Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Police: Deaf Teen Beaten by Dad

An Oklahoma City man is behind bars for hitting his deaf son. Police say a neighbor spotted the man "kicking, stomping, and punching"15-year-old boy in the back yard of his home. Here's a video report from KOCO-TV. You can read a transcript of the story here.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

New captioning rules had long journey

"FCC rules aimed at stopping inaccurate closed captioning took ten years to become a reality," reports the LA Times. "New FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler made it a priority of his regime." Read the full story at the LA Times here.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Building Bridges at Fresno State

Rosemary Diaz spoke at Fresno State this past week as part of a student-selected lecture series featuring "outstanding faculty." The Communicative Disorders and Deaf Studies Department professor talked about Building Bridges between the Deaf-World and Hearing Allies. Watch her entire talk in the video below.

Communication tips from the deaf

A business consultant argues that deaf people have much to teach the hearing about effective communication. Bruno Kahne's book  Deaf Tips – Powerful Communication (which came out this past fall) suggests "Deaf people are not deaf when they are together, only when they are in contact with hearing people" and their communication abilities to pass messages is "much faster and more precisely than any hearing person." Read more in the Independent here.

Lessons from working with Ugandan deaf children

Canadian students visiting Uganda as part of a summer program learned to appreciate the deaf in a new way. Nidhi Joseph and Ooi Koon Peng spent three months working for a school for the Deaf in a rural part of the country. They shared their discoveries at a TEDx event. Here's a video of their presentation from last year.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The last deaf pitcher

On this date (February 21) in 1875, the last deaf pitcher was born in Kansas. And he was very successful at the game. Luther Taylor won 116 games for the Indians and Giants in the early 1900's. His final record was 117-103 with a career 2.75 ERA, and 72 of his wins came in his last five seasons.

He was the last deaf Major League Baseball pitcher (Curtis Pride who now coaches Gallaudet's baseball team was an outfielder). A story is told that Taylor's manager with the Giants learned sign language. During one game, an umpire who was also fluent in sign realized that the two were complaining about his calls and threw them both out of the game. Taylor was known for his run-ins with umpires, yet worked as an amateur umpire himself for more than 20 years.

Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/2011/07/21/1942484/kansas-150-greatest-athletes-51.html#storylink=cpy

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Fighting to get ASL classes in Michigan

A college student is working hard to bring ASL courses to her campus. Eastern Michigan University has none at the moment, but social work major Ashlee Lewis is out to change. She already has more than 150 people who have signed her petition. Read more about her effort at the Eastern Echo here.

New caption rules from the FCC

New rules are being adopted by the FCC that it hopes will improve the quality of closed captioning. The LA Times reports that two two pages of proposals include a requirement "that captions must match spoken words in dialogue and convey background noises and other sounds to the fullest extent possible, according to agency officials familiar with the order... The order will also mandate that captions not block other content on the screen, overlap one another, run off the edge of the video screen or be blocked by other information.” Read more here.

Deaf in India

Attending school in India is difficult for the deaf. One man told the BBC, "In my school, the teachers treated us very badly. It used to make me angry. They would just write on the board but they could not explain what they were writing. It was very difficult to learn." The British news agency reports that "Most deaf Indian children reach adulthood with a vocabulary of just 50-odd words, and little ability to understand or cope with the world. They are rarely employable." Read more here.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

More on suit over police beating

We told you last Friday about a lawsuit filed by a deaf man who claims he was beaten by police. Here's a video report from KCAL-TV in Los Angeles (captions included).

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Deaf Tradie on Australian TV show

James Vea was born profoundly deaf, but that hasn’t stopped him from becoming an apprentice carpenter and getting his hands dirty on The Block, a show airing on Australia's Channel Nine. Here's a video about it on the network's Today show.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Lawsuit claims hospitals failed to help dying deaf patient

The children of Alfred Weinrib are suing three Long Island, New York medical facilities for not getting the deaf man an interpreter--for seven months. Weinrib eventually died. The family attorney tells the New York Post “This is one of the worst cases of it’s kind that we’ve seen or read about.” Read more here.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

School pays to settle service animal suit

An Oregon school is paying off a deaf student to settle a claim over her service dog. Portland State University will give Cindy Leland $160,000 after the school refused to let her service animal live in her dorm or be allowed in her biology lab. The school issued a statement denying the allegations, but administrators still agreed to settle the suit and admitted "Ms. Leland's experience was difficult and wish her success as she continues her studies."

Friday, February 14, 2014

SoCal police sued for excessive force

Jonathan Meister claims in a lawsuit that four policemen in the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne assaulted him a year ago. The Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness filed the suit for Meister. While the police report says he resisted arrest, Meister says he was just packing his car, getting ready to go to a Bible study. When police called out to him, questioning why he was moving boxes from a friend's yard, Meister didn't respond because he could not hear them. When they did get his attention, Meister indicated he was deaf. But the confrontation quickly escalated into a struggle to get Meister into handcuffs.  Officers used a Taser on Meister multiple times. Charges against Meister that he assaulted the officers were dropped.

Sue Thomas on pastor turned atheist

Sue Thomas is responding to the deaf pastor who says he is now an atheist. Thomas worked undercover for the FBI and even had a TV show based on her life, which you can read here. Thomas is a Christian who had a strong reaction to Justin Vollmar's revelation that he “is spiritually dead” and never truly knew God. You can see his confession here. Thomas wrote in the In The Christian Post, “For this deaf man who has made your post to bear no witness unto Him, my heart is saddened,” Thomas wrote. “The deaf man screams that there is no God. Well, he never knew Him. He is spiritually dead and he is deaf as a stone to the voice of a living God.” You can read more here. Below  is a video interview with Thomas from 2010.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Lottery Scam

Two deaf women have stolen thousands of dollars from an elderly woman through a lottery scheme, according to police in the Columbus, Ohio suburb of Westerville. WSYX-TV has more here.

Captioning on Weather channels

The Weather Channel has asked the FCC to look into the closed captioning for WeatherNation--after DirecTV dropped the Weather Channel in favor of WeatherNation. According to The Weather Channel, the WeatherNation captions are "so inaccurate that they nearly defy description." DirecTV responded by calling it a programming issue, which WeatherNation is working on improve.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Cochlear's Profit Slumps

Share of Cochlear, Ltd. fell on the Australian stock market after the implant maker announced a 73 percent fall in profits. That includes cash set aside over a patent dispute, which you can read about here. But even with that money set aside, profit still fell 53 percent. Cochlear is the world's largest maker of hearing implants with about two-thirds of the world market. It's most recent device is the Nucleus 6, which allows users to connect wirelessly to smartphones. While U.S. regulators approved the device, not all of it's feature go through regulators. Rivals include Sonova, MED-EL, and Neurelec.

Pastor: I Have Become an Atheist

The man who led the Virtual Deaf Church says he is no longer a believer. Justin Vollmar revealed in a video post that he is now an atheist and will no longer be making sign-language videos explaining Biblical concepts. Vollmar says, “A profound wonderful change occurred in my life. My mind just completely shifted to the other side. After a long and mighty struggle, the answer finally became clear. This may shock you completely. Yes, I have become an atheist. In the end, I am completely convinced that there is truly no God. “It is all nonsense.” See the announcement for yourself in the video below.

Cochlear Implant Breakthrough: No External Parts

That disk-shaped transmitter that goes outside the heads of implant wearers could soon be a thing of the past. MIT researchers are presenting a paper this week showing how they've developed a chip that could be wirelessly recharged by a cell phone with an adaptor after about eight hours of use. The new implant uses the middle ear rather than an external microphone, as implants on the market do now. Users would not have to take it off near water and there wouldn't be the concern that cochlear implant users have now over the possibility of part of the device being lost or broken or stolen. Details of the work will be presented at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco. Read more from MIT here.

Scandal over Musician who faked being Deaf

One of Japan's most popular musical figures didn't write his music. And he wasn't deaf, as he claimed. Mamoru Samuragochi hired someone to write most of his music. He apologized this past week, but didn't explain why he is admitting his deception at this time. The ghost writer turns out to be a teacher at a prestigious music college in Tokyo. Read more at the New York Times here. Below is a video of some of Samuragochi’s music that he apparently did not write.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

STOMP performers visit Gally

Performers from the touring company STOMP introduced their beat to students at Gallaudet University this week. STOMP is a stage show mixing foot stomps, hand claps and percussion instruments, performing at the National Theater in DC through this weekend. WJLA-TV has a video report of the Gally visit below (no captions but some text is posted here).

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Deaf Inmate gets $150k

A deaf prison inmate will get $150,000 because Oregon's Department of Corrections refused to provide him with an interpreter. Prison officials also gave Merle Baldridge jobs like cleaning toilets. The state has agreed to provide all deaf inmates with interpreters for "orientation, medical exams, counseling and other daily interactions of life." Read more about the legal settlement in the Oregonian here.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

CNN wins appeals court victory in captioning lawsuit

An appeals court is siding with CNN in a case involving online captions. A panel from the 9th Circuit issued a ruling today over a lawsuit filed by The Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness, or GLAAD. The advocacy group claims that CNN violates a California state law by not providing captioning on all its videos. While the news network puts captions on video from its regular programs (federal law requires it) the network does not put them on the short video clips it posts on its website. In today's ruling, the appeals court said CNN was not guilty of discrimination, based on the First Amendment. That was the opposite conclusion from a lower court that said the request for captions was not about infringing on CNN's First Amendment rights but an issue of access.

The case isn't over yet. The three judge panel asked the state's highest court to look into whether California's Disabled Persons Act applies to websites. Read today's ruling here. The request that the California Supreme Court weigh in on whether the Act covers websites is here.

Coleman hands out hearing aids

What was Seattle Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman doing before the Super Bowl got underway? The first deaf offensive player in the NFL helped handed out hearing aids in New York as part of a Starkey Hearing Foundation outreach at Yankee Stadium. He even got fitted for new hearing devices for himself. Coleman contributed to the Seahawks victory on Sunday with his special teams play.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The biggest ovation you never heard

image from Gallaudet Athletics 
More than 20 years ago, Kenny Walker was playing in his last college football game. The 70,000 Nebraska fans honored him with sign language applause, all at the same time. Walker is one of only three deaf players to rise from the college ranks to the NFL. The third player is Seattle Seahawks' Derrick Coleman, who took part in the Super Bowl this past weekend. Walker spoke with Al Jazeera about Coleman:

"I learned signing English, so as my second language I started learning American Sign Language. That changed my communication style and forced me to work harder to change to another language. Derrick hasn’t had those experiences. He didn’t use interpreters all throughout college, because he didn’t need them. I look at videotapes of his games and see what he’s gone through with his hearing loss, and I think, “Wow, that’s a lot of hard work there.”

Read the full interview here here.

Straddling two worlds

A Washington Post columnist explores the play Tribes (which is now playing in DC) and other occasions she's come into contact with Deaf Culture in an article titled Straddling two worlds — deaf and hearing — on and off stage. Read the column here.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Rochester School for the Deaf anniversary

It was on this date (Feb. 3) in 1876 that the first school for the deaf in western New York was founded. It was called the Western New York Institution for Deaf Mutes and in 1920 became the Rochester School for the Deaf. One of the school's early superintendents only allowed students to use finger-spelling speech rather than sign language, which became known as the "Rochester method" according to Peter V. Paul's Language and Deafness.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The fight for a more deaf-friendly game

Al Jazeera takes a look at the sometime contentious relationship between the NFL and the Deaf community here, including the telecast failed even show Rachel Mazique, who signed the National Anthem during the 2012 Super Bowl.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Former Deaf school employee sentenced to 7 years in prison

A former employee at the Maryland School for the Deaf was immediately taken to jail after he was sentenced to seven years in prison yesterday. A jury found Clarence Cepheus Taylor guilty of two charges of child sexual abuse last year. The abuse took place while he was working as a school aide. Here is a video report from WJZ-TV.

A Trip to the Super Bowl

Seattle Seahawks running back Derrick Coleman surprised his two biggest fans with tickets to the Super Bowl. ABC News was there when it happened.


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