Saturday, June 23, 2018

Meet Maryland's deaf candidate

image from
Toyin Fasakin is a candidate for Register of Wills in Maryland's Prince George’s County. Only a few states elect people to open estates for the deceased and keep up with wills and Maryland is one of the them. The Washington Post reports that Fasakin is running "because when his Ni­ger­ian father died without a will, there was 'agony and strife' as his two wives and their children divided his property." A question he often gets from voters is whether a deaf person can do the job. He tells the Washington Post, “I would say, ‘hey, why not? This has nothing to do with my deafness. This is about skills, abilities, and qualifications to lead and manage,’ ” said Fasakin, who became deaf after contracting the measles at age 4. “I want to make changes happen." Read the full story about Fasakin here.

Teen's encounter with deaf-blind man on flight goes viral

A teenager used tactile signing to help a fellow passenger during their delayed flight. Photos and a Facebook post by another passenger made the encounter go viral. Seattle's King5 has a video report but it does not have captioning. You can read part of the story here.

Getting to Know... The Father of the Internet

Vinton Cerf
It was on this date (June 23) 1943 that Vinton Cerf was born in New Haven, Connecticut. In 1997, President Clinton presented the U.S. National Medal of Technology to Cerf and his colleague, Robert Kahn, for founding and developing the Internet. In 2004, the pair were given the ACM Alan M. Turing award, which is sometimes called the "Nobel Prize of Computer Science." In 2005, President George W. Bush awarded Cerf and Kahn the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award given by the US government. Cern now works for Google as its chief Internet evangelist, looking for and promoting new technologies and services. What many do not know, is that Cerf was partly motivated by his frustration with communication with other researchers. He is quoted as saying, “In creating the Internet with my colleagues, in part I wanted to help people with hearing loss as well as other communication difficulties. Written communication is a tremendous help for me, and so when electronic mail was invented in ’71, I got very excited about it, thinking that the hard-of-hearing community could really use this.” Cerf has hearing loss as does his wife, who had hearing loss due to spinal meningitis at the age of three. She received her first cochlear implant in 1996 and a second implant in her other ear nearly a decade later. They met at the office of a hearing aid specialist and married in 1966. Read more about her experience here.  Cerf joined the Board of Trustees of Gallaudet University in 1997.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Deaf inmates denied equal access: Lawsuit

The ACLU has filed a lawsuit against Georgia. The complaint accuses the state failing to provide deaf and hard-of-hearing inmates access to interpreters and other tools to communicate effectively in violation of ADA law. As a result, “deaf and hard of hearing people are incarcerated more frequently, suffer harsher prison conditions, remain in prison longer, and return to prison faster." Read the full story from the Associated Press here.

Friday, June 15, 2018

On this Day: The First Computer PhD

image from
It was on this date, June 15, 2008, that Karen Alkoby became the first deaf woman in the US to earn a PhD in computer science. She graduated from DePaul University in Chicago, helping to pioneer a computer-animated dictionary. Alkoby’s dissertation involved determining how the human brain interprets shapes like those made by hands in ASL. This may help with creation of a ASL-to-English dictionary. She now teaches computer science at Gallaudet Univeristy.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

NYPD issuing visor cards to deaf drivers

New York police are mailing out visor cards to 11,000 deaf or hard of hearing drivers. The goal is better communication with law enforcement. As the image on the left shows, one side of the card indicates how a driver prefers to communicate and the other side shows symbols that an officer can point to in order to indicate what caused a traffic stop. The card is intended to be attached to the sun visor of a car. It was designed by the NYPD with input from service providers and advocacy organizations. Deputy Commissioner of Collaborative Policing Susan Herman is quoted in a press release as saying:
It is our duty at the NYPD to not only protect each and every New Yorker, but to provide support when people are in need. Today, we're reaching out with a tool that we believe will improve communication between officers and drivers who are deaf or hard of hearing during an encounter that can often be stressful.
There's more information from the NYPD here.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Deaf Jazz Singer Hits All the Right Notes

"Despite not being able to hear for nearly a decade, a jazz musician still commands the stage," reports NBC News. Below is a link to a video about Mandy Harvey.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Life in 1950s Deaf School: Part 2

Here is a second video filmed in 1954 at the UK's Royal School for Deaf Children for a documentary.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Study: Smoking exposure increases risk of deafness twofold

A Japanese study finds children are more than twice as likely to be born deaf if their mother smoked Even exposure to second-hand smoke increased the likelihood of hearing issues. Read more details in the Daily Mail here.

a Video of Life in a 1950s Deaf School

Here is video filmed in 1954 at the UK's Royal School for Deaf Children in Margate.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Suit: Denver Cops Failed to Provide Terp

Two deaf Colorado women are suing Denver law enforcement for failing to provide them with qualified sign language interpreters. According to the Denver Post, "The suit claims the agencies ignored repeated requests for qualified sign language interpreters, failed to follow their own policies and broke state and federal anti-discrimination laws in the process." Read the full story here.

Monday, June 4, 2018

31 years ago: Implant history

image from 
On June 4, 1987 Holly McDonell (now Holly Taylor) of Sydney became the first child to receive a commercial 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.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Report: Integrating deaf in the workplace is easier than employers realize

UPDATE: THE CBC HAS NOW POSTED A TRANSCRIPT OF THE INTERVIEW HERE. Employers sometimes "have trouble imagining how a deaf person would function on the job." But the CBC reports, "Integrating deaf Canadians in the workplace is easier than employers realize." The network spoke with the head of the Canadian Association of the Deaf to find out what really happens when a business hires a deaf worker. Here is a link to the audio. Unfortunately, the website doesn't offer a text version of the interview.

Deaf couple: We were mistreated at KFC

image from WLBT-TV video report
A deaf couple say employees at a KFC near Jackson, Mississippi laughed at them for not being able to communicate their food order verbally. According to WLBT-TV,"Bobbie and Mike Cole wanted a chicken dinner at KFC in Byram Wednesday, but what they said they got was disrespect and humiliation from employees." You can watch a video report or read a text version of the story here.

Tips on 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

Saturday, June 2, 2018

More than 100 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.

Deaf Workers Sue Walmart

Two deaf employees are suing Walmart for what they claim is discrimination. Troy Miles and Tonya Bland needed interpreters at meetings held at the Washington, DC store where they worked. But they say Walmart managers ignored their requests. Walmart has denied those allegations. Read the suit here and there is more information on the case from the National Law Journal here.

Friday, June 1, 2018

On this day... the 1st Deaf NFL Player was Born

Bonnie Sloan
On this date (June 1) in 1948, Bonnie Sloan was born in Tennessee. At the age of 25, Bonnie would become the first deaf player in the NFL when he ran onto the field for the St. Louis Cardinals against the Philadelphia Eagles in 1973.  His career only lasted one season, thanks to knee injuries, but he had made his mark. The 6-foot-5, 260-pounder came out of Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee, where he was the first player to bench press 500 pounds. Sloan was an All-Ohio Valley Conference defensive tackle at the college. The City of Hendersonville, Tennessee recently honored him by declaring an August day in 2013 as Bonnie Sloan Day. Read more about Sloan here.

On this Date 50 Years ago

Helen Keller died in Westport, Connecticut June 1, 1968, 50
years ago today.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Report: Parents are leading a "revolt" at a Deaf School

Some parents at L.A.’s only school for the deaf think the school is in crisis and say they are considering withdrawing their children. The Los Angeles Times reports:
Anger over the school's administration has sparked a revolt led by parents, alumni and advocacy groups who believe the school is in crisis. They point to high turnover, cuts to extracurricular programs and sports — and the absence of high-level staff fluent in ASL.
Read the full story in the LA Times here.

Terp in China Becomes Social Media Star

A CODA from southwest China has become a "social media star" after posting a video on WeChat. The sign language lawyer who became wanted to tell people about the danger of Ponzi schemes. The BBC reports: "Despite a significant expansion in access to education, some deaf Chinese are still targeted by financial scam organisers. Stories of deaf people who lost fortunes in scams prompted Mr Tang to launch the video series that shot him to social media fame." Read the full story here.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Opinion: Hollywood keeps 'cripping up'

Sara Novic, a Deaf writer and assistant professor of creative writing at Stockton University, says, "Hollywood has a representation problem" where it is "casting abled actors in the role of disabled characters, a phenomenon the disabled community calls 'cripping up.' When disabled people do raise the issue, they are quickly silenced, accused of overreacting. Despite the rich tradition of Deaf storytelling and theater showcased by award-winning companies such as the National Theatre of the Deaf and Deaf West Theatre, Hollywood has an equally longstanding tradition of forgoing deaf actors for hearing ones, even for signing and/or deaf characters. And "The Shape of Water" isn't the only example of this." Read her full article here.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Linguistics Meet to Discuss Deaf Communities

Linguistics met Thursday at UCLA to discuss the differences between the hearing and deaf communities, as well as how deaf communities vary between countries. The school's student newspaper quotes lecturer Benjamin Lewis as saying,"Oftentimes we meet people who take pity on us. So I want to plant a new seed that being deaf is great. It’s nothing to feel sad about.” Read more about the meeting here.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

What Makes a Website "Accessible"?

U.S. courts have issued conflicting rulings about ADA law and the internet. "As a result, businesses, litigants and the courts have had no governmental rules or guidance to look to for what must be done to a website to make it compliant with the ADA," Charles Marion writes on He says one case was dismissed for the lack of government rules on the matter. Read more about how websites and accessibility are a work in progress here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

"Sign Language Isn’t Just for Babies"

Rachel Kolb is glad that hearing parents are teaching their babies some sign language but the doctoral student, who is also deaf, says, "They are missing an opportunity to take advantage of the contributions that deaf people — the primary users (and originators) of signed languages — can offer to the world." Read more in this New York Times opinion piece here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Another video of the Airport Confrontation

Here is another video showing the confrontation that started when a passenger alledgedly hit a service dog during a flight to Orlando. The man says he didn't punch the dog but swatted at it. There an ABC News report here.

New App for Deaf Parents

UCLA researchers say they've come up with an app that helps deaf parents know when and why their baby is crying. It's called Chatterbaby and "uses artificial intelligence to help determine if baby is hungry, fussy or in pain." Watch the video below for more or read the information here.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

New Video of Airport Confrontation Over Service Dog

A video shows a confrontation between a deaf pregnant woman and a man who she accused of punching her service dog. It happened as their Frontier flight was taxiing to a gate at Orlando International Airport. WFTV-TV has a video report. The captions don't seem to be working but you can read it here.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

More on the man accused of punching a deaf pregnant woman

Hazel Ramirez says a man punched her and her service dog during a trip from Colorado Springs to Orlando Thursday. WKMG-TV has a video report.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Before video chat

"Talking to my parents on the phone in the days before Skype and FaceTime was a strange experience," Lauren Fitzpatrick writes. She says that while her relay service "seemed like cutting-edge technology in 2004, it was always awkward to end a conversation by saying 'I love you' to a stranger." Read the full story in the Boston Globe here.

Man hits pregnant deaf woman and her service dog

A man on a Frontier Airlines flight from Colorado Springs to Orlando hit a deaf woman's service dog and then the woman who was pregnant. She was traveling with her boyfriend, who is also deaf. WESH-TV has more including a short video of part of the altercation here.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Everyone Can Code

Students from the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
take part in a Swift Playgrounds session.

Apple says it will bring its "Everyone Can Code" curricula for the Swift programming language to schools serving the deaf and blind. Here is a list of some of the schools involved:

• California School for the Deaf (Fremont, Calif.)
• Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (St. Augustine, Fla.)
• Texas School for the Deaf (Austin, Tex.)

There's more information here.

Nyle DiMarco Calls Out Marvel

Nyle DiMarco has tweeted about his displeasure over Marval's decision to portray one of its superheros as hearing when he was originally deaf. The model and actor told Mic:
Hawkeye in the Avengers — he's boring. I'm sorry. I'm a big fan of his work, but let's have a deaf actor in there instead... I think it would have made a better movie and better TV if they'd actually brought in a deaf actor.
Read more here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Deaf Candidates are Stepping Up to Run for Polical Offices

Portland has its first deaf city council candidate. Philip Wolfe is "part of a new wave of people who are deaf or hard of hearing and are fighting for a seat at the table in politics." Wolfe tells Oregon Public Radio:
I’m hoping to shift minds, and shift paradigms, [so] that deaf people can run and they can be involved, and as people are curious as to what that looks like, I’m there and am facilitating that communication and education.
There's more of the interview here. Below is a video of Wolfe explaining why he is running for office.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Inside the life of a deaf firefighter

Eric Nusbaum is a deaf firefighter with Elsmere Fire Department near Albany, New York. WTEN-TV has a video report about Nusbaum below. You can read the story here.

Monday, May 14, 2018

A "legend in show business"

CNN sat down with deaf comedian CJ Jones. The news network calls him a "legend in show business." Watch the interview here.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Deaf actress dies on this date

from CBS Photo Archive
One of the first deaf actresses to have a major role on a TV series died on this day one year ago (May 13, 2015) in Fremont, California. Audree Norton was 88 years old.

A founding member of The National Theatre of the Deaf, Norton appeared on the CBS show Mannix in 1968 and later on The Streets of San Francisco and Family Affair. When she was cut out of a role just because she was deaf, Norton filed a complaint with the Screen Actors Guild. John Schuchman suggests in his book Hollywood Speaks: Deafness and he Film Entertainment Industry that the decision ended her Hollywood career--but opened the door to others.

Norton lost her hearing to spinal meningitis at the age of two and attended Gallaudet University. A memorial service was held at the California School for the Deaf. You can read her obituary here.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Service Dog Laws

Nearly two dozen states now have laws against claiming a dog is a service animal when it is not. The latest state to pass such a law is Minnesota, where the governor signed a bill into law Thursday. The goal is to prevent "untrained animals into stores, restaurants, libraries and other public places where their behavior can be bothersome," The Washington Post reports. Read the full story here.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

New Zealanders''sign name' for Trump

Deaf people around the world have given Donald Trump his own sign name. In New Zealand it's made by "placing a hand over the head and letting the fingers wave in the breeze, mimicking his at times erratic haircut." See a video here.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Deaf Ohio man sues county for lack of terp

A Springfield, Ohio deaf man is suing Clark County because Sheriff’s deputies did not provide him with a sign language interpreter when he was arrested—or later when he was booked into jail. His attorney tells the Dayton Daily News:
It’s all too common. Whether it’s in hospitals, jails, schools, so many entities don’t know what is required under the ADA and other federal laws and just presume that if they’re dealing with somebody’s who’s deaf, that they can just communicate with them through passing notes, reading lips and the law is very clear that that is not acceptable.
Read the full story here.

On this date in history..Frederick Barnard dies

Frederick Barnard
It was on this date in 1889 that Frederick Barnard died at the age of 80 (May 5). His full name was Frederick Augustus Porter Barnard. The deaf American educator was quite the renaissance man. Besides teaching college students, he was a scientist, writer and mathematician. Barnard served as president of the University of Mississippi, then took the same position at Columbia College in New York City (it later became a university). The year he died, an affiliated college for women was established and named Barnard College in his honor. He is acknowledged by historian of deaf history as someone who made a significant contribution to deaf education.

Friday, May 4, 2018

The decades-long battle over deaf communication in Nicaragua

The world’s only living natural experiment in the creation of language has happened among the deaf in Nicaragua when oralism was replaced by what is now known as Nicaraguan Sign Language—and at the same time ASL was rejected. As Dan Rosenheck discovered, it has fundamentally changed how linguists think about one of civilisation’s greatest mysteries. Read more in an in-depth article from 1843 magazine here.

Ice Cream & ASL

A new ice cream shop in Indiana is training everyone on staff to use American Sign Language. RTV6 explains why in a video report.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Driver Pretends to be Deaf

A Jacksonville, Florida man pretended to be deaf when he was stopped for speeding, according to police. WOKV reports the man is facing charges of "knowingly driving with a license that's either suspended or revoked and with giving a false ID to law enforcement." Read more details here.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

ASL program dropped with no warning

A Tampa, Florida County has cut its American Sign Language program with students only days from taking final exams. School administrators tossed the teacher out of the building in the middle of class. They didn't even let her say goodbye to her students. WFTS-TV has a video report. No captions but you can read the story here.

Getting to know the Gally Baseball Coach

image of Curtis Pride from
Former major league outfielder Curtis Pride has been the head coach of Gallaudet University's baseball team for a decade. He tells the Washington Times, "“The biggest challenge is recruiting. I probably have the most difficult job of college coaches for recruiting. I recruit deaf or hard-of-hearing players. There are not that many out there. Once I get the player I have to develop the skill to get them up to the college level.” Read more about Pride's impact on the
students here.

Identification Cards in Oregon

The Oregon Association for the Deaf is partnering with other advocacy groups to give out visor and wallet cards, which will "
serve as a tool to assist with communications between individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing and law enforcement officers." Read more from KTVZ-TV here.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

College graduates its first deaf commercial truck driver

A Washington State Community College has graduated its first deaf commercial truck driver. Justin Brooks "became the first deaf student to graduate from Spokane Community College’s commercial driving program, and he departed on Friday to Kansas City, Missouri, where he has secured a job with a major trucking company," The Spokesman-Review reports. One of the driver instructors is quoted as saying Brooks "was a great student. He already had a great understanding of how the tractor and trailer worked in conjunction with one another, and what to look for. It made my life easy as an instructor.” Read the full story here.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Gally Alums Launch reFort

Some graduates of Gallaudet University have launched a company called reFort that "refurbishes departing students’ unwanted appliances and electronics over the summer and sells them to returning students by the fall," the Washington Business Journal reports. "There are a lot of customers who really don’t understand that these goods are turning into things in a landfill, and that they can actually be used again,” Myles Goldberg, one of the company founders says. Read the full WBJ story here. and more about the company from Communication Service for the Deaf here or watch their video below.

He Wants To See More Deaf Firefighters Like Himself

Austin Freidt is a firefighter in North Carolina—with cochlear implants. "He wants other people like him in other cities and counties to be able to follow their dreams of becoming a firefighter too," WFMY-TV reports. Read more about Freidt's effort here.

Utah Republican Party accused ADA violations

Aaron Heineman is suing the Utah Republican Party for failing to provide him a sign language interpreter as promised. He's being joined by Eliza McIntosh Stauffer, "who is paralyzed from the waist down and uses a wheelchair. She says the state party didn’t accommodate her during the GOP state convention in 2016," The Salt Lake Tribune reports. Read the details here.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Lawsuit: 'The kids don’t want you on the team'

image from the Framingham State University
website where Kayla now plays softball
Kayla Finacchiaro is suing Newbury College, saying she was kicked off the women’s softball team because she is deaf. Finacchiaro told The Boston Globe her coach said, “You are no longer welcome here” and “The kids don’t want you on the team.” Newbury College denies she was dismissed from the team because of being deaf but the school has yet to offer another reason. Read the full story here.

Deaf worker punched by customer because she couldn't hear her demands

Liberty Gratz was working at a Virginia grocery store when she says she felt someone hit her on back. She couldn't hear the woman wanting help finding an item—so the woman hit her. WRIC-TV has a video report below. You can read more here.

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.