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 UsherSyndromeSociety.org
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.