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.