Saturday, June 30, 2018

Getting to know: Canada's first deaf Priest

Canada's first deaf Roman Catholic priest was ordained in 2012. Raised a Baptist in Michigan, Matthew Hysell lost his hearing after a bout with meningitis as a toddler. He made the decision to become a priest as a teenager after reading about the priesthood in school. He graduated from City University in New York, then earned a master's in theology from a California program. He celebrates mass using sign language but is leaving his post as Associate Pastor at Corpus Christi Parish with responsibility for St. Mark’s Catholic Community of the Deaf, to pursue a doctorate at the Dominican University College in Ottawa. Mysell also cofounded the Mark Seven Bible Institute located at Camp Mark Seven in Old Forge, New York.

No, Koko had not mastered sign language

image from KoKo.com
Koko is dead. The gorilla that some claimed could communication using sign language died last week. But there was no proof of this—sign language not being something so simple an animal can use it. Geoffrey Pullum writes about the myth of Koko's linguistic prowess in an article for the Chronicle of Higher Ed here.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Netflix Captioning Complaints

A host of the makeover show Queer Eye is speaking out about captioning on Netflix. Fans are complaining through social media that the dialogue isn't correctly represented in the captioning. Now, Karamo Brown is joining those voices:

The BBC has Netflix response in this article.

Deaf comedian Speaks Out about Terp Issue

image from TomWillard.com 
A deaf comedian in Rochester, New York, says he's having difficulty getting local businesses to provide interpreters, as required by ADA law. Tom Willard tells WROC-TV, “They just didn’t want to pay for it. They wanted the comics to pay for the interpreter, but the law says no, it's the business. It’s their responsibility, just like a ramp. You don’t make a wheelchair person bring their own ramp – you don’t make a deaf person bring their own interpreter.” Read the full story here.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

This day in history.. 114 year ago

Helen Keller graduated with honors from Radcliffe College on June 28, 1904, 114 years ago today, becoming the first deaf and blind person to graduate from college with a B.A. Radcliffe was a women's liberal arts college in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a part of Harvard University.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

On this day in history..

Helen Keller was born on this day, 138 years ago, on June 27, 1880. The activist, and lecturer was the first deaf-blind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Husky Saves Deaf Hiker

A deaf hiker who fell nearly 700-feet down snowy mountain says a trail guide dog saved her life. Amelia Millin was some nearly 30 miles outside of Anchorage when her trekking poles broke and she plunged down the mountainside. But a husky found Millin, who attends the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester. Watch an ABC video report here.

On this date in 1889

The statue of Thomas Gallaudet that greets visitors to the university in the nation's capital that bears his name was unveiled on this date-June 26, 1889. The work of sculptor Daniel Chester French, the bronze statue shows Gallaudet teaching a little girl, Alice Cogswell. She holds a book to her heart, with the alphabet running across the page. They are practicing the letter “A” of American Sign Language. She was a neighbor of the Gallaudets in Connecticut. Thomas noticed Alice did not play with the other children and inquired about her. After discovering she was deaf, Thomas Gallaudet asked to become her first teacher, which he did. This was the first in a series of events that lead to the founding of the first permanent school for the deaf in America and the establishment of what is now Gallaudet University.

Some believe there are mistakes on the statue, but university officials say this is not the case. The chair has only one arm and one straight leg. This was a type of chair common in Gallaudet's day. The chair is not hollow underneath, in order to support the weight of the statue's plaster model. However, the statue was delivered late because French found several mistakes he wanted to correct, including making Gallaudet's legs too short. The text on the statue includes a reference to the "United-States." It was not uncommon for a hyphen to be used at the time, though was considered old fashioned, even in 1889. However, the statue is not consistent because the phrasing on the other side does not include a hyphen. Also, there are periods included in some of the text that is not included on other parts of the statue.

Happy Birthday Signmark!

Today is the birthday of deaf Finnish rap artist Signmark. He was born Marko Vuoriheimo in Helsinki on June 26, 1978. He's now 40
years old.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

A New, Vast Helen Keller Archive

The American Foundation for the Blind has launched the world’s first fully accessible digital archive collection of Helen Keller artifacts. The collection includes digitized letters, essays, speeches, and more than a quarter million digital images of her work. You can access the archive here.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Meet Maryland's deaf candidate

image from vote4toyinfasakin.com
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 Gallaudet.edu
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.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

On this Date: Sentenced to Life in Prison

It was on this date (July 10) in 2002 that a District of Columbia judge sentenced Joseph Mesa, Jr. to six life terms without the possibility of parole for the murders of two Gallaudet classmates. The 22-year-old from Guam was convicted of first beating Eric Plunkett to death in September of 2000 and then stabbing Benjamin Varner to death in February of 2001. Both attacks took place in Gallaudet dorm rooms. Mesa took money from both victims, but turned himself in to police a few days after killing Varners. Pleading not guilty by reason of insanity, Mesa told jurors he saw hands wearing black gloves telling him in sign language to kill the 19 year olds. Mesa's defense attorney suggested that the attack on Plunkett was prompted by rage over an unwanted homosexual advance. Mesa was convicted him on all 15 counts. Mesa is now serving time at the United States Penitentiary in Atwater, California near San Francisco, a high security facility.

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 Cochlear.com 
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.