Monday, December 29, 2008

The Dimmer-Switch

Scientists say there's a dimmer-switch in the brain that tells the ears to slow the flow of signals when hearing becomes difficult because of outside noise. That prevents distortion, like you would hear when a radio is turned up too loud. That circuitry begins to fail with age and Robert Frisina of New York's University of Rochester is trying to figure out why.

Frisina and his fellow researchers published material about the so-called cocktail party problem
about 6 years ago that showed the drop off begins to happen between the ages of 38 and 52. It becomes much worse in people past age 62.

Frisina hopes to use mice that are genetically altered mice to explore evidence that problems in this wiring harm the inner ear. He hopes to find a way to intervene to slow down the age-related hearing problem.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Born with Partial Hearing, Teen Now Plays at Kennedy Center

Grace Yu was born with less than half her hearing intact. At the age of four her disability was discovered. That same year, she began playing the violin by feeling the sounds through vibrations. A decade later, she performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Grace won a competition to earn the right to perform at the event last month. She now attends Louisville Collegiate School and plays in the Louisville Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Grace used hearing aids early in life but gained 70% hearing in one ear at the age of nine. Last year, she had a second sugery and now has 90% hearing.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Texas Carjacking

Houston police are on the look out for two men who carjacked a 1990 Windstar van in the southwest part of the city. Two women, three children and older deaf man were inside at the time. They were found safe a half-hour after the attack. No one was injured but the men are still on the loose.

Teaching Baby Signs

Fox News reports on the value of teaching sign language to babies.

Missing Girl

Police are looking for a 12-year-old deaf girl who’s been missing since last week from her home in Union City, California. Sabrina Ramirez had been depressed, according to her mother. She may have run away – not only has she run away before, Sabrina’s backpack and some clothing were missing. Police are asking the public for help in locating her.

Monday, December 22, 2008


This Friday’s episode of the ABC show Supernanny will feature a deaf couple. Dorothy and Kip Baulisch of Papillion, Nebraska, are deaf parents raising four hearing children. Their eldest daughter is at odds with her parents over their dependence on her to serve as an ever-present interpreter for the other children. They’ve nearly given up giving any discipline to the children. The show first aired in October.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Signing Santa

Deaf kids in Topeka, Kansas are getting the chance to tell Santa exactly what they want for Christmas. KTKA-TV reports.

Gallaudet's Sorenson Building

The new communications center on Gallaudet’s campus has a deliberate green design and its space encourages visual interaction – perfect for using sign language. The James Lee Sorenson Language and Communications Center will be certified through the US Green Building Council. At a cost of $22 million the 87,000-square-foot center opened this fall showing a design put together with the help of deaf architect George Balsley. The space, natural light, form, composition and material are all eco-friendly and deaf-friendly. Inside the Sorenson building is the school’s Science of Learning Center on Visual Language and Visual Learning along with several educational departments, the student media center and the hearing and speech center.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Implant Numbers

About 38,500 people in the have cochlear implants and about 15,500 received them as children, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

New Banking Technology

KRIV-TV has the story of how a bank in Houston is trying new technology to better work with deaf and hard-of-hearing customers (no captioning).

Cochlear Upgrade

The latest cochlear technical upgrade is a speech processor. It’s designed to improve music quality for users. The privately owned Austrian firm Med-El introduced the thumb-size device that hooks on the ear this summer.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Father and Daughter Get Implants

A Missouri father and daughter both received cochlear implants. KMOV-TV St Louis has the story.

Deaf Man Will Stand Trial

Alex Smith has been ordered to stand trial in Chattanooga, Tennessee for killing a man who Smith says tormented him for years. Smith is deaf and confessed to the crime four years ago. But the court waited until doctors could determine whether he was competent to stand trial for killing Demond Foster. Smith has an IQ of only 64. The judge has already turned aside defense claims that his confession should not be admissible because of misunderstandings that arose during police questioning because of his deafness. Smith will now receive training in sign language and education on court proceedings to ensure he can follow the trial.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

In Search of a Gallaudet President

Gallaudet University’s Board of Trustees is starting the process of looking for a new president again. Only this time, members are preceding cautiously. The selection of Jane Fernandes two years ago lead to campus protests. Eventually, her nomination was withdrawn. But even after the controversy died down, the school faced accreditation problems and falling enrollment.

This time around, a series of town halls meetings and gatherings with alumni groups will pepper the presidential selection process. Finalists will meet with students, faculty and staff on campus next fall. Interim President Robert Davila will then step down at the end of the year, making way for the new Gallaudet leader.

Here’s the make up of the search committee: Seven of the 11 members are deaf, seven are women, five are people of color, four are trustees. There is an administrator, an undergrad professor, a graduate school professor, and an undergraduate student. The fact there is no graduate student on the committee was not lost on the students. Many of them showed up at last week’s campus town hall meeting with T-shirts of hands signing graduate student. In response, the board has agreed to put a graduate student on the search committee.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Raising the Bar at Gallaudet

The figures from a national survey of colleges is out and Gallaudet University is paying close attention. The Washington, DC school is using information from the National Survey of Student Engagement to rework its undergraduate curriculum and institutional mission.

Gallaudet came in close to the national average on questions like, “Did you discuss grades or assignments with an instructor”? And “did you received prompt written or oral feedback from faculty on your academic performance?”

But Gallaudet wants to improve its numbers, given the institution’s recent run-in with accreditation officials that threatened its status as a school. Each of Gallaudet’s departments will turn in to administrators an “action plan” that will explain how they will make greater effects to connect and support students. For instance, faculty members teaching remedial math courses have committed to meeting outside of the classroom with student with low grades at midterm. Many students are failing these courses and a plan to to improve their grades at the halfway mark could make the difference.

Silent Sleigh

KGPE-TV in Fresno reports on Christmas festivities for deaf children (no captioning provided).

Friday, December 12, 2008

Brain Cells May Restore Hearing

Some US scientists say a transplant of brain cells might be used to repair damaged hearing in the elderly. These stem cells act like inner ear hair cells and can reproduce. About a tenth of aging hearing loss comes from damage to inner hair cells. Details are in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The BBC has more information on the research in this article.

Major Leaguer At Gallaudet

Gallaudet University has a new baseball coach. Former major leaguer Curtis Pride has taken the job. He was the first full-season deaf player in the major leagues. Pride was born deaf but never learned sign language. Instead, he can lip read. He’ll learn ASL from the players and probably take some classes. Pride also plans to offer baseball camps for high school students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Although hopes are high for the season that starts in February, Pride says he wants to teach, not just the fundamentals of baseball but the fundamentals of life.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Deaflympics Documentary

National Geographic plans to chronicle the 21st Summer Deaflympics taking place in Taipei, Taiwan during September of 2009. The Deaflympics documentary will premiere in 2010 at Gallaudet University.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Radio Captioning

National Public Radio plans to offer captions for its main radio programs by the end of 2009. NPR Labs is using new digital radio technology to deliver signals to new captioned radio receivers. NPR’s goal is to generate captions for about 100 hours of live programs per week. The HD radio technology was tested during the election, to allow the deaf to enjoy NPR’s coverage that evening.

The plan is to combine the radio with an IBM speech-to-text program that's under development. That would give listeners real-time translation, rather than a typical 20 minute delay. The NPR researchers developing the technology will meet with receiver makers next month to encourage them to produce units capable of decoding and displaying the captions. Harris Broadcast has contributed $50,000 to the effort along with engineering support.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Interpreter Denied By Medical Office

A deaf patient denied an ASL interpreter by a medical office has agreed to a settlement. Medbrook Medical Associates in Bridgeport, West Virginia required his sick wife to serve as an interpreter for him. He was told the office would never hire interpreters. The US Justice Department says office will pay $8000 in damages and $1000 in civil penalties. The doctors at Medbrook have agreed to make a new policy in line with ADA law, post it in waiting rooms and train their staff on how to deal with deaf patients.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Extreme Makeover Family May Lose Home

Four years after a deaf couple form Michigan appeared on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, they are in danger of losing their home. The ABC show made renovations to their Detroit-area home that helped them better deal with their blind and autistic son. The broadcast set a ratings record for the show. After their appearance on the show, Larry was laid off and they remortgaged their home.

Now Judy and Larry Vardon face foreclosure. Their mortgage has nearly doubled while Larry fears losing his job in the auto industry because of trouble in the industry. At the same time, insurance doesn’t cover their son’s therapy, so medical bills are piling up.

Friday, December 5, 2008

ASL Credit at Boston School

Tufts University near Boston may soon offer credit to students taking American Sign Language classes as a foreign language requirement. A committee of students has approved the idea and made a recommendation to the Arts and Sciences faculty. They’ll vote on the idea next week. Tufts now offers three ASL courses and the school has had no trouble filling up seats in those classes.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

New Phones for Gallaudet

The student academic center at Gallaudet University will open four videophone booths with free video relay service tomorrow. The equipment comes from relay service provider Sorenson Communications. The new videophones come with an enhanced 911 feature that allows an emergency dispatcher to verify the caller's address through the 10-digit phone number when the caller dials 911. That will also help VRS users receive phone calls. Instead of dialing two numbers, one for the relay operator and one for the person they are trying to call, now a caller can reach a VRS user directly, using the 10-digit phone number. An interpreter will answer the call and provide assistance to both the caller and the receiver.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Signing Santa

KCNC-TV reports on a signing Santa Claus spoke with hundreds of Denver area children (no captioning).

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

School in Lockdown

The California School for the Deaf in Fremont went into lockdown today at lunchtime after police alerted the school of a gunman in the area. School officials brought the students inside where they remained for several hours until the lockdown was lifted. Police had surrounded an apartment a few blocks from the school. About 450 children attend the school. Several hundred live on campus.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Deaf Community

KPHO-TV in Phoenix explain why there is an effort to create a deaf community in the area. (no captioning provided).

Babies with Implants

Researchers at Bowling Green State University are looking at the way mothers talk to their babies with cochlear implants and how those infants respond. They say most of these children are way behind their peers in their understanding of sounds because the implant distorts noise, making it difficult to for them to distinguish one from another. This makes their mothers' speech patterns very important. The researchers are also looking at whether mothers talk differently once they know the child has a hearing loss and how that may impact the baby. Some research suggests that mothers will change their speech patterns and this may impact a child’s learning ability.

The study is being conducted with the help of the Indiana University School of Medicine and a nearly $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

Team of the Year

The eight-man South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind football team has been given the title of team of the year by DeafDigest Sports. The private e-mail newsletter also named Wisconsin as a team of the year. This is the first time the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind has been recognized. The team won seven games and only lost one time, against Alabama School for the Deaf.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Criminal Takes Photo of Self

When a deaf teenager was driving through Cincinnati last fall, a young man approached her car. When he didn’t respond to her advances, he stole her Sidekick. Ashlee Hutchens didn’t expect to get it back, so her mom bought a new phone. When the cell phone imported the old phone’s memory, they were both surprised to find a photo of the criminal that he made of himself with the stolen phone! When Crime Stoppers broadcast the “mug shot” police soon had someone in custody.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Miracle Worker Author Dies

The man who wrote the play about Helen Keller called The Miracle Worker has died. William Gibson told the story of Helen Keller’s relationship with her teacher, Anne Sullivan. It won the 1960 Tony Award for best play and is still regularly performed around the country in community theaters. Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke, played the stage roles of Sullivan and Keller, respectively. They went on to win Academy Awards when repeating the parts for the film version in 1962. Mr. Gibson was nominated for an Oscar for his screenplay. Twenty years later, he wrote a sequel about Sullivan called The Monday After the Miracle but it flopped on Broadway. Gibson died Tuesday at the age of 94 in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Professional Development Courses

Sorenson is offering new professional development education courses called Effective Interpreting Series. The Video Relay Service provider will allow their interpreters to improve skill while earning college credit. The classes created by Language Matters, Inc also qualify as Continuing Education Units for the RID Certification Maintenance Program. The training consists of six one-credit courses being offered in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Deaf and Autistic Marathon Runner

A deaf and autistic 10th grader tried to run the Philadelphia Marathon last year but didn’t make it. Charlie Dickens made it to mile 21. This year, the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf student joined 16,000 other runners and tried again. And he made it. Dickens finished in 6:37:10. He ran with two other students from the school.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bankruptcy After Winning One Million Dollars

The Georgia State School Superintendent is declaring bankruptcy – not long after giving away a $1 million she won on the FOX TV show Are You Smarter Than A 5th-Grader? Kathy Cox gave part of that money went to Clarkston’s Atlanta Area School for the Deaf and Cave Spring’s Georgia School for the Deaf. Her husband is a builder hit hard by the economic collapse. Because she set up the donations under a foundation, the gifts are protected from creditors.

Maryland Gridiron Glory

The Maryland School for the Deaf football program has just won its sixth consecutive deaf school national championship. The team earned a 10-1 record, outscoring its opponents 419-140. The single defeat came at the hands of Reading (Pa.) Central Catholic. That was Maryland’s first defeat since 2005, ending a 34-game winning streak. The Oriole's eam has won 65 of the past 67 games. Remarkably, the school has an enrollment of only about 150.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Gallaudet Basketball Underway

The women's basketball team at Gallaudet has started the season undefeated. The Bison defeated Wilson College in their first game by a score of 78-27. Ursa Rewolinksi was high scorer with 24 points.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hearing-Impairment.. by the Numbers

One in every 800 children is born with a hearing impairment.

60% of people over the age of 70 suffer some hearing loss.

Hearing loss is the leading injury among soldiers returning from Iraq, according to the Deaf Independent Living Association of Salisbury, Maryland

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Letterman Intern

Late Night with David Letterman is getting its first deaf intern. Gallaudet senior Travis Dougherty will work on the CBS show along with nine other student selected from around the country. His tenure starts in January and will work in the research department. Dougherty has been working at Bison TV and revived many of the campus shows.

Dancing & Signing Video

A British man is getting a lot of hits on his vidoes where he dances and signs. Tyrone Whittles combines unusual dance routines and classic music track while performing in public. You can see his YouTube versions of songs like The Cure and Coldplay. He says it started when his ex-wife complained he never did anything romantic. Whittles bought a book and taught himself sign language. He then performed a sign for her while signing. Here’s a sample.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Signing for Obama

WNDY-TV in Indianapolis has this report on the CODA who interpreted Barack Obama's acceptance speech (no captioning provided)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Captioning in the Digital Era

There are some new closed captioning rules for TV stations in the digital era. The FCC will require TV stations to provide contact information about any video they post online so that viewers can easily direct complaints. They also much be able to handle relay calls from the deaf and hard of hearing and respond to viewers within 24 hours.

Making Connections

The Psychology Department at Gallaudet University is hosting a conference this weekend called Making Connections: Neuropsychological Assessment and Applications with Individuals who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. Professionals in the field of deafness and psychology will discuss how the brain deals with hearing-impairment. Peter Hauser from the National Technical Institute for the Deaf will deliver the keynote address tonight. Click here for more information.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Playing in the Band

One player in the University of Tennessee band has hearing loss. Lacie Duffel has only 30% of her hearing. But that hasn’t stopped her from playing in the Pride of the Southland Marching Band for four years. She plays the baritone horn. As a child, Duffel suffered from a series of ear infections but with the help of hearing aids, the senior was able to play an instrument. She’s studying audiology and hopes to become an elementary school speech pathologist.

Woman Sends Retirement Money to Scammers

Janella Spears is a minister who has married deaf couples. But the Portland women sent nearly half a million dollars of her deaf husband’s retirement money to con artists. KATU-TV explains why she chased a well-known get-rich scam. (no captioning provided)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind has a new president. The Board of Trustees voted unanimously yesterday to name L. Daniel Hutto as permanent president. He’s served as interim president since January of 2007 after President Dillingham’s retirement. He slashed more than $3 million from the school’s $42 million budget without having to fire anyone. Hutto became involved with the deaf at a young age, when his father started a deaf ministry at the church he pastored.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Gallaudet Teacher Dies

The founder and first chairman of Gallaudet University's religion department has died. Eugene McVicker was 84-years-old. The retired Lutheran minister was the youngest son of deaf parents and spent many years working on behalf of the deaf. He served as Gallaudet’s chaplain for a time and remained religion department chairman for nearly 30 years. He lectured using both ASL and spoken English.

Friday, November 7, 2008

School Reopens After Scandal

The Louisiana School for the Deaf reopened on Wednesday with new security measures in place including surveillance cameras, retrained security guards and an electronic-monitoring system to track dormitory staff. The professional staff are also taking sign language classes at the Baton Rouge school to foster better communication with the students. The facility was rocked by a sex scandal and shut down last month by state officials. The latest incident was the rape of a six-year-old girl on a school bus. A lawsuit has been filed against the school that accuses two male students of repeatedly molesting a female student last year. The improvements cost about a half-a-million dollars.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Story of an Institute

A new book called The Ties that Bind: A Collection of Historical Remembrances of the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind tells the story of The Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind. It is written by Lynne Hanner, who is director of the institution’s foundation along with Rose Myers, a former reporter for The Birmingham News. The institution is celebrating its 150th anniversary and the book steps back in time to describe its 1858 beginnings. Joseph Henry Johnson, started the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind in Talleadega to help his brother, William Seaborn, who was born deaf and blind. Seaborn eventually became an educator himself, teaching for more than 40 years at the institution.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Is Teaching Your Baby to Sign a Bad Idea?

Not everyone thinks teaching baby’s sign language is a good idea. Penny Glass, a child psychologist at Children's National Medical Center tells WJLA-TV teaching them to sign "drink" and "more" can be a bad thing. "Babies really need to learn to listen and respond in a reciprocal way with the adult rather than be in charge and say this is what I want now.” She suggests waiting until the baby learns "common gestures," like pointing to something they want before trying to teach sign. If you would like to write to Dr Glass and tell her your opinion, here is her email address:

Money for Audiologists

Utah State University will get three-quarters of a million dollars in federal money to churn out more audiologists. The $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education will help to train 37 audiologists and speech-language pathologists, particularly when it comes to early intervention. It will provide services to infants, toddlers and preschoolers with hearing loss.

Playing from the Heart

Actress Erica Siegel wears hearing aids. But that hasn’t stopped her from landing the lead roll in Playing from the Heart. The production runs through the end of the month at the Imagination Stage in Bethesda, Maryland. The play It tells the story of Evelyn Glennie – a world-renowned British percussionist who was also deaf. Playing from the Heart was originally performed in England in 1998.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Captioned Radio: Election Coverage

You can see read text of National Public Radio's election returns and commentary between 8 pm and 11 pm Eastern this evening. It’s the first time, you’ll be able to follow NPR’s coverage through captioning. Harris is providing the new high-definition radio technology with help from broadcast engineers in Palm Bay, Florida. People who have high-definition radios will be able to follow spoken election coverage in caption form through displayed text.

Modesto Lawsuit Settled

A deaf man who sued the city of Modesto, California has settled out of court. Harry Tessien claimed police used excessive force when he failed to follow their orders – orders he could not hear. Details of the settlement have not been released but Tessien was asking for compensation and attorneys' fees.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Cuts to Deaf Services in Virginia

Virginia’s Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services has reportedly cut all funding for sign language interpreters. The office has also slashed in half funding for the position that coordinates services for the deaf and hard-of-hearing position.

Makers of Hearing Aids

Six biggest brands of hearing aids:
GN ReSound, Oticon, Phonak, Siemens, Starkey and Widex.

The three main manufacturers of tiny hearing aids:,,

ASL Bachelor's Degrees

There are only 34 institutions nationwide offering a bachelor's degree in ASL interpreting, according to Eastern Kentucky University President Doug Whitlock.

Friday, October 31, 2008

New ASL Dept in Kentucky

Eastern Kentucky University has created a new department dedicated to the study of sign language. The Department of American Sign Language and Interpreter Education is an off-shoot of the Department of Special Education. It has 11 teachers (many are deaf) and two staff members. There are nearly two dozen students already in the program. The state of Kentucky has less than 150 licensed interpreters. That’s about half of what’s needed, according to the school’s dean of education.

School Loses Scholarship Money

The Washington School for the Deaf is among the thousands of Washington Mutual shareholders to suffer from the bank’s plunge into bankruptcy. The school received 2500 share as part of a donation to fund its scholarship program. Because of endowment restrictions, the school couldn’t sell the WaMu stock even when it fell through the bottom.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Crime Near Gallaudet

An effort has failed to get police in Washington from stopping traffic at checkpoints at a neighborhood bordered by Gallaudet University to the west. Motorists are required to show identification and explain their destination before entering the crime-ridden Trinidad neighborhood. The Partnership for Civil Justice sued to get the practice stopped but a federal judge said the practice is legal. The area has seen a number of shootings in recent months including drive-bys and a triple homicide in May.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What Earplugs Can Do

Earplugs reduce outside sounds by about 20 to 30 decibels for someone with normal hearing. Ordinary cotton balls or wads of tissue paper stuffed into ears cut noise only by about seven decibels. Normal conversation runs about 60 decibels. Continual exposure to more than 85 decibels may cause hearing loss. Earplugs can be premolded for the user and most are sized for men.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Gallaudet's Next President

Two years after protests erupted at Gallaudet University over the selection of its president, the school says it plans to begin a search for a new president this coming spring. The Board of Trustees withdrew the appointment of Jane Fernandes and made Robert Davila interim president. He will not be a part of the new search. Gallaudet says if all goes well, the new president will take office in 2010.

Deaf Cheerleaders

Three students at a St. Louis Metro high school on the cheerleading squad are deaf. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has their story.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Gallaudet Students Get New Neighbors

Firefighters from DC Station 10 have taken up temporary residents at Gallaudet University while their station is renovated. It’s more than 80 years old. The makeover will cost a whopping two-and-a-half million. In the meantime, firefighters are using an old warehouse into a temporary station on campus. It could be a year before they move back to the old location.

Station 10 is considered one of the busiest fire houses in the country because it serves a large area of low income densely packed residents. While the firefighters are learning sign language, there is one exception among them. Joey Keller is fluent in sign language and his my parents met at Gallaudet where they went to school.

Palin Questioned on Special Needs

During a campaign stop in Sioux City, Iowa, Jessica Haas asked Sarah Palin what specific things she’d do to improve special needs care. Haas said she was having trouble getting help for her deaf toddler. Palin told her:

“You need to have faith that your elected officials will demand that for you, so the bureaucracy is—is enabling you to get those things taken care of. As the advocate in the White House, that’s what I will ensure.” Haas said later she was happy with Palin’s answer.

Texas School Looks to Grow

A San Antonio school is closing in on it’s plans to double in size. Sunshine Cottage School for Deaf Children has raised more than $18 million for the project and needs less than $4 million to complete it. The 60-year-old school has purchased 22 acres of land and hopes to put up a new 57,000-square-foot building by the fall of 2010. That would accommodate about 200 students.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

No Confidence Vote at School

The Rhode Island School for the Deaf teachers union has given the school’s director a vote of no confidence. The latest rift between faculty and administrators came just a few days ago during an attempted break-in. Some teachers say director Lori Dunsmore didn’t notify them quick enough as to the danger on campus. The school serves more than 100 students and faces falling test scores and deteriorating facilities.

Helping Deaf Victims of Domestic Violence

A Place of Our Own in Seattle is the nation's first transitional housing program for low-income deaf and deaf-blind women recovering from domestic violence or sexual assault. The
Program is run by Abused Deaf Women's Advocacy Services (ADWAS) which began providing services in 1986. The group says rates of domestic violence among the deaf are similar to those for the general population. The National Domestic Violence Hotline says about one in six deaf, deaf-blind or hard-of-hearing women deal with physical abuse every year. The agency has a staff of 18 and operates on an annual budget of more than a million dollars serving more than 100 clients. Besides a place to stay, ADWAS offers legal advice and a parenting program.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

ASL Hall Opens at University

Michigan State University has a new American Sign Language living community. It gives students a chance to sharpen their signing skills by living among those who have an interest in ASL. While there are no one with hearing loss living at Snyder-Phillips Hall, there is hope the 11 students on the ASL floors will become a hub for academic and cultural events focused on deafness.

Election Coverage

For the first time, you’ll be able to follow National Public Radio’s coverage of election returns through captioning. Boston public radio station WGBH will create the instantaneous transcription for not only NPR but local and national television broadcasters. The company providing the new high-definition radio technology is Harris. You can pick up the simultaneous transcription at the website of NPR, Harris or WGBH.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Star of CBS Show Visits Rochester

WROC-TV reports on Christy Smith’s visit to Rochester's School of the Deaf. She was born deaf and appeared on the CBS reality show Survivor (no captioning provided).

Money Intended to Help Deaf is Moved

South Dakota is using a special fund set up or to provide telephone services for the deaf for  other projects. The Telecommunications Relay Service Fund gets its money from a monthly 15-cent assessment on telephone bills. In South Dakota, it adds up to $1.5 million each year. But instead of using it for the deaf, the governor and state Legislature have quietly moved $2 million of it to the general fund.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Running for the Bruins

UCLA tailback Derrick Coleman has hearing aids for both ears. Coleman was diagnosed with hearing problems when he was about one year old and started wearing hearing aids at the age of four. But now, Coleman is one of four freshman tailbacks helping the UCLA Bruins football team. Despite having had arthroscopic surgery on his knee in August, Coleman is the Bruins' leading rusher and holds the #2 spot behind senior Kahlil Bell - even though he has played in only four of the team's six games.

Lawyer Settles Interpreter Lawsuit

An Albuquerque attorney settled with a deaf client last year for $1,000 in damages because he failed to provide an interpreter. Joseph Camacho was handling a lawsuit on behalf of Carolyn Tanaka – who was suing a local hospital for not providing a sign language interpreter for son. Camacho withdrew from Tanaka case and the National Association of the Deaf filed a complaint on her behalf with the US Justice Department. Camacho agreed to change his office policy and provide an interpreter for any deaf client.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Record Award for not Providing Terp

A deaf patient has won a record $400,000 verdict in Hudson County, New Jersey. Her doctor had refused to provide a sign language interpreter during office visits. Irma Gerena says she repeatedly made the request of rheumatologist Robert Fogari while he was treating her for lupus. But he told Gerena that he couldn't afford to pay the $200 charge for each visit. Instead, Fogari spoke with family members including Gerena’s 9-year-old daughter. Gerena says the doctor refused to meet with an interpreter who could have explained the law to him. She eventually switched to another doctor who immediately changed her treatment. There were side effects to Forgari’s regiment that were unclear because of the communication problems.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

School to Reopen

If all goes well, the Louisiana School for the Deaf will partially reopen in November. Because of sex incidents among students and staff, the facility was shut down on October 3. Five people were arrested in the last year on sex charges involving students at the school. Parents have been upset that their children have had no where to go following the closing. In the meantime, there are new security measures being put in place and training underway.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Video Relay Helping Voters

San Antonio is planning to use five video remote interpreting consoles recently purchased from just DeafLink (based in the city) to help deaf voters. The equipment will be placed at early voting locations. Early voting is allowed in Texas between October 20th and October 31st. Using a two-way video screen, deaf voters will be able to communicate with election officials with the help of a sign language interpreter. About 115,000 people in the San Antonio San Antonio area are either deaf or hard-of-hearing population.

Firefox Video Support

A future version of the Firefox will have video and audio support built directly into the web browser. Teams at Firefox maker Mozilla are in the process of selecting a captioning format. But that is no easy task since there are a variety of video formats on the web. Regardless of the obstacles, any advancement will help advance multimedia accessibility for those with hearing or sight loss.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Music Listeners Risk Hearing Loss

One in 10 people with personal MP3 or CD players could suffer permanent hearing loss because their music is too loud. That’s the finding of a European study. Researchers says if you listen at 89 decibels or more for as little as an hour each day for five years, you risk permanent hearing loss.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Closed-Captioning in Digital

Analog and digital TVs use different methods to provide closed captions. An analog TV decodes the closed-caption information, displaying it on the screen. But a HDTV using an HDMI cable uses the device you are attaching to provide the closed-captioning. And that’s the case whether it is a DVD player or cable or satellite TV set-top box. To make them work together, you’ll have to make sure closed-captioning is turned on for the player or set-top box, as well as for the digital TV. If you still have problems, call your cable or satellite provider.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Supernanny Comes Calling

The latest episode of ABC’s Supernanny told the story of deaf parents struggling to raise four hearing children. Dorothy and Kip Baulisch of Papillion, Nebraska rely on their eldest daughter who basically plays surrogate parent to the three younger girls who often throw screaming fits. The girls have refused to learn sign language.

Melissa has given up her youth to be a full-time interpreter in her own house. She’s frustrated, working two jobs and still going to school. She has a limited relationship with her Dad, who says he loves her but doesn’t think she loves him back.

Host Jo Frost arrives with a sign language interpreter and sees how the children whisper to each other with their hands covering their mouths so their mom won’t know. Jo tells the parents, “Just because you’re deaf doesn’t make you any less of a parent!”

Thursday, October 9, 2008

NBA Player Released

The first legally deaf player in the NBA has been released. The Cleveland Cavaliers let go Center Lance Allred go after he played less than five minutes in the Cav’s 104-84 exhibition loss to Toronto. During the exhibition season, he played in just three games and averaged only one point. While he may consider a return to the NBA later, Allred says he'll stay busy writing a book about his disability.

Parents Complain About School Closing

Parents who have children attending the Louisiana School for the Deaf are upset with the closing of the school even if it is a temporary situation. WVLA-TV has more (no captioning provided).

Read the story.

NTID Dance Company

The NTID Dance Company, established in 1984, is open to the entire RIT community whether the person is deaf or can hear. The group consists of about two dozen dancers who practice together about six days per week in the weeks leading up to a show.

School Shut Down

The Louisiana School for the Deaf is shutting down – at least temporarily. The school is in the midst of a sex scandal, leading to the arrest of both staff and students. The latest involved a mentally impaired teenage student who is accused of sexually attacking another, younger student on a school bus. The chaperone did not know sign language and when a student tried to tell her what was happening, she didn’t understand.

The state superintendent of education plans to add new security features before reopening the facility. A consultant says the institution's top administrator should be fired and new system installed. About 200 students attend the Baton Rouge school.

Monday, October 6, 2008

How to Teach Your Baby Sign Language

(no captioning provided)

Band Raises Funds for School

A rock band is raising money for a deaf school. Before starting its fall tour, the group State Radio played at the Learning Center For the Deaf in Framingham, Massachusetts. The show raised about $6000 for the center. The brother of singer and guitarist Chad Urmston works there.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Political Campaign Reaches out to Deaf

The Democratic party in Missouri’s Callaway County is making an effort to contact the Deaf Community to tell them about Barack Obama's campaign. Workers are calling over TTY. It may be the only county political operation in the country doing this sort of outreach. The Republican party in Callaway says it’s not. Next up: Using Video Relay Service on behalf of Obama.

Gallaudet's Development Project

Gallaudet University is planning to develop four acres across from its campus in northeast Washington, DC. The land on 6th Street north of Florida Avenue is now vacant. The effort may include rental housing, offices, retail, restaurants, a community theater, a child development center and cultural attractions. The school says the architectural design will bring together deaf and hearing people. Most noticeably, the fence along the campus’ 6th Street border may be removed.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Sexual Attacks at Deaf School Continue

A teenage student has been suspended from the Louisiana School for the Deaf for allegedly sexually attacking a six-year-old on a school bus. The boy apparently locked himself and the girl in a bathroom. The adult in charge has been fired. KMSS-TV in Shreveport says it’s one of more than 30 such reports at the school in the last five years – and that includes incidents involving school employees and teachers.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Big Fine for TV Station

The FCC has slapped a California TV station with a $25,000 fine for failing to make emergency information about fires accessible to the deaf. The San Diego station was broadcasting information about a rapidly spreading wildfire in 2003. That’s when the Commission says important information about evacuations was given out about two dozen instances in the audio portion of the programming but not elsewhere. The FCC rule book explicitly states says in Section 79.2 that broadcasters must make information being aired in the audio portion of their programming available to deaf viewers. The critical information does not have to be displayed by closed-captioning. It can be crawls, scrolls, maps, or signs.

Gallaudet Alum Named to CEO List

The Gazette of Politics and Business has named Gallaudet grad John Yeh as one of the 25 CEO’s You Need to Know. Yeh and his son, Jason, run Viable, Inc. The elder Yeh and his protable videophone called the VPAD are also featured on the cover of last month’s issue of CNN’s Fortune Small Business Magazine. Yeh is the chair of Gallaudet's Board of Associates and a past trustee. Viable is headquartered in Rockville, Maryland and employs more than 150 people.

Tween Hearing Campaign

A campaign started by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders is designed to get kids to dial down the noise. Children between ages 8 and 12 are at risk to because of excessive levels of MP3 players and other electronic devices. The campaign includes a website that offers suggestions for protection of hearing including some snappy comebacks for when their friends ask them why they're wearing earplugs.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Judge Rules Against Football Stadium

Deaf fans of the Washington Redskins may soon see a big difference at the games. A federal judge is ordering FedEx Field, where the team plays its home games, to provide “equal access” to deaf and hard-of-hearing people who are in the stadium. It all started when three fans filed suit against the football field owner, who claimed listening devices were enough to compensate for deaf fans not knowing what was being said over loud speakers. But the judge disagreed. And now the ruling may wind up forcing stadiums across the country to provide captioning for sporting events.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Testing Children's Hearing

Bay News 9 in Tampa Bay, Florida files this report on testing children's hearing (no captioning provided).

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hospital Agrees to Pay

A New Hampshire hospital has reached an out-of-court settlement with several people who complained about how the hospital handles deaf and hard-of-hearing patients. Concord Hospital has agreed to pay $100,000 for failing to have appropriate services, including sign language interpreters. Concord has agreed to establish a program to enhance effective communication for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. The hospital admitted no liability in the case.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

TV Reporter Suing Police

A former reporter for KTNV in Las Vegas is suing the city’s police department. Christina Brown says she damaged her hearing when she used semi-automatic rifles for a story a couple of years ago at the department’s firing range. Brown says she was not given earplugs and as a result now has hearing loss and tinnitus. She wants police to play for more than $13,000 in medical bills. She’s now working for MSNBC.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Deaf-owned Company Makes Mag Cover

The new issue of Fortune Small Business features the VP of Technology at Viable along with the company’s videophone. It could be the first time a deaf person or a communications device for the deaf has appeared on the cover of a business magazine. Viable was profiled because the company is deaf-owned and deaf-operated.

Monday, September 22, 2008

College Offering Minor in Deaf Studies

Students at the University of Minnesota Duluth can now earn a minor in deaf studies. The new degree came about after members of the group Access for All held a forum and various community leaders and lawmakers. ASL classes have long been popular at the school. Nearly 200 students are enrolled in ASL classes this year. Two instructors (one of them deaf) have been hired to run the program. For their effort, the student activists have been given the outstanding student organization award for 2008.

Celebrate ASL

A celebration of the International Day of Sign Languages will take place Friday afternoon at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. The World Federation of the Deaf designates one day a year as a time to show support for the use of sign language around the world. The National Association of the Deaf is leading it’s support to the gathering.

On the West Coast, the California Association for the Deaf is planning a gathering on Saturday at the state capital in Sacramento. Several dozen booths will exhibit materials and support for the use of sign language as a part of what’s being called the Californians for ASL Celebration.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Hearing Loss Among Troops

One in four soldiers serving in Iraq or Afghanistan have damaged hearing according to the Army.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

House on House

Hearing Expert Dr. John House says he often is asked whether he’s the TV doctor. Fox’s show House is about a Vicodin addicted doctor solving medical mysteries. The real doctor named House is not only an expert on hearing, his father (Howard House)
founded the House Ear Institute and his uncle (William House) created and implanted the first FDA-approved cochlear implant.

House (the real doctor) points out that the TV doctor (played by Hugh Laurie) would (in real life) eventually lose his hearing because of his addiction to Vicodin (acetaminophen/ hydrocodone). Many go completely deaf. House (the real doctor) is concerned that many viewers are mislead by the lack of consequences to the addiction in the TV show. Of course, prescription painkillers affect people in different ways. One person may take Vicodin for years and not suffer any hearing loss. Another person may take large doses for few months and suffer profound permanent hearing loss.

Deaf Pilots

Of more than 618,000 pilots nationwide, the FAA says only 73 are deaf.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Hearing Aids Costs

A set of hearing aids costs anywhere from $800 to $3,500. The average is $2,200, according to an industry study sponsored by Knowles Electronics. For children, most hearing aids are not covered by insurance and can run between $1,000 and $3,000 a set. They must be changed every few years as children grow. Batteries can add about $600 a month to that amount because they must be switched every two to three days.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Children in Special Programs

Three decades ago, four out of five deaf or hard of hearing children in the US were in programs specially designed for the deaf. Today the numbers have literally flipped. Now, four out of five attend public school.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Deaf Group Loses $170,000

When the collapse of Silver State Bank collapsed a few days ago, several years of work by the Las Vegas County Association of the Deaf went down the drain. The group had slowly raised more than $170,000 through small fund-raisers. The association’s banking account is now worth only $100,000 because that’s the maximum amount insured by the federal government. The money was going to be used for a convention of the Deaf Seniors of America.

Frustrated Texas Parents

Parents of students in a program for deaf children in Houston are calling for consolidation. More than 100 students must travel to three different school districts located miles apart. The Galveston Brazoria Cooperative for the Hearing Impaired serves ten districts. School officials says there are no plans to change and students will simply have to adjust. KTRK-TV has more in this report (no captioning provided):

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hearing and Depression

Many people who suffering hearing loss also battle depression. A survey released by Australian Hearing found six out of ten people with hearing problems also have symptoms that are associated with depression. One out of five had at least three key symptoms.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Millions for Hearing Loss in Children

The University of Iowa is getting a federal grant of $8.9 million to study mild to moderate hearing loss in preschool children. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders awarded the five-year grant to University researchers who will work with Boys Town National Research Hospital in Nebraska and the University of North Carolina.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

ASL Popular in High School

KRBC-TV reports on sign language classes at a high school in Abilene, Texas (no caption):

Friday, September 12, 2008

Gallaudet Evacuation

Gallaudet University students were evacuated from two dorms Wednesday because of a chemical scare. A maintenance worker discovered containers of an unknown material hidden in an air duct above a second-floor room. Police and fire crews were alerted but only ordinary pesticides and fertilizers were found. Authorities say someone may have been growing marijuana and used the containers for storage at the DC campus.

Journal Critical of Researcher

A medical journal is reprimanding a Washington University researcher for his study that concluded firefighters weren't at risk for job-related hearing loss. The Ear & Hearing journal says William Clark failed to disclose a conflict of interest. Clark got money from a siren manufacturer while putting the study together at the university's medical school in St. Louis. Clark claims he did nothing wrong.

Friday, September 5, 2008

How Technology is Impacting ASL Storytelling

Hundreds are expected at a symposium planned for October about how technology is changing how ASL is used in the Deaf community. Redefining the Literary Expressions of Deafhood: The Impact of the Digital Age is being made possible by a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities. It will take place October 3rd and 4th at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, New York. The focus will be storytelling. How are blogs and vlogs affecting the way artists express themselves and how stories are being passed to the next generation. The sessions are free and will include sign language performances and talks by assistant professor of English and ASL at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Christopher Krentz and English professor from Gallaudet University, Kristen Harmon.

Early Intervention

The earlier children get intervention services for hearing loss early the better. That’s the finding of new research that shows children who get help even before the age of three months have higher language scores than those who receive no special help. Details are in the latest issue of the medical journal Pediatrics.

Hearing Aids Planted in the Brain

The nonprofit House Ear Institute in Los Angeles is working on digital hearing aids that put sound directly into the brain. Nearly a dozen procedures that involve penetrating the surface of the cochlear nucleus right into the brain. Researchers hope the auditory brainstem implant will be ready for use in people with residual hearing in another 5 years. While analog hearing aids amplify all sound, digital can be nuanced to be more selective. Tiny computers can screen out noise and amplify pertinent sounds.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Stem Cell Research

Stem cells may repair cochlear damage that causes hearing loss. That’s the finding of Italian researchers. Details are in the current issue of Cell Transplantation.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hearing the TV without Blasting Others Out of the Room

People who use hearing aids no longer need the TV loud. What’s called an “induction loop system” allows users tie into the audio-out of a TV or stereo system. A small transmitter plugs into the jack and a thin wire is run in a circle around the room. The technology is in wide use in Europe. Wireless Hearing Solutions offers a typical set-up that runs $185.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sign Language Opera

A new form of entertainment is sweeping Finland – opera singers who also sign. Producer Marita Barber started the trend on the tiny Aland islands with her addition of 'opera signers'. They amplify the nonverbal characteristic of normal opera with sign language adapted to convey the mood and tone of the music. The Theatre Totti is the only permanent theater to produce sign-language-only plays in the country.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Still Teaching, Still Connecting

John Kuhlman made the rounds as a popular economics professor for years. Now he teaches immigrants to read and write English, one-on-one, at the Literacy Council of Buncombe County in western North Carolina. The 84-year-old was given a second teaching life because of a cochlear implant. Many of the clients ask for Kuhlman because of his passion and patience.

Cheap Hearing Aids Not Worth It

A study of over-the-counter hearing aids finds only a few met the basic requirements for a good fit. Michigan State University professor Jerry Punch tested eleven over-the-counter hearing aids and found most of them not only failed to fit properly but they did not help many common types of hearing loss. Details of the study are in the American Journal of Audiology. FDA regulations are not enforced for low-cost amplifying devices that are sold through mail order and on the Internet.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Troy Program Opens

Troy University’s internatraining program for sign language interpreters has begun. The Alabama school is offering classes to prepare students to pass the National Interpreting Certification Exam.

Help During the Hurricane

When you watch the news coverage of hurricane Gustav, you may see Shari Bernius. She’s administrator of the Deaf Action Center, an agency of the Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans. Both of her parents were deaf and she understands the difficulties of those who are deaf during emergencies. Bernius signed many news conferences during Hurricane Katrina and now her skills are being called upon again. Her job is critical because there is no closed captioning for these emergency weather announcements, leaving the deaf community no way of knowing what's going on apart from the work of interpreters like Bernius.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Professor Going to Jail

A professor at Rochester Institute of Technology is going to jail. Michael Krembel was given an 11-year prison sentence for having sex with a 14-year-old boy. Krembel met the teen online. He taught graphic arts at RIT's National Technical Institute for the Deaf and for 35 years but was fired after pleading guilty to the charge.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hearing Loss among Baby Boomers

Hearing loss among "baby boomers" has increased significantly to about 15% of people between the ages 45 and 64, according to the Better Hearing Institute. In fact, the AARP says there are more people between the age 45 and 64 with hearing loss (10 million) than there are people over 65 with hearing loss (9 million). The reason: listening to loud music.

The number is expected to climb because by the year 2010, the baby boomer generation reaches age 65. The number of Americans with hearing loss could rise as high as 78 million by 2030, according to the National Institute on Deafness.

Getting to Know.. Deaf Culture

Deafness is one of the only medical conditions associated with its own set of cultural traditions. Many are concerned that technology will water down the use of sign language and minimize social interaction between deaf people. Some even shun devices designed to help them hear to protect the sanctity of deaf culture.

Ear Infections

How They Happen
· When viruses or bacteria get inside the ear (from a cold or other illness) fluid and mucus can become trapped deep inside the ear.

Who it Affects
· Three out of four children will suffer from ear infections before the age of three

· irritability
· loss of sleep, appetite, and balance
· tugging at the ear
· fever
· lack of response to quiet sounds
· signs of hearing difficulty (i.e. sitting too close to the TV)

· Tylenol
· warm baths
· "watchful waiting" (with children over 2)
· antibiotics if symptoms persists, however, it only works against bacterial infections
(some have become resistant to certain antibiotics)
· Doctors have no way of knowing if a virus or bacteria is causing any given infection

· Can result in hearing loss, though doctors say that's usually temporary.

More Information
· American Academy of Pediatrics
· National Library of Medicines

Closed Captioning on YouTube

Videos posted on YouTube can now be closed captioned. Video contributors can upload subtitles for as many languages as they want. They can be turned on and off by clicking on the “CC” button that pops up at the bottom right.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Scientific First

Researchers in Oregon say they’ve figured out how to make new hair cells grow in the inner ear of unborn mice. Work in humans is still a way off, but the efforts at the Oregon Health and Science University could lead to ground-breaking gene therapy that could one day restore hearing in the deaf. The effort is being lead by neurobiologist John Brigande who is profoundly hard of hearing himself. Details of the study are in the journal Nature.

Getting to Know.. Gallaudet University

The Name: Gal-luh-det not Gal-yoo-det

Address: 800 Florida Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20002


Year founded: 1864

Setting: Urban

Campus Size: 99 acres

Religious affiliation: None

Employees: 1,129 (41% deaf or hard of hearing)

Undergrad Degrees: 40 Bachelor's degree majors

Graduate Degrees: programs in social work, deaf education, international development and clinical psychology

Enrollment: about 1,800 Undergraduate student body: In the past five years, undergraduate enrollment has declined from about 1,400 to just under 1,000

Hearing Students: about 5%

Registered Clubs and Organizations: 31

Number of Fraternities and Sororities: 4/4

Student Newspaper: the Buff and Blue is published biweekly

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What’s Happened to Jane Fernandes?

Former Gallaudet University provost Jane Fernandes now holds the same position at UNC Asheville. Fernandes, who was born deaf, served in the post for Gallaudet for six years. But when the Gallaudet Board decided to appoint her as president of the school, students protested until she withdrew from the position.

Monday, August 25, 2008

In Silent Prayer

Father Anthony Russo has written a book about his 40 year ministry to the Deaf community. In Silent Prayer follows his path through churches in the Philadelphia area where the congregation is exclusively deaf and others where only a couple of people in the congregation is deaf. He traces this ministry back before his own time to the mid-1800’s. Russo was first assigned to the deaf when it was discovered that he himself suffers a mild hearing impairment. More information.

Friday, August 22, 2008

WHNS-TV in Greenville, South Carolina reports on an investigation into the state's school for the deaf and blind. (No captioning provided)

Sign Language Over Cell Phones

Seattle will be the testing ground for new software that allows deaf and hear-of-hearing to use sign language over a cell phone. The National Science Foundation has given researchers at the University of Washington a grant to test their program. A prototype of MobileASL has been posted on YouTube (see it below). Users can hold the phone in front of them and sign with one hand but most prefer to set the phone on a table and sign with both hands. More information.

Rochester Gets $900,000

Rochester’s School for the Deaf is getting nearly $900,000 over the next five years for its after-school academy. The money is coming from the state education department. The Rochester After School Academy is free and open to all deaf and hard-of-hearing school-age students.

School Takes Year Off from Football

There will be no football program at the Louisiana School for the Deaf – for one year. The school is suspending the program citing lack of interest and experience. The War Eagles have been playing in an eight-man football league for deaf schools. Last year’s record was 2 and 5. Only 11 players signed up to participate this year. In 2005 the school went undefeated and won the Deaf Schools National Championship.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Olympic Cyclist

Maria Belen Dutto got the chance to compete in the Beijing Olympics this week. The Argentine cyclist is almost entirely deaf. She competes in the BMX where cyclists race through a dirt circuit in less than a minute. She attended regular schools as a child and is now 21-years-old. A beep usually tells riders that the barrier before their front wheel is about to drop. Since Dutto cannot hear the beep, her father usually taps her back to let her know. That’s not necessary in the Olympics which has lights to indicate the start to riders. She didn't make it to the finals, but she came in 7th in her semifinals run today.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Drummer Keeps the Beat

Drummer Ben Herson was born with a degenerative hearing loss. But that hasn’t kept him from touring North American with some big acts during the last 15 years. His work has included hip-hop, reggae and African music. Herson has nerve damage in both ears and uses hearing aids.

Misdiagnosis of the Elderly who are Deaf

Elderly patients who are may get low scores on mental health tests because of a language barrier, according to a new study. A professor at Macon State College says this can lead to misdiagnosis of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. David Feldman found deaf patients typically scored between three and five percent lower on the exam than those who are hearing. The main reason was that the questions used language difficult to translate into sign language. He sees an experienced interpreter as critical to getting an accurate assessment.

Hearing Loss and Older Adults

Most common chronic conditions among older Americans:
  1. Hypertension
  2. Arthritis
  3. Hearing Loss

As many as 29 million people in the US may have at least some hearing loss, according to the Archives of Internal Medicine.

One-third of adults over the age 60 are hard of hearing and up to half of those age 75 or older are hard of hearing, according to the House Ear Institute.

Hearing loss associated with aging most often results from cumulative damage to the hair cells in the cochlea, which, like other body parts, suffer the wear and tear of age. The first to decline are those in the outer part of the cochlea that are sensitive to high-frequency sounds, including those produced by the consonants f, sh, ch, p, s and t, which are crucial to clarity in perceiving speech. The low-frequency vowel sounds are the last to go.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

School President Being Replaced

Something's wrong at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind. The State Law Enforcement Division has launched an investigation into the school, though agents are not saying why. At the same time, the board of the school is replacing president Pamela Shaw. Shaw has been on the job only about half a year. Vice president of outreach services, Carol Mabry, is taking over as interim president.

$3 Million for Implant Study

If you can hear out of only one ear, how will that affect your ability to use a cochlear implant? The National Institutes of Health is giving a $3 million grant to find out. Jill Firszt, a cochlear-implant specialist at St. Louis’ Washington University School of Medicine will spend 5 years trying to answer the question. Firszt expects the study will find that having hearing in one ear improves the outcome over being deaf in both ears. The study should also help determine whether someone should get a second implant right away or wait a while.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Step inside the Ear Canal

If we could stroll up the ear canal for a quick visit, we might find some wax blocking our way. At the end of the fleshy tunnel, we would have to squeeze around a huge, circular membrane - better known as the eardrum. After than, we would sidestep the oddly shaped middle ear bones and step into the inner ear. Up ahead we would see, rising like skyscrapers, a cluster of slender and interconnected inner ear hair cells. Bundles of them would gently bend as sound waves pass. These receptacles take in those sounds and transforming them into electrical signals, sending them to the brain for interpretation.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Can Apes Learn ASL?

Beginning in the late 1960s, several famous projects claimed to have taught language to baby chimpanzees. These claims quickly captured the public’s imagination and were played up in popular science books and magazines and television programs. Most of the trainers were schooled in the behaviorism tradition of B.F. Skinner and are ignorant of the study of language; they latched don tot the most tenuous resemblance between chimp and child and proclaimed that their abilities fare fundamentally the same.

The apes did not “learn American Sign Language”. This preposterous claim is based on the myth that ASL is a crude system of pantomimes and gestures rather than a full language with complex phonology, morphology, and syntax. In fact the apes had not learned any true ASL signs.

Steven Pinker
The Language Instinct

Saturday, August 16, 2008

American Sign Language Facts

• ASL can be traced at least to the late 1600s when a form of sign language was used by the deaf community on Martha's Vineyard.
• ASL moved closer to its current form in the early 1800s with the help of Protestant minister Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet.
• By the late 1860's signing was outlawed in many schools for the deaf. Some offenders were even forced to wear mittens.
• It's the primary language for as many as 500,000 people
• ASL is the second most taught language on college campuses according to National Public Radio.
• ASL has a distinct vocabulary. One dictionary lists more than 7,000 entries.
More than 100 four-year universities accept it as a foreign language requirements
• More than 700 public high schools offered sign language classes in 2004 (456 more than in 2000)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Getting to Know… Marlee Matlin

  • Born August 24, 1965
  • Grew up in Morton Grove, Illinois near Chicago
  • Became deaf when she was a year and a half old after she suffered a series of fevers
  • Won an Oscar for her role as the deaf student in Children of a Lesser God
  • Played a lawyer on her own TV series, Reasonable Doubt
  • Took the role of a political analyst on The West Wing
  • Plays a character on Showtime’s The ‘L’ Word
  • Attended the Jewish Temple for the Deaf B’nai Shalom located in Skokie
  • Discovered by Henry Winkler
  • Author of two Children’s books

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

72-year-old Gets Implant

A report from WCBS-TV in New York on one woman's implant story (no captioning provided).

Gallaudet.. By the Numbers

Mid 90s: There were as many as 1600 undergraduates

1999 – 2005: undergraduate graduation rates are about 42%

2001 - 2005: graduates who found jobs the first year out of Gallaudet drops every year

2002: 758 high school seniors applied to Gallaudet

2006: The number of new students shrinks to just 281

2006 – 1200 undergraduates

2007 - 1080 undergraduates this year

2007 - The institution of choice for only 13% of US deaf and hard-of-hearing high-school graduates who enroll in four-year colleges (according to the US Department of Education)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Call Center Shutdown Planned

Communication Service for the Deaf is shutting down its call center in Jacksonville, Florida in October. The move will put 114 people out of work. The center takes calls from people all over the country and has been in operation for three years. The nonprofit company is based in South Dakota. A spokesman admits that new technology is slowly eliminating the needPublish Post for the text relay service.

Monday, August 11, 2008

New App for iPhones and iPods

There’s a new tool for learning the ASL alphabet. An educational app has been designed for the iPod and iPhone called ABC Sign. Three choices are presented on the iPod or iPhone touch and the user selects the correct one. A quarter of the profits will go toward the benefit of deaf artists.

Lottery for the Deaf

A scam is going around the US that promises money through a so-called “lottery for the deaf.” The trick involves a call, mail contact or text that tells the person they get their winnings after paying taxes and fees up front, often through Western Union. Sometimes, they attempt to gain personal information from the deaf person, such as a Social Security number or bank account numbers.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fundraiser for Deaf Boy

A benefit concert takes place a week from Friday (August 22) for a deaf Honduran boy at The Fine Line Music Cafe in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Sponsored by the Help Me Hear Foundation, tickets to the benefit concert are just $15. All the money that’s raised will go toward the purchase a cochlear implant for the boy. Seven local bands have agreed to appear for no charge.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Right Brain, Left Brain

When deaf people shadow one-handed signs in American Sign Language they find it harder to (simultaneously) tap with their right finger than with their left finger. That’s because the right finger competes with language for resources of the left hemisphere. When a person (either a signer or speaker) has to shadow a goodbye wave, a thumbs-up sign, or a meaningless gesticulation, the fingers of the right hand and the left and are slowed down equally.

Deaf signers with damage to their left hemispheres suffer from forms of sign aphasia (a loss of the ability to produce and/or comprehend language ) that are virtually identical to the aphasia of hearing victims with similar lesions. (They) are unimpaired at nonlinguistic tasks that place similar demands on the eyes and hands, such as gesturing, pantomiming, recognizing faces, and copying designs. Injuries to the right hemisphere of deaf signers produce the opposite pattern: they remain flawless at signing but have difficulty performing spatial tasks, just like hearing patients with injured right hemispheres.

It is a fascinating discovery. The right hemisphere is known to specialize in (spatial) abilities, so one might have expected that sign language, which depends on (spatial) abilities, would be computed in the right hemisphere. (But) language.. is controlled by the left hemisphere. The left hemisphere must be handling the abstract rules and trees underlying language, the grammar and the dictionary and the anatomy of words, and not merely the sounds and the mouthings at the surface.
From The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Most Widely Studied Foreign Language in Colleges

1. Spanish

2. French

3. German

4. Italian

5. American Sign Language

Source: Modern Language Association

Screening Newborns

All but seven US states now require newborns to be screened for hearing loss before leaving the hospital. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says all children should be screened for hearing loss before one month of age. The procedure takes less than 10 minutes. Hearing loss is the most common birth defect in the US, occurring in three out of every 1,000 newborns, according to the CDC. Two of those children will have a partial hearing loss while one will be profoundly deaf. That means roughly 12,000 babies are born each year with permanent hearing loss.

But many babies that fail hearing tests do not get the follow-up they need. About a third of the 76,000 newborns that did not pass their screening test last year did not get the further testing needed to determine if they actually have hearing loss, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, The CDC blames a shortage of audiologists and a lack of understanding on the part of parents. If a child doesn’t get a follow-up and diagnosis by 3 or 4 months, the problem isn’t likely to be caught until age 2 or 3 when it has started affecting language and social skills.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Randy Rutherford

Folksinger Randy Rutherford describes his journey toward hearing loss in his one-man show called Singing at the Edge of the World. Rutherford began losing his hearing during his 20’s and has left the musician with 70% hearing loss at the age of 58. He now wears digital hearing aids but still struggles to make out conversations.

Noise Levels: Ordinary and Military

Lawnmower: 90 decibels

Rock concert: 110

Blackhawk helicopter: 110

Abrams tank (speed increases decibels): 117

9 mm pistol: 157

M60 machine gun: 160

Hand grenade (50 feet from target): 164

TOW II missile launcher (on vehicle): 179

105 Towered Howitzer (artillery on tank): 183

Source: U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine

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Lawsuit against St Paul Police

Doug Bahl is suing police in St. Paul, Minnesota. The well-known deaf activist was arrested and beaten during a traffic stop. Bahl was stopped for running a red light (this photo shows him with swollen, black eyes and blood on him). When he tried to communicate that he was deaf, officers sprayed him with mace and hit him. The policemen blame Bahl for starting the confrontation, saying he hit and bit one of them. But the officer's written account indicates show they were frustrated that Bahl did not "speak" with them and they failed to grasp that Bahl was deaf during the altercation. Then Bahl spent nearly four days in the Ramsey County Jail without the knowledge of his family. He says deputies wouldn't get him an interpreter. The sheriff says he offered Bahl a TTY phone the first day but he wanted to send an email to his family. Bahl says the next three days he was not provided an interpreter or allowed access to TTY. His first court appearance was even put off because Ramsey County authorities failed to provide him with an interpreter. Bahl ultimately was convicted of a misdemeanor. The Sheriff’s office says conditions have improved since the incident.