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.