Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Protest at School for Deaf

The North Carolina School for the Deaf is in turmoil following the suspension of seven students and five staff members who protested the quality of the education being offered. There are also concerns over the technology, food and athletic opportunities. The school’s director, Linda Lindsey, threatened to suspend anyone who participated, so only a handful of students turned out for the protest. School administrators allegedly told students that anyone getting suspensions would not graduate or attend college or have a career. Before the protest was to take place, local police took up positions at the entrances to the school and set up barricades to prevent anyone from coming on campus beside students. The North Carolina Association of the Deaf says it's concerned that the deaf students’ civil rights may have been violated. Students also complain that Lindsey and several administrators are not fluent in sign language and use interpreters to speak with students.

Ear Tubes

Children who have ear tubes inserted because of ear infections may not need it. That the finding of a new study at New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Researchers found most children who had the surgery in the New York City area during 2002 only had a mild form of the disease. Experts recommend against tube implantation unless the condition is severe. Instead, they suggest medical treatment or watchful waiting. The conditions associated with the procedure can cause hearing loss. More than half surgeries are performed each year.

Making Insurance Co’s Pay for Implants

State Lawmakers in Wisconsin are considering passing a law that would require insurance companies in the state to cover the cost of hearing aids and cochlear implants for children under the age of 11. A representative for Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce says the passage of Assembly Bill 133 would raise the cost of insurance for everyone in Wisconsin. The bill has already passed unanimously in the state Senate and awaits a vote by the Assembly.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Airport Gets Video Phone

Colorado’s Aspen-Pitkin County Airport is adding a public-access videophone next month in the baggage claim area. Children visiting the Aspen Camp for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing will be able to contact family members when they arrive in Aspen or notify them of flight delays. Miami-based CSD is charging $7,000 for the phone.

Deaflympics Coach Selected

Keith Westhoelter will coach the U.S. Senior Men's National Team that will play in the 2009 Deaflympics in Taipei, Taiwan. Westhoelter is an assistant coach for Indiana School for the Deaf. He was a member of the U.S. gold-medal Deaflympic teams in 1993, 1997, 2001. He also was an assistant coach for the 2005 Deaflympic team in Australia and coach for the last year's World Deaf Basketball Championship in China.

Transcribers Quit

Five of seven Central Washington University transcribers have walked off the job. The Ellensburg school’s Disability Support Services is scrambling to provide services for the seven deaf and hard of hearing students. The transcribers are at odds with Student Affairs which wants cut costs by not letting them team up even when working more than three hours at a time. They are only getting about $13 an hour.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Gallaudet Presidential Search

Gallaudet University’s Board of Trustees has decided to put off searching for a new president. For the time being, the school will keep interim president, Robert Davila. The 74-year-old was first named to the post a little more than a year ago. Protesters shut down the school for days over the presidency before Davila took over.

Library of Congress

Videophones are being installed in the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Sorenson Communications has been given the green light to add 16 units. That makes the Library of Congress one of the first federal agencies to set up a videophone network agency-wide for the benefit of staff members who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. There are 20 deaf staff members who work in a variety of positions throughout the library.

The Eyes Have It

There may be a new way to diagnose hearing problems in babies. Looking at their eyes. Researchers at the University of Oregon say a person's eyes will slightly dilate in response to sound. And the pupils will respond in proportion to the volume of that sound. Results from the study were presented this week at the Association for Research in Otolaryngology meeting in Phoenix.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

TV Ad Award

Disney has picked up a couple of awards for a TV spot called Signs. It shows a boy using American Sign Language to tell his deaf grandfather about his visit to Walt Disney World. The commercial was conceived by the Carol H. Williams advertising agency. Advertising Age named it the most liked new TV spot in top 20 markets. The Media Access Association gave it the Outstanding Achievement Award for a Television Commercial. The young boy, Isaiah Stuard, is the son of a sign language teacher. The grandfather is played by Thomas Samuels, president of the National Black Deaf Advocates.

Relay Center Layoffs

GoAmerica is laying off workers at a relay call center that it recently bought from Verizon. The near San Francisco saw the number of calls fall after the company decided to block international calls. Many of them were coming from scammers in Nigeria. People who are deaf use the center to relay phone conversations.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Matlin on Dancing with the Stars

Marlee Matlin is catching dance fever. She’s among the dozen celebrities who have signed on to compete on the next season of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars The deaf actor says she’s not concerned that she can’t hear the music. . She’s currently a cast member on Showtime's The L Word. The ballroom dancing competition is set to begin with a live performance on March 17.

Aiming at the Major League

Toronto Blue Jays pitching prospect Ryan Ketchner was born deaf. Hearing aids give the left-hander about 10% hearing ability, The 25-year-old non-roster invitee is at the Blue Jays training camp in Florida, hoping to make the team. Ketchner was Seattle's 10th-round pick in the 2000 draft and earned the USA Deaf Sports Federation male athlete of the year in 2003. He had a 3.45 earned-run average and won playoff MVP honours for the California League-champion Inland Empire 66ers. In 2004, he was a Southern League all-star with Double-A Jacksonville. But arm trouble lead to surgery in 2005. Now, he’s back vying for a spot on the roster. If Ketchner makes it to the big leagues, he would be the first deaf major league pitcher in one hundred years.

Major Changes at School

The California School for the Deaf in Riverside is in the midst of a renovation that includes replacing 50 year old boilers with a $13 million plant. The new facility will provide heat and air conditioning to the 13 dorms in campus and school’s gym on the 69-acre campus. Next month, construction begins on a $5 million ativities center. Then in June, new dormitories will start going up. The new buildings will handle nearly 80 more beds than the old ones which accommodate about 300 beds.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Lockdown at School

The California School for the Deaf in Riverside was put into lockdown after a teenager sent threatening text messages to a female student. He told her that he was armed and on campus. Police say the boy was upset that she had ended their relationship. He was taken into custody not long after officers set up a perimeter around the facility. The suspect was never actually on campus. The teen’s identity is being withheld because of his age.

Congress Approves New Money for Captioners

Congress is moving toward giving money to a program to train more realtime writers to work as court reporters and captioners for newscasts and other television programs. A court reporters lobbying group says only half the number are being educated each year that are needed in the workforce. The grant is part of the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007, also known as the Higher Education Reauthorization bill. The House passed it recently while the Senate had already passed its version of the Higher Education Reauthorization bill with similar language. A conference committee made up of member of both houses of Congress will decide whether to put it in the final version that goes to President Bush for his approval. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the need for realtime court reporters will increase by a quarter in the next decade. At the same time, there are about 8,000 fewer court reporters than 10 years ago.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Cochlear Stock Down

The stock price of the Australian company Cochlear has sunk after reporting slow sales of implants to China. The world’s biggest hearing implant company saw its shares fall more than 8% to just under $60. The price reached nearly $80 this past fall. Cochlear has a contract to supply more than 15,000 implants to China and Taiwan but fewer than 600 have been sold. Overall, revenue is up nearly 8% due to a 21% jump in sales of a device for less-severe hearing loss called the Baha.

CODA Making a Difference in New York

New York city’ planner is being honored for leading the largest rezoning effort in the city’s history. Amanda Burden has been given the Marietta Tree Award for Public Service by the Citizens Committee for New York City. Next week, Travel + Leisure magazine plans to name her the Design Champion for 2008. She says one of the keys to her success is the ability to think visually and listen carefully, something she learned growing up in the deaf community. She’s fluent in sign language because both of her parents are deaf. Doctors believed she was deaf at birth but a teacher later discovered Burden had some residual hearing. She says, "I don't like to say deaf because I don't consider it a handicap in any way. For me, it's a benefit.” Burden also has a background in theater, starring in the road production of Children of a Lesser God.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Captions Added by Theater to Film

A theater in Austin, Texas has added open captioning to the Oscar nominated film There will be Blood. The Alamo Drafthouse Ritz Theater made the move after the studio decided not to release a caption disk to go along with the movie. The film is significant to the Deaf community because Russell Harvard appears in the film as HW Plainview, the deaf son of the main character. Plainview becomes deaf after an explosion at his father's oil derrick. Harvard attended the Texas School for the Deaf, and is a deaf actor who landed his first movie role in the film.