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 dcc.edu
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
here.

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 lalsd.org
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. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Getting to Know.. your Hair Cells

Clusters of hair cells
Hair cells play a critical role in our hearing. When they are damaged, doctors say they act like blades of grass. When someone walks on grass, the blades initially lie down and then bounce back up. but if you keep walking that same path over and over again, the grass will stay down. Hair cells are the same way, if you send waves of sound from the outside without opportunity for the cells to recover or you rip them up through excessive noise. Hair cells do not grow back.