florida's Ponte Vedra High School will discontinue American Sign Language classes next year because of "budget restraints" according to the principal. The language is now offered as a foreign language elective. Since the teacher who's leading the course is not certified, a certified teacher would need to be hired for it to continue. Students are gathering signatures in protest and have collected several hundred already. Some 1300 students attend Ponte Vedra.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Google Captioning Mistakes


YouTube's new closed captioning feature is still in beta (they are still working on it) and it shows. Here are two examples where the captioning fails miserably. When Sandra Bullock accepted her Oscar on Sunday. She never said anything about Florida and t-shirts and it translated "Meryl Streep" into "who knows". See Bullock's entire acceptance speech here (be sure to turn on the captioning by clicking CC). Another example is this Apple video for the company's new iPad. "A high-res color display" becomes "a high risk going to split."

Idaho Tax Credit

Donors to Idaho's Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing may get a new tax break. A committee in the state House has passed a measure to boost the income tax credit for several state agencies including the Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The governor supports the move. The measure would increase the credit from $100 to $500 for a single filer and from $200 to $1,000 for a couple. The change for companies would be $5000, up from $1,000.

Technology could boost career prospects for the deaf

The French government recently agreed to a 52-million-euro plan to help deaf people and the hard-of-hearing integrate more easily into society. Tadeo, a company based south of Paris, is currently developing new computer software which it hopes will drastically improve their career prospects. Here's a video report from the French news agency AFP.

Academic Biathlon

The Great Plains schools for the Deaf 18th annual Academic Biathlon is going on today and tomorrow at The Missouri School for the Deaf. High schools for the deaf in Kansas, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Missouri have gathered for the competitions including oratorical and brain bowl contests.

Coming Trials in $2.5 million Fraud

Even though several defendants pleaded guilty to fraud in the multistate federal case involving a scheme to defraud a program that helps the deaf, more than a dozen defendants are headed to trial. That includes the president of Maryland's services company Viable, John T.C. Yeh and his brother who was vice president of corporate strategy Joseph Yeh. They go to trial May 24 in New Jersey on charges of conspiracy to defraud the government and other crimes.

A former assistant vice president of business development for Viable and a former Viable human resources manager pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud in January. They will face sentencing in June. Last month, the co-owners of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Interpreting Services pleaded guilty. A look at those who pleaded gulity last week is here.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Mormon Classes at Gallaudet

Gallaudet University offers a class on Mormonism each Friday at the interdenominational chapel of the student center. Jack Rose teaches the students and coordinates Mormom seminaries and institutes in northern Virginia and knows sign language. Rose served as a consultant for the church's 14-year-project to translate the Book of Mormon into ASL and uses the video along with many other visuals in the class.

Austin entrepreneur charged

The Austin Business Journal takes a look here at the video relay company caught by investigators in the nationwide FCC fraud case.

Deep Budget Cuts

Utah's Schools for the Deaf and the Blind is facing severe budget cuts. The state legislature is knocking $670,000 from the school's funding. The schools serve more than 2000 students. Summer camps and short-term programs will be completely eliminated.

Woman Saved from Fire

A deaf woman in El Paso, Texas survived a fire at her apartment this past weekend by jumping through a second story window. Cindy Chavarria suffered only a few scratches. Her specially equipped smoke detector alerted her to the fire with a series of flashes. Some 50 firefighters helped to put out the blaze because a fire station is only a block or so away. Nevertheless, it spread so quickly, the building was fully engulfed. Investigators say the fire was an accident that started in a renters kitchen.

140 Years

The West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind prepare to celebrate their 140 year anniversary. The Chrleston Daily Mail offers a closer look here.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

ASL on the Academy Awards

When the Academy Awards take place tonight, there will not likely be any sign language used by presenters or performers. But that wasn't the case in 1978. That year, Debbie Boone sang the Oscar-nominated song You Light Up My Life. She was joined by a group of children performing the lyrics in what appeared to be sign language. But deaf viewers were confused and complained that they couldn’t understand the sign language at all. The Academy eventually admitted that the children were neither deaf nor fluent in sign language.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Teachers May Be Reassgned

State education officials say teachers at Rhode Island School for the Deaf will not necessary be out of a job at the end of a school year. They are looking at reassigning the teachers. All 35 were recently given layoff notices for lacking certification in the subject areas in which they are teaching.

Miracle Worker Goes On

Ticket sales have been weak for the Broadway revival of The Miracle Worker which opened Wednesday. However, the show's producers say it will continue - for the time being. If ticket sales do not pick up over the weekend, there is a strong chance the play will see an early curtain call.

The play is set in Alabama during the 1880s. The Miracle Worker tells the story of Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan. The original 1959 Broadway production won six Tony Awards, including Best Play in 1960. The film version earned several Academy Awards.

The new production of the Miracle Worker offers the I-Caption system for audience members who are deaf or hard of hearing, free of charge at every performance.

Tickets to the new production are available here. The show's official website offers access for all patrons with disabilities, the first to do so.

Here's a video sample of the production:

Teacher of the Year

A Florida elementary school teacher who grew up partially deaf is Brevard County's Teacher of the Year. Christina Donohue is in her fifth year of teaching at Atlantis Elementary in Port St. John. The school focuses on children who are deaf and hard of hearing. Here's a video about the award from Florida Today.

Principal: "We can't just do ASL"

A principal in Pompano Beach, Florida defends the "Inclusion" method used by his school to teach deaf children here.

Guilty Pleas in Video Relay Scam

Several owners of video relay companies are pleading guilty to taking part in a scam to defraud the government's program designed to assist the deaf. They submitted more than $2.5 million in fake billings to the FCC's Video Relay Service program, according to prosecutors. The defendants include:
  • Kim Hawkins and Larry Berke of Nevada-based Master Communications and Arizona-based KL Communications
  • Former interpreter for New York and New Jersey-based Deaf and Hard of Hearing Interpreting Services Alfia Iskandarova
  • Robert Rubeck of Surprise, Arizona
They each could get as much as 20 years behind bars.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Infants with Hearing Loss

The CDC says about two or three infants out of every 1000 born have some hearing loss. In the Center's Morbidity and Mortality Report, health officials say every states have now established Early Hearing Detection and Intervention programs. Yet a number of infants are still not receiving recommended follow-up diagnostic and intervention services. That's why the CDC says efforts at early detection are being stepped up.

Smile

Deaf singer Mandy Harvey has just released Smile, her first album entitled. Jazz Times offers this background article on her here.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

More on Deaf Juror

We told you yesterday about a ruling by Ohio's highest court that said a deaf juror should have been kept out of a murder trial. The details of the case are here.

Students React to YouTube Captioning

Here's what students at the California School for the Deaf had to say about the new YouTube captioning.

Google Rolls Out Captioning

Google is moving its automatic speech-recognition and closed-captioning technology out of beta on YouTube to make it available for all video's that are posted. The software will automatically generated captions for its entire video catalog. This also means YouTube watchers can choose to see captions in a different language from the language of the video. Ken Harrenstein who heads up the project is deaf and gave his presentation in sign language at Google's headquarters today. He has been working on the project for five years. Google turned on automatic captioning last year for a small number of partners for testing. Harrenstein pointed out that the technology still isn't perfect. Since 24 hours of videos are uploaded to YouTube every minute, Google did not have a timetable at to when all of the videos would be captioned, but executives said it will be very soon.

Theater Review

A review of the Broadway revival of The Miracle Worker from USA Today is here. It opened last night.

Ohio Lawsuit Settlement

A Dayton, Ohio community service provider has settled a discrimination filed on behalf of a former employee who is deaf. Deron Emmons accused Family Services Association of refusing to promote him because he has a profound hearing impairment. The organization agreed to pay Emmons $15,000 and provide training for management personnel.

Assault Accusation

Prosecutors in Kent, Washington are accusing a 62-year-old man of sexually assaulting a deaf woman who is partially blind half a dozen times. The 40-year-old woman was living with his family at the time. Nicolas B. Masuhay is behind bars but has denied having sex with the woman and claims she was lying in an effort to get attention.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Stage Fall

An actress playing Helen Keller takes a fall from the stage in this video.

Broadway Shows

Some New York Broadway shows offer open captioning using a portable LED screen facing a particular side of the orchestra. It's the most popular way for the deaf to experience what Broadway has to offer. Other shows offer sign language interpretation, but the advantage of open captioning is that it does not draw attention to the user. Whenever captioning will be used or an interpreter will be working, an insert is placed in the playbill so everyone in the audience will understand the special accommodations.

More than a Million in Grant Money

A deaf center in Shreveport, Louisiana is getting more than a million dollars in grants. The Betty and Leonard Phillips Deaf Action Center plans to use the money to install 81 videoconferencing stations across the state and improve its existing stations in the state as well as Texas, Alabama, and California. The stations provide low-cost interpretation services for the deaf. Funds for the project come from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and will be paid by the Department of Commerce Broadband Technology Opportunity Program.

Court: Deaf Juror Should Have Been Excluded

Ohio's highest court says a deaf juror should have been kept out of a murder trial. That means Scott Speer of Fairlawn will get a new trial for alledgedly murdering his friend, James Barnett. Speer was convicted in 2007 and sentenced to four years in prison. A District Court decided he didn't get a fair trial because the deaf woman on the jury couldn't hear Speer's call to 911. The Ohio Supreme Court agreed and wrote in its decision that the hearing impairment ''directly affected her ability to perceive and evaluate that evidence because she only read the colloquy from a real-time transcription.'' Barnett drowned in Lake Erie after he fell off Speer's boat. Prosecutors accused Speer of being pushed Barnett from the craft.

Georgia Mental Health Care

The state of Georgia is facing a lawsuit for alledgedly not providing proper mental health care for deaf residents. Attorney Lee Parks filed the suit on behalf of deaf Georgians and says the state's Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities has only a few mental health counselors who can sign and few are trained to deal with Georgia's deaf.

A Love of Sign Language & Teaching

A Vanderblit student explains her interesting in American Sign Language here.

Killed by Bus

An investigation is underway into the death of a deaf woman who was fatally injured Tuesday in Detroit. 49-year-old Ethel Davis was crossing a street when she was hit by a city bus. She was known in the area as "Miss Jazz."

Video Contest

Sorenson Communications is sponsoring a video contest. The theme is Express Yourself and videos must run less than 10 minutes. They will be judged on originality, creativity, the use of sign language or other representations of deaf culture along with cinematography and editing. Contestants under the age of 18 will compete against each other. The Winners will receive $1000. You've got until April 27th to submit your effort. There's more information here.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Deaf Appreciation Night

It's standing room only for Deaf Appreciation Night taking place each month at Circles Canteena in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, New York. Deaf musicians, comedians and poets are gathering for the open mic event A interpreter is on hand for the hearing part of the audience. The next event is set for March 27th. For more information click here.

Protecting Children's Hearing

Audiologists are applauding Super Bowl winning quarterback Drew Bree for putting what appeared to be headphones on his one-year-old son during the post game celebrating. The New Orleans Saints QB had put low-cost, low-tech earmuff on Baylen to protect his hearing from the stadium’s roaring crowd. The lightweight foam-filled ear cups from Peltor weigh less than half a pound and typically cost under $30. Sales of the earmuff went up 40% following the Super Bowl.

Loud noise at a sporting event from time-to-time may not be significant, but a child like Baylen will likely attend many loud games and that can lead to hearing loss. The noise inside of a football stadium can reach 130 decibels, a dangerous level, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Exposure to noise for more than 15 minutes at 100 decibels is unsafe. Audiologists say children suffer more because of small ear canals. The sound pressure can make noise more intense - as much as 20 decibels greater for children than for adults.

Governor Meets ASL Class

The St. Clair Times joins Alabama Governor Bob Riley on a visit to a classroom where students are learning American Sign Language here.

FCC Policies on VRS

A captioned ASL video from the FCC about its Video Relay Service policies is posted here.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Academic Bowl: Southeast Regional

An Academic Bowl takes place starting this Thursday at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind in St. Augustine. Some 80 students from 16 schools will take part in the Southeast Regional Academic Bowl for Deaf and Hard of Hearing High Schools. Questions are given in ASL and spoken and written English. The five regional competitions are sponsored by Gallaudet University. The three highest ranking teams from each regional competition will travel to Gallaudet in Washington, DC for the National Academic Bowl in April. There is more information here.

Warning Sign

The city of Council Bluffs, Iowa has refused to put up a sign that reads "deaf child" near the home of a couple with an 18-month old deaf girl. But the city has has now relented following some negative publicity in the local media. A warning sign will go up in the next couple of months near the home of Hannah Wittland. Here's a video report from KPTM-TV (no captions).
video

Painkillers & Deafness

Men regularly taking painkillers are much more likely to suffer hearing loss. Researchers say a new study shows men, especially young men, taking paracetamol at least twice a week doubled the risk of mild to severe deafness before their 50th birthday. Painkillers like aspirin and ibuprofen were also linked to hearing loss. Scientists at Harvard University tracked more than 26,000 men for 18 years and found nearly 3,500 reported some type of hearing loss. The study did not include women. Details are in The American Journal of Medicine.