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.

Friday, February 14, 2020

ABC Show to feature ASL

ABC’s 'The Good Doctor' will air an episode on Monday that features ASL. In this episode, the team treats a young boy-born without a fully formed trachea and unable to speak, so he uses ASL to communicate. The boy will be played by deaf actor Zade Garcia. KVUE-TV has a video profile of Zade below (or read the story here).

Thursday, February 13, 2020

SignVote expands effort

Communication Service for the Deaf is hoping to increase voter engagement in the deaf community through its SignVote campaign. SignVote spotlights accessible voter content and resources for ASL users. Watch the video below or read more about it here.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Deaf face uphill battle when searching for work

"Many deaf individuals with higher education often aren’t given the same opportunity to get supervisory experience as their hearing peers, which can put them behind hearing job candidates." Read more about the difficulty the deaf face when searching for work in the Daily Herald here.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Nation's first robotics competition for deaf, hard-of-hearing students

The Texas School for the Deaf is hosting the country's first robotics competition today. It features all deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

Children invented a new sign language

In the 1980s deaf children in Nicaragua invented a completely new sign language of their own. Here's a BBC video about it.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

"I performed at the Super Bowl: You might have missed me"

image from Christine Sun Kim TED talk
Christine Sun Kim signed the National Anthem at the beginning of the Super Bowl—but the TV audience only saw a few seconds of it. Now Kim is calling out Fox Sports for the snub. A "bonus feed" on the Fox Sports website was supposed to be focused on Sun Kim entirely but it wasn't. In an article written for The New York Times, Kim said she was "angry and exasperated" because on the Fox Sports website "the cameras cut away to show close-ups of the players roughly midway through each song." Read her opinion piece here.

He was the First President of Gallaudet

Edward Miner Gallaudet 
Edward Miner Gallaudet served as president (1864–1910) of the school that would become Gallaudet University. He died on this date (Sept. 26) in 1917. Edward was the youngest of eight children born to Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. When plans were made to change the name of the school from the Columbia Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb, Edward Miner Gallaudet wanted the honor to go to his father, a pioneer in deaf education, rather than himself. So the school was renamed Gallaudet College.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Missouri lawmakers are considering a new law to punish people using fake service animals. It's Senate Bill 644 and it's being debated in committee this week. If it passes, violators could face misdemeanor charges, punishable by up to 15 days in jail. Read more about it the from St. Louis Post-Dispatchhere.

Monday, February 3, 2020

National Anthem Super Bowl Signing

image from NADvlogs
Christine Sun Kim signed the National Anthem at Sunday's Super Bowl while Demi Lovato sang the spoken English version of the son. If you missed the Berlin-based American sound artist, here's the video from the NAD.

How 11 Deaf Men Helped NASA Leave Earth

Why were 11 deaf men selected by NASA to help it understand space sickness? The key here was how each of these men lost their hearing, according to Discover Magazine. These men ultimately played a significant role in getting the first astronauts off the ground in the 1960s.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

The first deaf woman to row across the Atlantic Ocean

image from ReSound video
A woman from the UK is the first deaf person to row across the Atlantic Ocean. Mo O'Brien is a 60-year-old pharmacy worker who took 49 days to row from the Canary Island of La Gomera to the Caribbean island of Antigua. Her daughter and a friend made the trip with her. The trio arrived this past Thursday. Read more about her adventure from the BBC here or watch the video below.

BBC Captioning History

  • 1979 - A documentary is the first program to be subtitled on the BBC 
  • 1986 - Blue Peter becomes the first live program to be subtitled on the BB 
  • 1990 - The first live BBC broadcast is captioned by a stenographer 
  • 1990 - The BBC begins subtitling its news 
  • 2001 - Respeaking is used for subtitling for the first time by the BBC

Saturday, February 1, 2020

On this Date... Murder at Gally

It was on this day in 2001 (Feb 1), Joseph Mesa, Jr. murdered Benjamin Varner in his Gallaudet dorm room. Mesa stabbed his classmate more than a dozen times. This wasn't Mesa's first fatal attack. A few months earlier, Mesa beat Eric Plunkett to death in his dorm room as well, leaving the school's campus shaken. Mesa turned himself into police 10 days after the Varner killing. In July of 2002, a DC judge gave Mesa six life terms without the possibility of parole. Prosecutors called him a serial killer in the making. The 22-year-old from Guam pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, telling jurors he saw hands wearing black gloves that told him in sign language to kill the 19 year olds who considered him their friend. Mesa's defense attorney suggested that the attack on Plunkett was prompted by rage over an unwanted homosexual advance. The jury convicted him on all 15 counts. Mesa is now serving time at The United States Penitentiary in Atwater, California near San Francisco, a high security facility.

Was Beethoven HoH instead of Deaf?

Kent State researchers say Ludwig van Beethoven was not completely deaf as is commonly believed. The theory is that "the composer still had hearing in his left ear until shortly before his death in 1827. Theodore Albrecht, professor of musicology at Kent State University, told the Observer:
Not only was Beethoven not completely deaf at the premiere of his Ninth Symphony in May 1824, he could hear, although increasingly faintly, for at least two years afterwards, probably through the last premiere that he would supervise, his String Quartet in B-flat, Op 130, in March 1826.
Read more here.

Helen Keller video

Here is a Newsreel showing Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan recorded in 1928 with open captions and audio descriptions.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Bank opens Branch for Deaf/HoH

The largest bank in the U.S. has opened its first branch designed to serve the Deaf and hard of hearing community. The JPMorgan Chase branch is located in Washington, DC near Gallaudet University and offers features like on-demand video, remote interpreting, T-loop Bluetooth technology, and digital screens with captions. Six of the branch’s nine employees are ASL fluent and three identify as deaf or hard of hearing. JPMorgan Chase is also putting a quarter of a million dollars to Gallaudet University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute. Read more about the new branch from WAMU radio here.

On this date: A deaf man helps to stop a bank robbery

A deaf bank customer helped stop a bank robbery on this day (Jan 30) in 2003. A bank teller in Rochester, New York tipped off the man as he was going through the drive-through. The robber had entered a branch of HSBC yelled that he was robbing it, then jumped on a counter and pistol-whipped a teller. Another teller at the drive-up window just happened to be helping a deaf customer at that moment. She mouthed the words "we are being robbed." The lip-reading customer then drove to a nearby liquor store and called 911. Police nabbed the robbery suspect not far from the bank as he was trying to wash dye off his hands after a dye pack in the money bag had exploded. The injured teller suffered only minor injuries.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Hotline called 'Epic Failure' for Deaf community

New York City has a complaint and information hotline (311). But it does not work well for deaf and hard-of-hearing residents, according to Councilmember Fernando Cabrera. "Some people report waiting up to 45 minutes before connecting with someone who has a way to answer their questions, Cabrera said. He noted some folks have been hung up on by operators who assumed they were prank callers." Read more from The City newspaper here.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Getting to know audiologist Marion Downs

image from Marion Downs Hearing Center 
One of the people most responsible for newborn hearing screening in the U.S. was born this day (Jan. 26) in 1914. Audiologist Marion Downs published two books and over 100 articles on the topic during her lifetime. The Marion Downs Hearing Center opened nearly a decade ago at the University of Colorado Medical Center. WVXU radio in Cincinnati has more on this remarkable woman here. She was 100 years old when she died on Nov. 13, 2014.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Insights into the history of sign language

A study of sign language in Europe has found that Spanish sign language is possibly the oldest in existence. Not only that, researchers say their findings support the belief that sign languages evolve just like spoken languages.
Despite dealing with fundamentally different data, the analogies between the evolution of sign languages and biological evolution are striking, especially when we look at the gain and loss of lineage-specific traits.
Read more from ZME Science here.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

The UK prison system "fails" a deaf inmate

Tyrone Givans, who was profoundly deaf, killed himself while in a UK prison. His mother, Angela Augustin, told the Guardian, "Putting him in prison without hearing aids was like putting him in a hole in the ground." A jury found that "numerous systemic individual failures" led to his death. Read the entire story of what happened to Givans here.

Monday, January 20, 2020

On this date: Sorenson Dies

James LeVoy Sorenson
(image from Southern Utah University)
A driving force in the Deaf community died on this date (Jan. 20) in 2008. James LeVoy Sorenson passed away at a Salt Lake City hospital at the age of 86. Utah's richest man was estimated to be worth $4.5 billion by Forbes magazine. Perhaps best known for co-developing the first real-time computerized heart monitor and founding Sorenson Communication, his donations to Gallaudet University totaled more than $5 million.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Deaf doctoral student

Alexis Nye is deaf and working toward her Ph.D. in audiology at UNC-Chapel Hill. Born profoundly deaf, she was diagnosed at the age of six months. At the age of two years of age, she received her first cochlear implant and a second at age 16. Read more about her from the News & Record here or watch a video report about her from last year.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

The History of Deaf Communities in Canada

Inuit Sign Language "has been an important part of the Inuit linguistic landscape." The Link newspaper takes a brief look at it here.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Recognizing ASL in Nebraska

A state lawmaker in Nebraska wants ASL to be legally recognized as a language. There are only five states that don't do so and Nebraska is one of them. State Senator Anna Wishart is trying to change that with bill LB839. You can read the bill here.

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. Read more about Ponce de Leon in National Geographic Australia here.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

State to Split Deaf & Blind Schools

South Dakota’s School for the Deaf and School for the Blind and Visually Impaired will now have two separate superintendents. In the past few months, a series of investigative pieces have been published into how the needs of deaf and hard of hearing children in the state have been ignored for decades. Read more from the Argus Leader here.

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.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

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.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Dealership settles ADA lawsuit

A car dealership in Hawaii has agreed to pay $42,000 to settle an EEOC lawsuit accusing it violating ADA law. "The EEOC alleged that Cutter Mazda failed to hire a deaf applicant due to his disability. Such conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employers from making employment decisions based on an individual's disability." Read more about it from the EEOC here.

Airline Travel Tips for the Deaf & HoH

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.

Monday, January 6, 2020

American Girl doll with hearing aids

An 8-year-old Tennessee girl loves her new doll from American Girl; it wears a hearing aid like she does. WTVC-TV in Cleveland, Tennessee has a video report below or read the story here.

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, then 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.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

GOP settles ADA lawsuit

Utah's Republican Party has settled a lawsuit filed by a deaf man and a woman who uses a wheelchair. They said the political organization failed to follow ADA law at its conventions and caucuses. Aaron Heineman wanted to participate in a caucus three years ago but the GOP failed to provide a qualified sign language interpreter. Eliza Stauffer said the state convention failed to include a designated area for her wheelchair. Read more about the case from the Daily Herald here.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Harvard Law’s first deaf-blind graduate: Here’s what college is like for students with disabilities

Haben Girma is the first deaf-blind person to graduate from Harvard Law School. She writes,"My personal experience with discrimination, as well as those I heard from others, sparked my desire to develop legal advocacy skills." Below is a CNBC video about her below and there is some background on her from Voice of America here.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Reconstructing spoken words from the brains of primates

Brown University researchers say they've been able to put together words from the brain signals of monkeys. They connected a computer directly to a monkey's brain and believe this "could be a step toward developing brain implants that may help people with hearing loss."Details are published in the journal Nature Communications Biology. Read more details here.

Three of Wyoming couple's kids undergo implant procedures

Three children of Jackie and Chris Isenberger went through cochlear implant procedures at the same time at Children's Hospital in Colorado. The parents defend their decision in an article published by The Denver Channel here.

On this date Grace Coolidge was born

Grace Anna Goodhue was born on January 3, 1879, in Burlington, Vermont. She's known to history as the wife of the 30th president of the United States, Calvin Coolidge. What many people don't know is that she was a teacher of the deaf. As first lady, she worked hard to educate the public and invited Helen Keller to visit the White House. Helped by the President, Mrs. Collidge raised $2 million for the Clarke School for the Deaf. Read more about her life 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. 

Thursday, January 2, 2020

What It's Like to Move to Music You Can't Hear

Gallaudet Dance Company has been performing for 65 years. Dance Magazine takes a look at the performance troupe here.

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.