Saturday, December 7, 2019

Getting to Know Dr House

It was on this date (Dec. 7, 2012) that Dr. William F. House died in Oregon at the age of 89. Dr. House is credited with installing the first cochlear implant in 1961. He was told by experts the electric current he was using would destroy the ear, but that didn't stop him. He believed in what implants could do to change someone's life. Here's a little about him.
  • Known as the "father of neurotology."
  • He received his doctorate in dentistry from the University of California at  Berkeley.
  • Practiced medicine in Newport Beach, California until 2000, when he moved to Aurora, Oregon, next door to his son.
  • His cochlear implant was approved by the FDA in 1984.
  • When he started performing the cochlear surgery on children some claimed he was just after money.
  • His half-brother, Howard P. House founded the House Ear Institute which became the House Research Institute.
  • He completed some 3,000 implants throughout his career.
  • Developed a new approach to removing tumors on the nerve that connects the ear to the brain.
  • Created a new surgical procedure for Meniere's disease, an inner ear disorder contracted by Astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American in space. He couldn't have flown to the moon had it not been for House's surgery. He wrote a memoir called The Struggles of a Medical Innovator

Friday, December 6, 2019

Looking back at Kitty O'Neil's Record

It was on this day (Dec. 6) in 1976 that professional stuntwoman Kitty O'Neil set a record for land speed by a female driver. It was in Oregon's Alvord Desert that Kitty hit 512 miles per hour.

Childhood diseases left her deaf and nearly killed her. She became a champion diver at a young age. Her work later as a Hollywood stuntwoman was featured in TV shows like Quincy, Baretta and The Bionic Woman along with movies like Smokey and the Bandit, The Blues Brothers and Airport '77. 

She set a record for the highest stunt fall by a woman (105 feet).  She has held as many as 22-speed records on land and water.

A movie was made about her life in 1979 titled Silent Victory: The Kitty O'Neil Story.  She died Nov. 2, 2018, from pneumonia at the age of 72. Read more about her amazing life in a Washington Post article here. Below is a video report on Kitty from the Midco Sports Network put together in 2015.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Deaf Actor plays characters not defined by his being Deaf

Russell Harvard, a third-generation Deaf man, is playing the roles of Link Deas and Boo Radley in Broadway’s To Kill a Mockingbird. It's the "first time the actor had played a character not defined by being Deaf." He tells Playbill
I think it simply means I’m good at what I do. It makes sense with Link Deas and Boo Radley because they share similar qualities. Both are outcasts in the community and good-hearted men who know what’s right and wrong...I’m an actor who happens to be Deaf, and I get to share the artistry of ASL with the audience of this landmark show.
To Kill a Mockingbird is in its second season at the Shubert Theatre. Read more from Playbill about Harvard here.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

On this Date: Dimarco Wins Top Model

Nyle Dimarco
(image from ANTM video)
Nyle Dimarco won America's Next Top Model contest on this date (Dec. 4) in 2015. He was the first deaf contestant to do so. Afterward Dimarco told People magazine, "Being a deaf person on a television show alone is pretty groundbreaking, so it felt incredible just to be on the show – but to win it was amazing!" Read more of that interview here. Top Model introduced him with this video.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Happy Birthday, Linda the Librarian!

Linda Bove was born on this day (Nov 30) in 1945. She’s remembered as the deaf lady on Sesame Street. Bove was a regular on the show from 1971 to 2003 as Linda the Librarian, introducing thousands of children to sign language and deaf community issues. In 1991, she and her husband founded DeafWest, a resident sign-language theater in Los Angeles which has produced several award-winning shows. Here's a video of her from 2010 talking about Why We Need Deaf Actors in Deaf Roles. Happy Birthday, Linda the Librarian!

Friday, November 29, 2019

NAD wins settlement against Harvard over captioning video

Harvard has settled a lawsuit over captioning. The school has agreed to make its website and online courses "friendlier" to those who are deaf or hard of hearing. The National Association of the Deaf filed the suit four years ago, saying "many of its videos and audio recordings lacked captions or used inaccurate captions." NAD CEO Howard Rosenblum said, "This lawsuit (puts) universities and colleges on notice that all aspects of their campus including their websites must be accessible to everyone." At first, Harvard tried to get the lawsuit dismissed. A judge rejected Harvard’s argument that its websites do not constitute a physical “public accommodation” covered by federal civil rights laws. The judge ruled that Harvard’s online are offerings can be seen as an extension of the campus. Read more details on the settlement from the NAD here.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Oldest Terp Dies

The woman believed to be the oldest working sign language interpreter in the country has died at the age of 97. Norma Lewis worked with deaf people in the Kentucky court system. Read more about Norma in the Courier-Journal here.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Priests who abused deaf children get 40-year jail terms

"Two Roman Catholic priests were each sentenced to more than 40 years in prison in Argentina for the sexual abuse, including rape, of deaf children" reports AFP. The victims were living at a Catholic boarding school and ranged from between four and 17 years of age. "Some burst into wild celebrations when the sentence was read out in court. Some of the victims' mothers simply embraced and wept." Read more here.

Monday, November 25, 2019

11 years ago today: William Gibson died

On November 25, 2008, the man who wrote a famous play about Helen Keller called The Miracle Worker died. William Gibson's story of Helen Keller’s relationship with her teacher, Anne Sullivan, won the 1960 Tony Award for best play and is still regularly performed around the country in community theaters. Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke, played the stage roles of Sullivan and Keller, respectively. They went on to win Academy Awards when repeating the parts for the film version in 1962. Mr. Gibson was nominated for an Oscar for his screenplay. Twenty years later, he wrote a sequel about Sullivan called The Monday After the Miracle but it flopped on Broadway. Gibson died at the age of 94 in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

NTID partners with Beijing school

The National Technical Institute for the Deaf is partnering with a Chinese university to create student and faculty exchange programs. A delegation from Beijing Union University visited the Rochester campus where they signed a Memorandum of Understanding yesterday. Read more about the agreement here.

First Deaf Player in Youth Hockey League

The Madison Gay Hockey Association has its first deaf player. Stephanie Schwartzkopf is from Colorado but moved to Wisconsin a couple of years ago and she is among the 70 players. Read more about her in an Isthmus article here.

Happy Birthday Mojo!

This is Mojo Mathers birthday (born Nov 23, 1966). She became the first member of New Zealand's parliament when she ran as a Green candidate in 2011. She was born profoundly deaf and is a lipreader. She began to use sign language in the late 2000s New Zealand became the first country to adopt sign language as an official language in 2006 and now, some 25,000 people use sign language in the country. The New Zealand government provides interpreters in Parliament as well as for major speeches and announcements.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

A Deaf Dancer Lands Her Dream Role

As the Lady in Purple in “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf,” Alexandria Wailes finally has a part that reflects her just the way she is: deaf, mixed race and a dancer." Read more in the New York Times here.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Hospital reaches agreement in civil rights probe over terps

Detroit's William Beaumont Hospital has settled a civil rights complaint over its violation of ADA law. The facility was accused of failing to adequately provide interpreters for deaf patients. Beaumont refused to admit any wrongdoing, denying it violated ADA law. And yet, it agreed to provide ADA training and enforce policies related to interpreters. The agreement applies to Beaumont's three hospitals and 31 associated health care facilities. Read more about the case in a news release from the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Michigan here.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Historic marker unveiled for Rochester’s School for the Deaf

A roadside marker was unveiled yesterday to honor the role of Rochester’s School for the Deaf in the community. The school was established in 1876. has a video report (or read the story here).

Thursday, November 14, 2019

On this day in 1966

It was on this date in 1966 (Nov 14) Congressman Hugh Carey announced that Rochester, New York would be the site of a new college. The National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) admitted its first students in 1968. It is one of nine colleges located at the Rochester Institute of Technology. There are now more than 1500 students and about 600 faculty and staff. More than one-in-five of the students has a cochlear implant. Less than one-in-five of the faculty and staff are deaf or hard-of-hearing. There is a yearly budget of $89 million to run the school. $65 million of that comes in the form of federal funds.

Deaf actor finally gets his wish: Not to be defined solely by deafness

Aaron Sorkin's stage adaptation of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird has just started its second season with a new cast. Academy Award nominee Ed Harris is taking on the role of Atticus Finch while deaf actor Russell Harvard has joined the cast as well. It was Harvard's wish not to be defined "solely by deafness." The Washington Post says he's getting that wish with the Shubert Theater show. Read the article here.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Texting 911 (hopefully) coming to New York City soon

It has been more than two years since New York City officials announced plans to offer 911 texting. It was supposed to happen last year--but now the city says it may actually have it in operation by summer. Deaf advocates say it can't come soon enough. Margaret Arnold, an ASL interpreter, is quoted by the New York Daily News as saying:
I texted 311 services for New York City...I said, ‘I need help, please,’ (The) 311 (operator) said, ‘Call 911.’ I said, ‘I can’t call 911, I’m deaf. What do I do?’ The 311 operator said, ‘I don’t know how to help you.’
Read more about the issue here.

Monday, November 11, 2019

A Deaf CEO’s Perspective

The CEO of the world’s largest deaf-led social impact organization says the disability rights movement has been around a lot longer than many people think. According to Christopher Soukup of Communication Service for the Deaf:
For most people, the disability rights movement’s inception seemingly occurs after the civil rights movement in the mid-20th century, when in fact, I argue that it goes back more than 100 years, occurring even before the founding of the National Association of the Deaf in 1880, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization. Deaf clubs and deaf schools were centers of an active and engaged civic life among the deaf population in the 19th century, where deaf people congregated to discuss and address the issues of the day.
Read more about what the Gallaudet grad has to say about awareness in a ThriveGlobal post here.

A Plan to give D.C. its first Office Dedicated To The Deaf

There's proposed legislation that would create the first government office for people with hearing loss in DC. It's called the “Office on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Establishment Amendment Act of 2019” is designed to ensure members of the deaf community have access to all District services. You can see the proposal here and read about why some in the Deaf community are against the plan here.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Is There a Right Way to Be Deaf?

Sarah Katz penned an op-ed piece for the New York Times addresses whether it is possible to embrace both ASL and cued speech. She writes, "I’ll never know definitively whether my parents made the right decision...Throughout my life, I’ve felt like the object of a constant tug of war between the deaf and hearing communities." Read the full article here(paywall).

Saturday, November 9, 2019

ASL Prof Apologies for Class Guest Speaker

A Baylor ASL professor apologized to his students this week. A pastor from a deaf church in Chicago was a guest speaker who talked about and endorsed conversion therapy. Jari Saavalainen was supposed to talk about missionary work, not counseling designed to try to turn gay people straight. Read more from NBC News here.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Deaf Football Captain is "true leader on field"

A high school football captain who was born deaf "dominates on the field at Bloomfield High School in Michigan and is headed to play the sport collegiately next year." Read more about Devin Holmes from KXXV-TV here.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Marching Band incorporates ASL into its show

The Ferndale Marching Band from Ferndale, Michigan is using sign language in its halftime performances with help from Detroit-based deaf rapper Sean Forbes. The show is called The Sounds of Silence and about halfway through, the students stop playing their instruments and perform Forbes' song Watch These Hands in ASL. The video below of Forbes and the band practicing was posted by Cars 108, a Flint, Michigan radio station.

Woman says she was fired for Being Deaf

Katrina Hearn is suing Helia Healthcare, a company that runs the Four Fountains nursing home of Belleville, Illinois. Hearn claims she was fired from her position as director of nursing because of her disability and her race. Helia Healthcare let her go "the day she came back from taking two days off to treat an infection of her cochlear implant." Read the full story in the Belleville News-Democrat.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

One Year Ago: Kitty O'Neil Dies

Professional stuntwoman Kitty O'Neil died one year ago (Nov. 2, 2018 from pneumonia) at the age of 72. Among other things, the deaf daredevil set a record for land speed by a female driver in 1976. It was in Oregon's Alvord Desert that Kitty hit 512 miles per hour.

Childhood diseases left her deaf and nearly killed her. She became a champion diver at a young age. Her work later as a Hollywood stuntwoman was featured in TV shows like Quincy, Baretta and The Bionic Woman along with movies like Smokey and the Bandit, The Blues Brothers and Airport '77. 

She set a record for the highest stunt fall by a woman (105 feet).  She has held as many as 22-speed records on land and water.

A movie was made about her life in 1979 titled Silent Victory: The Kitty O'Neil Story. Read more about her amazing life in a Washington Post article here.

Below is a video report on Kitty from the Midco Sports Network put together in 2015.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Maryland woman gets nearly $5K water bill

Denise Sansonese got a water bill of nearly $5,000. A "water pump tube in her toilet malfunctioned. Because she cannot hear, however, she was unaware that the toilet was running continuously." Read the full story at the Frederick News-Post here.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Deaf woman was rejected from a jail program

A deaf woman in Virginia tried to enroll in a program to serve her time during daytime hours on the weekend, as a judge recommended. But the Sheriff’s Office in Chesapeake turned her away because she is deaf. The Virginia Pilot explains why he reversed that decision here.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Celebrity makes Appearance at School Anniversary Celebration

Nyle DiMarco visited the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf for its 150th-anniversary celebration. KDKA-TV has a video report below or read the story here.

Families accuse teacher’s aide of sexual abuse

A former teacher’s aid at a Salt Lake City school for deaf children is facing rape and sexual assault charges. Tyler Jex is "accused of inappropriately touching or contacting their underage daughters through his position with the Jean Massieu School of the Deaf." KSTU-FOX 13 has a video report.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Rally at Utah State Capitol

A protest at the Utah state capitol brought out dozens of deaf people Saturday (Oct 25). They say there is a lack of communication options that "hinder them from getting access to quality care at hospitals and medical facilities." Find out more in this ABC-4 video news report.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

One year ago today: The First US Signing Starbucks

Starbucks opened its first "Signing Store" in the U.S. one year ago today (Oct 23, 2018). It's in Washington D.C. less than a mile from Gallaudet University. Everyone working there is fluent in ASL and wears aprons that display the fingerspelling of "Starbucks." Here's a video report from

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Signmark in Hong Kong

Image from
Finnish deaf rapper Signmark is preparing for his second performance in Hong Kong next month. He was born deaf and says:
My family is deaf, but my grandparents are hearing, so th
ey didn’t know any sign language. I watched as my grandfather was playing the piano and my grandmother was singing. I began lip-reading what she was singing and then I started signing it to my parents. They got involved and realized that music is something that connects people. “Then I translated hundreds of songs into sign language; different artists’ songs, for instance those of Bon Jovi, Michael Jackson and Metallica.
The South China Morning Post takes a look at the remarkable artist here.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Deaf students sue over decades-old sexual abuse

A dozen women "who attended the New York School for the Deaf decades ago are suing the school, claiming they were sexually abused by the man who supervised their dorm." One of the women said, "He abused all of us in our early childhood... That's a scar and trauma that stays with you. We were little girls... We didn't know how to take care of something that needed (to be told)." Below is a video from the Westchester Journal News about the suit and you can read more about the story here.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

New finding about Deaf infants and their Parents

A new study finds that deaf infants exposed to American Sign Language are especially tuned to a parent's eye gaze and "at a more advanced level than hearing infants." The study "stems from broader research into early learning and finds that Deaf infants of Deaf parents may be more attuned than hearing infants to the social and visual signals of others." It was recently published in the journal Developmental Science. Read more from Science Daily here.

Monday, October 14, 2019

A deaf congregation grows in New Jersey

"What started with one interpreter has grown into a church for the deaf and hearing" in Newark, New Jersey. Read about what's happening at Chosen Generation Ministries in here.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Deaf Woman Dies in Arson Fire

A deaf woman and her two-year-old daughter died in a fire—it was intentionally set by a man who said he was trying to get back at his girlfriend. Star Milligan tried to save her daughter by wrapping her in a blanket and using her body to protect her from the flames. The Fox TV station in Detriot has a video report below or read the story here.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

An Emergency System for Deaf Beach-goers

An emergency system for deaf beach-goers called Beach Emergency Evacuation Lights System (BEELS) will get its first workout in Torrance Beach. There will be a ribbon-cutting and day at the beach for the deaf community next month. Within two years BEELS is expected to be in place along LA's coastline. Read more about it in the LA Times here.

DeafBlind Art

DeafBlind writer John Lee Clark talks about art he can touch in a Poetry Magazine post. He poses the question: We have DeafBlind artists, but do we have DeafBlind art? Read his entire piece here.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Young Deaf Fan Joins Carrie Underwood on Stage

Carrie Underwood invited 9-year-old Savannah Dahan to perform The Champion with her during a concert stop in Washington, DC over the weekend. Access Hollywood has a video report.

Monday, October 7, 2019

The history behind RI School for the Deaf

The Rhode Island School for the Deaf was started by Mary Ann Lippitt who was born on this date, Oct. 7,  in the year 1823. Her daughter became deaf after contracting Scarlet Fever in 1856. "Lippitt created her own program and founded the Providence Day School for the Deaf in 1876. Her husband Henry Lippitt, who had become governor in 1875, used his own influence to inspire the State to take over the administration of the school the following year." Read more here.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Suit in Utah over Terps Dismissed

A lawsuit filed by deaf students against the Utah Shakespeare Festival was immediately dismissed. The festival refused to provide sign language interpreters for their performance of Hamlet. At issue is whether offering captioning was adequate accommodations. Read the full story in the Salt Lake Tribune here.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Jury awards Deaf man $125,000

A jury is awarding David Updike $125,000 in damages after deciding that Oregon's Multnomah County failed to provide him a sign language interpreter while he was in jail. Oregon live reports that a linguistics expert testified during the three-day trial that "Updike, who was born deaf to hearing parents, can’t read lips proficiently and doesn’t read English well." Read the full story here.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Deaf Actor on Netflix show

image from
One of the actors on a new Netflix show called The Politician is deaf. Natasha Ofili plays a no-nonsense principal in four episodes. Ofili started out with an eye toward fashion but switched careers about five years ago. So far, she's appeared in several short films, theater productions, and commercials. And soon she'll be seen on Amazon Prime's Undone. a member of the National Black Deaf Advocates association, Ofili lost her hearing as a toddler. Read more of her story here. Below is the trailer.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Docu shows deafness as a gift, not as a disability

A new documentary about hearing loss takes a look at Beethoven, filmmaker’s son, and her deaf parents. Irene Taylor Brodsky first introduced her parents in her 2007 film Hear and Now. A Washington Post reviewer calls Moonlight Sonata: Deafness in Three Movements a "moving and thought-provoking film." Read the review here. Below is a video interview of Brodsky.

19 years ago today: Murder at Gallaudet

It was on this day (Sept 27)  in 2000 that Joseph Mesa, Jr. beat Eric Plunkett to death in his Gallaudet dorm room. The killing put the school in a state of panic, with some students withdrawing from the school rather than living in a situation where they knew a murderer was living among them. The terror came to an end in February of the next year when Mesa turned himself into police-but not before he killed again. Mesa stabbed Benjamin Varner in his Gallaudet dorm room more than a dozen times. In July of 2002, the 22-year-old from Guam pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, telling jurors he saw hands wearing black gloves that told him in sign language to kill. Jurors convicted Mesa on all counts and a Washington, DC judge sentenced him to six life terms without the possibility of parole. Mesa began serving time at the United States Penitentiary in Atwater, California near San Francisco, a high-security facility.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

On this date... 28 years ago

On Sept 26, 1991, a major TV show debuted that—for the first time—featured a deaf or hard of hearing actor in a lead role. The NBC police drama Reasonable Doubts ran from 1991–1993 and starred Academy-Award winner Marlee Matlin as Tess Kaufman, a prosecutor who fought for the rights of the accused. She portrayed a lawyer who happened to be deaf—instead of just a deaf lawyer. In 1994, she joined the cast of Picket Fences for a couple of seasons. The Seinfeld TV show made a nod to Reasonable Doubts during an episode called The Pitch. When Jerry and George visit NBC they sit under a poster showing Mark Harmon and Marlee Matlin was on the wall of Seinfeld episode.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Deaf Awareness Week Celebration

It's Deaf Awareness Week and KIII-TV has a video report on a celebration of Deaf Culture and ASL in Corpus Christi. You can read the story here.

Lawsuits over Hospitals not providing Terps

A healthcare provider is facing two lawsuits for not providing ASL interpreters for deaf patients. Intermountain Healthcare, which operates Primary Children’s Hospital and McKay Dee Hospital, released a statement saying, despite the legal action, it takes ADA and all other applicable laws "very seriously." KUTV has a video report (or read the story here).

Monday, September 23, 2019

Review of Deaf West's New Show

image from
LA's Deaf West Theatre is performing The Solid Life of Sugar Water through October 13 and the LA Times says the stage arrangement is quite unusual: "The actors playing Phil and Alice stand on the footboard of a vertical prop bed, but scenic designer Sean Fanning’s trompe l’oeil, bird’s-eye-view perspective makes it look like they’re lying flat, while we, hovering somewhere around the ceiling, look down on them." Read the full review here.

Judge: videophones must go in Colorado state prisons

A judge says the Colorado Department of Corrections must make videophones available to every deaf inmate. That's the outcome of a lawsuit prompted by the decades-old technology in state prisons. Read the full story at the Denver Post here.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

History's Deaf Astronomer

On this date (Sept 17) in 1764, John Goodricke was born in the Netherlands, though he lived most of his life in England. 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. 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.

On this day in History.. Miss America

On this date (Sept. 17) in 1994, Heather Whitestone of Alabama became the first deaf Miss America.

Monday, September 16, 2019

The First Deaf Player in the NFL

The first deaf player in the NFL ran onto the field for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1973. The first game that season was played on this date (Sept. 16) against the Philidelphia Eagles. Bonnie Sloan played in four games at defensive tackle and only lasted one season, because of knee injuries--but he had made his mark. Sloan was born on June 1, 1948, in Lebanon, TN and attended Austin Peay State. The next deaf player in the NFL was defensive lineman Kenny Walker who played college ball at Nebraska and then in 31 games for the Denver Broncos in 1991 and 1992. the third deaf player is Seattle Seahawks running back Derrick Coleman who entered the NFL in 2012, becoming the first deaf person to play offense in the league. Coleman is on the roster for today's Super Bowl. Read more about Bonnie in a Fox Sports article here.

University Sued over Failure to Provide Interpreters

Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana is being sued by four students who say the school violated ADA law by not providing a sign language interpreter in their classes. They say the school failed to pay the interpreters for previous work. The four deaf students are from Saudi Arabia. Read more at The Advocate here. You'll find the suit here.

This Day in History: The 1st deaf player in the NFL

Bonnie Sloan in the NFL
On this day (Sept. 16) in 1973, the first deaf player ran onto the field for the St. Louis Cardinals against the Philadelphia Eagles. Bonnie Sloan played in four games at defensive tackle and only lasted one season, because of knee injuries, but he had made his mark at the age of 25. The 6-foot-5, 260-pounder was a 10th-round draft pick 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 honored him by declaring a Bonnie Sloan Day. After Sloan came defensive lineman Kenny Walker. He played college ball at Nebraska and played in 31 games for the Denver Broncos in 1991 and 1992. Seattle Seahawks running back Derrick Coleman entered the NFL in 2012, becoming the first deaf person to play offense in the league. Coleman was on the roster for the 2014 Super Bowl pitting Seattle against Denver.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

The Rise of the Deaf Architecture

It was on the campus of Gallaudet University nearly two decades ago that a workshop took place that would "change the way the world’s only university for the deaf and hard-of-hearing engaged with architecture and design." The Washington Post has a look at how the deaf architecture got started here.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Deaf Woman Refused Service at Drive Thru

A San Jose Jack in the Box refused service to a deaf woman last month—and there's a video showing the worker mocking her by pretending to sign. KRON-TV has a video report (or read the story here).

Sunday, September 8, 2019

A Legal Battle over Text Captions for Audiobooks

Book publishers are suing Amazon to stop the internet company from offering text captions for audiobooks through Audible. Publishers say it's a copyright violation. Audible says that since users can't scroll through the text there's no problem. The feature is called "Captions" and will be available starting Tuesday for Amazon-owned and public domain titles. The works of publishers like HarperCollins and Macmillan, who are suing Audible will not be included until the dispute is resolved. You'll find the text of the lawsuit here.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Company Sued over Treatment of Deaf Job Applicant

A Denver company is being sued for refusing to hire a qualified deaf person, according to an EEOC lawsuit. Carefree of Colorado told Anna Biryukova the wouldn't hire her because her deafness could be a “challenge” and present “safety issues.” Carefree declined to comment. Read the full story from the EEOC here.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Service Animal Rules

What are the rules for service animals? Seattle's KING-5 has a video report (or read the story here).

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Man tried to sexually assault a deaf woman

Police in Forestville, Maryland are looking for the man accused of attempting to sexually assault a woman who had asked for directions earlier this month. The police have released a sketch of the man and a map of where the incident happened, which you can see at WTOP's news site here.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Principal at Deaf & Blind School Reassigned

The beloved principal of the Hawaii School for the Deaf and the Blind has been transferred to another school and alumni and parents don't understand why. They gathered to protest yesterday, telling HawaiiNewsNow, “He has a deaf education background. He knows how to manage and make deaf people learn...Teachers were so thrilled. They worked so well with him.” Read the full story and watch a video report here.

“Bummy” Burstein died one year ago today

Gerald “Bummy” Burstein has died. He worked tirelessly in the deaf community for 57 years—even after he retired. He died at the age of 91 in Riverside, California on August 31, 2018. The student center at the local deaf school carries his name. Burnstein was the certified Professional Parliamentarian for the National Association of the Deaf and the author of two books. His work for Gallaudet University led the Board of Trustees to rename the Gallaudet Leadership Institute after him—the Gerald "Bummy" Burstein Leadership Institute. He first taught for 15 years at the Minnesota School for the Deaf before moving to the California School for the Deaf, Riverside. Burstein got his nickname "Bummy" from his love of the Brooklyn Dodgers who were often referred to as “Dem Bums.” Here's a video featuring Berstein as he explains how he brought visual applause from France to America.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

A problem with New Orleans Movie Theaters

Deaf movie-goers in New Orleans say the local theaters don't accommodate them as prescribed by ADA law. The closed-captioning devices are often broken. WWL-TV has a video report below or read the story here.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

A first for a deaf person in the UK

Matthew Johnston is believed to be the first profoundly deaf person to sit on a jury in a crown court in England and Wales. He's a 54-year-old technology consultant from London. The Guardian quotes Johnston as saying, “It’s all about inclusivity, isn’t it. It’s a big thing for me. We don’t want to turn our backs to society, we want to be part of society. We want to feel included. I feel great that I can be one of a jury.” Read the full story about how the deaf have been kept out of jury rooms in the UK here.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Woman says she was refused service at fast food restaurant because she’s deaf

Rachel Hollis claims workers at a Burger King drive-thru in Oklahoma City refused to serve her because she is deaf. She explained what happened to KFOR-TV in a video report (or read the story here).

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Deaf Coaches Teach Gymnastics

The head coaches at a gym in Utah are both deaf. KSL-TV has a video report about Champion Sports Center below or read the story here.

Burning Man sued over terps

Two deaf men are suing the California desert celebration known as Burning Man after the organizers refused to provide sign language interpreters. Read more from Bloomberg news here.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Cochlear implants for one-sided hearing loss

A research team looked at whether cochlear implants could help people with hearing loss in one ear. WRAL-TV has a video report.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

First Deaf Tennis Pro on Tour wins Match

The ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) has its first deaf player on the tour. South Korea's Duckhee Lee, who has been deaf since birth, won his first match yesterday in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He's only 21 years old and beat Switzerland's Henri Laaksonen 7-6 (4), 6-1 in the first round of the Winston-Salem Open. Next up: Hubert Hurkacz of Poland who is seated #3. Here's a video about him from the ATP.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Texas Senior Making his Mark on the Football field

Billy Haynes is not only a hard-of-hearing senior at a Texas high school, he's an important part of the school's football team. Haynes plays for Robert E. Lee High School in Baytown, Texas and has been hard of hearing since he was born. KTRK-TV has a video report (or read the story here).

Monday, August 12, 2019

Alabama man charged with kidnapping deaf child

An Alabama man is behind bars and facing kidnapping charges according to the Gadsden Times. Darrell Wade Watkins is accused of taking a deaf 4-year-old girl out of his family's year. Read about it here.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Deaf customer discriminated against while trying to order food

In a recent episode of ABC's What Would You Do? a deaf actor was discriminated against while trying to order food in a restaurant. Nyle Dimarco, winner of Dancing With the Stars and America’s Next Top Model winner watched what happened behind-the-scenes. He said it resembled his own real-life experiences living as a deaf man and was overwhelmed by the passionate reactions.

And after a time, Nyle Dimarco stepped in to play the actor:

The deaf YouTuber campaigning over poor Captions

Rikki Poynter's #NoMoreCRAPtions campaign to get YouTubers to ditch the site's automatic captions "highlights how impressive advances in assistive technologies such as automatic captioning can obscure these technologies’ imperfections. The campaign is Poynter’s way of pushing back against any misguided notion that deaf people live in a technological future that hasn’t yet arrived for everyone else." Read more about the deaf 28-year-old in a piece published by The Atlantic here.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Myths about making your website accessible

More than 2,250 federal lawsuits were filed against websites for ADA compliance issues in 2018, according to Amihai Miron, who heads User1st, a website accessibility firm. That's triple the number the year before. He says there are six myths related to the ADA issue including the idea that "No one’s complained, so there’s no problem" and "There’s no clear legal standard." Read more at here.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Theater loses appeal: Must provide terps

The Fox Theatre in St. Louis must provide interpreters for the deaf when asked —- not just once for the run of a show. That's the ruling of an appeals court panel. The 8th U.S. Court of Appeals voted two to one to uphold a lower court ruling. Tina Childress sued the theater when it refused to provide her captioning for a performance of Rent. She was told there was only one interpreted show and she would have to attend it if she wanted a sign language interpreter. You can read the ruling here.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Researchers say they're a step closer to new ways of restoring hearing

Researchers say they have figured out which proteins control the formation of hair cells—a finding that could lead to new ways of restoring hearing by triggering hair cells to grow. The findings come out of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine based on the use of genetic tools. Read the details of the study here.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

The Deaf Teen taking Esports by Storm

image from CNN video
Soleil Wheeler was born deaf and now at 13 years old, she's an international star in the world of esports. Known as Ewok, she has 200,000 followers on Amazon's Twitch streaming service and is the first female to join Faze Clan, a famous esports organization that helps promote its 80-or-so players and train them for competitions. Wheeler attends the Indiana School for the Deaf and tells CNN, "I wanted to really make history. It's a great opportunity to help inspire other girls... they can join any organization. They can play any game." Watch a video report here.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

happy Birthday, Bob Hiltermann!

Deaf since the age of 4, Bob Hiltermann was born on this day (August 1, 1952) in Germany, the tenth of eleven children born. A bout with meningitis left him deaf but he wasn't diagnosed until the age of ten. Hiltermann learned ASL while attending Gallaudet University in Washington, DC and later formed MuSign (a Signing/Mime company). He acted with Marlee Matlin in Children of a Lesser God, was featured in See What I'm Saying and The Hammer, he created ASL videos called Shut Up and Sign and is drummer for Beethoven's Nightmare.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Delta will be first to offer sign language bar for uniforms

Delta Air Lines is now allowing in-flight crew members' to include a language bar option on their uniforms to indicate whether they know a signed language. The option is already available for spoken languages like Spanish and Russian. Delta will be the first U.S. airline to do this. Delta CEO Ed Bastian shared the news with a video on his LinkedIn page.

BBC Tests New Audio Mix

The BBC is testing new technology that allows hard-of-hearing viewers to adjust audio levels in new ways. They can reduce background noise and make the dialogue crisper. Find out more about the technology on the BBC’s Taster website here.

Monday, July 29, 2019

A "tireless champion and advocate for the Deaf community" has died

Harlan Lane
PHOTO: Mary Knox Merrill/Northeastern University
Harlan Lane died July 13 at the age of 82 from Parkinson’s disease. A psychologist and linguist, Lane helped to found the ASL program at Northeastern University. But he will mostly be remembered as a "tireless champion and advocate for the Deaf community." Among the books he authored was The People of the Eye: Deaf Ethnicity and Ancestry. He argued in the book that deafness is not a disability but a unique community. Lane became interested in Deaf culture and ASL in the 1970s while teaching at the University of California, San Diego. He happened upon students who were signing to each other and wanted to learn more. He explained in an interview with the Northeastern in 2011 here. The interim co-director of the ASL Program at Northeastern, Angela Herbert, said:
Professionally speaking, he was decades before his time in terms of understanding the value of Deaf people and the Deaf community. There are so many books on ASL, Deaf culture, and the Deaf community now, but when Harlan was starting out, that just wasn’t the case.
People at Gallaudet University remember Lane as a professor in the 1980s who was an outspoken member of the “Deaf President Now” movement. Read more about Lane here.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

How Rochester Became a Hub for the Deaf

Rochester is home to one of the largest deaf and hard-of-hearing populations in the U.S. Read about how that came about in an article from the Daily Beast here.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Sainsbury’s turns store into signing supermarket

Sainsbury’s, one of the UK's largest supermarkets, turned one of its stores into a signing supermarket. It was renamed “Signsbury’s” for the three-day project. Read more about it here.

On this date: The ADA was signed into law

It was on this day (July 25, 1990) that President George H.W. Bush signed the American Disability Act into law. Senator Tom Harkin says the ADA law was inspired by his deaf brother. The Iowa Democrat says watching his brother, Frank, struggle against social barriers motivated him to push the ADA bill through the U.S. Congress. The law prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training and other conditions and privileges of employment. You can watch the signing in the video below.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Deaf man: Theater prevented him from seeing ‘Lion King’

A Tampa Bay, Florida deaf man says he tried to see The Lion King at a local movie theater but they couldn't find captioning equipment for him that worked. WFLA-TV has a video report.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Looking Back.. 16 years ago

On this date (July 23) in 2003, a revival of Big River opened on Broadway with a cast of hearing and deaf actors. Roger Miller's 1985 musical about Huck Finn was the first Broadway show to do so since the 1980's Children of a Lesser God. The show was a co-production of the Roundabout Theater Company and West Hollywood's Deaf West Theater.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Inventing sign language for deaf scientists

The BBC has a video report on Liam Mcmulkin, a deaf student who was frustrated by the lack of sign language for scientific terms—so he invented his own.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Keyless ignition leads to death of deaf woman

Connie Dotson died after accidentally leaving her car running in the garage while she slept inside her home. This is not the first time this has happened to someone who is deaf with keyless ignition systems. WKYT-TV has a video report from Kentucky (or you can read the story here).

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Plan to prevent deafness in gene-edited babies

image by XhenetaM
A Canadian bioethicist says a plan to edit human embryos to prevent deafness is "offensive." Fran├žoise Baylis is criticizing the efforts of a Russian molecular biologist who told the New Scientist he "has recruited five couples with genetic deafness who wish to conceive a child who can hear." Denis Rebrikov says he will edit the GJB2 gene to eliminate the possibility of deafness based on the couples' genetics. Baylis told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, "What's interesting and controversial about this is that many people in the deaf community think that this is a misguided perspective. And that's because they don't see deafness as a disability. They just see that as diversity." You can listen to the story or read the transcript here.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Deaf Printers at the WaPo

Many of the Washington Post's printers have been deaf and recently more than a dozen of them got together at Gallaudet University. The Post quotes history professor Brian Greenwald as telling the group, "If I’ve done my math correctly, you represent more than 350 years of experience." Read the full story here.

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 on all 15 counts. Mesa is now serving time at the United States Penitentiary in Atwater, California near San Francisco, a high-security facility.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

DC is getting a new deaf-owned Pizzeria

A San Francisco pizzeria owned by a deaf couple is expanding to Washington, D.C. Just like Mozzeria west and the second Mozzeria in Austin, the new restaurant will be staffed by deaf employees and located just down the street from Gallaudet University. The new Mozzeria will open next spring. Read more about Russ and Melody Stein's new venture here or watch the announcement below.

Monday, July 8, 2019

How the Brain Links Gestures, Perception & Meaning

Neuroscientists say gesture guides our perception of the world and how we assign meaning to what happens around us. Read more in Quanta magazine here.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Life and Deaf

image from
Oscar-winner Marlee Matlin has developed a new comedy series that may be picked up by Disney. It's called Life and Deaf and is based on the life of Matlin's long-time interpreter, Jack Jason. The show is set in the 1970s and tells the story of a kid growing up with deaf parents. Read more about it at Deadline Hollywood.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Deaf Umpire Calls ‘Em Like He Sees ‘Em

Jon Breuer went from working on the New York Stock Exchange to a career as a deaf high school umpire in New Jersey. CBS New York has a video report (you can read the story here).

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Getting to Know: Cochlear Limited

You could have bought stock in Cochlear Limited at the turn of the century for about $10. A few days ago the stock was worth more than $140 a share.  Cochlear Limited is the biggest of the three companies that dominate the cochlear implant market with about two-thirds of the market. More than a quarter of a million people have a Cochlear implant. Based in Australia, Cochlear Limited does most of its business in Europe and the U.S. through more than a dozen subsidiaries. Its net revenue ios about $220 million. With brands like Nucleus and Baha, more than a quarter of a million people have one of its implants. It employs more than 2800 people.

Monday, July 1, 2019

A Florida First

Bethany Baker is the "first deaf person admitted to the University of North Florida’s post-baccalaureate nursing program." Get to know her in an article from FristCoastNews here.

On this day in history: 26 year ago

It was 26 years ago today (July 1, 1993) that the FCC requires all U.S. analog television receivers with screens 13 inches or larger to include built-in decoder circuitry that could display closed captioning.

Friday, June 28, 2019

This day in history: 115 years 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 26, 2019

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 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

Deaf Finnish rap artist Signmark (Marko Vuoriheimo) was born on this day (June 26) in Helsinki, Finland in 1978. The child of deaf parents, Signmark stumbled into Hip Hop music while translating songs into sign. He felt a connection between the rappers hand gestures and sign language. He now works with other artists who sing as he signs, becoming the first deaf rapper to sign with a major label. His first album was released in 2006. Signmark came in second in the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

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. Cerf joined the Board of Trustees of Gallaudet University in 1997.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Deaf Republic

Hard-of-hearing poet Ilya Kaminsky has written a new book called Deaf Republic. Kaminsky was born in the former Soviet Union and his new book, which is really a collection of poems, imagines deafness as a collective form of resistance against a military regime. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Baseball ASL Culture Night in Oregon

A minor league baseball team in Oregon is holding the team's first-ever ASL Culture Night this evening. The Medford Rogues home game "will feature ASL translation for all of the PA announcements, as well as fun facts about deaf culture. Half of the proceeds raised through the game’s ticket raffle will be donated to Crater High School’s Deaf Academic Bowl team." Here's a video report from the Mail Tribune or read the story here.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

On this Day: First Deaf Computer PhD

image from
It was on this date, June 15, 2008, that Karen Alkoby became the first deaf woman in the U.S. 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 the creation of a ASL-to-English dictionary. She now teaches computer science at Gallaudet University.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Deaf-owned Business Thriving

A deaf-owned Austin-based virtual mailbox service just scanned their millionth piece of mail this month after five years in business. KXAN-TV has a video report (or read the story here).