Thursday, July 2, 2020

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 $133 a share.  Cochlear Limited is the biggest of the three companies that dominate the cochlear implant 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. With a billion dollars in annual revenue, the company features brands like Nucleus and Baha. More than a quarter of a million people have one of its implants. It employs more than 4000 people. Read more here.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

On this day in history: 27 year ago

It was 27 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.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

MI company to pay $25K for ADA violations

A Michigan company has agreed to pay $25,000 to settle a federal disability discrimination lawsuit as well as ADA training and reports to the EEOC. The EEOC's lawsuit said Powerlink Facilities Management Services, instead of providing captioning in its orientation videos, didn't allow a deaf employee to begin work for several months. The failure to provide reasonable accommodations was an ADA violation. Read more details from the EEOC here.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

This day in history: 116 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.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Whatever Happened to.. Jane Fernandes

Jane Fernandes
image from

Jane Fernandes has announced she will step down as president of Guilford College after this academic year. She spent seven years at the school and will leave a year before her contract expires. In taking the position at the private Quaker college, she became the first deaf woman to lead a U.S. college or university. But alumni of Gallaudet University will remember her, not only as provost of the school from 2000-2006 but as someone who was appointed by the school's board to become president but was rejected by students (having only learned sign language as an adult). The board revoked the appointment on Oct 29, 2006, Read more about what happened in 2006 in a Washington Post article here. Read Fernandes' letter to Guilford explaining her plans here.

iOS 14 gives deaf users some valuable features

Apples' 14th operating system includes features useful to the deaf and hard-of-hearing.

  • Sound Recognition, which creates a notification whenever the phone detects common noises like sirens, car horns, doorbells, running water, and appliance beeps. 
  • There's also a "personal audiogram,” which allows you to adjust frequencies based on which ones you are able to hear. 
  • "Real Time Text" conversation has been around—it helps with conversations for those who are nonverbal people. But now users can be doing something else while using the app. 
  • FaceTime calls can now be set so that it will which between signers and not just verbal speakers.

Friday, June 26, 2020

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.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Website accessibility study

Many websites are not accessible, according to a company called accessiBe. They tested 10,000,000 websites for accessibility compliance and found:

98% of menus failed
83% of buttons
71% of forms
52% of images
89% of pop-ups.

Read more here.

Starbucks to open 1st signing store in Japan

image from
Starbucks Coffee is opening its first store in Japan with baristas who know sign language. The store will open on Saturday in Kunitachi, a city in the western part of Tokyo. Nearly the entire staff of 25 is deaf. This will be the fifth "signing store" for the company Others are located in Malaysia, the US and China. Read more here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Looking Back.. 17 years ago: Big River Debuts

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. Big River won 7 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Here's a video of that 2004 Tony Awards ceremony. 

Getting to Know the Father of the Internet

Vinton Cerf
It was on this date (June 23) 1943 that Vinton Cerf, who is hard of hearing, 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 until 2005. He spoke at Gallaudet's 145th Commencement in 2017. You can read what he said here.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Videoconferencing Tips

Here are some tips from Carolyn Ginsburg Stern, the assistant director of outreach and strategic initiatives at the Center for Hearing and Communication, published in The Hearing Journal, about making videoconferences more accessible:

  • Sit in a well-lit space to brighten your face and avoid backlighting, such as light shining through a window behind a workstation.
  • Eliminate background noise. Use a high-quality microphone, headset/microphone combo, or earbuds.  
  • When you're not speaking, put your microphone on mute to reduce background noise
  • Speak in turn and state your name before speaking.
  • Project your voice succinctly and articulately, and avoid fillers such as “so” and “um.”
  • People with hearing loss have a hard time keeping up with spontaneous discussions and details, so try not to sway from the agenda and type your questions or clarifications in the chat feature of the videoconferencing tool you are using.

More info at The Hearing Journal here

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Marvel is looking for a Deaf Actress

Marvel is reportedly searching for a deaf, Native American First Nations, Indigenous or Latinx actress for a role in an upcoming Disney+ series. Speculation is that Disney could be planning to introduce the Daredevil character Echo to one of its shows. Originally an adversary for The Man Without Fear, Echo became a hero herself, becoming Avenger Maya Lopez in the New Avengers and then a help to Wolverine and Moon Knight. Read more here.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Twitter offers audio option--without making the audio accessible

Twitter is rolling out a new audio option that allows users to record as much as 140 seconds of audio to post as a tweet. But the social network failed to make the feature accessible to deaf and hard of hearing people. After an outcry, the designer behind the product, Maya Patterson, admitted it was “huge error” and the team is “working to fix this as soon as possible." Here's her tweet:
Only a few users have the option so far but it is expected to be widely available in a few weeks.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

FedEx will pay $3.3 million dollars to settle an ADA complaint

FedEx will pay $3.3 million dollars to settle a complaint filed with the EEOC. "Seventeen deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals filed Charges of Discrimination against FedEx, which the EEOC then consolidated as part of a nationwide investigation of potential ADA violations."FedEx has agreed to provide deaf and hard-of-hearing package handlers with access to live and video remote interpreters captioned videos, scanning equipment with non-audible cues such as vibrations and provide training for managers on ADA compliance. Read more here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

1st Transgender Student Graduates from Rochester School for the Deaf

"If it wasn't for RSD, I wouldn't be the person I am today," Cori Moquette told Spectrum News. Read more about Moquette here.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Masks & VRIs can prevent Deaf individuals from accessing treatment

Bridget Nitsch opted for a natural birth but wasn’t due for a few days--but the baby came anyway. But
Bridget Nitsch and her partner, who are both Deaf, couldn’t reach 911 until connecting with Bridget Nitsch’s mother through a video call. By the time the paramedics arrived, the baby’s head was halfway out. Bridget Nitsch and her partner can read lips with American Sign Language, but the paramedics refused to take off their masks or gloves due to COVID-19 precautions.“They were talking, but there was no communication,” Nitsch said through an interpreter. “I couldn’t speech-read anything they were saying, because of the masks. And then the baby came out.”
Read more in the Daily Northwestern.

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 Ph.D. in computer science. She graduated from Chicago's DePaul University, 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 an ASL-to-English dictionary. She now teaches computer science at Gallaudet University

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Deaf Black lives matter group honors Black deaf sanitation workers

Several dozen deaf black people joined together to march in Memphis yesterday. Besides protesting against police brutality and systemic racism, they also honored black deaf sanitation workers who marched before them. Read the full story at the Commercial Appeal here and watch the video below from WJHL-TV News channel 11.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Judge rules on lawsuit filed by deaf inmates in Illinois

The Illinois prison system is not following through on its agreement to accommodate deaf prisoners. That's the finding of a federal judge who says the Illinois Department of Corrections is out of compliance with a 2018 settlement agreement. It said that deaf prisoners would get auditory exams after failed hearing tests. The judge is ordering the dept. of corrections to pay attorney fees of the deaf prisoners who sued. Read more about the case in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.

Gally suspends frat House over racist photo

Gallaudet University has suspended its oldest fraternity. A 1988 photo has come to light showing members of the Kappa Gamma chapter doing what appears to be Nazi salutes. Current members of the Gallaudet chapter have condemned the photo. In 2014, the fraternity was criticized when members wore robes resembling Ku Klux Klan robes. President Roberta Cordano told the campus in a video, “They have become the face of systemic racism in our community, with photographs of the salute and use of robes being shared on social media. This behavior is unacceptable." Watch the entire video below. You can read the text of video here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Deaf demonstrators say they face dangers at protests

Members of Portland's deaf community are taking to the streets like many others are doing. But as KATU-TV has learned, safety can become a concern. Here is a video report here.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Black Lives Matter signs

ASL interpreter Rorri Burton breaks down how to sign “Black Lives Matter” in ASL and explains why not everyone signs it the same way.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

The lockdown's impact on deaf children in the UK

The Covid-19 pandemic has meant access to many support services is limited, and deaf youngsters are even more vulnerable, write a group of health and disability experts. Read more in the Guardian here.

Getting to know: Canada's first deaf Priest

Matthew Hysell
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. He was as Associate Pastor at Corpus Christi Parish with responsibility for St. Mark’s Catholic Community of the Deaf. He is now pursuing 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. Here's a video about Hysell when he first became a priest.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Meet the deaf fitness instructor calling for more accessibility in gyms and on social media

India Morse believes that the fitness industry isn't inclusive enough. She says, "Usually the major barrier in the fitness industry is the fact that the classes are always based in such dark environments. Fitness classes tend to be very dependent on having music to go along with the vibe but in all honesty, they often forget about the importance of being visual." Morse also believes Instagram should be doing more to cater for the deaf community. Read more at Inside here.

Friday, June 5, 2020

A Video of Life in a 1950s Deaf School

Here is a video filmed in 1954 at the UK's Royal School for Deaf Children in Margate.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

33 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 (subscription required).

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

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 at 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 your words but don’t exaggerate them
* Speak a little louder and slower than normal—but don’t shout or drag
* Keep your hands away from your face—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

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Louisiana School for the Deaf Gets New Director

Heather Laine is the new Director of Louisiana School for the Deaf. She earned a degree at Gallaudet University and later earned an advanced degree in deaf education at Cal State Northridge. She worked as a teacher of the deaf in Los Angeles before eventually becoming principal at Arizona's Sequoia Deaf School. Here is the official announcement.

Hotel Settles Service Dog complaint

A Connecticut Quality Inn has reached a settlement over its refusal to allow a guest to bring a service dog into its dining room. The settlement includes $1,000 in compensation and requires:
The Quality Inn Mystic-Groton to permit service animals in all areas of the hotel that members of the public and other hotel guests are allowed to go, including in its dining room during meal service. Additionally, the hotel will post signage indicating “Service Animals Welcome,” will implement a “Service Animal Policy,” and will train its managers and employees regarding the policy.
Read more about it here.

More than 110 years ago

Here is a bit of history. The paragraph below as published in the June 1907 issue of Scientific American magazine—more than 110 years ago:
The loss of the sense of hearing should not necessarily mean deprivation of the power of speech. 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.

Monday, June 1, 2020

The Hearing Journal

The June issue of The Hearing Journal is out. It's a well-respected academic journal and the articles are free. Read here articles that include "tips to make videoconferences more hearing-friendly and improve the experience for everyone, not just for the person with hearing loss." There's also information on fluctuating hearing loss, the "Expanding Insurance Coverage of Teleaudiology" and making audiology work during COVID-19 and beyond."

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.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Living through a pandemic without sound

There are 300,000 people in Northern Ireland affected by hearing loss. The BBC spoke to some of the about their experiences during the coronavirus outbreak here.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Gally gets new swim coach

image from
Nick Pezzarossi is the new men’s and women’s swimming and diving head coach at Gallaudet University. Pezzarossi, who is deaf, was twice an assistant coach at the school—three years under former head coach Bill Snape (2004-07) and one year under former head coach Rosemary Stifter (2003-04). The most recent head coach, Larry Curran, recently stepped down after eight years. Pezzarossi's wife, Caroline Pezzarossi, teaches psychology at Gallaudet. Read more about the new coach here.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Deaf-Blind artist wins National Magazine Award

Deaf-Blind artist John Lee Clark has won the 2020 National Magazine Award for "Tactile Art" in the category of Essays and Criticism. You can read Clark's piece in Poetry Magazine here and more about the award here.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Online Education Resources for the Deaf Community

Voice of America's Calla Yu has a video report on teachers who are creating online resources in American Sign Language.

The pandemic made life harder for deaf people. The solutions could benefit everyone.

"Floating captioning, live transcribing, and clear masks are only a first step to bridging the communication gap. This is all in the right direction, and people will say this ‘solves the deaf problem,’ but it doesn’t.” Read more at MIT Tech review here.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Video: "I am Deaf Enough"

Seattle-area deaf actress and YouTuber Cheyenna Clearbrook has put together a video for her more than 100K subscribers called "I am Deaf Enough." Born deaf, she was featured in a TEDx talk while a student at Gallaudet University student.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

ADA law & wearing a mask in a business

Does ADA law require businesses to allow people into stories if the customer has a disability? Some experts say the answer is 'no.' KMIR-TV in Palm Springs has a video report below or read the story here.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Complaint says AP exams discriminate

New Jersey high school student Kaleigh Brendle has filed federal complaints saying the AP exams discriminate against the blind and deaf. A junior at the Scholars’ Center for the Humanities, Kaleigh is legally blind and has been reading brail since she was 3 years old. Find our more about why she says the test isn't set up properly in the New York Post here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Temporary Layoffs at Michigan School for the Deaf

The Michigan School for the Deaf is cutting its staff down to four days a week. There will work for them on Fridays through July. This includes all academic, office, residential and administrative staff. Read more here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Deaf woman’s social media post goes viral, raises awareness

Kimberly Fugate Kimberly is using a story of something that happened to her at a grocery store to raise awareness about what the Deaf and Hard of Hearing face every day. Her Facebook post recounting that moment has more than 30,000 shares. WTVQ-TV in Lexington, Kentucky has a video report below or read the story here.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Meet Gov. Cuomo's Terp

Arkady Belozovsky, an NTID (National Technical Institute for the Deaf) graduate is the sign language interpreter you will see on-screen alongside New York's governor during coronavirus briefings. Read more in a lengthy article published in the Democrat & Chronicle here.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Deaf Man dies after being trapped in fire

A Maryland man on the outskirts of Wash., D.C. who is deaf died after his home caught fire early Sunday morning. Firefighters rescued 55-year-old Norman Rogers III but he later died at the hospital. Rogers graduated from the Maryland School of the Deaf. Read more here.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Zoom fatigue is nothing new--to the deaf and HoH

Zoom fatigue is something the Deaf community knows very well. It’s called “concentration fatigue" and people who are deaf and hard of hearing deal with it every day. Read more about the topic in a Quartz article here.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

The ASL Advantage

The Maryland School for the Deaf superintendent sees ASL as an advantage in the fight to remain healthy during the pandemic. WDVM-TV has a video report or you can read the story here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

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 (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 eardrum in his right ear. He explains, "I always wanted to be a marine biologist but then I had this ear problem. I have no eardrum. 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."

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Judge: Cuomo briefings must be more accessible to deaf

Disability Rights New York has gotten a preliminary injunction against the governor of New York over his failure to broadcast a sign language interpreter during his daily Covid press briefings. Last night, a Manhattan federal judge, Valerie Caproni, ordered New York Governor Cuomo to include an interpreter in the state-provided TV signal of his briefings. The governor's lawyers had argued there was no need of having an interpreter share the screen because of captioning and a separate a dedicated internet stream. But Disability Rights New York has pointed out that the captioning often contain errors while the separate feed is available only in broadband service. Read more from Buffalo News here.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

How a Texas school is connecting with its students

The Sunshine Cottage School for Deaf Children in San Antonio is working to stay connected to its students. Preschool teacher Holly Mason says:
I record instructional videos every day and then send it to the parents so that they can view those videos at their convenience...We are shifting greatly to parents who are having to take the primary seat. But what parents forget is that they were the first teacher. Parents are the first teacher their child’s ever going to have.
Read more and see a video report from KSAT-TV here.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Musical collaboration

The musical duo called the Skivvies has joined with deaf actor Joshua Castille and others who work with Deaf West Theatre to perform in a short video of I Am What I Am from La Cage Aux Folles.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

On this date in history: Frederick Barnard dies

Frederick Barnard
It was on this date (May 5) in 1889 that Frederick Barnard died at the age of 80. 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 historians of deaf history as someone who made a significant contribution to deaf education.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Deaf New Yorkers sue Cuomo

Disability Rights New York is suing Gov. Andrew Cuomo for not providing sign language interpreters during his daily televised coronavirus briefings. Executive Director Timothy Clune writes in a statement:
It is inexplicable that during this pandemic, the Governor would choose not to have ASL interpreters at his daily live televised briefings. As a result, deaf New Yorkers are unable to obtain vital life and death information at the time they need it most.
In response, Cuomo advisor Rich Azzopardi tells CNN there is a "dedicated (ASL) stream" on the state website and "all conferences have been close-captioned. Read the full statement here.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Show me a Sign

A new historical novel called Show me a Sign follows the life of an 11-year-old girl on Martha’s Vineyard in the 19th Century. Intended for children ages 8 to 12, author Ann Clare LeZotte, who is deaf herself, takes the reader into a group of deaf residents who were descendants of English colonists and have developed their own sign language. At one point the girl tells herself, “Papa was right. We are fine as we were made.” The New York Times reviewed the book and says:
Dialogue, both spoken and signed, is handled deftly, showing the rich cadences and patterns of each form of expression. LeZotte also gives readers a sense of M.V.S.L. (Martha’s Vineyard Sign Language), a combination of “home sign” and American Sign Language used by the islanders through the mid-1900s.
Read the full review here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The Deaf-Blind Fear That Doctors Won’t Save Them from the Coronavirus

The president of Gallaudet University, Roberta Cordano says, “My worry is that the pandemic planning has completely missed" the deaf-blind community. “To be frank, there is no mechanism on a national scale to support the deaf-blind in the current American health-care system.” At least fifteen of Gallaudet students are deaf-blind. The New Yorker has more in a new article written by Robin Wright:
During the pandemic, the new forms of protection—including social distancing, masks, and gloves—only complicate communication for deaf-blind people who can’t read Braille with gloves on because their hands are desensitized. And many who have residual sight can’t lip-read through masks.
Wright goes on to say:
When I started reporting this piece, I had no sense of the scope of the issues or the depth of their fears. More than three dozen deaf-blind people from as far away as Australia poured their hearts out in poignant e-mails and calls, some conducted through complex layers of sign interpreters and Braille. People who are deaf-blind don’t want pity, they told me. Many are exhausted, even in normal times, by simplistic depictions of their heroic survival in a hearing and sighted world.
Read the full article here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

How Do You Sign ‘Don’t Drink Bleach’?

image from the New York Times
Rorri Burton has been interpreting the Los Angeles news conferences about Covid-19. She tells the New York Times that the attention she has gotten on social media is “unwanted and unexpected.” Particularly when celebrity blogger Perez Hilton "set her moves to music" and "comedian David Spade called her Covid-19 interpretation 'kooky.'” Read more about what Burton has faced here.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Deafverse: An ASL-accessible Video Game

Austin's National Deaf Center has developed a fully ASL-accessible game. Deafverse is a "browser-based ongoing-narrative adventure about navigating the world as a deaf teenager." Arstechnica says:
Although Deafverse is primarily designed for deaf teenagers of high school age (in service of the NDC's primary goal of supporting deaf young people's transition into active employment), much of its subject matter is useful for anyone who wants to learn about deafness. Using federal funding through the NDC, the Deafverse development team was able to cast a wide net for research on ways deaf young people are and are not succeeding after their teen years. The findings, Turner says, were cross-checked against a set list of broad learning outcomes to create a game that teaches lessons while still being true to life.
Read more about it in Arstechnica here.

Implant Activated Remotely

A toddler in England has just had her cochlear implant activated for the first time during a remote telemedicine session between her house and the clinical team. Read more about it on Medgadget here or watch the video about the procedure below.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Deaf Man Sues Plasma Co.

An Illinois deaf man is suing CSL Plasma over ADA issues. Mark Gomez says the blood plasma company not only wouldn't accept his plasma, it refused to provide him with an interpreter. Read the full story here.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

White House urged to use Terps at Briefings

The National Association of the Deaf and the National Council on Disability have sent letters urging the White House coronavirus task force to use ASL interpreters during its daily briefings. The White House did not provide a comment to CNN on whether it had received the letters or whether it would consider using an interpreter. Read the full story here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

What deaf truckers have to fear from the Trump administration

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is about to issue a ruling that could prevent deaf and hard-of-hearing commercial truck drivers from working. The National Association for the Deaf filed a petition this year arguing that the hearing tests are not a valid requirement for a commercial driver's license. Sara Novic filed an opinion piece with CNN about the issue which you can read here.

A struggle at Trader Joe's

Good Morning America spoke with Matthew Simmons, a Trader Joe's cashier in Vancouver, Washington about the difficulties he faces communicating with customers--especially with everyone wearing masks. "I rely heavily on using my lip-reading skills so customers wearing facial coverings is a problem for me," Simmons said. Read the full story here.

Monday, April 20, 2020

The Forgotten Victims of the Pandemic: the Deaf Community

Ozy takes a look at the particular difficulties of being deaf during a pandemic outbreak in a story you can read here or see in ASL in the video below.

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.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

The challenges deaf and hard of hearing college students

A look at the challenges deaf and hard of hearing college students face with COVID-19 in an article published by The Houston Chronicle here.

Teachers at School for Deaf and Blind surprised by ‘superhero’ lawn signs

image from the USDB FB page
Teachers at Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind have been building virtual learning platforms for the past few years, so when schools were dismissed in March due to COVID-19, they were able to hit the virtual ground running, ABC-4 reports. To thank the teachers for all their hard work, a school employee designed a “superhero” yard sign. Superintendent Joel Coleman was among those distributing the signs to the homes of teachers across the state. Read the full story here.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

The challenges facing Rochester's Deaf Community

Spectrum News takes a look at the challenges facing Rochester's Deaf Community with a masking policy in place here.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Happy Birthday, Russell Harvard!

Russell Harvard was born on this day (April 16, 1981) in Pasadena. The 39-year-old has 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.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

This Day in History

image Ragesoss
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. Read more about the school here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Hospital Sued: Lawsuit claims no Terp provided

A lawsuit filed against McLaren Greater Lansing Hospital claims a deaf patient was not provided an interpreter last year as required by ADA law. Instead, the staff of the Lansing, Michigan facility used written notes to communicate with Christine Ketola, according to the complaint. Read more about the lawsuit in the Lansing State Journalhere.

Gally to get federal emergency funds

Gallaudet University will receive $821,498 in emergency federal funding based on total enrollment, the number of full-time students eligible for federal Pell grants and which are awarded to students from low-income families." Read more about the distribution to DC schools in the Washington Post here.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

The impact of social distancing on the DeafBlind community

"For many in the DeafBlind community, social distancing has created unique worries and exceptional challenges," reports the Washington Post."It is forcing them to grow increasingly disconnected at a time when they need more than ever to be aware of what’s happening around them." Haben Girma, who wrote a memoir titled “Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law” says:
“Many DeafBlind people rely on tactile interpretation, which cannot be done remotely or even from six feet away. I’m worried hospitals facing scarce resources will decide not to save our lives. There is an ableist assumption that causes some people to think it’s better to be dead than disabled.”
Read the story in the Washington Post here.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

What It's Like To Have Usher Syndrome

Hannah Corderman told Women's Health her story:
image from
At 17 years old, I was officially diagnosed with Usher syndrome. I was devastated upon receiving my diagnosis, but I also felt a strange sense of relief. Even though I had just found out I would eventually go blind and potentially deaf, I still had time to do something about it, time to live my life as fully as I could during the years that I still had my daytime vision.
Read more in an article here.

KY teacher makes house calls to see Deaf-Blind students

image from WAVE-TV video
A partially blind and deaf teen in Kentucky is getting an education through his home’s glass front door. Helen Keller Center Specialist Corinne Miller comes to his home and communicates through the glass door to 16-year-old Alex Hitzelberger. Watch a video report about their arrangement from WAVE-TV here.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Being deaf can feel Isolating & even more so during a pandemic

Kelly Dougher writes, "As a deaf person, I know just how awful it can be to feel isolated. I’ve had to struggle with it my entire life. But many, many people are suddenly experiencing the side effects of isolation for the first time." Read her entire piece in the Huff Post here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Face Masks & the Deaf Community

The push to wear face masks has created a new challenge for the deaf community: Lip-reading becomes impossible and facial expressions are partially hidden. CBS-2 has a video report from Chicago (or read the story here).

On this date in 1864

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

Monday, April 6, 2020

ASL on Zoey's Playlist

Below is a bit of the ASL dance performance last night on NBC's show Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist. It was put together with the help of Deaf West Theater.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

This was 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 her 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, 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).

Friday, April 3, 2020

Zoey meets Deaf West

The NBC show Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist worked with LA's Deaf West Theatre to create Sunday night's episode of the musical series. Deaf West's Sandra Mae Frank is guest star and is joined by other deaf performers. In the episode, Zoey meets the daughter of her dad’s caregiver. Even though the woman is deaf she can understand her "heart song." The title character has the ability to hear the innermost thoughts of people around her—but it is expressed through popular songs and big dance numbers. Below is a video sneak peek. Read more about how the episode came about here.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

College student makes masks for the deaf

Ashley Lawrence is studying education for the deaf and hard of hearing at Eastern Kentucky University and has come up with a way to help the community during the Coronavirus outbreak. She tells LEX-18:
We're trying different things to for people with cochlear implants and hearing aids if they can't wrap around the ears. We're making some that have around the head and around the neck. For anyone who uses speech reading, lip reading, anybody like that. And people who are profoundly deaf who use ASL as their primary mode of communication. ASL is very big on facial expressions and it is part of the grammar.
Read more here.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Leaving students behind in the rush to go online

Digital Trends reports "The rapid migration to virtual classes has forced disabled students into using websites and apps that were never designed to accommodate them." Read the full story here.

Texas Deaf school Preps for Distance Learning

Austin's Texas School for the Deaf typically has hundreds of students from around the state on campus at this time. But that's changed with quarantining for the pandemic. Last week was spring break and this week was preparation for moving classes online--starting this Monday. KVUE-TV takes a look a how the Texas School for the Deaf and the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired are preparing for distance learning.

Friday, March 27, 2020

NY Gov add Terp to Daily Briefing

New York's governor has added a sign-language interpreter to his daily coronavirus briefing in response to an outcry from the Deaf community. While the state offered closed captioning for Gov. Andrew Cuomo's updates, it was often inaccurate and ASL is the first language for many people. David Wantuck, a community engagement specialist for Deaf Access Services, was one advocate who brought the issue to the governor's staff. Wantuck expressed his approval today after Cuomo was accompanied by an interpreter. He wrote on his Facebook page:

I want to take the time to say GREAT JOB to the CDI who interpreted this press conference. Thank you!!
This is a big step for the Deaf Community as we have an interpreter, but yes, there are improvements that needs to be made.
For today, lets appreciate what we have now, and take this as a something great. Tomorrow, we will gather again to advocate for suggestions and improvements to make this better.

According to Wantuck's tally, the only states that did not include an ASL interpreter were New York, Montana, and Vermont. Now that New York and Montana have started using interpreters, that leaves Vermont as the only state not providing ASL interpretation at their governor's emergency press conferences.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

What Marlee Matlin Did In Quarantine

Oscar-winner Marlee Matlin is so bored In quarantine she pulled out the dress she wore to that fateful 1987 Oscars ceremony and tried it on again. Read what happened here.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Outrage: No terp at White House briefings

Many in the Deaf community are outraged by the fact that there's no ASL interpreter at President Trump's coronavirus briefings. Even TMZ picked up on the issue here. The National Council on Disability has sent a letter to the White House asking for this access, saying in part, "There is no doubt that the Coronavirus brings with it significant added concerns for people with disabilities."Read the entire letter here. The National Association of the Deaf has also sent a letter expressing concern over the lack of communication to the Deaf community. CEO Howard Rosenblum wants to know why the President "is not ensuring they are getting the same access to emergency information as everyone else." Read the entire letter here. It asks the White House "to direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide their information about coronavirus in ASL immediately."

Friday, March 20, 2020

Competent Terps Critical Now

The Iowa Association of the Deaf says interpreter competency is critical during the coronavirus outbreak. ASL interpreters are being used at news briefings across the country to communicate the latest developments surrounding the disease. KWWL reports on the issue in Iowa here.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Big Challenges For Deaf Students Being Forced To Leave College

Students at Gallaudet University are facing extra challenges after being forced to leave campus. Read more from BuzzFeed News here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

How Deaf Advocates Won the Battle for Closed Captioning

"It wasn’t until March 16, 1980 — 40 years ago this Monday — that the network TV channels ABC, NBC and PBS debuted closed-captioned television shows, in which the show’s dialogue and soundtrack appeared as text on-screen as the action proceeded..But getting there was a fight, and that battle still continues today." Read more about the battle for closed captioning from TIME magazine here.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Recent Articles of Interest about the Virus

Recent Articles of Interest about the Virus here.

This day in history: DPN

image from Gallaudet University 
It was 32 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.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Implant contest winner from Washington

image from Ideas4Ears contest video
An 8-year-old Washington state girl won the grand prize in an international contest sponsored by her cochlear implant maker, Med-El. Kenzi Cayton and her mom made a short video with her mom which was chosen from the 171 ideas submitted by more than 2000 children in nearly 30 countries,  Her idea for the  Ideas4Ears competition is to create an app that allows people to change the "skins" on their implants by clicking a button. Watch her video submission here. Read the press release about the contest here.

Friday, March 6, 2020

The search for a new superintendent in Montana

A public forum was held last night about the search for a new superintendent to lead The Montana School for the Deaf & Blind. Read more about the search here.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Longtime Gally Prof dies at the age of 98

Image: dan /
Donald Padden, a leader in the deaf community, has died at the age of 98 in Frederick, Maryland. He taught physical education classes at Gallaudet University for 42 years and led a popular summer camp in northern Minnesota. His daughter, Carol Padden, is dean of social sciences at the University of California at San Diego. Read more here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Deaf Indiana wrestler began life as a child slave in Ghana

Jacob Linky endured abuse in his native Ghana as a slave to his biological father. The Associated Press tells the story of how this deaf wrestler made his way to America here.

Deaf School President Retires

image from FSDB website
The president of the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind is retiring. Jeanne Glidden Prickett will end her tenure on July 31, 2020. She has served as the 17th president since May 1, 2012. Prickett said in a statement:
It has been a privilege leading an FSDB team of highly dedicated and collaborative educators and staff members. Together, we provide students with the highest quality education possible with continuous improvement as the major focus. Helping students to reach new heights of achievement is our top priority.
Julia Mintzer, administrator of business services, will lead the school until a successor to Prickett is named. Read more about the change here.

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.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

The Bible in ASL

The Jehovah's Witnesses have completed an ASL translation of the Bible. There have been 60 million downloads of the free videos. Other Bible societies have been working on a similar goal such as Deaf Missions. Read more here.

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

Monday, March 2, 2020

What Do Cochlear Implants And Hearing Aids Sound Like?

Science Friday has a lesson for middle school 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.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Deaf Rapper Making History

Deaf rapper Sean Forbes is close to making history--he's about to become the first deaf artist to break into the Billboard Top 200. He's already the first deaf musician to hit #1 on Amazon music list for all genres as well as #1 in the hip hop category both on Amazon and iTunes. His new release is called Little Victories. Fox-2 Detriot has a video interview with Forbes (or read the story here).

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Deaf School Apologizes for Decades of Abuse

Leaders of The American School for the Deaf are apologizing to dozens of survivors of sexual abuse and physical abuse by former faculty and staff members. The abuse took place from the 1950s through the 1980s. The statement reads in part:
On behalf of ASD and its Board of Directors, we apologize to the survivors of this abuse — this should not have happened to you -– and we promise to continue to devote ourselves to protecting the current and future generations of children who rely on us and this community to enrich their lives,” they said in a statement.
Read the full statement here and watch a vlog summarizing the findings of the investigation.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

HoH College Basketball Player

Kameron Hill is hard-of-hearing but that hasn't stopped the Austin College senior from playing a valuable role on the school's basketball team. KTEN-TV has a video report (or read the story here). - Texoma news, weather and sports

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Cochlear implant recall

Advanced Bionics is recalling some defective cochlear implants that were never implanted. The company will shell out more than $50 million in the recall. The recall involves the HiRes Ultra and Ultra 3D cochlear implant devices. There have been reports of decreased hearing performance by users in some of those cochlear implant devices. Read more here.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Sexual and physical abuse at State Deaf School

An investigation is underway into accusations of sexual and physical abuse at the American School for the Deaf in West Hartford, Connecticut. The allegations are coming from 40 former faculty and staff. The Hartford Courant has details here.

Deaf sexual abuse victims protest at the Vatican

Victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests at a school for the deaf in Argentina staged a protest at the Vatican yesterday, reports Reuters. Two priests and a gardener have already been convicted and more will go on trial soon. Read more here.

Signing Black in America

There's a new documentary called Signing Black in America. It's a half-hour look at how Black ASL has evolved. The film was put together by North Carolina State University’s Language & Life Project and it recently won a Midsouth Regional Emmy Award. There are details here about a free showing of the documentary at the school Monday night. There's a Washington Post story about it here and a video promo for the documentary is posted below:

Friday, February 21, 2020

State's Deaf School May Move Locations

The Indiana School for the Deaf has been in Indianapolis near the fairgrounds for more than 100 years. But that may soon change. A task force put together by the state legislature has recommended moving it--and the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired to a shared campus. The Indianapolis Business Journal reports "Some advocates, lawmakers and alumni worry the process is being rushed." Read more on the story here.

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 losses 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 he worked as an amateur umpire himself for more than 20 years.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Gallaudet Monument Restoration

West Hartford, Connecticut has approved a proposal to restore the monument honoring Thomas H. Gallaudet that sits in front of the American School for the Deaf. Gallaudet co-founded the school. Read more about it here.

Settlement: MIT agrees to caption videos

MIT (The Massachusetts Institute of Technology) has agreed to provide captions for more of its publicly available online videos. It's part of a settlement with the National Association of the Deaf over a lawsuit filed four years ago. Attempts by both Harvard and MIT to get the case dismissed failed. National Association of the Deaf CEO Howard Rosenblum said, “The settlements with MIT and Harvard usher in a new era of accessible online learning in higher education. The civil rights mandate is clear – all colleges and universities must ensure that the video and audio content on their websites are accessible through quality captioning.” Read more about the settlement here.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

State Deaf School being Reorganized

The Superintendent of the Louisiana Special School District is reorganizing the Louisiana School for the Deaf. Critics say Ernest Garrett III is "dismissing experienced leaders and replacing them with people who are either unfamiliar to the community or lack the experience of their predecessors." Read more about the changes in WBRZ-TV website here.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Grey’s Anatomy adds Deaf Doctor to TV Series

The ABC show Grey’s Anatomy introduced a new deaf character this past week. The program titled Save the Last Dance for Me aired Thursday night with the role of Dr. Lauren Riley played by deaf actress Shoshannah Stern. Riley is a diagnostic expert who signs but communicates with hearing patients through a tablet. While ABC has promoted the series as "the first primetime television series to introduce a deaf doctor as a recurring character" it is actually not the first to do so. The shows Heroes and E.R. featured doctors who were deaf. Shoshannah Stern talks about how she got the role of Dr. Riley in a TV Guide interview and an interview with Variety

Saturday, February 15, 2020

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.