Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Research Findings on Cochlear Implant electrodes

New research suggests some best practices for cochlear implant surgery. The main finding: Cochlear implants that have electrodes without wires perform better than those with wires because they cause injury inside the inner ear. You can read the details of the study in the online edition of The Laryngoscope here.

Deaf sexual assault survivor graduates with help from detectives

image from Chicago Tribune video
Chicago sheriff's investigators not only sought the person who raped a deaf teen three years ago, they stood by her until she recently graduated from high school. One of them said, "We went into this thinking here is a victim and let's try to solve her case and it just turned into ... seeing her as a goddaughter." The Chicago Tribune has the story here.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Book breaks new ground

A new book and conference in the UK represent “a major leap forward for the discipline” of deaf studies. It's "the first volume to be written and edited entirely by deaf academics" about BSL, according to the Times Higher Education. Read more about the conference and the Oxford University Press book "Innovations in Deaf Studies: The Role of Deaf Scholars" here.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Deaf Volunteer Firefighter Arrested Without Interpreter

Keri Dee says local police did not provide her brother, a deaf volunteer firefighter, with a sign language interpreter after his recent arrest. Little Rock's KARK-TV has a video report.

New Deaf School in Waco

A new school for deaf children is opening in Waco this August. Find out more in this video report from KWKT-TV.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Rocker Claims he owns Sign for Love

Gene Simmons, co-founder of Kiss
image by Jason Hargrove
Gene Simmons, the co-founder of the oldies rock band Kiss, doesn't want anyone using the sign language gesture for love without his permission-because he claims he owns it. Last week, he filed an application with the patent office to trademark the gesture (which rock music enthusiasts know as "devil horns") he claims to have started using in the band's act during 1974. His filing says, "No other person, firm, corporation or association has the right to use said mark in commerce, either in the identical form or in such near resemblance." Trademark attorney Michael Cohen tells the Los Angeles Times:
"There's plenty of other trademarks that have been filed for the same symbol.  So, to me, he's literally trying to trademark the hand gesture as opposed to the drawing of the hand gesture.. He also has to establish that that hand gesture is associated with him. So in the mind of consumers that go to rock performances, are they going to associate that symbol with Gene Simmons?"
Read the LA Times story here. The Washington Post takes a look at some of the other rockers who used the gesture before Kiss in an article here. Read the Simmons application here.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Terps at Chance The Rapper's concerts

image from ChancetheRapper twitter feed
Chance the Rapper is hiring his own ASL interpreters for all of his concerts. They are from DEAFinitely Dope. InTouch Weekly reports here that he is the first rapper to pay for his own terps.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

How to Speak to Deaf People

* Make sure you have eye contact with the person before speaking
* If there is an interpreter, speak to and look at the deaf person not the interpreter
* Face the person to whom you are speaking (that helps with lip-reading)
* Stand in good lighting and avoid standing so that light is on the face of the deaf person
* Avoid background noise whenever possible
* Move your mouth to articulate but don’t exaggerate
* Speak a little louder and slower than normal but don’t shout or drag
* Keep your hands away from your face and particularly your mouth
* Use lots of facial expressions and body movements
* If something is unclear, rather than just repeating the same thing, rephrase thoughts in shorter and simple sentences

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The NFL's first deaf offensive player is back

Derrick Coleman
image from NFL.com
The NFL's first deaf offensive player is back and ready to play this fall. Derrick Coleman wsa a fullback for the Seattle Seahawks when he was arrested after "a hit-and-run accident in suburban Seattle in which he crashed into the back of another vehicle while driving 20 mph over the speed limit, causing the other vehicle to flip over a hill. The driver of the other vehicle suffered a broken collarbone," ESPN reports. Coleman sat out the 2016 season but is now set to play with the Atlanta Falcons. He is a "replacement for Pro Bowl fullback Patrick DiMarco, who signed a free agent contract with Buffalo." Read the full story from ESPN here. Coleman's NFL page is here.

Controversial Study claims CI Kids do better without Sign

Ann Geers of the
University of Texas at Dallas
A controversial new study claims children with cochlear implants are better off not learning sign language. The researchers write, "Contrary to earlier published assertions, there was no advantage to parents' use of sign language either before or after CI." The study, lead by Ann Geers of the University of Texas at Dallas, looked at development of 97 children. They found:
Over 70% of children without sign language exposure achieved age-appropriate spoken language compared with only 39% of those exposed for 3 or more years. Children without sign language exposure produced speech that was more intelligible (mean = 70%) than those exposed to sign language (mean = 51%).
An editorial from two professors (Karl White of Utah State University and Louis Cooper of Columbia University) said the research was "well-designed" offering "credible and useful information" that "can help end the passionate but debilitating debates between advocates of signing and nonsigning." Read the full commentary here.

A limitation of the study that sign language advocates are likely to point out: The children in the study were from hearing families who were not native signers. Details of the study are in the journal Pediatrics.

Also of interest: AG Bell gave lead researcher, Ann Geers, its 2014 Volta Award for making "a significant contribution to increasing public awareness of the challenges and potential of people with hearing loss." Geers recieved the award along with colleague Jean Moog. They collaborated as at Central Institute for the Deaf and below is a video of them recieving the award.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

110 years ago...

Here is something from the June 1907 issue of Scientific American magazine, more than 100 years ago:
“The loss of the sense of hearing should not necessarily mean deprivation of the power of speech also. Is it only within recent years that we have come to realize this fact, and in up-to-date institutions the old –fashioned finger alphabet is now unknown. Every child is taught to speak in the natural way by means of the vocal organs. The four or five years of the primary course are devoted almost exclusively to the acquirement of language and numbers.”

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Getting to Know.. Cochlear Limited

You could have bought stock in Cochlear Limited at the turn of the century for about $10. This week the stock was worth more than $150 a share-15 times more. Cochlear Limited is the biggest of the three companies that dominate the implant market. Based in Australia, Cochlear does most of its business in Europe and the U.S. through more than a dozen subsidiaries. More than a quarter of a million people have one of its implants. It employs more than 2800 people in 20Getting to Know.. Cochlear Limited  countries.

Friday, June 9, 2017

30 years ago: Implant history

image from Cochlear.com 
On June 4, 1987 Holly McDonell (now Holly Taylor) of Sydney became the first child to receive a commerical multi-channel cochlear implant system (Nucleus made by Cochlear, LTD). The four year old had became profoundly deaf from bacterial meningitis. Holly still has her original implant and had several sounds processor upgrades. The Daily Telegraph takes a look at what's happened in the 30 years since in an article here.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Captions on FB Live

Facebook has enabled closed captions on some live broadcasts. Some third-party software is still needed to use the feature, so most likely you will see it first on big media outlets instead of friend’s live broadcasts. If you have the Facebook Closed Captioning feature turned on, you will automatically see the text if it is enabled. Read more about the announcement here.

Getting to Know: Certified Deaf Interpreters

image from Lydia Callis Facebook page
"As the sign language interpreting profession has evolved over the past couple decades, the interpreting community has come to better understand and embrace the role of deaf individuals as linguistic and cultural gatekeepers. Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDIs) are extremely effective at bridging the sometimes vast and persistent gaps that exist between people who are deaf and those who can hear," writes Lydia Callis. She answers some "Frequently Asked Questions About Certified Deaf Interpreters" here
.

Deaf Musician on American's Got Talent

Deaf singer and Florida native (now living in Colorado) Mandy Harvey appeared on America’s Got Talent this week. She earned cheers and applause from the crowd and a “golden buzzer” from Simon Cowell. Harvey is 29-years-old having lost her hearing when she was 18 from a degenerative ear disease. She said, "Music is an expression of the soul, and for me it's always been the way I could communicate.” Watch her audition here.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Marlee on Hollywood Medium

Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin appears on tonight's episode of Hollywood Medium With Tyler Henry. She wants to learn the real story behind how she became deaf at 18 months.

Monday, June 5, 2017

A Chat with Gally's Prez

The Austin Deaf Club hosted a GUAA gathering on Wednesday, May 31. Here is an interview with Gallaudet University President Roberta Cordano.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Grads look forward to College

The Frederick News-Post spoke with graduates of the Maryland School for the Deaf, asking about their future plans. Read the story here.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Understanding Deaf culture through art

WXXI in Rochester, New York spoke with local artist Laural Hartman about what mainstream museums may not understand about deaf art. Hartman teaches at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Suit: No Terrp for 3 Days in hospital

Myra Gill is suing Louisiana's Slidell Memorial Hospital. She claims the hospital failed to provide her an interpreter during an emergency room visit that turned into a three day stay. Her lawyer told WDSU-TV, "We know that you can't get an interpreter at the drop of a hat within 10 minutes but Ms. Gill was in the hospital for three days and never once received a sign language interpreter."  WDSU has more on the story here.

AI comes to Cochlear Implants

The largest cochlear implant maker has inked a deal to use artificial intelligence. Cochlear based in Austrailia, will use the help of AI maker Otoconsult, based in Belgium, to more accurately taylor the settings to each wearer. Cochlear CEO Chris Smith says the software will be accessible worldwide, so audiologists calibrate the device more effectively. Read more in Business Inisder here.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Gallaudet's Motion Light Lab

The Washington Post takes a peek inside Gallaudet's Motion Light Lab. It's a place where "research and innovation turn into resources for children and families" through the use of motion-capture technology. Read the full story here.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Mocking Sign Language on the Jimmy Fallon show

During an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, guest Jamie Foxx started doing fake sign-language to the camera.  The winner of both "DWTS" and "America's Next Top Model" Nyle DiMarco says it was disrespectful for Foxx to mock deaf people. Fellow Oscar winner Marlee Matlin tweeeted at Foxx, "I’d be happy to give you sign language lessons so you could be funnier." Here's a video posted by TMZ that shows what happened.

Friday, May 26, 2017

" I see his voice. I hear his face."

image from ondeafness.com
The hearing mother of a deaf child has written a piece for the New York Times titled, "My Deaf Son Fought Speech. Sign Language Let Him Bloom." The writer, Elizabeth Engelman, works at the Family Center on Deafness in Largo, Florida and writes the blog OnDeafness. She says":
"In American Sign Language, the sign for cochlear implant is similar to the sign for vampire. Vampire is signed with two fingers like teeth to the throat. Cochlear implant is signed with two fingers like teeth behind the ears. The audiologist told me not to sign at all. She said sign language was a crutch that would hinder his speech.. The audiologist adjusted the pitch and tuned the levels to make a simulation of sound. She called this process mapping, but there were no guideposts to show the way. How do you chart loneliness? How do you trace a landscape of silence and sound between mother and son?"
Read the full story in the New York Times here.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Louisiana considers the "d" in Deaf

(image from Louisiana.gov)
Louisiana state legislator Pat Smith wants to change how the deaf are referred to in state law. Her bill HB253 would ask the Louisiana State Law Institute to distinguish between lower case "deaf" and upper case "Deaf." A committee endorsed her resolution yesterday. Read the text of her bill and how it is progressing through the legislature here.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Helen Keller's message to the Nazis

image public domain
Helen Keller wrote a letter to Nazi students in 1933 who played to burn her collection of her essays, How I Became a Socialist. Read it and some background on it at Open Culture here.

Deaf patients struggle to get interpreters in medical emergencies

A investigative reporting website that focuses on health issues says a "review of hospital inspection reports and court records found dozens of instances around the country when deaf patients said they were not provided adequate interpreter services." Particularly of concern is hospital dependence on Video Relay Interpreters instead of in-person ASL interpreters. STAT reports:
Many deaf patients have taken to social media to complain about the use of video interpreting services in emergency rooms. Numerous patients tell stories about a blurry video feed and describe having to set up the video interpreting service themselves when nurses don’t know how to operate the equipment, or being unable to focus on a small screen in a crowded room.
Read the full story here.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Chances

image from superdeluxe.com
The Chances is "a show written by, and starring, deaf people" and, according to the Bay Area Reporter, has been picked up by Sundance Now, an AMC-backed streaming service. The Chances focuses on two best friends, one is engaged and the other is trying to move on from his ex-boyfriend. The show earned positive reviews at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Read the full story here.

a new South Texas Festival

The Good Vibrations Music and Arts Festival took place for the first time in San Antonio yesterday. KSAT-TV says it was "specifically for the deaf and hard of hearing community and has this video report.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

meet Millicent Simmonds

image from Wonderstruck trailer
Millicent Simmonds is 14 years old and like most teenagers her age-except she's deaf and starring in a major motion picture called Wonderstruck.  The Associated Press reports the director of the film told reporters at the Cannes Film Festival, "It was our incredible good fortune to find this girl, Millie, who from the very beginning — the very first time I saw her tape — I just shivered. There was something about the integrity of her as a person that showed through that was true and ultimately you see it on the screen. Our good fortune in finding Millie can't be overstated." Read the full story about Millicent Simmonds here
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Life on Sesame Street

Linda Bove played Linda the Librarian on Sesame Street for years. KJZZ radio in Phoenix sat down to talk with the deaf actress to see what it was like.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Good Vibrations Music and Art Fest

The Good Vibrations Music and Art Festival takes place Saturday in San Antonio. There will be craft booths, food, a lightshow and a deaf-accessible concert. The current Miss San Antonio, deaf singer Emma Rudkin, will perform. KSAT-TV has more in a video report.

Wonderstruck

Julianne Moore says it was an "incredible privilege” to have a deaf role in the film Wonderstruck. But "the Oscar-winner was met with criticism when she took the role in the film," reports Vanity Fair. Many in the deaf community question having a hearing actress take the role of a deaf adult when there are many capable deaf actors available. However, other roles in the film did go to deaf actors. Wonderstruckis about "the journeys of two lonely deaf children living 50 years apart." Read the full story here.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Deaf woman: all the stupid questions she's been asked

A Scottish woman named Bea shares in a video inappropriate questions she has gotten from people because she is deaf. The video was posted by BBC Social.

Using Movie Magic to Translate ASL

"Researchers are using computer-animation techniques, such as motion-capture, to make life-like computer avatars that can reliably and naturally translate written and spoken words into sign language, whether it’s American Sign Language or that of another country," reports Slate. It's the same technology that made Ratatouille and Happy Feet successful animated films. "The signing avatars can also be used in apps and games to help deaf children get early exposure to language, which is critical for their cognitive development." Read the full story from Slate here.

Monday, May 15, 2017

A drug to reverse hearing loss?

MIT researcher Bob Langer and Harvard Medical School’s Jeff Karp say they have developed a drug that could address hearing loss by using chemical compounds to multiply and create new hair cells in the inner ear. Their company is called Frequency Therapeutics. You can read their press release about the drug here. Frequency Therapeutics published a research paper about their approach in the journal Cell Reports. Read more about Frequency in The Week. "Another Boston biotech," reports Xconomy named "Decibel launched in October 2015 to develop drugs that combat some of the biological reasons for hearing issues."

Friday, May 12, 2017

Deaf Woman Denied Terp at Airport

The ACLU has filed a discrimination complaint saying a deaf woman was stopped and interrogated at Honolulu's airport. Customs officials apparently refused to provide her with a sign language interpreter, despite her repeated requests. The ACLU quotes the unnamed woman (who didn't want to be named) as saying:
I was so scared and felt alone. For people with deafness, being cut off from our ways of communicating is terrifying. I have traveled a lot, but have never experienced anything like this at any airport ever. With this complaint, I just want to make sure that other deaf people coming through Hawaii’s airports are treated with basic respect and dignity, and that disabilities are accommodated.
Read the full story in HawaiiNewsNow.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

'America's Deaf Team' Tackles Identity Politics

The Atlantic has published a long piece about Gallaudet, its football team, and the issues that divide and unite the culture. Matthew Davis writes:
I have met mainstream-educated hard-of-hearing players who say they have found their true selves and a true home at Gallaudet. I have met similar players who say they feel like more of an outsider within Gallaudet’s gates than outside them. And I have met completely deaf, deaf-school-educated players who are both welcoming to their mainstreamed brothers and also skeptical of their commitment to ASL. But football unites them—in fact, football seems to unite everyone. Nothing celebrates the myriad layers of the deaf community quite like Gallaudet’s Homecoming game, a Saturday afternoon that is the largest annual gathering of the deaf and hard-of-hearing anywhere in the world.
Read the full article here.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Terp Services Lawsuit Goes Forward

An appeals court has overturned a ruling that would have prevented a lawsuit from going forward against two South Florida hospitals over interpreters. The hospitals used VRI (video remote interpreting) but Cheylla Silva and John Paul Jebian requested an in-person interpreter. When the hospitals refused, they sued. Read the full story from CBS Miami here.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

How children with Implants learn words

Researchers at The Ohio State University are trying to determine whether children with cochlear implants learn words differently than their peers. One of their findings: "Whether or not a child learns a word can depend on when a parent says a label and what the child is doing when that label is said." Read more about the effort in US News.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

What's happened to NZ's youngest implant receptient?

Josh Foreman was New Zealand's youngest person to have cochlear implant surgery when he was two years old. Now, he's 25 and graduating from the University of Auckland. The New Zealand Herald has a video report (no captions but there is text here.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Did poor signing cost him millions?

James Wang says a wrong sign cost him millions of dollars. He once worked for IBM and was paid $200,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit. Wang "accused the tech giant of firing him for being deaf." But Wang says his lawyer "confused the sign for 'million' with that for 'thousand' while negotiating the deal." Read more on the story from the New York Post.

A Talk With Marlee Matlin

      photo by Angela George
The Hartford Courant sat down to talk with Academy Award winner Marlee Matlin before she speaks tonight at the American School for the Deaf's Bicentennial Celebration at the Connecticut Convention Center. She was asked about how things have changed in Hollywood since she won her Oscar at the young age of 21:
I did "Dancing With the Stars," and people said, "hey, deaf people can dance." I raised a million dollars for hearing aids for children on "Celebrity Apprentice." I try to show by what I do that deaf people don't have to be put in a little box. But we still have "disability blackface," where 95 percent of television characters with a disability on television are played by able-bodied actors. You still have the thinking that deaf actors only act in deaf storylines; any story line can feature an actor who is deaf. The topic needs to be part of our conversation.
Read more of what she said here.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Father and Son get Implants

A Georgia father and his son got cochlear implants together-despite the fact the father was at first against his son getting an implant. Atlanta's Fox 5 was there when Randy Adams had his implant activated.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The 200th anniversary of deaf education in America

Gallaudet University President Roberta Cordano shares a special message in honor of the 200th anniversary of deaf education in America.

Friday, April 14, 2017

What Do Cochlear Implants And Hearing Aids Sound Like?

Science Friday has posted a lesson for middle schools students about how hearing aids and cochlear implants including sample recordings of..
"what it’s like to hear sound through a hearing aid and a cochlear implant. Unless you wear one of these devices, it is impossible to know exactly what it is like to experience sound through them. In fact, people who have normal hearing in one ear but wear a cochlear implant in the other ear say that these simulations sound very different from how they hear sounds with their implant."
The sample sounds are posted here.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Mississippi School "Defies odds"

The Mississippi School for the Deaf women's basketball team made it to the second round of the 1A state playoffs for the first time in school history. Coach Victorica Monroe told the Clarion Ledger, "When we became a part of history it really was shocking because I wasn’t thinking about it like that. I just wanted to come and be a good coach, and in the meantime we’ve made history.” Read the full story here.

Fed agency can't hire needed terps

The spy agency in charge of the most advanced imaging technology in the world has a budget of more than $5 billion. But "right now they have a position for a sign language interpreter that they’re not allowed to fill." Gizmodo explains why.

*update: The freeze was just lifted this week

Lawsuit: Denied Services by Sheriff's Office

screen grab from Action News Jax video 
Cassandra Kinney says the Jacksonville, Florida Sheriff's Office failed to provide her an sign language interpreter. Police were called to her home several times but she says they failed to get her side of the story. Now she has filed a lawsuit. Action News Jax has a video report here.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Rally for Deaf Florida Man, Arrested at Protest

A demonstration opposing the Syrian airstrike turned violent in Jacksonville, Florida. Among those arrested was Connell Crooms, who is deaf. Action News Jax has a video report about a rally in his support at the county courthouse.

Mother of Beaten Deaf Protester Speaks Out

Feliciaia Crooms says police severely beat her deaf son in Jacksonville, Florida-and then refused to let her to see him either at the hospital or later in jail. The Florida Times-Union has a report on the several hundred people who gathered at the Duval courthouse in support of protesters arrested Friday night.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Resources in South Texas

The deaf and hard-of-hearing are in need health resources in the Rio Grande Valley. KRGV-TV has a video report from south Texas on the issue.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Deaf driver's license bill passes NC House

North Carolina lawmakers have approved a new system to help law enforcement identify people who are deaf or hard of hearing. It passed the State House and is now on its way to the State Senate. WRAL-TV has more on the story here.

Deaf-blind man ordered off Flight

Frankie Thomson has flown for decades by himself, despite being deaf-blind. But he was removed from a Easyjet flight going from Edinburgh to Gatwick.Thomson was told the decision was for "safety reasons."Read the full story here.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Mom: School took away Terp

A mom in Huntsville, Alabama says her school district has taken away her 8-year-old son's sign language interpreter. Ryann Brown told AL.com, "He cannot benefit from any type of hearing aid or cochlear implant so he fully relies on sign language to communicate. Taking away his interpreter would provide him with no access to language in the classroom." Read the full story here.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Lawsuit: Add Captioning at Pepsi Center

image KM Newnham
A class action lawsuit is asking the courts to make Denver's Pepsi Center include captioning on its video board and "provide interpreters for hearing-impaired fans at events when the video board isn’t in use." Read the full story from KMGH-TV.

A "deaf culture war" in Alabama

Rep. Margie Wilcox  
A bill in the Alabama legislature had pitted "the deaf culture and the 'hearing deaf' culture," against one another, advocate Leigh Leak says.  According to AL.com, HB 253, proposed by Rep. Margie Wilcox, aims "to help deaf kids who are falling through the cracks" but "advocates in the 'hearing deaf' culture are afraid the bill will force children who use spoken language to learn American Sign Language." They complain the opt out option for children with cochlear implants is too weak. Read the full story from AL.com here or look at the bill itself here.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Deaf student says University didn't provide interpreter

A visiting student researcher from Canada says UC Berkeley didn't provide her an interpreter until she was near the end of her time at the school, which left her sitting "in a classroom trying to read lips." KTVU-TV spoke with Nancy Barker and has a video report.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Deaf Girl Assaulted for using Sign Language

A search is underway for a woman who police say attached a deaf girl because she used sign language. Read more in the Manchester Evening News here.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Parents Accused of Murdering Deaf Son

Did a New York couple kill their deaf son and then set their house on fire to cover it up? That's what Guilford, New York prosecutors think happened. They've charged Ernest F. Franklin II and Heather Franklin with murdering their 16-year-old adopted son. Here's more from TIME.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Hearing Aids Given to deaf Syrian children

A team of audiologists from the Chicago-based "Deaf Planet Soul” charity are on a two-week mission to help deaf Syrian children in clinics around Lebanon. A spokesman tells the Associated Press, "When people think of refugees, they think of cut-off limbs and brain injuries, and all these visible things. They don’t think about the invisible results of war. They don’t think that this kid who can’t hear really needs help.” Read the full story here.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Bot helps perform Cochlear-Implant Surgery

Robots "have successfully performed a tricky, delicate operation that helped implant a hearing device into a deaf woman's ear," reports Live Science. Researchers at the University of Bern in Switzerland said, ""When discussing much-needed surgical innovations for use in ear, nose and throat procedures, our surgeon colleagues would repeatedly mention that gaining access to the inner ear in a minimally invasive manner was a major hurdle that had not been resolved. This spurred us on." Here is a video with more, but there are no captions, but you can read more here.

Postage Stamp for Deaf Educator

image from USPS
The U.S. Postal Service will honor "an influential teacher and a pioneer in the field of Deaf Studies" with a new stamp. Robert Panara died in 2014 but his influence goes on,  When his stamp comes out on April 10, it will be the 16th stamp in the Distinguished Americans series. For 40 years, Panara showed students the power of sign language. He taught at both Gallaudet University in Washington, DC and at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in New York state.  In fact, he helped found the NTID, serving as the institution's first deaf faculty member.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

New Deaf Studies Degree

The state of Nevada is getting its first bachelor’s degree in deaf studies. It will be offered by Nevada State College in Henderson. The school already had a deaf studies minor. "Now, students will be able to take a deeper dive into the subject’s cultural context," reports The Las Vegas Review-Journal.

MD Deaf man Sexually Assaulted

Image from
 Wicomico County Detention Center
A deaf man was sexually assaulted in Salisbury, Maryland this past Saturday "by a woman who carjacked and robbed him," according to Delmarva Now. Salisbury Police have charged Tina Marie Graham "with kidnapping, carjacking, first-degree sex offense, perverted practice, false imprisonment and other offenses." Read the full story here
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Saturday, March 4, 2017

Woman Arrested for Attacking Deaf Girl

from New York State Police
We reported Wednesday about a New York woman wanted by the police for intentionally ramming a Walmart shopping cart into a deaf 10-year-old. Police have arrested Erica Walker and charged her with assailt. Walker is out on bail but due back in a Cortlandt, New York courtroom on Monday.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Skiing accident Left Woman Deaf But Her Passion Remains

image from agelesspassions.com
A woman who lost her hearing during a barefoot skiing accident is now, more than 20 years later, planning to ski barefoot in all 50 states. When Karen Putz first became deaf, she was in despair. But she went on to raise a family (including three deaf kids) and travel all over the U.S. playing in Deaf volleyball tournaments. Read about Karen's skiing goal in the Chicago Tribune and her backstory on her blog.

School would rather take videos down than caption them

image: brainchildvn on Flickr
Many of UC Berkeley's educational videos don't meet ADA requirements, according to the Department of Justice. In response, the California school says that rather than caption more than 20,000 course capture videos accessible to the public, it would rather just take them down in order to save money. A senior is quoted in the school's student newspaper as complaining that Berkeley "does not adequately support its disabled students." Read more in the Daily Cal here.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Woman wanted for Hurting Deaf Girl

image from NY State Police
Police in a little town just north of New York City are looking for a woman who rammed a deaf girl with her shopping car at a Walmart. It happened Saturday morning. Read more about it here.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Gally comes close but misses March Madness

Gallaudet lost to Morrisville State this weekend, knocking the Bison out of contention for a spot in March Madness. Morrisville State won by a score of 72-68. Gally had a chance to tie with only 10 seconds left in the game but missed the shot. Read more about what happened in the Washington Post.

Why she refused to alter her twins' genes

Sarah-Jane Moloney O'Regan decided not to alter the genes of her twins' to prevent them being born deaf. The sign language interpreter explained why on Ireland's Late Late Show here or watch the video below.

Friday, February 24, 2017

First March Madness for Gally?

image from Gallaudet.edu
The Gallaudet men's basketball team has already set a school record by winning 20 games. And they aren't done. The school is hosting the North Eastern Athletic Conference tournament for the first time this weekend. If the Bison can pull off wins in their two games, they would be the first team in Gally history to earn a berth in the NCAA Division III tournament. Read more in the Washington Post.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

New Show from Deaf West

A new Deaf West Theatre production opens March 7 in LA at the Wallis. "Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo" will run through March 26. The cast includes deaf and hearing actors. You'll find more details here.

SCOTUS sides with Service Dog

A Supreme Court ruling could have an impact on students with disabilities across the country, according to the ACLU. The high court has unanimously ruled in favor a Michigan girl who wanted to bring her service dog school with her. Administrators at the Napoleon Community School had told Ehlena Fry's family that she could have human helpers but not her Goldendoodle named Wonder. Her family thought that was a violation of ADA law. The case now goes back to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Warehouse coworkers learn ASL

Kamal Nasser is helping coworkers at Columbus's AT&T warehouse learn ASL. Nasser is deaf, so this is making work better for him, but it's also bonding his coworkers together. WSYX has a video report. No captions, but you can read the story here.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Deaf MS Man Shot to Death

Rafael Thompson was found dead in his car in Jackson with multiple gunshot wounds, according to MS News Now. Thompson had attended the Mississippi School for the Deaf before going to college. Jackson Police have no suspects in the case. Here's a video report from MS News Now.

MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Deaf Man Killed by Train

A Colorado deaf man was hit and killed today afternoon by train while he was crossing the tracks. KDVR-TV has surveillance video from a neighboring business in the video report below.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Large Collection of ASL GIFs now Available

A library of more than 2,000 GIFs of individual signs are now available through GIPHY, the GIF search engine. The collection of ASL looping flashcards is cut from a educational series called "Sign With Robert" featuring Robert DeMayo. There's text to make it clearer. "Sign With Robert" director and producer Hilari Scarl says, "The GIF format has the ability to loop infinitely, so it's perfect for learning new signs. [It] doesn't require the back and forth of hitting play, rewind or repeat." Particular sign can be found by using the search bar. There's an example below.. and you can access the "Sign with Robert" GIPHY library here.


via GIPHY

Friday, February 17, 2017

Deaf Student: School Discriminated Against Me

A deaf Lousiana college student has filed a lawsuit claiming that the University of Louisiana-Lafayette did not him as required by ADA. Fabian S. Strauss says he requested a note taker but was denied. Read more about it in the Louisiana record here.

One Billion Videos Captioned.. sort of

While YouTube is bragging about have one billion captioned videos, critics are pointing out that many of the automatically generated captions are wildly inaccurate. It's been eight years since Google added the automatic speech recognition designed to generate captions and the company says it's accuracy is up by 50 percent. But in the anouncement about the number of captioned videos, Google Product Manager Liat Kaver admits the program is not where the company wants it to be:
A major goal for the team has been improving the accuracy of automatic captions — something that is not easy to do for a platform of YouTube’s size and diversity of content. Key to the success of this endeavor was improving our speech recognition, machine learning algorithms, and expanding our training data. There were limitations with the technology that underscored the need to improve the captions themselves. Results were sometimes less than perfect, prompting some creators to have a little fun at our expense!
Read the full announcement from YouTube here.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Deaf High School Mascot

Deaf from birth, 15-year-old Freshman Kamron King "has mastered sign language and how to lip read and speak." As his high school mascot, King says he "uses his eyes and his energy to get the crowd fired up." He's affectionately known as "Kam the Ham." Here is an NBC News video report.

Irish Comedian Insults Deaf with Fake Signing

An Irish comedian stood up in front of a group gathered to hear a streamed political speech and pretended to use sign language. His random gestures were not appreciated by the Deaf community, Irish Deaf Society said it was insulted by the prank. Read more about it here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Shot after not understanding gunman's demands

John Kelly was getting money out of an ATM when he was shot four times because the deaf man couldn't hear the commands of robbers. WISN-TV in Milwaukee has a video report here.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A review of Switched at Birth from a deaf perspective

The TV series Switched at Birth has gotten a lot of positive press for its protrayal of deaf characters. But one reviewer says that while the show is a "GREAT innovation" it doesn't live up to its potential. Case in point:
If you are fluent in sign and have been in and around the deaf community it is annoying that the cast can’t learn ASL properly after 4 full seasons. It’s painful to watch Vanessa Marano (Bay Kennish) struggle through her lines as if she has an ASL coach telling her how to sign off set. It’s terrible. She is supposed to have known her deaf “sister” for 4 years now plus she is dating deaf guys for a few years and she doesn’t know the difference between the sign of “English” and “night.”
Read the full review in the San Francisco News.

Police: Video Made of Deaf Man's Beating

A video shows a deaf man being beaten in Detroit by another deaf man.. and "police said the woman holding the camera in the video set it all up," reports WDIV-TV. The three attended the same school for the deaf.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Super Bowl Signing

Kriston Pumphrey
image from NAD
The Super Bowl festivities will include the talents of an NTID alum (National Technical Institute for the Deaf). Kriston Lee Pumphrey will sign the National Anthem and “America, the Beautiful.” Pumphrey lives in Detriot where he works as an anchor at sign language channel DPAN-TV, but he considers Seattle his hometown. WJBK-TV has more on his background here, NTID has a news release here, and the National Association of the Deaf here.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Ruling on Firing of Deaf School Teachers

A judge has overturned a decision by an arbitrator about the firing of two teachers at the Iowa School for the Deaf over what administrators said was poor performance. Read the full story from Associated Press here.

The Good Vibrations Music and Arts Festival

Organizers of a Texas music festival set for the summer claim it will be the first to be completely accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing community. KHOU-TV has a video report.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Man pleads guilty for Gallaudet Univ. burglary

"A former employee of Gallaudet University’s food service department pleaded guilty Monday to holding deaf workers at gunpoint during a burglary" at the school, according to the Washington Post. Just days after he had been fired, Donald Williams wore a mask and used a gun to force his way into the kitchen. Read the full story here.

On this date: A deaf man helps to stop a bank robbery

A deaf bank customer helped stop a bank robbery on this day (Jan 30) in 2003. A bank teller in Rochester, New York tipped off the man as he was going through the drive-through. The robber had entered a branch of HSBC yelled that he was robbing it, then jumped on a counter and pistol-whipped a teller. Another teller at the drive-up window just happened to be helping a deaf customer at that moment. She mouthed the words "we are being robbed." The lip-reading customer then drove to a nearby liquor store and called 911. Police nabbed the robbery suspect not far from the bank as he was trying to wash dye off his hands after a dye pack in the money bag had exploded. The injured teller suffered only minor injuries.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Getting to know.. audiologist Marion Downs

image from Marion Downs Hearing Center 
One of the people most responsible for newborn hearing screening in the U.S. was born this day (Jan. 26) in 1914. Audiologist Marion Downs published two books and over 100 articles on the topic during her lifetime. The Marion Downs Hearing Center opened nearly a decade ago at the University of Colorado Medical Center. WVXU radio in Cincinnati has more on this remarkable woman here. She was 100 years old when she died on Nov. 13, 2014.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Court hears appeal of deaf patients

Two deaf people were in federal court today because a hospital refused to give them in-person interpreters. Baptist Hospital provided VRI but Cheylla Silva and John Paul Jebian are challenging that technology as inadequate to meet ADA requirements. A lower court judge dismissed the case but they are appealing and hoping the federal appeals court overturns the lower court ruling. Read the full story from the Miami Herald here.

Gally Hoops

Gallaudet University's basketball team is 14-3 overall and 6-0 in the North Eastern Athletic Conference. The Austin American-Statesman has a look at several players on the roster here.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

City to pay for no Terp

A city in Rhode Island will pay $25,000 in damages and legal fees to a deaf man for failing to provide him with an interpreter during his arrest and night in jail. David Alves was arrested when police mistook a sign language gesture for an obscene gesture. Read the full story from Associated Press here.

Yachtsman of the Year

A deaf man has been named Britain's yachtsman of the year. Gavin Reid beat out others with Olympic medals and titles, because of his part in a "dramatic ocean rescue." As CNN reports, "Reid swam to a stranded vessel before climbing its mast and untangling a distressed crew member. All while negotiating rough seas." Read the full CNN story here. NBC has an interview with Reid below, but there are no captions. You can read that story here.

Gally: One Year with a Female President

image from Gallaudet.edu
Read the story here. "In its 152-year history, Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. never had a deaf female president — until a year ago. Roberta Cordano is the first deaf woman to lead the school," reports NPR. The news outlet recently spoke with Gally President Cordano about the how the school provides a place of support and community for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Read the story here.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Charges Dropped against deaf Oklahoma man

A 67-year-old Oklahoma man was seriously injured in Oklahoma City when he was stopped by police. Prosecutors charged Pearl Pearson with resisting arrest.. even though he could not hear the officer's commands and warnings because he is deaf. KFOR-TV reports charges he resisted arrest have been dropped.

Donald Trump in ASL

Ever wondered how to say ‘Donald Trump’ in American Sign Language? The Washington Post has a suggestion here, along with some other politicians.

On this date.. Sorenson Dies

James LeVoy Sorenson
(image from Southern Utah University)
A driving force in the Deaf community died on this date (Jan. 20) in 2008. James LeVoy Sorenson passed away at a Salt Lake City hospital at the age of 86. Utah's richest man was estimated to be worth $4.5 billion by Forbes magazine. Perhaps best known for co-developing the first real-time computerized heart monitor and founding Sorenson Communication, his donations to Gallaudet University totaled more than $5 million.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Deaf Driver runs over Body in Road

A search is underway for a driver in the Jacksonville, Florida area who hit someone walking down a road and then drove off. A deaf man later ran over the body but stopped to help. Since David Bicknell couldn't call the police himself, he drove to "a gas station where he wrote a note asking a clerk to call the police," according to WFOX-TV.

Deaf Boy to be allowed to Stay in UK

We told you recently about a "six-year-old deaf boy who fled Iraq with his family after ISIS threatened to kill disabled children." His parents were told he would have to leave the UK. Here's an update: Lawand Hamadamin "has been given a last minute reprieve to stay in Britain," according to The Telegraph. His brother and parents had settled into Derby where he learned British Sing Language at the Royal School for the Deaf. Read more from The Telegraph here.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Deaf Couple Rescued from Snowstorm

A deaf California couple is safe after being rescued from a snowstorm after three days. KNBC-TV has a video report. No captions but you can read the story here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Civil War pivotal in deaf history

"The (American) Civil War dramatically changed the course of deaf people’s lives. In many ways, the national crisis empowered many to believe in their own abilities," writes Harry G. Lang, a professor at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf. Lang explains out it brought "the nation's deaf population out of society's shadows. Read about it in Rochester's Democrat and Chronicle.

Why your next Uber driver might be deaf

A new story from Quartz explains how some deaf drivers have found work with Uber. Susan Johnston Taylor says, "NAD is currently working with Uber to make its app more user-friendly for hard-of-hearing drivers (or partners, as Uber prefers to call them). These initiatives include a flashing light to notify a driver of a ride request (in addition to the existing audio notification), turning off the option to call a deaf driver, and a prompt to make sure passengers enter their destinations." Read the full story here.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Getting to Know... Hearing Tests

Here's what won't happen during a hearing test: No one will use a needle and there will be no request to strip off your clothes.

 Here's what WILL happen: An audiologist will check to make sure you don’t have a build up of wax in your ears before taking you into an acoustic testing chamber that cuts out outside noise.

You’ll put on headphones that cover your ears and listen to tones.

You’ll indicate when you first hear the tone.

 He’ll start with a low tone at a very soft level and gradually increase the volume.

The same process will be used through ten different tones.

 A second test involves placing a want behind your ear. This test how well you can hear sounds coming through your skull and not through your ears.

 The results are indicated on what’s called an audiogram. It looks like a graph.

If you have some hearing loss – whether mild or significant, your audiologist may include speech recognition tests.

 Using the headphones again, you repeat a word or sentence that you hear. The results should give the audiologist enough information to decide to recommend a hearing aid.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Airline Travel Trips

Make each airline agent aware of your situation at each stage of your trip.. from the booking agent all the way to the gate agent and flight attendants. Arrange for pre-boarding and have a friend or family member escort you to the gate. Escorts can get a gate pass that will allow them through security and to the gate. Airlines will often seat you at the front of a plane if you request it to read lips better or if you have a service dog with you. Take a piece of paper with you explaining your situation and how you’d like to communicate. Show it especially to an agent when you arrive at the gate so that he or she can make sure you are aware of any important announcements such as a gate change. Most airlines offer assistance for hard-of-hearing passengers over the phone.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Getting to Know... Hearing Loops

When you see a blue sign of a human ear that's a cue to hearing aid users that they can press a tiny button to hear a special broadcast sent directly to their device. This is called a hearing loop, a thin copper wire that radiates electromagnetic signals in a room. A tiny receiver called a telecoil built into most hearing aids and cochlear implants picks up the signal. With the flip of a switch on the device, sound comes through with greater clarity than can be heard by someone with normal hearing. This might be music, sound from a movie, a or a speaker. Hearing loops are better known in Europe than in the US, where only about a thousand have been installed in museums, stores, theaters, airports, and sports arenas.


The sign should have a "T" symbol in the lower right hand corner of the ear symbol if there is an induction loop installed. If there is solely an ear with a slash in the middle of the ear, than the sign indicates there is some sort of hearing access but good luck trying to figure out what the site has. If there are dots/slashes running through the ear then the sign indicates that an assistive listening system is present but it could be an FM or Infrared system and headsets and/or neck loops may be available.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Gally's in the middle a tech revolution

Now that the FCC has voted to "phase out TTY teletypewriter systems and transition to RTT on smartphones," Gallaudet becomes an important player in the new technology. Gallaudet’s senior research engineer Norman Williams now holds the patent for RTT. WJLA-TV has a video report (no captions) and a text report here.

Getting to Know... Service Animals

What is the legal definition of a service animal?  Therapy Animals are not legally defined by federal law but there is a legal definition for service animals in the Americans With Disabilities Act. Service animals are specifically trained to help the disability-related needs of their handlers and are not considered 'pets'.

Is using a service animal protected in public places? Federal laws protect the rights of individuals with disabilities who are accompanied by their service animals in public places.

Does a guide dog have to be certified by the State to be an “official” guide dog? No. Any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. 

Can a business owner insist on proof of state certification before letting a service animal into the business? No. Certificates, licenses or other physical proof that a dog qualifies as a service animal.

What can a business owner ask the service dog handler? If the dog’s function is not apparent, then the ADA permits only two kinds of questions. The business owner can ask, “Is this dog required because of a disability?" and “What specific assistive task or tasks has the dog been trained to perform?”

Under what conditions can a service animal be excluded from a facility? Under ADA law, an animal can be excluded if it is a direct threat to the health or safety of other people or will disrupt the regular operation of the business. Handlers of service animals must obey local leash and vaccine laws and must have their dogs under control at all times. An example of an animal being a direct threat to public safety would be if the service animal was eating at tables or sitting on chairs meant for patrons. 

Can businesses hold service animal owners responsible for damage done by the animal? Yes. Service-dog handlers are responsible for property damage just like other patrons.

Can businesses require the owners of service animals to pay “pet fees” or segregate them into “animal-friendly” areas? Because service dogs are not pets, the U.S. Justice Department, which is the ADA’s primary enforcement authority, businesses cannot subject them to “pet fees” or segregation in “animal-friendly” areas.  

Does an animal have to be able to do anything to be a service animal?  Yes. A dog must be able to perform specific tasks that relate to a person’s disability. 

Are therapy animals protected in the same way? Therapy, emotional-support, and companion animals are considered pets and do not fall under the regulations provided by the ADA.