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).

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Deaf woman concerned over note from Portland drive-thru

A deaf Dunkin' Donuts customer in Maine says she was told not to use the drive-thru, even though she had done so many times. Read the story from WMTW-TV here.
image from WMTW-TV video

Monday, June 10, 2019

On this Day: Ed Dundon was born

Ed "Dummy" Dundon was the first deaf player to play baseball professionally. He was born on this day (July 10) in 1859. After attending the Ohio State School for the Deaf, Dundon went on to play several years of professional baseball. He had two seasons with the Columbus Buckeyes before retiring and becoming an umpire. During his hitch with the Buckeyes in 1883 and 1884, Dundon had a record of 9-20 and a 4.25 ERA.

Friday, June 7, 2019

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.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

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 4, 2019

32 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 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.

Monday, June 3, 2019

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

Sunday, June 2, 2019

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.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

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 on June 1, 1968, 51
years ago today.

Friday, May 31, 2019

The Silent Natural

A new film called The Silent Natural debuts tonight in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. It tells the story of William Ellsworth “Dummy” Hoy who played in the baseball major league from 1888 to 1902. Hoy slugged "41 home runs, 605 stolen bases and one game in which he threw out three baserunners at home plate from the outfield." Read more in the Columbus Monthly here or watch the trailer for the film below.

In a Silent World

A documentary called In a Silent World tells the story of hearing parents who learn about Deaf culture through their deaf daughter. The 90-minute film is available on Amazon Prime Video and there's more information at the film's website here.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The connection between Monks & Sign Language

National Geographic Australia explores the connection between the vow of silence taken by monks some 500 years ago helped in the development of sign language. National Geographic Australia has more here.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Mocked & Harassed for Being Hard of Hearing

Massachusetts is paying $95,000 to a former employee who says he was mocked and harassed and eventually fired for being hard-of-hearing. Ralph Claudomir worked for the Massachusetts Environmental Police in charge of managing the offices where people register their boats and recreational vehicles. According to MassLive, his request for accommodations was denied" and he was "yelled at during meetings and 'humiliated, degraded and harassed' due to his disability. He was given written warnings for speaking too loudly." Read more about the lawsuit here.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Poetry Slams for the Deaf in Israel

Forward takes a look at a poetry slam in for the Deaf in Isreal. Read the full story here.

Netflix Show features Deaf Teen

Netflix’s new apocalyptic teen drama called The Society features a deaf teenager played by Sean Berdy. Everyone in a small New England town disappears. Berdy's character offers a steady moral center. You may remember him from the family drama Switched At Birth.  He explains in an interview with TIME magazine why he left acting for a time after that show came to an end.  Read the story here.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

A new social network for signers

AN Israeli-based company is launching a new social network for signers. Joseph Geliebter, founder of SignTalk Foundation, says:
SignTalkers gives members of the signing community – both hearing and deaf – a space for thoughtful, thriving, and engaging conversation. Unlike other social media platforms, this exclusive space will serve to provide a home away from home to meet, share and interact with members of the signing community around the world.
Using the site requires registration. You'll find the SignTalkers website here and more information in a article published by an Israeli newssite here.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Starbucks opens Signing Store in China

image from
Starbuck's third signing store is open—in China. in Guangzhou's Yuexiu district. Besides using sign language to communicate with customers, the store will offer sign language classes and coffee workshops in sign language. Starbucks has opened signing stores in Kuala Lumpur and Washington, DC (near Gallaudet University). At those stores, and the new one, baristas wear aprons with sign language that spells the word Starbucks. Belinda Wong, chief executive officer of Starbucks China, said:
The new Signing Store is an example of how we are building inclusive environments and careers for our partners. This store truly creates a sense of belonging for everyone and is a strong testament to our continued commitment to building a more diverse and inclusive working environment.
Read more in the company's press release here.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

A Deaf Immigrant is Student of the Year

Blanca Ceja-Salas is 2nd in the bottom row in the photo
Image from

Read more here:
A deaf immigrant is Student of the Year at California's Merced College. Blanca Ceja-Salas is graduating with a degree in photography and a 3.7 GPA. Board of Trustees President Carmen Ramirez is quoted in a press release as saying:
To have Blanca be the Student of the Year is an impressive flag for what Merced College is and how it transforms lives. We know students come here, they prepare themselves and they move on. But for Merced College to be the kind of place where someone that’s not your typical student can come in and not just do OK, but do something amazing, speaks to the kind of campus we have. Blanca hasn’t just overcome physical limitations, but language barriers and immigration issues as well. She’s an amazing young woman and we’re proud to have her as the Student of the Year.
Read the press release here.  

Deaf Access to Legislative Sessions Debated in Florida

Florida's failure to provide captioning on videos of its legislative sessions has led to a legal battle that has made its way to an appeals court. The National Association of the Deaf and activist Eddie Sierra sued, claiming it's an ADA violation. Lawyers for the state claim captioning the sessions is just too expensive and the lawmakers would rather not have a video feed at all than have to pay the cost of captioning. Read more about what's at issue in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in a Courthouse News article here.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

School for the Deaf Campus Sold

The Sioux Falls Ministry Center is buying the South Dakota School for the Deaf campus for $6.9 million. The Center will get the building as well as the football and track field. Read more in the Argus Leader here.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

FCC Debates Live Captioning for News

The FCC recently held a forum on best practices for TV news closed captioning. TV Technology reports that forum included not only the FCC but broadcasters and the Deaf community. Read more about it here.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Seattle bar owner upset over new captioning law

image from Google Maps
The owner of the Marco Polo Bar and Grill in Seattle says that while he'll turn on the captioning on the TVs in the bar if someone asks, he doesn't like the city council requiring him to do so. Matt Miera told KIRO radio, that "the closed captioning ordinance, like so many of the city’s recent regulations, is just 'another way to reach into my pocket and take more money.'" The ordinance takes effect later this year and will fine businesses that fail to turn on captioning for everything TV they have on display. Miera asks, “Is the city of Seattle going to require us to have a translator there, to do sign language for the music that’s playing over the jukebox?” Read the full story here.

Deaf Man Shot & Dismembered

A Kansas City man has been arrested for allegedly shooting and dismembering the body of a deaf man. Police say Colton Stock also set the remains of Matthew Calkins on fire. Calkins graduated from the Kansas School for the Deaf in 2002. FOX-4 Kansas City has a video report (or read the story here)

Monday, May 13, 2019

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.

Stephen Colbert's Ear

image by
Comedian Stephen Colbert was born on this day (May 13) in 1964. What many people do not know about the comedian is that he is deaf in one ear. When he was young a surgery left him without an ear drum in his right ear. He explains, "I always wanted to be a marine biologist but then I had this ear problem. I have no ear drum. So I had this operation at the Medical University when I was a kid. Now I can't get my head wet. I mean, I can, but I can't really scuba dive or anything like that. So that killed my marine biology hopes."

Friday, May 10, 2019

Google announces new captioning app

There's a new captioning app that will soon be available for Andriod phones that's getting some good reviews. Live Caption works for audio and video. Here's a video that show it in action.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Baseball team to honor Deaf Fans

A minor league baseball team is hosting a Deaf Awareness Night next month. This will be the third time the Pawtucket Red Sox have honored deaf fans of the Rhode Island team. The team will wear jerseys with their name spelled out on June 7. Gallaudet baseball coach, and former major leaguer, Curtis Pride, will take part in the festivities. WPRI-TV has a video report below or you can read the story here.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Partnership between NTID & Chinese University

Rochester's NTID (National Technical Institute for the Deaf) is partnering with a Chinese university to establish "a cultural and educational partnership between the two institutions." Changchun University is exploring a joint degree program in graphic design and 3D graphic technology. NTID president Gerry Buckley says, “These partnerships are instrumental in giving our students global enrichment experiences that will make them even more marketable upon graduation.” Read more about it here.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Deaf umpire in Jersey

Jonathan Breuer is a softball and baseball umpire in North Jersey who says, “I want to show the world what deaf people can do." has a video report.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

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.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

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 11 years. 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.” Pride led the Bison to one of their best seasons ever in 2012. Gallaudet won a school record 25 games. When he was in the majors, Pride played for six teams including the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels, Detroit Tigers, Montreal Expos and Atlanta Braves. Read more about Pride's impact on the
students here.

NBC Show Episode on Cochlear Implants

image from NBC video
In a recent episode of the NBC show New Amsterdam (titled Happy Place) a deaf patient with a cochlear implant wants it removed. The patient is overwhelmed by sounds and upset over the drift it has caused in her closest relationship. Watch it here.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

A First for a Deaf Person in Maine

Regan Thibodeau will soon become the first deaf person from Maine to earn her PhD in the state. She will graduate from the University of Southern Maine with a PhD in Public Policy. Thibodeau already holds a Masters from Columbia and teaches classes at USM in ASL, Deaf culture and interpreting. WCSH-WLBZ/TV has a video report.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

From Deafness at Birth to the Ivy League

A new book coming out this month tells the story of a deaf boy whose skill at basketball led him to an Ivy League school. The book was written by the father of Christopher Caulfield. Titled Ephphatha (which means "to be opened"), the subtitle sums it up: "Growing up Profoundly Deaf and Not Dumb in the Hearing World: A Basketball Player's Transformational Journey to the Ivy League." Thomas Caulfield explains the ignorance he and his wife often encountered in education as they advocated for their son. Ephphatha is available on Amazon here. To learn more about the family, click here. Below is a video featuring Chris and his experience at RIT's NTID (National Technical Institute for the Deaf).  He's now a graduate student at Cornell and getting some experience at Microsoft.

Closed captioning Becomes Seattle City Law

Closed captioning will be the law in Seattle for TVs in bars, restaurants and other places starting tomorrow (May 1). The City Council voted unanimously for the new city ordinance earlier this month and the mayor signed it into law last week. Councilmember Lisa Herbold sponsored the law and says in a press release:
It’s important to shift the onus from having to request closed captions as a public accommodation to instead create the expectation that folks have it in advance. I especially want to thank Seattle Commission for People with DisAbilities for bringing this issue to my attention, and for making this a top priority in their workplan to support development of this ordinance.
While the law goes into effect on May 1, enforcement won't begin until November. The city will send an advisory letter to businesses not in compliance. After that, businesses face a possible $125 fine, rising to $300 if violations continue. Read the full story from the Seattle Times here.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Minor League Baseball Team Holds Deaf Culture Day

The Rochester Red Wings' Deaf Culture Day got some attention on ESPN's SportsCenter over the weekend. It was featured as the Minor League Baseball Promotion of the Week. Rochester wore uniforms spelling out "Red Wings" on their jerseys. To purchase a ASL Red Wing cap or jersey, click here.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Deaf Man injured in Hit & Run

A deaf man was injured by a hit and run driver in North Carolina. Police have arrested a suspect. FOX-8 in High Point has a video report.

Brain implant surgery in the UK

A four-year-old boy in the UK had brain implant surgery recently. The BBC has a video report.

Deaf School Teacher Under Investigation

The Illinois State Police are investigating a teacher working at the Illinois School for the Deaf. Police say there are accusations that Charles Hicks, Jr. had sexual contact with students. The State Journal-Register has more details here.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Mayor Pete Gets Sign Name

Pete Buttigieg, who is running for president as a Democratic, was given a sign name.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Cop Saves Elderly Deaf Man

A quick-thinking subway cop saved a 70-year-old deaf man from an oncoming train.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Girl Gets Apology from Hearing Aid Thief

Alicia Lyding had her hearing device stolen from her San Francisco-area elementary school. Now the man who stole it has written a letter of apology. KGO-TV has a video report or read the story here.

The 1904 Deaf Film Festival

The 1904 Deaf Film Festival will take place in St. Louis this Thursday through Saturday (April 25-27). There is more information here.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

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.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Gally Grads Building a Tiny House Resort

Three Gallaudet University graduates are starting a vacation rental business, offering tiny houses deep in the West Virginia woods. Lost River Vacations will hold a launch party at a deaf-owned brewery at the end of April. Read details in a Washingtonian here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

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 hitman in the FX series Fargo. He received a BA in Theater Arts from Gallaudet University in 2008.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Netflix Film uses ASL incorrectly

Prominent members of the Deaf community are criticizing a new Netflix horror film called The Silence. Deaf model Nyle DiMarco, among others, say some of the sign languages in the film is gibberish and a deaf person should have been cast in the role of the deaf person in the film. That comment comes after the director claimed in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter that the teen who signs in the film, Kiernan Shipka, is "flawless" and, even though she is not deaf, Shipka has an "innate sense of what it’s like being a deaf person." DiMarco tweeted that the ASL "is not grammatically correct" in the film and that sometimes characters seem to understand sign language without looking at the person signing. 

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.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

State School for the Deaf Loses Principal

The Michigan School for the Deaf is looking for a new principal. Natalie Grupido abruptly resigned from the post she has held since 2016. She had worked at the school for 13 years. Her departure has fueled rumors about shutting down the school, but it released a statement denying that to be true. Read more on the story here.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Deaf Syrian Refugee Gets Starring Role

A Syrian refuge who is deaf is staring in a Netflix series. Mustafa Alabssi takes the lead in Black Summer, a spin-off of Z Nation. Global News has a video report or read the story here.

7-Year-Old Gets Surprise

A San Francisco-area first grader had her hearing aids stolen from her school. But she got a surprise this week. ABC-7 has a video report or read the story here.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Deaf & Blind School Celebrates Birthday

The Colorado School For Deaf and Blind is celebrating its 145th birthday. KXRM-TV (Fox 21) in Colorado Springs has a video report.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Judge: Captioning Suit can go Forward

A judge has rejected an attempt by Harvard and MIT to dismiss a lawsuit over video captioning on their MOOC (massive open online courses) offerings and guest lecture videos hosted on the school's YouTube channels. The National Association of the Deaf filed the lawsuit in 2015, saying the captioning was so bad on these videos they were pretty much useless. The recent attempt to get a dismissal is the second time the schools have tried and the second time they've been turned down. Read the decision here.

Monday, April 8, 2019

The Stand-up Comic Bringing Deaf Culture to Hearing People

Greek-born but Edinburgh-based comedian Leah Kalaitzi uses British Sign Language (BSL) and an interpreter to spread Deaf Culture. In a video called Silent Laughs, the Scottish Documentary Institute follows Kalaitzi to the stage.

On this day in 1864..

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

Sunday, April 7, 2019

NTID marks Half a Century of Deaf Education

It's been 50 years since Rochester Institute of Technology welcomed its first class of 70 deaf students. It was 1965 when the National Technical Institute for the Deaf was born. President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed a bill into law that created a national advisory group which led to the creation of an institute of technical training for the deaf. In 1974 Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall was created as a main hub for NTID students. The first lady, Lady Bird Johnson, visited the school for the dedication and opening ceremonies. WROC-TV has a video report on the re-dedication of the Hall on Friday. You can read more about the event on the NTID website here.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Terp conference is sign only

Pennsylvania's Mount Aloysius college is holding an ASL interpreting conference this weekend. It's a silent conference because everyone attending has been asked to turn their voices off. WTAJ-TV has a video report (or read the story here).

Friday, April 5, 2019

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).

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Minor League Baseball team to honor the Deaf community

The Rochester Red Wings will have a special day to honor ASL. The minor league team and Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, will wear special ASL jerseys on April 28 when the team plays the Pawtucket Red Sox. The Rochester jerseys will have "Red Wings" spelled out in ASL and the players will wear hats with the capital “R” in ASL. The game will also feature a "silent inning" with no announcements or music. Instead, sign language interpreters will be stationed throughout the park. Read more about it on the Red Wings website here.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Seattle may Require Captions at Bars and Restaurants

Seattle is considering a city law that would "require closed captioning to be activated on all TVs in public spaces." KUOW-TV reports that the "proposed legislation would require closed captioning be turned on during business hours in a range of settings where TVs are present, including places like waiting rooms, restaurants and bars." Read the full story here.

Some Cities Removing Online Documents over ADA lawsuits

The Orlando Sentinal is reporting that three cities in Florida have removed many public documents from the websites because city officials are worried about getting sued over ADA violations. Many officials say they were unaware that the federal law requires government agency accessibility also applies to the web. But since "Nearly 2,000 suits were filed in 2018 alleging website accessibility issues," it is an increasing concern. Read the full story here.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Sign-friendly restaurant opens in Arizona

Sign of the Thymes in Glendale, Arizona is sign-language friendly. Chris and Ann Colston own the restaurant. Ann Colston tells KTBS-TV, "My husband, whose sister is deaf, has been signing since he was six years old, and so we started putting some things together and talking about opening up a restaurant where deaf people can have a place to come and feel comfortable placing an order like everybody else." Read the full story and watch a video report (no captions) here.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Deaf parent Suit: No Terp at Meetings

The father of a middle schooler in San Antonio is suing the public school district. Cleto Rodriguez says in the suit "he requested sign language interpreters for multiple parent-teacher conferences but was never provided them as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws." The San Antonio Independent School District refused to comment on the lawsuit. Read the full story in the San Antonio Express here.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

This day in history: DPN

image from Gallaudet University 
It was 31 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 8, 2019

Let's visit Work & Woof

A freshman at the Texas School for the Deaf (with the help of his teacher) is learning how to help take care of dogs at a place called Work & Woof. Here's a video about Fabian Davenport and his teacher Alexis Roland.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Texas Hoops Team Undefeated During Season

image from
The girls' basketball team at the Texas School for the Deaf in Austin was undefeated through the end of their season. The team was 33-0 going into the semifinals. That's when the Lady Rangers suffered their first defeat. They lost to Houston Lutheran North by a score of 55-52. Lubbock Trinity Christian then beat the Houston Lutheran North for the 4A championship. Find out more about the team's effort from CBS-Austin here.

A Program for Deaf-Blind Independence

The Iowa School for the Deaf has a special programs to help deaf-blind students gain independence. A dozen students in the program have jobs and one "just completed a seasonal position." Read more in The Daily Nonpareil here.

CVS Pharmacy is getting out of the hearing aid business

CVS is going to shut down its 49 standalone audiology centers at the end of the month. The move comes ahead of FDA changes to hearing aid regulations. CVS is the largest pharmacy chain in the US but Costco dominates the hearing aid retail market. The website "Hearing & Health Technology Matters" quotes a CVS spokesman as saying, "The FDA is preparing to approve lower-cost, over-the-counter hearing devices in the near future, and new technology is emerging to enable self-serve hearing testing and care." Read more here.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Discrimination Lawsuit Settled with Parking Service

USA Parking Services is settling an EEOC lawsuit for "refusing to hire a deaf applicant for a valet attendant position based on the assumption that a deaf person could not perform the essential functions of the job rather than conduct an individualized assessment of his abilities." The valet and parking services company will pay $150,000 and recruit deaf and hearing-impaired applicants and make changes to its qualifications. Read the details in a EEOC press release here.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Living with Usher Syndrome

Shannon Reyenga explains a difficult decision in Huffington Post article titled, "Why I Didn’t Tell My Boyfriend I Was Going Blind Until I Absolutely Had To." She writes, "After I learned I had Usher syndrome, I thought I lost any chance of finding love. I struggled with the idea of finding someone willing to face this challenging diagnosis with me. I could hardly face it myself." Read her full story here.

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.

Monday, March 4, 2019

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 dialogue of 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.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

On this date in history..

On this date (March 3, 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

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.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Hospital accused of not providing interpreter as deaf patient died

Mary Davidson’s family says she went weeks at a time with no sign language interpreter at the Canadian hospital where she died, according to the Hamilton Spectator. Her sister-in-law, Catherine Soplet, is quoted as saying, "The hospital was relying on family members to be the translators despite repeated requests for the use of translation services." Read the full story here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Wheel of Fortune appearance

Lori is deaf and Lorraine has been her friend and interpreter for more than 50 years. They appeared together recent on Wheel of Fortune—and won some money!

Controversy over Terp at Bball Game

The interpreter for a deaf basketball player in Culver, Indiana was ordered by a referee to not stand beside of the coach. It's something she has done during every other game. The IndyStar has the story here.

Friday, February 22, 2019

"Our sign language romance"

The BBC Arabic followed a deaf couple from Lebanon as they prepared for their wedding.

Implant just in time for Wedding

A Baltimore teacher got a cochlear implant to restore his hearing last week—just in time for his wedding. David Alianiello works with deaf students in Baltimore's public school system. He told People Magazine, "It was the first time I had ever heard clapping. It was fun to be able to experience the different sounds." Read the full story here or watch a video from WBAL-TV below.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

On this date in 1875.. a sports legend was born

Luther "Dummy" Taylor
Luther "Dummy" Taylor was born on this day (Feb. 21) in 1875. Taylor joined the Giant's pro baseball in 1900 when they played at New York's Polo Grounds before moving to the West Coast. He was on the team until 1908, helping the Giants win their first World Series in 1905. Taylor was 16-9 that season. Overall, Taylor had 115 wins and 103 loses with the Giants. He then played with the Kansas City Royals. It was fitting because Taylor was born in near Oskaloosa, Kansas and attended the Kansas State School for the Deaf where he was class valedictorian in 1895. He played on the school's baseball team and returned to coach after retiring from professional baseball.  Taylor was buried in 1958 in Baldwin, Kansas about 50 miles from where the Kansas City Royals now play their home games.

Taylor was the last deaf Major League Baseball pitcher (Curtis Pride who now coaches Gallaudet's baseball team was an outfielder). A story is told that Taylor's manager with the Giants learned sign language. During one game, an umpire who was also fluent in sign realized that the two were complaining about his calls and threw them both out of the game. Taylor was known for his run-ins with umpires, yet worked as an amateur umpire himself for more than 20 years.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Implant Stolen

A mother had part of her son's cochlear implant stolen. It was inside Kimberly Blodgett's purse when she dropped off her children at daycare. KFOR-TV has a video report.

Community Learns Sign for 2-year-old girl

A deaf toddler in Massachusetts got a wonderful gift from her community. CBS News has a video report. (CBS did not provide captions).

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Deaf baristas: Starbucks discriminated against us

Two deaf baristas are suing Starbucks, claiming discrimination. They say the manager at the store in Seattle where they worked put them in positions for long hours that were especially difficult for deaf workers and that they were excluded from conversations with other employees, among other things. KIRO-TV has a video report below. There is a captioned video here.

Friday, February 15, 2019

City Council Drops Use of Terps at Meetings

If you live in Cleveland, your City Council meetings will not include sign-language interpreters anymore. The Council thinks it's too expensive, according to a letter one of the members sent to a man who is hard of hearing and had requested interpreters. The city provided them for a while, but the letter to Rico Dancy now offers him the use of headphones instead. Read the full story at here.

On this date in history...

image from Green Party NZ 
The New Zealand Parliament made history on this date (Feb. 15) in 2012. Mojo Mathers, the first deaf member of the body, gave her first speech. Since Mathers' speech was translated into sign language, the 13 other members of the Green party who spoke had their speeches translated into sign language as well.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Mom Remembers Daughter

A video posted on Facebook shows a deaf mom with dementia remembering her daughter. Watch it here.

Mother Gets ASL Lesson After Using the Wrong Signs

A mother wanted to teach her one-year-old child some sign language. She shares on Reddit how she accidentally taught her daughter some wrong signs. Fortunately, two deaf women saw them trying to sign in a restaurant and they graciously showed the mother the correct way to sign the words. Read the story here. (This is a corrected link. The originally posted link was broken) Some of the comments of other mistaken attempts at signing are pretty funny, causing the discussion thread to go viral.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

How Murder Shattered a Quiet College Campus

A murder took place during the year 2000 at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. An episode of People Magazine Investigates is dedicated to the crime. "The Sound of Silence" will air Monday at 10 pm, Eastern on Investigation Discovery. An article published by the magazine this weekend describes the crime that shook the campus. You can read it here.

The missing sign from the Super Bowl

Did you see the national anthem signed by Aarron Loggins during the Super Bowl? You didn't if you were watching the CBS broadcast of the game. That's because the network only showed Loggins for a second at the end of America the Beautiful. A video posted by the National Association of the Deaf of Loggins from the Super Bowl has been viewed more than one-and-a-half million times on Facebook. Watch it yourself here. Loggins earned a degree from Gallaudet University. Below is a video of Loggins during his Atlanta visit.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Two New Apps Related to Hearing

Google has two new Android apps aimed at the deaf and hard of hearing. Live Transcribe is a speech-to-text app that works in real time and Sound Amplifier does what you would expect it to do based on the name—it makes sounds louder. The user with hearing loss puts on a set of headphones and can adjust the app's settings for voice clarity, decreasing the ambient noise, etc. Both apps will be available for free in the Google Play store. There are some limitations though. Sound Amplifier only works on phones with Android 9 Pie and requires an internet connection while Live Transcribe will only be installed on Google’s Pixel 3 smartphones.

Apple offers some help as well: VoiceOver is a free text reader built into iOS. Assistive Touch has vibrations and light flashes to alert users to incoming calls. Of course, FaceTime is used by many members of the deaf community.

 Accessibility advocates say the next step for these smartphone tools is to make them coordinate with features like location so that, when you set your phone to a certain ambient noise level at a particular location, the phone will automatically use those setting when you go there again.

Below is a video showing how Live Transcribe works. Read a review of the apps at The Verge here.

BBC Captioning History

1979 - A documentary is the first program to be subtitled on the BBC

1986 - Blue Peter becomes the first live program to be subtitled on the BBC

1990 - The first live BBC broadcast is captioned by a stenographer

1990 - The BBC begins subtitling its news

2001 - Respeaking is used for subtitling for the first time by the BBC

Monday, February 4, 2019

Helen Keller video

Here is a Newsreel showing Helen Keller & Anne Sullivan recorded in 1928 with Open Captions and Audio Description.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Security guard attacked by deaf Uber driver

A Houston security guard is recovering after being attacked by a deaf Uber driver. The confrontation was caught on camera. ABC-13 has a video report. For captioning, go here.

America's First Female Deaf Mayor

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