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.