Saturday, April 21, 2018

News in ASL from CNN-backed online TV network

An online TV network for American Sign Language users called Sign1News has been in operation now for about a year. While not financied by CNN, the effort is supported by the cable news newtwork. As part of CNN Newsource, the half-dozen employees at Sign1News are able to utilize CNN video for their brief newscasts. Former Atlanta anchor Karen Graham is behind the effort. There are two regular newscasts at 10am and 7pm, Easter time.

Deaf couple shot at in road rage incident

Police in Omaha, Nebraska are on the lookout for a speeding Chevy that cut off a deaf couple and then shot at their car. WOWT-TV has a video report.

Friday, April 20, 2018

On this date in History: A Deaf Astronomer Dies

On this date (April 20) in 1786, John Goodricke died. Goodricke only survived to the age of 21, but the deaf astronomer made a major impact on his field. Working with Edward Pigott, Goodricke learned to measure the variation of light coming from stars. This would eventually lead astronomers to figure out the distance of galaxies from the earth. While still a teenager, the Royal Society of London gave him the Copley Medal, making him the youngest person to be given its highest honor. He was born in the Netherlands, though he lived most of his life in England. Goodricke lost his hearing after a bout with a childhood disease, which might have been scarlet fever. He studied at the first school for deaf children in the British Isles, Thomas Braidwood’s Academy for the Deaf and Dumb in Edinburgh. Goodricke went on to study for three years at the Warrington Academy.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Happy Birthday, Russell Harvard!

Russell Harvard was born on this day (April 16, 1981) in Pasadena. The 37 year old has already made his mark in both film and stage. The Austin, Texas native grew up deaf, communicating in ASL and lip reading. Harvard’s mother was born deaf and did not learn sign until she was six years old. After playing roles in stage productions at Gallaudet such as Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, Harvard has had parts in CBS’ CSI: New York with Marlee Matlin and in Deaf West Theatre’s Sleeping Beauty. The actor played Daniel Day-Lewis’s grown son in the 2007 film There Will Be Blood. He played the role of Matt Hamil in the 2010 film The Hammer.  Harvard won a Theatre World Award for Outstanding Debut Performance in the Off Broadway show Tribes and played a role in Deaf West Theater's Spring Awakening. He played a hit man in the FX series Fargo. He received a BA in Theater Arts from Gallaudet University in 2008.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Some hospital services for the deaf discontinued in RI

The Rhode Island Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing plans to discontinue some of its emergency after-hours interpreter referral service for hospital emergencies starting this summer. Read the full story in the Providence Journal here.

This Day in History: the first public school for the deaf opened

It was on this day (April 15) in 1817 that the American School for the Deaf, the first public school for the deaf, opened its doors. Founded by Laurent Clerc and Thomas Gallaudet, the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut is more than 200 years old.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Deaf Kids Get Bullied More

About half of adolescents with hearing loss say they have been bullied. Less than a third of other children say the same thing. That's the finding of a new student out of UT Dallas. More than one-fourth of adolescents with hearing loss indicated they felt left out of social activities, compared to only 5 percent of the general population reporting exclusion. Read more about the study here.

Friday, April 13, 2018

TV Producer Arrested in Death of Deaf Sister

Los Angeles police say a former TV producer is behind bars—arrested on suspicion of killing her deaf and partially blind sister. Jill Blackstone is accused of drugging her sister and putting her in their garage along with three pet dogs, which she set on fire. Read more in the LA Times here.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

When Sign Language Is a Superpower

This Friday (April 13) the film Sign Gene will begin showing at the Laemmle Theater in Los Angeles—its U.S. debut. The Pacific Standard reports, "The plot centers on an international band of deaf people, who, thanks to a genetic mutation, can channel superpowers through their use of sign language. The independent film is a fast-paced, genre-bending romp, shot on three continents with a cast made up entirely of deaf actors and CODAs." Read the full Pacific Standard article here. The trailer for the film is below.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

How 'Deaf President Now' Changed America

"Deaf President Now stands as a watershed moment in the history not just of Deaf and disability rights, but also of American civil rights more broadly. As I spoke to people who had been instrumental in the protests, and the current president of Gallaudet, I heard one additional message: a fear that too few Americans even remember this story," writes University of Minnesota history professor David Perry. He has put together a "A brief history of the movement that transformed a university and helped catalyze the Americans With Disabilities Act." You can read the entire article here.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Director Pushed to Cast a Deaf Actress for 'A Quiet Place'

image from A Quiet Place trailer 
John Krasinksi not only directed the new film A Quiet Place, he fought to cast deaf actress Millicent Simmonds as his onscreen daughter, according to the screen writers. Screenwriter Scott Beck told the Hollywood Reporter, “We always had a deaf character in the script, but John really pushed for them to hire Millicent. She came to set and taught everyone sign language. It was really amazing and brought an extra depth to the film." Read the full story here.

On this day in 1864..

It was on this date, April 8, 1864, that President Abraham Lincoln signed the charter to establish Gallaudet University.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Florida Sued over lack of Captions on Legislative Videos

A deaf man in Florida has filed a lawsuit against the state legislature because it doesn’t provide closed captioning for its online live streaming and also its archived videos. Eddie Sierra is getting support from the National Association Of The Deaf. Lawmakers haven't even bothered to respond to his letters and other attempts to bring their attention to the problem. You can read the details of the lawsuit here.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Deaf Actress Delivers "Powerful Performance" in Major New Film

A Quiet Place hits theaters across the country today. The horror film incudes Millicent Simmonds as one of the stars. The deaf actress has already made her mark in Wonderstruck and now she plays a pivotal role in this new film about a family that must stay silent to survive.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

This is the day that Helen Keller made her breakthrough

It was on this day, April 5, during the year 1887 when Helen Keller grasped the meaning of the word “water” as spelled out in the manual alphabet with the help of teacher Anne Sullivan. Her blind and deaf pupil had learned to memorize words but failed to connect the words to their meanings. When Anne took Helen to an old pump house Helen on that fateful day, she finally understood that everything has a name. Sullivan put Helen’s hand under the stream and began spelling “w-a-t-e-r” into her palm, first slowly, then more quickly.

Keller later wrote in her autobiography, The Story of My Life:
“As the cool stream gushed over one hand she spelled into the other the word water, first slowly, then rapidly. I stood still, my whole attention fixed upon the motions of her fingers. Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten–-a thrill of returning thought; and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that ‘w-a-t-e-r’ meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free! There were barriers still, it is true, but barriers that could in time be swept away.”
Here's a video about Helen Keller (no captions).

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Gallaudet: 30 years after 'Deaf President Now' protest

It has been three decades since students at Gallaudent University "brought the campus in the nation's capital to a standstill 30 years ago during a week-long protest to demand a 'deaf president now.'" USA Today has a look back and how it happened and a look at how students look at the movement today. The newspaper quotes Ryan Maliszewski, who runs Gallaudet's Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute, as saying, "Students today don't need wait for another protest like 1988 to create opportunities for leadership in the deaf community." Read the full story here.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

What Do Cochlear Implants And Hearing Aids Sound Like?

Science Friday has 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, March 29, 2018

BSL teacher jailed, 'snared by paedophile hunter'

"A teacher once named 'Britain's sign language tutor of the year' has been jailed after being snared by a female paedophile hunter," reports the Daily Mail. Read the full story here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

1st Deaf Female Officer for Texas Police

A north Texas town has hired its first female deaf commissioned police officer. The Dalhart Police Chief David Conner picked 25-year old Erica Trevino to serve the community, and she be the first in the entire state. She tells ABC-7 KVII-TV news:
“It’s not something I just want, it’s something God has called me to do. That’s what I believe. This truly is a career and I can’t tell you how much I look up to the people and I respect how much work the officers put into becoming a police officer.”
Read the story here or watch the video below for more information.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Proposed Deaf Emojis

Apple is proposing that the Unicode Consortium (which oversees the internet) approve some new emojis to represent users with disabilities. Apples says, "Diversifying the options available helps fill a significant gap and provides a more inclusive experience for all." The National Association of the Deaf helped come up with the new images. Among the proposed emojis:

 Service Dog With Vest and Leash
 Ear With Hearing Aid
 Deaf Sign (Male and Female)

 Read the proposal here.

How Does ADA Law Apply to the Internet?

How the American Disabilities Act applies to the Internet seems like a straightforward question. But the answer has been made complicated by US law and policy over the years since the law was passed. While the general answer would be "yes" offers this bottom line: There is a..
"gaping hole in the law governing accessibility requirements for websites that are not tied to a traditional “brick-and-mortar” store. For now, whether a particular website—which reaches people nationwide—is a 'public accommodation' under Title III depends upon the location of the court hearing a challenge to its inaccessibility." 
Read the complete analysis here.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

A flood of lawsuits over Website Accessibility

Hundreds of companies are facing federal class actions filed in recent months alleging that their websites don't comply with ADA law. CBS News reports that Nike, Burger King, Hershey, Lord & Taylor and Pandora are among those companies facing lawsuits. Read the full story here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

State says 'no' to Funding that would help Deaf School

Florida's state government has said "no" to funding to help the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. The city of St. Augustine, where the school is located requested money to deal with flooding near the campus that has affected class schedules. The campus was shut down and students evacuated when Hurricanes Matthew and Irma came through, according to NEWS-4 out of Jacksonville. Read the full story here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Water Leak on Deaf School Campus

The North Carolina School for the Deaf is dealing with a water main leak in the Main Building on campus. The News Herald has more information here.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Prof reflects on life-changing language discovery

image from the University of Southern Maine 
Children on a playground in Nicaragua signing to one another some 30 years ago changed language studies across the globe. That's because it was observed by a University of Southern Maine professor who turned it into "groundbreaking work" that helped show the value of American Sign Language at her school. The Press-Herald has the story here.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

How 11 Deaf Men Helped NASA Leave Earth

Why were 11 deaf men selected by NASA to help it understand space sickness? The key here was in how each of these men lost their hearing, according to Discover Magazine. These men ultimately played a significant role in getting the first astronauts off the ground in the 1960s.

Revival of Children of a Lesser God

This coming Thursday (March 22) Studio 54 in New York will present a revival of Children of a Lesser God. The play was a Tony Award-winner when it first appeared in 1980 with Phyllis Frelich (who won a Tony for best actress) and John Rubinstein (who won a Tony for Best Actor). Mark Medoff wrote the lay and adopted it for the big screen in 1986. The film starred William Hurt and Marlee Matlin, who won an Academy Award for her performance. In the revival, 39-year-old deaf actress Lauren Ridloff (a former Miss Deaf America) takes the lead role. The producers hired a "director of artistic sign language” to ensure the quality of the signing. But tickets for the show here.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Death of Student at Illinois School for the Deaf

A student at the Illinois School for the Deaf has died from what appears to be a self-inflicted injury, according to the local coroner. The Journal-Courier has more information here.

Stanch Deaf Community Supporter in Congress Passes

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter has died at the age of 88. Slaugher was a Democrat who represented the Rochester area since 1987. The RIT/NTID president, Gerry Buckley, issued a statement calling her a "steadfast supporter of the Deaf community in Rochester and throughout the country." The statement mentions that she received the RIT Presidential Medallion in 2010 in honor of her support for NTID and for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. She was an honorary member of NTID's National Advisory Group, helped launch our Task Force on Health Care Careers for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Community, worked in support of the Americans with Disabilities Act, supported legislation that requires captions on TV programs and more. There is more about her from Associated Press here and the New York Times here. Here's a video from the Democrat & Chronicle (no captions).

Friday, March 16, 2018

Couple Considers Divorce to get Implant for Daughter

A Utah couple says they considered getting a divorce just so their insurance company would pay for their 9-year-old daughter a cochlear implant. John and Jennifer Meredith tell Action News Now, "We had no desire to get divorced (but) we couldn't keep putting that off. She's completely deaf in her right ear and she's mostly deaf in her left ear." Read more from ANN here and FOX-8 here. Below is a video from KSL-TV. For captioning, click here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Gallaudet 30 years ago

It has been 30 years since Gallaudet went through DPN—Deaf President Now. Fred Weiner helped launch the movement and now serves as the school's vice president for administration and program development. Weiner spoke to WAMU radio in Washington, DC about those events three decades ago.

This day in history: DPN

image from Gallaudet University 
It was 30 years ago today (March 13, 1988) that the Deaf President Now movement succeeded when I King Jordan became the first deaf president of Gallaudet University in Washington, DC.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Georgia to Maintain aid for Deaf Universities

The state of Georgia is backtracking on it's plan to withdraw financial support for students who attend Gallaudet University and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. Read more here.

Deaf Girl's Oscar May Open Doors for Others

image from The Silent Child you tube video 
When Maisie Sly was picked to star in The Silent Child, the director didn't realize he had a fourth-generation deaf family who are hugely active within the deaf community. Maisie's father, Gilson Sly, explains what it means for the film to win an Academy Award:
“When I read the script for the first time, I got goosebumps. Deafness is not a learning disability. With the right support, a deaf child can achieve the same as a hearing child. Deafness is a communication issue. Sign language isn’t just for deaf people. Sign language is a communication tool, and when the world communicates better, the world gets better.. Maise could be the face of change.”
Read more in the Telegraph here.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Deaf 'America's Got Talent' singer Touring

The deaf siner who gained fame on America's Got Talent was in Biose yesterday. Mandy Harvey spoke with KTVB-TV.

Video Relay Lawsuit Settled

A Florida hospital has settled a lawsuit over VRI. Bethesda Health has agreed to ask patients about whether they are willing to use video relay or want a live interpreter. A financial agreement between the West Palm Beac-area hospital and the Florida Association of the Deaf, who filed the suit, is not being made public. Read more in MyPalmBeach here.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Maisie Sly meets Hollywood!

Maisie Sly did not go up on the stage to recieve the Acadamy Award won by the film she starred in called The Silent Child. However, director Chris Overton told BBC-5, "When we won I could see her up there jumping up and down and that was surreal. But I think she's taken it all in her stride. She always said we'd win." Co-star Rachel Shenton signed her acceptance speech because she promised Maisie that she would do so. She said Maisie held the Oscar, proclaimed it heavy, had "her photograph taken with it and then said she wanted to go back and see her brothers and sisters.. So she's keeping it real." You'll find video of the six-year-old enjoying Hollywood is here and below is video of Maisie being congratulated by her dad.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Silent Child Wins!

The Silent Child won the best live action short film Oscar at the 90th Academy Awards. Chris Overton and Rachel Shenton, British soap stars, accepted the award. The film starred deaf actress Maisie Sly. Shenton delivered her speech in sign language saying:
“I made a promise to our six-year-old lead actress that I’d sign this speech. Our movie is about a deaf child being born into a world of silence. It’s not exaggerated or sensationalised for the movie, this is happening, millions of children all over the world live in silence and face communication barriers and particularly access to education. Deafness is a silent disability, I want to say the biggest of thank yous to the Academy for allowing us to put this in front of a mainstream audience.”
Watch the speech here:

Funding Cuts Proposed for Deaf Students in GA

The state of Georgia is considering cutting its college funding to support students who attend both Gallaudet University and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. Read the full story from the Rome News-Tribune here.

Deaf Advocates Rally outside Courthouse

Protesters gathered Friday in front of the courthouse in Oklahoma City to express their concern over the fatal shooting of a deaf man six months ago. KOKH-TV (Fox 25) has a video report.

A TV first on this date

It was on this date (March 4, 2013) an episode of Switched at Birth was aired that made history. The entire show was in ASL. Producers of the ABC Family program (now known as Freeform) say this was the first time a scripted series on mainstream television used only American Sign Language.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

On this date in history..

On this date (March 3rd, 1887) Anne Sullivan arrived at the Keller's home in Alabama to work with their deaf and blind daughter, Helen. Through their work together, Helen Keller would go on to become one of the most influential people in history. Below is a video about Helen Keller from

Deaf Girl one of the stars at the Oscars

image from The Silent Child you tube video 
A six-year-old deaf actress will be walking the red carpet at the Oscars. Maisie Sly stars in the film The Silent Child which has been nominated for best short film. "The film tells the story of a profoundly deaf girl called Libby, played by Maisie who is also deaf, who lives in a world of silence until a caring social worker teaches her the gift of communication through sign language," ITV reports. Read the full story and see a video of Maisie here.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Sex Abuse Lawsuit against Deaf School Settled

Update: A family suing the Scranton School for Deaf and Hard of Hearing because their "daughter had been repeatedly sexually assaulted by a classmate has settled in the middle of trial." In court papers the school argued "that it couldn’t be labeled negligent for what happened because there was no reason to suspect child abuse." Read the full story at here.
image by daveynin

Friday, February 23, 2018

Judge dismisses suit from ex-head of WV deaf, blind schools

The one-time head of the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind filed a lawsuit against the school for firing him and evicting him from his home on the school grounds. But a judge has dismissed the lawsuit filed by Martin Keller. Read the full story in the Charleston Gazette-Mail here.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Lawyer: Sex Abuse Coverup at Deaf School

image by daveynin
A Pennsylvania jury was told today by an attorney that the Scranton School for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Children covered up sexual abuse among students. The school and the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf are being sued by the victim and her parents. Read the full story in the Times Tribune here.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Deaf Man Gets $175K Settlement

image from
Pearl Pearson will get $175,000 for the way he treated by Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers. They stopped Pearson in in Oklahoma City a couple of years ago, but because Pearson is deaf and didn't follow the troopers verbal commands, he wound up being beaten and seriously injured. The DA dropped the case, claiming it was too expensive to go to court. The troopers were cleared of wrongdoing. Fundraisers were set up to help Pearson and he filed a lawsuit. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol agreed to settle, saying doing so was not an admission of liability. The state claimed to just be trying to save money. The encounter was caught on dashboard camera:

Friday, February 16, 2018

Major Change to ADA Law passed by House

image from CSPAN video of vote on H.R. 620
The House has passed a bill making it more difficult to sue under ADA law. The vote was 225-192. The bill isn't law yet. It still has to get through the Senate and the signature of the President. The proposed law would require businesses to be given six months after being give written notice of non-complience before legal action could be taken. Advocacy groups say it shifts the burden to the person with a disability and away from businesses. The bill's future in the Senate is uncertain. Read more about it in The Hill here and Newsweek here. You can read the text of the bill and other information here.

Basketball in Buffalo

WKBW-TV in Buffalo takes a look at what the St. Mary's School for the Deaf basketball teams are doing for the school's students.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

A new TV Show by and About Deaf People

Sundance TV’s streaming platform Sundance Now just debuted a new show called This Close . It stars Josh Feldman and Shoshannah Stern and is about two deaf best friends living in Los Angeles. "The six-episode show is adapted from 'Fridays,' their rom-comish web series that so impressed Sundance the channel decided to make 'This Close' the debut offering for its new digital streaming service. The director said, “We did a lot of two shots so that you could see both Josh and Shoshannah signing together. It makes it feel like they are in a bubble of their own.” Read more about the new show in the New York Times here. Vulture calls the show "charming" and you can read the review here. Below is the trailer for This Close.

Deaf School Counselor Arrested: Accused of Child Molestation

A man who worked with students at the California School for the Deaf in Fremont is facing child molestation charges. Ricardo Tafolla Rose has been a counselor at the school. If you know someone who might have been a victim, you are asked to call the California Highway Patrol Golden Gate Division Special Investigations Unit at 800-835-5247. KRON-TV has a short video report.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Protestors with disabilities handcuffed, dragged out of Congress

As we reported yesterday, there is a bill in Congress that would "undermine" the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), according to the ACLU and other advocacy groups. People protesting that proposed law were "dragged from Congress on Tuesday" according to Vice and other media outlets. Here is video of showing U.S. Capitol Police "forcibly removing demonstrators, several of whom had disabilities." Read more in Vice News.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Proposed Law in Congress would "Undermine" ADA Law

President George H. W. Bush Signs the ADA bill into law in 1990 
A bill in Congress could completely change the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The House of Representatives bill H.R. 620 (the “ADA Education and Reform Act”) would "eliminate any incentive for businesses to comply with the ADA" until someone complained and the business was sent a legal notice, according to The Hill. The bussiness would have half a year to make some progress on changing the barrier. The ACLU says the bill would "undermines the  very  purpose of the  landmark civil rights law" and actually "harms people with disabilities. Read more about the proposed law in The Hill here, the ACLU here, and read the bill for yourself here.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Captioning at Broadway Shows

A free smartphone app is giving Broadway audiences closed captioning during performances. The GalaPro app works in airplane mode. The text shows up on a user's phone with a black screen to avoid disturbing other patrons. Read more about from NPR here.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Longtime Gally administrator passes

image from Gallaudet Archives
A Gallaudet University administrator and scholar who wrote and edited books about deaf people during the Holocaust and the portrayal of deaf people on-screen, has died of cancer. John Schuchman was 79 years old. A CODA, Dr. Schuchman's first language was ASL. He wrote  Hollywood Speaks: Deafness and the Film Entertainment Industry as well as Deaf People in Hitler’s Europe. Read more about him from the Gallaudet website here and from the Washington Post here. During his 34 years at Gallaudet, he served as a dean, vice president of academic affairs and provost.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Biographical Drama About First Deaf MLB Player Being Filmed

image from promo for film "I See the Crowd Roar"
The story of professional baseball player William “Dummy” Hoy is being shot in Kentucky. Title The Silent Natural is set in the 1880s. The director, David Risotto, already produced a documentary about Hoy. He told WKMS-FM, “I promised the family that I would use deaf actors to portray him and any other deaf role." Read the full story here. Below is a promo for the documentary Risotto made called I see the Crowd Roar.

America has its First Female Deaf Mayor

Amanda Folendorf is the new mayor of Angels Camp, California—a little town east of San Francisco. Amanda was "born with a rare birth defect called diaphragmatic hernia and the 31-year-old had to take medications as a baby that ultimately damaged her hearing," KOVR-TV (CBS-13) reports. She can pick up some low-frequency noises and has some skill at reading lips. But the former Miss Deaf California says a team of sign language interpreters helps her execute her duties as mayor. “Hearing impaired and disability, I’m trying to throw that label out. We’re no different than anyone else; we just can’t hear," Folendorf said. Here's a video report:

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Oklahoma Teacher Pay Raise Measure

Teachers at Oklahoma's School for the Deaf and School for the Blind were about to be left out of an effort to give teachers in the state a $5000 raise. But lawmakers have announced that the proposed legislation has been changed to include them. Read more here.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Bringing Hip-Hop to the Deaf

The Great Big Story visits with Matt Maxey in the video below. Matt learned to sign when he was 18 years old by signing along with rap artists. Now, he terps hip-hop for artists like Chance the Rapper and D.R.A.M.

The Cheesecake Factory Settles Lawsuit

The Cheesecake Factory will pay Oleg Ivanov back pay and damages, after the restaurant chain refused to provide him with a sign language interpreter and other accommodations. Ivanov is deaf and worked at the Cheese Factory in downtown Seattle. The EEOC issued a statement, which said in part:
image via WikiMedia Commons Anthony92931
We are pleased that The Cheesecake Factory has agreed to work with the EEOC to help dismantle barriers that individuals with disabilities face in the workplace. The changes will help future deaf applicants and employees at The Cheesecake Factory.
You can see the news release here.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Not on the Radar: Sexual Assault of College Students With Disabilities

Sexual assault policies at colleges typically don't address the needs of deaf students, among other groups. That's according to a new federal study from the National Council on Disability. Wendy Harbour, the director of the National Center for College Students With Disabilities, who was part of putting together the report, said:
Sexual assault has become a topic of concern on campuses and with the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, but seldom has the conversation included consideration of the needs of college students with disabilities.
The report finds undergraduates with a disability are more likely to be sexually assaulted than their counterparts. The report titled “Not on the Radar: Sexual Assault of College Students With Disabilities” is the very first federally-funded on the subject. It concludes that many school are not in compliance with ADA law, ignoring the needs of deaf and hard of hearing students. For instance, many colleges lack procedures for communicating with assault victims who are deaf or hard of hearing. You'll find the full report on the National Council on Disability website here.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Deaf Camp Vandalized

image from Aspen Camp of the Deaf
and Hard of Hearing Facebook page
Someone has vandalized the Aspen Camp of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Colorado. The camp rented out its cabins to Airbnb guests this past weekend while Aspen hosted the X-Games, according to KUSA-TV. But one of the groups caused about $4,000 of damages to the camp's common area. Read more at KUSA here. You'll find the camp's Facebook page here with more information and an ASL video.

Dad Sues School Systems over Treatment of Deaf Son

Jeff Beck is suing Sumner County Schools in Tennessee over the education of his deaf son. WTOL-TV has a video report. No captions but you can read the story here.

Toledo News Now, News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Proposed Florida Terp Law

image from
The Florida House unanimously approved a bill today that would require the state officials to hire a qualified sign language interpreter at televised hurricane briefings. The bill was motivated by having a man incompetantly attempt to interpret evacuation orders just before Hurricane Irma. The bill is sponsored by Richard Stark and you can read the text of the bill 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.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

What you need to know about emergency cellphone alerts

Following a false alarm in Hawaii that a ballistic missile was on its way, state and federal officials are reconsidering how emergency cellphone alerts are set up. CNET has gathered some of the basic information about the system here.

Friday, January 26, 2018

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.

City Council says "no" to paying for Interpreter

Cleveland's City Council is refusing to pay for sign-language interpreters at its meetings. Rico Dancy asked for an interpreter back in October, according to The City Council provided interpreters for three meetings but now has told him he isn't deaf enough to justify an interprter. Read the full story here.

Arrest in Hit-and-Run Death of Deaf Man

Prosecutors are identifying the man who led Jersey City police on a chase in a stolen SUV on Tuesday. They say Oriental Hamlet of Jersey City is facing charges of aggravated manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident. Hamlet hit and killed Umar King who worked for FedEx worker and was a comedian on the side. Two other suspects feld on foot. Below is video with survellence footage of the SUV when Hamlet crashed. No captions but you can read the story at the Daily Mail here.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Deaf space professionals inspire Deaf Students

Deaf professionals from the space industry visited students at Austin's Texas School for the Deaf this week. KHOU-TV has a video reporter.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Researchers: Kids with Implants Learn Words Faster

German researchers claim children with cochlear implants learn words faster than those with normal hearing. Niki Vavatzanidis tells News Medical that children typically need about 14 months to spot mislabeled objects, but children with an implant were able to do so after only 12 months. Another researcher said, "Children with cochlear implants could help us understand the general processes of language acquisition and determine which single steps are age-dependent." Read the full story here.

Deaf Man Killed by Stolen SUV

The driver of a stolen SUV hit and killed a deaf man in Jersey city, New Jersey Tuesday. A friend of the victim told WABC-TV, "He was a gentle person. He would give his jacket off his back. Support you in anything. Kind-hearted person, loving person." There's more on the story in this video or read details here.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

5 years ago today: Gally Prof dies in fire

Image from Gallaudet University
It was on this day (Jan. 23) in 2013 that Gallaudet lost one of its professors. Laura Snyder-Gardner and her teenage daughter, Marry Ann, died in a fire in the northern Virginia town of Falls Church. They had moved from Florida to the DC suburb just a couple of years before. Neighbors say the neighborhood was rocked by a loud noise before the fire broke out. Gardner was 48 years old and had worked at Gallaudet since 2009. She served as an assistant coach of the girls' soccer team at the Model Secondary School for the Deaf last year.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Airline changes it Service Animal Policy

Delta Airlines plans to impose tighter restrictions on animals brought on board its airplanes. Many people have started bringing their pets with them when the travel, pretending they are service animals to take advantage of ADA law. Starting in March 1, Delta will require advance documentation before boarding animals to certify the owner’s need and the animal’s training. The annoucement also says:
Delta has seen an 84 percent increase in reported animal incidents since 2016, including urination/defecation, biting and even a widely reported attack by a 70-pound dog. In 2017, Delta employees reported increased acts of aggression (barking, growling, lunging and biting) from service and support animals, behavior not typically seen in these animals when properly trained and working.
Read the full details of the change from Delta here.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

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.

The deaf six-year-old hoping for an Oscar

Profoundly deaf six year old Maisie Sly is the star of The Silent Child, a short film which could be vying for an Oscar. Find out more about it in this BBC video.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Lawsuit Claims School Failed to Accommodate Deaf Students

image from
Two deaf students are have filed a lawsuit against a Louisiana community college for not providing them with interpreters. Lee Em Bruce and Ronneka Smith says they tried to work with officials on campus but were not accomodated, so they've filed a suit against the Delgado Community College. Read the full story here.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Deaf School Leaders Want to Drop ASL Requirement for Superintendent

A deaf school wants to change a rule requiring it's leader to know sign language and have experience working with deaf children. The South Dakota Board of Regents is asking the state legisalture to make the change over the objections of parents and educators so that it will be easier to combine the leadership of the state deaf school and the state blind school. Read the full story in the Argus Leader here.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Deaf University Student hit by Truck

A deaf student at National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester was hit by a truck last night. WHAM-TV says the student had "serious injuries" and offers this video report.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Spotting Implant Users Who are Falling Behind

Some deaf children with cochlear implants still lag behind their hearing peers in educational development. Researchers are now using brain MRIs to "construct a machine-learning algorithm to predict language development," reports WTTW-TV. They hope the results will make it easier to spot the children with implants who are falling behind. Read the full story here.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Closed Captioning rules for U.S. TV

2015 - The FCC sets “quality” standards for captioning by TV broadcasters focusing on: Accuracy, synchronicity (timing with the words being captioned), completeness (from the start of a program to the end), and placement (the captions shouldn't obscure other important information). More info here.

2016 - A new set of rules related to captioning by TV broadcasters kicks in: The FCC divides responsibility for closed captioning compliance between distributors and programmers. The Commission also identifies the proper methods for measuring closed captioning compliance and responding to consumer complaints.

Waivers - The FCC has made exceptions to the rules when the broadcaster shows captioning would cause an “undue economic burden” standard. Consumer groups have opposed the waiver requests. Some requests from churches and other organizations have been denied, mostly because a review of the group's financies shows they indeed have the funds to provide captioning and simply don't want to do so. The FCC also says captioning is not a religious freedom issue, as some have claimed.

Other FCC decisions of note:
—The FCC says TV stations captioning their news by using the telepropter text (or from news scripts) is not adequate by itself. If this method of captioning is used, known as Electronic Newsroom Technique, the station must have a designated “ENT coordinator" whose responisibility it is to make sure this service is properly conducted. There's more information here. —Live interviews and breaking news segments should include "crawls" at the bottom of the screen or other information through text. —Closed captioning must be provided for video over the internet if the programming was shown on TV in the US with captions. If the programming was aired on TV before 2013, it may be exempt until it is shown on TV again. —If an old program is shown on TV, the distributor and TV station are required to provide captions within 15 days. —Video clips, outtakes and montages of captioned TV programming posted online must be captioned. —Live programming must be captioned within 12 hours if posted online. Nearly live material must be captioned within eight hours of the conclusion of the program.

For more information, a Washington broadcast-focused law firm has links to helpful posts here.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Changing Netflix Captions on Your iPhone

image from Netflix video
You can customize the font, size, color, and the background pretty easily on most devices. But on an iPhone, the process is different. The same is true for an iPad and Apple TV. You can read a step-by-step guide as to how to do it

IRS Warns of Video Relay Scam Targeting Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Every day scammers come up with new ways to steal taxpayers’ identities and personal information. Some scammers pretend to be from the IRS with one goal in mind: to steal money. Be aware that con artists will use video relay services (VRS) to try to scam deaf and hard of hearing individuals. Don’t become a victim. Deaf and hard of hearing taxpayers should avoid giving out personal and financial information to anyone they do not know. Always confirm that the person requesting personal information is who they say they are.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The tour's first deaf golfer is not giving up on his chase

Kevin Hall has spent 14 years on the PGA Tour. At one time, he won the Big Ten Championship while golfing for Ohio State. Now he toils in the sport's minors. He tells Yahoo Sports, "Golf is what I do, but in the grand scheme of things, God is using me to serve as an inspiration to others." Read the full story here.

Deaf Studies Archive receives grant to digitize rare videos

More that 60 video tapes decumenting the ASL poetry and literature movement in Rochester will be lost unless they are digitized—and now the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester has the funds to transfer the video. "The digitized videos will be one of the largest collections of online publicly accessible rare ASL literature in the country," according to the NTID. Read more about the project here.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

How Biotech is Trying to fix Hearing Loss

"At least half a dozen biotechs are working on potential breakthroughs in the way hearing loss is treated. But it’s unclear if the drugs they’re developing will be ready in time to help hearing-impaired boomers, some of whom are in their 70s," the Boston Glove Reports. David Lucchino, chief executive of Frequency, told the paper:
“There’s a fundamental transformation happening in hearing regeneration. We’re figuring out how to hot-wire the hair cells in the inner ear that die off during a lifetime of being exposed to noise.”
Read the full article here.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Gally wins Helmet Bowl

Gallaudet University in Washington, DC has won Helmet Tracker's Helmet Bowl competition. The company searches for new uses of technology to help equipment managers do their jobs more effectively. Read more about how Gallaudet won here. Below is a video report from Fox5dc recorded before the final results were announced.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Getting to Know.. the First Teacher of the Deaf

A Spanish monk in the 16th century named Pedro Ponce de Leon (1520–1584) is recognized by most historians as the first teacher of deaf children, though some experts point to Spanish painter Juan Fernandez Navarrete, who lived in the earlier part of the century. Ponce de Leon was a Benedictine monk who took a vow of silence and developed a form of sign language to communicate. He apparently taught finger-spelling to deaf children who probably arrived at his monastery already knowing some home signs.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Getting to Know.. Greg Hlibok

image from Gallaudet University
Greg Hlibok oversaw the FCC's Disability Rights Office from 2010 to 2016. Profoundly deaf since birth, Hlibok was the first deaf law student at Hofstra University. Hlibok is best known in the Deaf community as the student body president of Gallaudet University during the 1988 Deaf President Now protest. He serves on the Gallaudet University board of Trustees and is currently the general counsel and compliance officer for video relay service provider ZVRS.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

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.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

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.

Denver woman’s lawsuit Leads to Captioning at Pepsi Center

The owner of Denver’s Pepsi Center has made an agreement to settle a lawsuit over captioning. If a judge approves, the Kroenke Arena Company would be required to provide captioning on the video boards inside the arena for nearly all the sporting events. Kirstin Kurlander, who is deaf, filed the original suit and is quoted as saying, “I am happy that Kroenke and the Pepsi Center have agreed to provide captioning at the Pepsi Center so deaf and hard of hearing patrons will finally have equal access to the games at that arena.” Read more from the Denver Post here.

Deaf Girl to Sign the National Anthem Before the College Championship Game

12-year-old Carly Ortega will sign the national anthem at the college football championship game Monday night. The Zac Brown Band play the Star-Spangled Banner before the Georgia Bulldogs and the Alabama's Crimson Tide face off. Carly told WSB-TV that she is doing it in honor of her mother who recently died of cancer but admits, "I’m going to be nervous and pretty scared."

Friday, January 5, 2018

Airline Travel Tips

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 4, 2018

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.

This Deaf School "needs an overhaul"

image from
The Louisiana School for the Deaf needs an overhaul, says a member of the state's top school board. The Associated Press quotes, Kathy Edmonston, a member of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, as saying, "A couple of issues brought up by the folks that I have been working with from the deaf community feel like the kids are not getting a quality education at the school." Read the full story here.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Getting to Know... Service Animals

image from Wikimedia Commons
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.