Sunday, January 13, 2019

Deaf Man Shot & Killed in Phoenix

A father and member of the deaf community was shot and killed outside of a Phoenix apartment complex this past Monday, reports KNXV-TV (ABC-15). Police are looking for the culprits even as friends of Gary Herrera try to raise money for his funeral by holding a car wash Saturday. Below is a video report. For captions, go directly to the TV station website here.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Deaf And Unemployed

"Amanda Koller is getting her second master's degree. She has applied for more than 1,100 jobs in the past year. She hasn't gotten any full-time, permanent job offers. She is also profoundly deaf." That's how an NPR story on the difficulties facing deaf people seeking jobs. Read the full story here.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Donald Trump in ASL

Ever wondered how to say ‘Donald Trump’ in American Sign Language? The Washington Post has a suggestion here, along with some other politicians.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Getting to Know.. the First Teacher of the Deaf

A Spanish monk in the 16th century named Pedro Ponce de Leon (1520–1584) is recognized by most historians as the first teacher of deaf children, though some experts point to Spanish painter Juan Fernandez Navarrete, who lived in the earlier part of the century. Ponce de Leon was a Benedictine monk who took a vow of silence and developed a form of sign language to communicate. He apparently taught finger-spelling to deaf children who probably arrived at his monastery already knowing some home signs.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Getting to Know.. Greg Hlibok

image from Gallaudet University
Greg Hlibok oversaw the FCC's Disability Rights Office from 2010 to 2016. Profoundly deaf since birth, Hlibok was the first deaf law student at Hofstra University. Hlibok is best known in the Deaf community as the student body president of Gallaudet University during the 1988 Deaf President Now protest. He serves on the Gallaudet University Board of Trustees and is currently the general counsel and compliance officer for video relay service provider ZVRS.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Deaf-friendly Workout Classes

A San Diego gym is hosting free workshops that include sign language and other deaf-friendly options. CBS-8 has a video report.

CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

$450K Donated to the Deaf Bible Society

A Christian youth gathering has raised nearly $450,000 to create translations of New Testament Bible Stories into 16 sign languages. Donations from the 40,000 students at Passion 2019, which took place in Washington, DC, Dallas and Atlanta, will go to the Deaf Bible Society. Read more here.

Getting to Know... Hearing Tests

Here's what won't happen during a hearing test: No one will use a needle and there will be no request to strip off your clothes.

Here's what WILL happen: An audiologist will check to make sure you don’t have a build up of wax in your ears before taking you into an acoustic testing chamber that cuts out outside noise.

You’ll put on headphones that cover your ears and listen to tones.

You’ll indicate when you first hear the tone.

He’ll start with a low tone at a very soft level and gradually increase the volume.

The same process will be used through ten different tones.

A second test involves placing a want behind your ear. This test how well you can hear sounds coming through your skull and not through your ears.

The results are indicated on what’s called an audiogram. It looks like a graph.

If you have some hearing loss – whether mild or significant, your audiologist may include speech recognition tests.

Using the headphones again, you repeat a word or sentence that you hear. The results should give the audiologist enough information to decide to recommend a hearing aid.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Airline Travel Tips

Make each airline agent aware of your situation at each stage of your trip.. from the booking agent all the way to the gate agent and flight attendants.

Arrange for pre-boarding and have a friend or family member escort you to the gate. Escorts can get a gate pass that will allow them through security and to the gate.

Airlines will often seat you at the front of a plane if you request it to read lips better or if you have a service dog with you.

Take a piece of paper with you explaining your situation and how you’d like to communicate. Show it especially to an agent when you arrive at the gate so that he or she can make sure you are aware of any important announcements such as a gate change.

Most airlines offer assistance for hard-of-hearing passengers over the phone.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Katie Irwin becomes the first deaf person to give UAA Commencement Speech

Katie Irwin delivered the commencement address to fellow students at the University of Alaska Anchorage in December. She becomes the first deaf person to give the commencement. KTVA-TV has a video report.

Getting to Know... Hearing Loops

When you see a blue sign of a human ear that's a cue to hearing aid users that they can press a tiny button to hear a special broadcast sent directly to their device. This is called a hearing loop, a thin copper wire that radiates electromagnetic signals in a room. A tiny receiver called a telecoil built into most hearing aids and cochlear implants picks up the signal. With the flip of a switch on the device, sound comes through with greater clarity than can be heard by someone with normal hearing. This might be music, sound from a movie, a or a speaker. Hearing loops are better known in Europe than in the US, where only about a thousand have been installed in museums, stores, theaters, airports, and sports arenas.


The sign should have a "T" symbol in the lower right hand corner of the ear symbol if there is an induction loop installed. If there is solely an ear with a slash in the middle of the ear, than the sign indicates there is some sort of hearing access but good luck trying to figure out what the site has. If there are dots/slashes running through the ear then the sign indicates that an assistive listening system is present but it could be an FM or Infrared system and headsets and/or neck loops may be available.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Video shows Taco Bell Refusing to Serve Deaf Man

Taco Bell fired an employee in Ohio after he refused to serve a deaf man. The employee even threatened to call the police if he did not leave. The man's mother posted a video of the encounter on Facebook, saying, "This is my Deaf son getting discriminated against in the Taco Bell drive thru on Dorothy Ln in Kettering. He was trying to show them his order and they told him it was against company policy to take his order that way. Really?? Pretty sure the ADA would say otherwise. Uneducated people." Taco Bell released a statement saying:
Taco Bell has a fundamental policy to respect all of our customers and employees, and we are committed to maintaining an environment free of discrimination or harassment. The franchise owner and operator of this location has investigated this situation and the team member no longer works for their organization. All team members at this restaurant are being re-trained by the franchise owner on their policies.
Watch the video here.

Accessibility in Tampa Bay

Deaf advocates in Tampa Bay applaud the inclusion of Text 911. But they also say there's still a lot to do to make the community accessible. Read more in the Tampa Bay Times here.

Getting to Know... Service Animals

image from Wikimedia Commons
What is the legal definition of a service animal?  Therapy Animals are not legally defined by federal law but there is a legal definition for service animals in the Americans With Disabilities Act. Service animals are specifically trained to help the disability-related needs of their handlers and are not considered 'pets'.

Is using a service animal protected in public places? Federal laws protect the rights of individuals with disabilities who are accompanied by their service animals in public places.

Does a guide dog have to be certified by the State to be an “official” guide dog? No. Any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. 

Can a business owner insist on proof of state certification before letting a service animal into the business? No. Certificates, licenses or other physical proof that a dog qualifies as a service animal.

What can a business owner ask the service dog handler? If the dog’s function is not apparent, then the ADA permits only two kinds of questions. The business owner can ask, “Is this dog required because of a disability?" and “What specific assistive task or tasks has the dog been trained to perform?”

Under what conditions can a service animal be excluded from a facility? Under ADA law, an animal can be excluded if it is a direct threat to the health or safety of other people or will disrupt the regular operation of the business. Handlers of service animals must obey local leash and vaccine laws and must have their dogs under control at all times. An example of an animal being a direct threat to public safety would be if the service animal was eating at tables or sitting on chairs meant for patrons. 

Can businesses hold service animal owners responsible for damage done by the animal? Yes. Service-dog handlers are responsible for property damage just like other patrons.

Can businesses require the owners of service animals to pay “pet fees” or segregate them into “animal-friendly” areas? Because service dogs are not pets, the U.S. Justice Department, which is the ADA’s primary enforcement authority, businesses cannot subject them to “pet fees” or segregation in “animal-friendly” areas.  

Does an animal have to be able to do anything to be a service animal?  Yes. A dog must be able to perform specific tasks that relate to a person’s disability. 

Are therapy animals protected in the same way? Therapy, emotional-support, and companion animals are considered pets and do not fall under the regulations provided by the ADA. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The Rise of DeafSpace

Hansel Bauman, the architect who established the DeafSpace Project at Gallaudet, "is adamant that DeafSpace is very different from ideas such as 'human-centred design' and 'universal design.' Architecture for the deaf community should go beyond the goal of producing a design that simply suits its users well, he says. Instead spaces built for the deaf should understand and promote their community’s culture, too." Read more in an Economist article about "the rise of buildings for the deaf and blind" here. Below is a TEDx video featuring Bauman.

Getting to Know.. your Hair Cells

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