Thursday, December 31, 2009

Lone Star Law

A number of new laws take effect with the new year. In Texas, smoke detectors must be able to alert deaf residents living in rental properties, if tenants request it of their landlord.

Making a Difference

The Arizona Daily Star profiles an advocate for the deaf in Tucson and explains his motivation here.

Apple Lawsuit

A federal appeals court has rejected a claims that Apple is responsible for hearing loss caused by using its iPod music player. A district court had already ruled last year that the class-action lawsuit failed to show the device posed a unreasonable risk of noise-induced hearing loss.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

World-renowned British Percussionist

Deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie will perform in Michigan with the Grand Rapids Symphony on January 8th and 9th. Glennie feels the vibrations through her bare feet. The shows entitled Scottish Visions take place at the DeVos Performance Hall. More information.

Playing without a Sound

Washington state's Wenatchee World profiles high school guard Cody Molinar here. He's a standout for the Waterville Shockers who is deaf.

Fugitive Caught

Just hours after being named Fugitive of the Week by the Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force, a Cleveland man turned himself into authorities. Phillip Barkley faces child rape and kidnapping charges against a 13-year-old deaf girl.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sorenson CEUs

VRS provider Sorenson provided more than 200,000 continuing education units (CEUs) from January through October 2009 for interpreters. The company has sponsored more than 750 interpreter workshops during the past year. Sorenson is also making available to its interpreters an American Council on Education accredited, professional development program. It allows terps to earn CEUs in pursuit of their national interpreting certification (NIC) through RID as well as standard college credits.

Fugitive of the Week

Police are on the lookout in the Cleveland, Ohio area for a man accused of sexually assaulting a deaf 13-year-old girl. The Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force had named Phillip Barkley as Fugitive of the Week for the crime. He is t 5-foot-2 and weighs 140 pounds, last seen driving a green Chevy with Ohio license plate DUU 1822. There is a reward for his capture and anyone with information is asked to call 1-866-4-WANTED.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Sunshine State #s

Florida’s Relay Service handled more than 1.5 million calls during fiscal 2009. 17,170 people with hearing loss were served in Florida this year and 36,044 pieces of specialized telecommunications equipment were distributed for 2009. The state has nearly 3 million residents people who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf/blind and speech impaired. That's the second highest in the country.

Metallica Member

The drummer for heavy metal band Metallica says he has a constant ringing in his ears. Lar Ulrich has been dealing with the effects of listening to loud music. Because he suffered from the condition early in his career, Ulrich has used ear protection for a while now.

Scientists believe when hair cells are damaged the brain compensates by generating the perception of a buzzing or ringing in the ears know as tinnitus. Like a radio station out of range, the brain tries harder to pick up a signal and the result is only loud static. The phantom auditory sensation is like a missing arm or leg. We still can experience pain in even in a limb that has been amputated. Other causes of tinnitus include head and neck trauma, advancing age, certain types of tumors, wax buildup and some medications including certain antibiotics, according to the American Tinnitus Association. More than 50 million Americans experience some degree of tinnitus.

WV Funds

The West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind will get a share of the money going throughout the state to make sure students have access to the Internet. The Romney-based school will get nearly $15,000 of the federal money from the E-Rate program.

Waking Up

Ever wonder how deaf people wake up in the morning? There are typically three ways. Some people use a vibrating alarm clock. The device goes under a pillow or mattress. It can also be placed on the bed. When the alarm goes off, its vibrations wakes up whoever is sleeping. Flashing lights work better for others. A light feature often comes with a vibrating alarm. Of course, the third option is to have someone wake you up!

Implant Controversy

Why are cochlear implants controversial in the Deaf Community? Paul Rendine, chairman of the Disability Advocates of Delmarva, tries to explain in this post for Delaware's Daily Times.

Armed Robbery

Two deaf men in Pittsburgh are recovering from wounds they suffered during an attempted robbery. They were headed to a bar when a gunman forced them into an alley. He shot one man in the leg and the other in the back as well as his head, though the bullet did not penetrate the his skull. The gunman ran away without getting anything from the two deaf men.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Rider Looks to 2010

Anthony Stephen is a 36-year-old horse jockey who’s making a comeback. A graduate of the Trinidad jockey school, he had four consecutive sweeps of the overall title in his native country during the early 90s. But Stephen paused his promising career when his and his wife found themselves with two profoundly deaf children due to a previously unknown genetic incompatibility between them. After spending several years focusing on his children and getting them cochlear implants, Stephen is now in Florida, preparing for a full return to the sport at the first of the year.

Deaf theater staff member

The Washington Times profiles a DC "concessionist" on the night shift at the AMC Loews Georgetown 14 theater on K Street Northwest.

Woman Still Has Song to Sing

We told you about deaf jazz singer Mandy Harvey earlier this month here. Now, the daily newspaper in Fort Collins, the Coloradoan has written this a long profile of her career so far.

Terp Progam for 2010

The University of Louisville plans to launch an ASL interpreter program next fall. Some 130 students are already enrolled in sign language classes at the school. Eastern Kentucky University offers a minor in American Sign Language and operates a Center on Deafness and Hearing Loss, as well as an in-service training program.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Bluegrass Shortfall

About 77,000 people in Kentucky use sign language to communicate but the state has only about 180 certified interpreters; Kentucky's Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing says there should be more than 300.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Airline Loses Passenger

Virgin Airlines lost track of a deaf passenger in its care Monday. 38-year-old Saras Wati Devifrom was headed on a flight from Melbourne to Brisbane. She was then supposed to get on a Virgin Pacific Blue flight to Fiji. A Virgin Blue staffer was supposed to accompany here the entire way because she does not read or write English but can lip read Hindi. Not only did she miss her flight, the airline didn't know what happened to her for five hours. Her nephew contacted police. He told Australian media that the Airline staff seemed to be trying to avoid doing any work while family members were in tears. She was eventually found by another airline in airport. The airline says it is investigating but the family says there has been no apology yet or offer of an explanation. Virgin tried to get Australian courts to ban disabled people flying unaccompanied but failed.

ASL in Missouri

American Sign Language was only taught in six school districts in Missouri in four years ago when the state passed a law allowing high school and college students to earn foreign language credit for studying ASL. Now, sign classes are offered in at least 15 Missouri schools in 11 districts.

Best films of 2009

A New Mexico publication counts a deaf movie among the Best films of 2009. The Las Cruces Bulletin has selected Universal Signs for its top 10. It was made for a deaf audience but has subtitles for the hearing.

Africa Volunteer

Shannon Hunter just spent two month teaching sign language in West Africa for Signs of Hope International. Colorado's Park Record describes her experience here.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Football Standout

High School senior Jeff Turner will be at the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day as a drummer with his Massachusetts school's marching band. But Turner also plays defensive end for the Danvers High the football team where he has been a stand out for the Falcons. Despite major hearing loss, Turner was a significant contributor to helping the team post its first winning record in three seasons. The Association of New England Football Officials is honoring Turner with its President's Memorial Award. The 6-foot-4, 250-pounder plans in play football in college as well.

Hearing Aid Implant

An FDA panel is recommending approval of a new hearing device based on pacemaker technology. Developed by Minnesota-based Envoy Medical Corporation (formerly St. Croix Medical), the Esteem hearing restoration system is placed under the skin behind the ear. It is completely invisible to others. Already approved in Europe, doctors have implanted it in 250 people. The price tag will be about $30,000 and that includes surgery and follow-up testing.

Tooth-mounted Hearing Aid

In 2010, some people may get improved hearing with the help of their teeth. That's the claim of Sonitus Medical of San Mateo, California. The company says it has come up with a small device that wraps around the teeth and helps people who have hearing problems on one side. It helps users better pinpoint the location source of sounds. Here's how it works: A small microphone picks up noices in the deaf ear, transforms them into vibrations and sends them through the teeth, down the jawbone and finally to the cochlea in the ear that is functioning. Some hearing aids already use this sort of bone conductivity but require drilling into the skull or headsets. The Cleveland Clinic says the device will be the top medical innovation for hearing in 2010. Researchers say it is fairly comfortable and doesn't damage the teeth. Sonitus Medical will submit their study results to the FDA for approval during early 2010 and it could be on the market by the end of the year.

Teacher Profile

Cathy Oshrain is deaf but teaches at a Miami Beach traditional public school. The Miami Herald profiles her here.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Search Captions on Video Site

Hulu is adding a Captions Search feature to its site allowing users to search for keywords within the closed captions of TV shows. The new feature indicates which parts of the videos are matching results. If you just want a quick preview of the search result, hover your mouse cursor over the image and a short segment of video around the search term will play in the thumbnail. To see it at full size, click on the search result text and you'll be sent to that spot in the full-size video. A timeline visual graph allows users to jump to a particular set of captions. You can click on any bar in the graph to move to that section of captions.

Deaf Priest

Shawn P. Carey is the first deaf priest in Massachusetts at age 37. Father Shawn attended Springfield's Cathedral High School, where he was the only deaf student and had no interpreter. He choose his profession when he met a deaf priest during high school, who gave a Mass in sign language. He studied at California's St. Patrick’s Seminary for six years. Here's a video of one of his services.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A new coach is taking over Gallaudet's beleaguered soccer team. Bison head coach Larry Musa is turning his sqaud over to Luis Gendive who previously ran the program during the 2005 and 2006 seasons. Genive had a record of 4-34-1 during that time. The Bison have lost 53 games in a row and 95 consecutive conference games. The last soccer conference victory came in 1997. But the sports program has a chance to rebound this season as it enters a new conference. Gally is leaving the CAC to join the North Eastern Athletic Conference.

Hand-N-Hand Program

A Northeast Wisconsin woman tries to help Green Bay's deaf and hard-of-hearing children. Read the story here.

Driving in China

China is changing its rules for disabled drivers. Starting this April, the country's Ministry of Public Security says people with hearing loss can apply to drive for small-sized cars. They will be required to wear hearing aids and pass hearing tests. The ministry is also working with disability organizations to research the possibility of allowing the deaf an opportunity to aquire a license to drive.

Football Honors

Gallaudet freshman linebacker Tom Pangia is Rookie of the Year in the Eastern College Athletic Conference Division III Northeast Region. The Hammonton, New Jersey native is the only freshman to earn a spot on the all-star team. Pangia was also named to the all-conference first team defense. He tied for the most tackles by a freshman this season with 66. Gallaudet's team was ranked as the top defense in the conference.

Repair of Hearing Loss Closer

A UK study brings us closer to an understanding of what's behind deafness and should push forward develop of cures for hearing loss due to damage as well as genetic defects. Sheffield University's Walter Marcotti says he has uncovered one of the reason humans can hear such a wide range of sounds. The research shows the part played by a calcium sensor that's present in sound encoding cells and provides a better understanding of what goes into normal cochlear development. The study was funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Royal Society and Deafness Research UK, Britain's only charity dedicated to finding cures, treatments and technologies for the deaf and hard of hearing. Details are in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Boxer's Inspiration

Amateur boxer George Wilson III has several things going against him before he enters the ring. His left jab is in question becaues that fist has just one finger because of a birth defect. The Ohio fighter is also missing both feet, forcing him to use prostheses. Those challenges haven't stopped him from becoming a varsity wrestler or becoming a boxer. Wilson says what keeps him going now is his girlfriend for the past two years who is deaf. She attends the Ohio School for the Deaf in Columbus.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Future of Deaf Home Uncertain

Albuquerque may force a group home for deaf teens to close its doors. KOB-TV reports. (no captioning)

YouTube Captioning

Here's an interview with Ken Harrenstien of Google who's deaf and helped create the captioning system that will make captioning automatic for videos. The reporter in this story does not sign but Harrenstien does.

Nursing School Lawsuit

A deaf nursing student has filed a civil lawsuit for disability discrimination against Marshall University. Alexandra Bertolotti claims the West Virginia school failed to provide her the same assistance the university provided the daughter of state Treasurer John Perdue. Bertolotti missed making the nursing program by only a half percentage point. Her complaint says Perdue's daughter was given the Dean as her lead professor in two independent study courses and provided opportunities to make up missed assignments. Bertolotti was not given these advantages. Bertolotti also claims the professor ridiculed her hearing difficulties in front of her classmates and questioned why she would even enroll in the University's Nursing Program. Marshall is denying any wrongdoing and trying to get the case moved to a different court or dismissed.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Deaf Priests

There are an estimated 1.3 million deaf Catholics in the world but only 13 ordained deaf priests. Eight of them serve in the US, two are in Great Britain and one each serve in Brazil, Congo and South Korea.

2009 Coverboy

Metro Weekly magazine has tapped a Gallaudet student as 2009 Coverboy first-runner. The Washington GLBT publication selected Cesar Ayala, a senior studying communications from southern California. Read more here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Show Closing

This is your last chance to see an off-Broadway show about a deaf man. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter tells the story of John Singer who's best friend is committed to an insane asylum and he moves to a small Southern town during the 1930's. James McDaniel of NYPD Blue stars. The decision to cast a hearing actor in the lead role angered some members of the deaf acting community who said a deaf actor could have played the role with more accuracy and depth. The show closes this week at the New York Theatre Workshop.

Signing at the Speed of Speech

New research shows spoken English has more redundancy than the signed equivalent, helping to explain why sentences can be signed by interpreters in about the same time it takes to speak them. Scientists at Princeton University compared the fundamental unit of data of ASL (the handshape) to the fundamental units for spoken languages (phonemes). The results indicate that the information contained in the 45 handshapes making up ASL is higher than the amount of information contained in phonemes. Even though it takes longer to sign words, signers can keep up with speakers because the low redundancy rate compensates for the slower rate of signing.

Signing on the Gridiron

Here's an article about what it's like to play against the Michigan School for the Deaf in football from

NTID: Then and Now

1970 – NTID has 339 students with 85% from residential schools for the deaf.
2009 – NTID has 1474 students with 65% attended mainstreamed public schools.

Deaf Coach

Here's a profile of Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind art teacher and YMCA Gymnastics Coordinator Tina-Margaret Steele in the News Leader.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Comparing NTID & Gallaudet

Technical college for deaf and hard-of-hearing students at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York
Founded: 1965
Enrollment: 1474
Faculty and staff: 594
Annual revenue: $85 million

Gallaudet University
Liberal arts institution for deaf and hard-of-hearing students in Washington, D.C.
Founded: 1864
Enrollment: 1870
Faculty and staff: 1086
Annual revenue: $178 million

Sunday, December 13, 2009

CODAs Against Genetic Selection

Hearing children of deaf parents (CODAs) oppose the right of deaf people to select embryos for deafness, according to a new study. Here are the numbers:
  • 45.5% say deafness is a distinct culture rather than a disability.
  • 72.3% indicated no preference as to whether they had deaf or hearing children.
  • 60% believed that reproductive technologies, when used to select for or against deafness, should not be available to the Deaf Community.

    Read more about the study here in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

Gallaudet & NTID

When Alan Hurwitz head to DC to take over as president of Gallaudet, some things won’t change. He and his wife, Vicki, will keep their home in the Pittsford suburb of Rochester. He intends to move back to New York when he retires.

Hurwitz also plans to connect Gallaudet to its natural rival, the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) in Rochester by starting a service involving both institutions aimed at helping veterans who have lost hearing fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan . Another joint partnership will allow health care students to start their studies at Gallaudet and finish at NTID.

Hurwitz is also thinking internationally. He traveled to Russia this month to meet with the leaders of Russia's largest deaf organizations. They are working on ways to get help deaf Russians further their education.

This May he’ll take another trip. Hurwitz will visit the White House where Barack Obama will join him in signing Gallaudet diplomas.

A Decade of Implants

The Cochlear Implant Program of Eastern Carolina is celebrating a decade of operation. The service is run by East Carolina University's Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. More than 80 adults have received implants and services since it began in 1999. The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing gave the school one of nine $15,000 fellowships this year.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Deaf Singer

A Colorado jazz singer is completely deaf. Mandy Harvey of Fort Collins has been singing since the age of four. During her first year of studying music at Colorado State University, Harvey began losing her hearing. Eventually, hearing aids didn't help. After a year away from music, she decided to try singing again - only this time by watching piano keys and sings the notes from memory without the benefit of hearing. She's able to stay in pitch because of muscle memory that was developed over the years. She now has an album available called Smile. Read more about the album and Mandy Harvey here.

Parish Terp

The Catholic News Agency profiles a sign language interpreter who works in Cincinnati parishes. Read the story here.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Show of Hands

A Christmas concert will be offered in sign language Tuesday night at the Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. You can find out more about A Show of Hands here.

Hamill: I Didn't Win

Matt Hamill admits he didn't win his Ultimate Fighter match this past weekend against Jon Jones. The ref disqualified Jones for using illegal elbow strikes. He has now filed an appeal, asking the verdict to be overturned. Hamill, who is deaf, graciously writes this on his personal website:
"I give all the credit to Jon Jones. He caught me by surprise with an awesome trip and I dislocated my shoulder when we hit the ground. I knew it was probably over at that point but I will die before I tap so I did the best I could under the circumstances. We train to wind up in bad positions and it paid off because I felt I was still able to defend even though I knew I couldn’t get up. Jon’s young and full of so much talent. He definitely didn’t lose this fight and I definitely didn’t win, but I guess the rules are there for a reason."

Read more here.

Enhanced 911

Jackson, Mississippi is enhancing its 911 system to help callers with hearing loss. The new emgergy system adjustments will also cut down on response time for anyone calling from a cell phone. The next goal is to change the system so that callers can text their 911 emergencies.

Spelling Bee

The annual Illinois statewide Deaf Finger-Spelling Bee takes place today. It's the 13th year for the competition. The Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission is hosting the event where students use sign language to spell the words. They are divided into two groups: 5th and 6th graders will compete against each other while 7th and 8th graders make up the other group. Read more about it here.

Athlete of the Week

The center for the basketball team at the Scranton School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is profiled by the The Scranton Times in this article about athlete of the week, Doug Persing.

Major Leaguer At Gallaudet

One year ago.. Gallaudet University got itself a new baseball coach. Former major leaguer Curtis Pride took the job. He was the first full-season deaf player in the major leagues. Pride was born deaf and learned to lip read, though he’s picking up ASL from the players. Pride says his goal is teaching, not just the fundamentals of baseball but the fundamentals of life.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fight Appealed

Matt Hamill's victory at last weekend's finale of The Ultimate Fighter is being appealed. Jon Jones lost the fight after being disqualified for using illegal elbow strikes. Jones has now filed an appeal with the Nevada State Athletic Commission, asking them to change the verdict. Jones and his management say the referee shouldn't have stopped the fight because a previously dislocated shoulder from a leg trip takedown earlier in the fight was to blame for Hamill's inability to continue and not the elbows. Jones' people say Hamill wasn't able to communcate the problem to the ref at first because of his hearing impairment and that a sign language interpreter should have been brought in at this point. Jones was undefeated going into the fight.

Captioning on Broadway

The first Broadway play to offer the I-Caption system will be the New York revival of The Miracle Worker which tells the story of Helen Keller. The service for the deaf and hard-of-hearing audience members will be free of charge at every performance. I-Caption is an automated hand-held captioning system that displays the texts of the entire show as it's performed, including lyrics, announcements and show information.

Miracle Worker Casting

A ten-year-old actress from Eugene, Oregon will be the understudy in the Broadway revival of The Miracle Worker for the role of Helen Keller which is being played by Oscar nominee Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine). Kyra Ynez Siegel has vision loss in one of her eyes and has performed often in her hometown but this will be her Broadway debut. There have been protests from deaf advocates and crtics that no deaf or blind actress was sought to fill the role.

Glee's Deaf Choir

Fox's musical comedy-drama Glee ended its season last night with what many on the internet are calling an inapropriate jab at deaf children. In the plot, a choir from the fictional Haverbrook School for the Deaf steals the best songs of the Glee cast members just before they have to take the stage. Not only are the deaf students portrayed as cheaters, the deaf choir can be heard screeching an atonal version of the song Don't Stop Believin'. The choir isn't shown but we are told they signed the lyrics as well. When accused of cheating, the deaf teacher retorts, "What we have here, is a case of deaf racism." The video for the episode is here.

Family Statement

The family of the Gallaudet student killed in a wrong way crash in Atlanta issued this statement.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Teen Locked in School & Attacked

A 16-year-old deaf girl was accidentally locked in her high school in St. Paul, Minnesota where she spent the night alone - until she was attacked by a police dog in . You can watch a report from KMSP-TV or read the text of the story here.

The Gift of Hearing

An Austin-area hearing healthcare provider is offering free hearing aids for a winning 400-word essay. Estes Audiology Hearing Center in New Braunfels, Texas is accepting nominations until Monday. The essay must describe someone and how hearing aids would impact their life. Two winners will be selected not just on the basis of financial need, but also on the opportunity to impact the recipient’s life and lives of others. Recipients will be notified later in the week. The holiday giveaway program is called The Gift of Hearing. For more information click here.

Video About Wrong Way Crash

Here's a video report on the head on collision that killed a Gallaudet student in Atlanta. Read the story here.

Student Killed in Wrong Way Collision

A Gallaudet University student was killed by a wrong way driver early yesterday morning on Interstate 75 in Atlanta. According to police, Theus Monroe was driving drunk on the northbound in the southbound lanes of Interstate 75 when he plowed into Jasmine Jahan Zachery's car head-on at more than 100 miles an hour. It was Monroe's birthday. Zachery was a 4th-year Psychology major. When her family learned she was deaf at a young age, they all learned sign language. A family spokesman says they are praying for Monroe, who survived the accident with severe head injuries is facing charges.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Accessible Stadium

The new Minnesota Twins stadium will be one of the nation’s most accessible stadiums in the country, according to disability advocates. Among the features at Target Field: outfield captioning boards and special hearing devices at ticket windows that will connect to hearing aids. The stadium is due to be completed by March.

Megan's Story

A lengthy account of a 13-year-old who recieved a cochlear implant in 2002 and what's happened to her since - including graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine with a degree in medical genetics. Read Megan's story here.

ASL Online Dictionary

There is a new children’s animated dictionary of American Sign Language. The project is the work of the Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf and marblemedia. Deaf children can look up words in their own primary language of ASL along with the English counterpart. Check it out here.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Hearing Aid Bill

The Hearing Aid Tax Credit Act is not part of the current healthcare reform legislation. However, the measure is slowly moving through Congress. There is a difference between the House of Representatives and the Senate bills. The House version (H.R. 1646) would provide a tax credit towards the purchase of each hearing aid of up to $500 for each aid. That money would be available once every five years to people age 55 and over or for those buying a hearing aid for a dependent. It excludes people making more than $200,000 a year. The Senate bill (S. 1019) gives the same $500 credit but cover all age groups.

Deaf Fighter Wins

Deaf ultimate fighter finalist Matt Hamil defeated Jon Jones Saturday night to earn $46,000. Spike TV featured the Las Vegas fight that drew 1400 spectators. Jones landed a series of punches and elbows early but was docked a point for an illegal elbow. Hamil was unable to continue the fight and Mazzagatti awarded Hamil the victory due to disqualification.

Fire Destroys Home

A Michigan deaf man has lost his home from a fire in Blue Lake Township because he couldn't call 911. The owner had to drive more than four miles to reach Blue Lake Township Hall where an employee called for emergency help. Fire fighters say the double-wide home was total loss. Fortunately, the man has relatives nearby with whom he can stay temporarily.

Providing for the Deaf in Court

What one deaf man had to go through to get a court interpreter from Florida's Fernandina Beach News-Leader. Click here to read the story.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Deaf Director

This year’s Scrooge the Musical put on by the New Century Church in Roanoke, Virginia has a deaf director. Here's a video report by WSLS-TV or read the story here.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Silent Sleigh Day

The California School for the Deaf in Riverside will hold its Silent Sleigh day this Thursday. The program includes skits and a parade. Some of Thomas Gallaudet's descendants will be recognized because the date coinsides with his 222nd birthday.

Language Began as Gesture

Human speech probably evolved from the gestures of our primate ancestors. That's the finding of researchers at Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta. They studied chimps and found they have a strong bias toward right-hand gestures. In humans, spoken language is mediated mostly by the left hemisphere of the brain, which also controls the movements of the right hand, supporting the idea that spoken language started as gestures.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Hearing Tests Stopped

Staten Island, New York will no longer give hearing tests to schoolchildren. The practice has been ongoing for decades. Speech experts say stopping the tests will cause some deaf students to fall through the cracks and students will fall behind in their school work. About 7% of the Staten Island students fail the hearing test each year.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association reports that one in every 20 school-aged children may have mild hearing loss that could affect their academic work and more than one-third of them are expected to fail at least one grade at school.

Deaf Program Shutdown

Some 200 people protested this morning at Michigan State University plans to shutter the MSU Deaf Education Program and discontinue all American Sign Language classes. The demonstrators gathered outside the school's administration building. The program is the only one in Michigan training teachers who will teach students using both American Sign Language and English.

Children and Hearing Loss

About one-out-of-eight children has noise-induced hearing loss, according to the American Academy of Audiology. That means some five million children have an entirely preventable disability.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pro Footballer Started Life Deaf

NFL rookie Connor Barwin was born almost completely deaf. As a toddler, he went through five surgeries before gaining hearing in his right ear. He still has little hearing in his left ear. Although he learned to read lips Barwin never learned sign language and he spent years avoiding talking about his hearing but now speaks to deaf students about his struggles. After attending and playing football at Cincinnati, he became a second-round draft pick of the Houston Texans. Barwin plays defensive end and is not sitting on the bench. He’s been in every game so far this season and has two sacks for the Texans.

Deaf Director

The director of a stage production of A Christmas Carol in Roanoke, Virginia is nearly completely deaf although the cast is hearing. Betsy Foster started losing her hearing as a teen and doctors have not determined the cause. At the age of 23, Foster has a degree in theater and reads lips. Her mother helps by serving as her sign language interpreter at show practices. Carol is sponsored by the New Century Community Church and takes place at the Roanoke Civic Center this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.

Testing Children

About half the newborns tested for hearing problems have no timely follow up. According to the Better Hearing Institute, parents are often not given the results. And when there is follow up, a pediatrician rather than an ear, nose and throat doctor handles the parents questions. However, a pediatrician is not trained for the testing and typically does not have the proper equipment. If a problem is detected, an audiologist will be needed for definitive testing.

The nonprofit educational organization says only 12% of US kids with significant hearing loss use a hearing aid. Often, the problem is insurance. Some parents are concerned about a “stigma” associated with wearing a hearing aid. But the most likely reason children aren’t wearing hearing aids when they need them is the fact that the hearing problem is not diagnosed.

Cell Phone for Deaf

A new cell phone will allow deaf people to communicate in sign language in the same way hearing people use phones to talk. Cornell University researchers say their new device comes out a program started four years ago called Mobile ASL. While the technology is not available yet for the general public, prototypes are now in the hands of some two dozen deaf people in Seattle. Unlike video conferencing software that may offer fuzzy visual connections, Mobile ASL is designed to send clear video using existing bandwidth in real-time. The scientists were able to also solve issues related to battery life by varying the frames per second based on whether the user is watching or signing.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Robbed at Gunpoint

Police are looking for two men who robbed two deaf men at gunpoint in Wilkesboro, North Carolina yesterday. The deaf mew were headed to a Walmart store when a pickup truck began flashing its lights at them on a private road. When the two stopped, two Hispanic men threatened the deaf men at gun point and yelling, though the victims did not know what they were saying.

Implants and MRIs

If you have a cochlear implant you should not get an MRI – at least with one of the newer machines. Researchers say the 3T scanners can cause permanent damage to the hearing devices because they are much more powerful than earlier versions. More details are in the Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

1st Time in London Theater

A new closed-captioning system is being introduced on Broadway for the first time. The West End production of Hairspray at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London is offering the AirScript system. It displays subtitle translations in multiple languages through wireless link to widescreen personal handset devices in real time. Not only are translations offered in English but also French, Spanish, Italian, German, Russian, Japanese and Chinese. The devices can be rented for a fee.

Inspirational Encouragement

Anthony Ashford's first novel is called Inspirational Encouragement. The book comes out of Ashford's experiences following a childhood illness that left him deaf. The Rochester, New York native now lives South Carolina. Anthony is a lip reader who says a vision from God inspired him to write and speak. You can soon order the book here.

AIDS and Deafness

Hearing loss among those with HIV and AIDS will be studied at University of Rochester Medical Center with the help of a nearly $2 million grant from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Researchers will try to determine during the five years study whether hearing impairment could be related to the disease itself, making some people more prone to getting the disease.

Arkansas Writer Dies

Deaf novelist Donald Harington has died at the age of 73 of pneumonia and other ailments. Entertainment Weekly called him “America’s greatest unknown writer” and the Washington Post wrote, “Harington is one of the most powerful, subtle and inventive novelists in America.” Harington lost nearly all of his hearing at the age 12 to bacterial meningitis and became a passionate reader, using a system of cards to answer questions from students. Most of his 15 novels revolved around a fictional town in the Ozarks of Arkansas. Harington said his deafness gave him an advantage because, “There was an enormous distinction between the way people talked out in the Ozarks and the way they talked in town. Losing my hearing at that particular date embedded the language into my memory. I can still hear these people, the way they sounded in 1948.”

Monday, November 30, 2009

Benefit Concert

A concert takes place Thursday at Duke University to support the Children's Hearing Institute in New York. The organization helps to provide cochlear implants to children. The concert will feature folk-blues band Delta Rae and singer-songwriter Chris Bryant at 7 p.m. A group of children from around the area will also express song lyrics through sign language.

3D Subtitles

Disney says it's releasing the first movie to include 3D subtitles in the UK, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol starring Jim Carrey. The company says the technology necessary to create subtitles in 3D is just getting to the point where it is usuable. Here's the press release.

Ultimate Fighter

An ultimate fighter finalist who is deaf compete in one of the featured bouts to be televised Saturday on Spike TV in Las Vegas. Matt Hamill from New Hartford, Connecticut is considered a rising star in the sport of mixed martial arts. He'll take part in the live finale of The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights. Hamill will fight Jon Jones in a light heavyweight bout. It’s his first time being showcased in the main event after 10 wins against 2 loses. Hamill says his hearing impairment has helped him to focus during a fight “without all the distractions.” You might have meet him at one of the Deaf Nation Expos which has toured the country.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pollin Dies

One of the original members of Gallaudet's Board of Associates has died. Abe Pollin was laid to rest yesterday, after passsing away Tuesday at the age of 85. The DC sports entrepreneur owned the Wizards basketball team. He joined Gallaudet's board when it was started in 1991 and was a major donor to the University.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

VRS Charges in NJ & Philly

The mother of a former Miss Deaf New Jersey is among the people facing charges in a federal probe across nine states involving video relay programs. The defendants are alleged to have generated fraudulent call minutes by making it appear that deaf Americans were engaging in legitimate calls with hearing persons. Irma Azrelyant is named in the indictments. She is co-owner of New Jersey's Deaf and Hard of Hearing Interpreting Services and the mother of Raymonda Azrelyant, Miss Deaf New Jersey from 2005 to 2007. Russian sign-language interpreter Hennadii Holovkin of Philadelphia is also charged. He's out on bail, waiting on a December 15th arraignment.

Golden Ear Mice

A new breed of mouse could point the way to drugs that treat age-related hearing loss. Details in an article by Scientific American.

Touch and Hearing

We reported yesterday about research suggesting that your sense of touch can help your hearing. National Public Radio offers a report on the study that you can read or listen to here.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Job Crunch

National Public Radio aired a story this morning about about how the economy has affected work options for the deaf. You can read the story or listen to it here.

Missing Captions

Disney removed all subtitles and captions from the bare-bones DVD rental release of the film Up. The enterntainment giant admitted the move was not an accident but a cost-cutting move that it now regrets. Company officials say any new versions of the movie will include captioning.

Helen Keller Story on Stage

The Miracle Worker is playing through December 6 at the Ross Valley Players' Barn Theatre in the San Francisco suburb of Ross. More information here.

VRS Deal in Doubt

A plan by a video relay service company to buy Viable may not happen after all. Viable's president, John Yeh, and three other executives have been indicted along with others around the country in a scam to defraud the U.S. government out of millions of dollars. Snap!VRS had agreed to buy Maryland-based Viable back in August but the deal wasn't finalized when the indictments came out. According to the FBI, the defendants created fraudulent call minutes by making it appear that deaf Americans were engaging in legitimate calls with hearing persons. Viable is also facing lawsuits filed in federal and state courts by more than 100 employees seeking back payment of wages.

John Yeh, a native of Taiwan who immigrated to the U.S. as a teenager, has been a part of organizations such as the National Asian Deaf Congress and National Deaf Business Institute. He served as a trustee of Gallaudet University for more than a decade. Deaf Life, a monthly national magazine, honored Yeh as Deaf Person of the Year.

New Ways for Deaf to Hear

Brain images show touch affects what you hear, raising the possibility that one sense could be used as a substitute for another, creating new ways for the deaf to hear. MIT researchers found puffs of air to the back of a hand or their neck helped subjects hear better. Details of the new study have just been released by the journal Nature. Studies of deaf-blind people who learn the Tadoma method (learning to talk and hear by placing a hand on the neck and mouth of a speaker) have already shown the tactile and auditory senses are tied together. Another recent study revealed stretching a person's facial skin affects hearing which suggests we also hear through the face.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Georgia Woman Killed

A south Georgia deaf woman was shot in the back and left for dead today. Gayle Jackson was only 45-years-old. The Albany woman was left next to a dumpster early this morning. So far, police say they have no firm leads but are investigating the homicide.

Union Fined

A Minnesota union will pay a deaf sheet metal worker nearly $50,000 for discriminating against him. Leaders of Local 10 of the Sheet Metal Workers' Union refused to give apprentice Michael Sherman assignments because he is deaf. The Minnesota Department of Human Rights investigated and found that "stereotypes about deafness had led to a feeling among local industry professionals that deaf persons should not work in the field.'' The Union is paying the fine without admitting any wrongdoing.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Town to Make Changes

A south Mississippi town has agreed to improve its services for those with disabilities. The Department of Justice made the city of Poplarville come up with a plan after complaints. The plan includes: Adopting and implementing a grievance procedure to deal with complaints of disability discrimination, provide interpreters and auxiliary aids that are necessary to ensure effective communication with individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, provide assistance at polling places and create equal access to emergency management programs.

Toddler Gets Implant

KCAL-TV reports on a cochlear implant given to a 16-month old Newport Beach, California girl. Her hearing family says they will continue learning sign language (no captions).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

World Record Pizza Line

The California School for the Deaf in Riverside went for a record breaking pizza line today led by 12-year-old Trystany Capozi. She hopes to break a world record for the longest pizza-making line at her school to raise money for the 4th Annual Trystany's Toy Drive. The outreach could touch about 60,000 kids. Her father, Angelo, runs Two Chefs Catering and they are registering their accomplishment of making 2500 pizzas with the Guinness Book of World Records. KCAL-TV in Los Angeles has a video report about the effort (no captions).

Message Boards on Airplanes

Students from the Rochester School for the Deaf have made a proposal this morning to JetBlue that the airline make use of LED message boards for airline passengers. The message board would be placed at the front of airplanes, providing both deaf and hearing passengers with gate information, baggage claim, weather or connecting flights, etc. The students say this would give those in the deaf community the same access to information available to everyone else. JetBlue officials say they were impressed with the teenagers and will offer the idea to corporate administrators. If you would like to sign a petition supporting the boards, go here.

Family Gets New Home

Habitat for Humanity has provided an Appleton, Wisconson family with a new home offering technology espcially designed for the deaf. Owner Alan Peterson told a local TV station, "I'm just so surprised and excited right now. It's awesome," The new house has light sensors for the doorbell and a special lock for the bathroom, so that if his daughter accidentally locks the door, there's a special way they can communicate through lights. All the materials came from The ReStore which takes in and re-sells used or salvaged building materials. The family says they hope to move in right after Thanksgiving.

Bison Score 100

Gallaudet University men's basketball won 100-59 against non-conference foe Christendom College Monday night. All 12 Bisxon players scored points and logged an average of 17 minutes apiece. It's Gallaudet's first victory against two losses. This is the first time Gallaudet has scored 100 points since a 103-74 victory against Johnson Bible nearly a year ago. It's the largest margin of victory since a 46-point win over Juniata College, 77-31 in January, 2007. The team suits up again at its annual Holiday Tournament this Saturday against Penn State-York.

Oldest Surviving Football Team

The Illinois School for the Deaf football team that played together in 1948 may be a group of record setters. They could be the oldest living team in the US. And not just among deaf footballers but among hearing schools as well. All 11 starters played both offense and defense together and amazingly, no one suffered a single injury that year, so they were able to play the entire season together. The team only lost one game while winning six that year. One game ended in a tie.

The team was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in 2004 and eight of the group were able to attend Homecoming last year at the school. When they played together, team members ranged in ages from 17-19 years old. Now, they are between the ages of 78-80. They are hoping to get recogniztion from the Guinness Book of World Records for their longivity. The only thing holding them back is finding out if there are any other still around that are even older. So far, they appear to have everyone beat.

Here's a video interview with team member Jerry Tuchman.

Monday, November 23, 2009

NC Hall of Fame

The North Carolina School for the Deaf has honored Allen Rankin by inducting him into the school’s athletic Hall of Fame this past month. Rankin earned All-American honors and all-conference honors in football and track before graduating. He led the Bears to Burke County middle school football titles in 1973 and 1974. Rankin was 1978 conference runner-up in the 140-pound weight class in wrestling and was the 147-pound weight class champion in 1979, advancing to the state tournament each year. Now 49 years old, Rankin lives in Charlotte and works as a tool maker for Flextronics.

The Happiness Project

Charles Spearin asked his neighbors what makes them happy. He recorded their answers and then added musical instruments to bring out the musicality of their speech. Spearin calls it The Happiness Project. On the cut called Venessa, a woman who was born deaf tells about hearing for the first time with her cochlear implant. A piano part that follows her voice grows with her excited, translating into a deep and soulful sax and soaring violin. You can hear the selection for free here. (Haven't located a transcript yet)

Funding Cut in Iowa

Iowa has suspended a state program that helps children with hearing loss. The Hearing Aids and Audiological Services Program will no longer give out the $190,000 in state funding that it has in the past. About 3000 children in Iowa schools have hearing problems. There is a movement in the state to force insurance companies to pay for audiological services. About a dozen states have already created such a law.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Tulsa Hospital Lawsuit Settled

An Oklahoma hospital has agreed to pay $100,000 to settle a lawsuit filed over failure to accommodate a deaf operating room scrub technician. Tulsa's St. John's has also agreed to provide disability discrimination training to employees and make reports on ADA requests to the EEOC for the next three years. The problem started when doctors complained to administrators about the hearing of scrub technician LaQuita Reherman. She wears hearing aids in both ears. The hospital removed Reherman from her position and let her go when she failed to find another position within the system. But the EEOC said the problems wasn't Reherman but the loud music played in the operating room. Plus, St. John's made no effort to assist her in finding another position.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

ASL Movie

A film created in ASL will show at the Illinois College campus tomorrow at 3pm. Gerald tells the story of a man who discovers he has a deaf autistic grandfather he has never known. The $10 admission price will benefit the Illinois Foundation for Deaf Children.

Football National Champs

The undefeated Iowa School for the Deaf are celebrating the team's selection as national champions for eight-man football. picked the Council Bluffs 8-0 team. They are also champions of the Great Plains Schools for the Deaf Conference.

Hearing Aid Assessories

A 10-year-old has a way to make hearing aids more attractive. Hayleigh Scott wanted to make girls and women less self-conscious about wearing them. So she has created various assessories which can be attached with clasps. The New Hampshire 5th-grader attends Hollis Upper Elementary School and you can find out more about her unique gifts at Hayleigh's Cherished Charms.

Owners Indicted

These are the companies indicted on federal charges they engaged in a scheme to defraud the FCC's VRS program intended for the deaf and hard-of-hearing:
  • Viable Communications Inc., of Rockville, Marylnad
  • Master Communications LLC, of Las Vegas
  • KL Communications LLC, of Phoenix
  • Mascom LLC of Austin, Texas
  • Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Interpreting Services Inc. of New York and New Jersey
  • Innovative Communication Services for the Deaf Corp of Miami Lakes, Florida
  • Deaf Studio 29 of Huntington Beach, California

Video Relay Charges

David Simmons of Austin is among those charged with trying to defraud the government of money from the FCC's Video Relay program which is intended to help the deaf and hard-of-hearing communicate. More than two dozen people around the country face charges that they made it appear than deaf people were using the system of interpreters and web camera but were not. The TRS Fund reimburses companies who help the deaf use the system. Simmons worked for Mascom LLC in advertising.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Tased Deaf Man Files $2 Million Claim

Here is a video report on a lawsuit filed by a man who was tased and taken to jail in Mobile, Alabama because he took too long in the bathroom. Read the story here.

1st Jewish President

Gallaudet University's new president is the first Jewish leader for the school in its 145-year history. The Sioux City, Iowa native Alan Hurwitz wasn't one of four finalists for the position. Not only were all of them deaf, all them had deaf parents and all four were Jewish. Hurwitz grew up in an Orthodox environment. Traditionally, the deaf are exempt from learning the Torah. But when Hurwitz became a father he decided his son would learn Hebrew and have a bar mitzvah. His son is now a lawyer in Rochester, New York. Hurwitz and his wife has been to Israel four times and they are members of a Reform congregation.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

VRS Arrests

More than two dozen people have been indicted in a scheme to defraud a program intended to help the deaf. The suspects falsely billed the government at a rate of $390 per hour for using Video Relay Service systems. According to the indictments, conspirators created fake call reports to make it look like deaf people were speaking with hearing persons. It took 20 sign-language interpreters working with federal agents to catch the alledged crooks.

The 26 indicted individuals are from 9 states including New York, New Jersey, Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon and Maryland. Federal agents say the conspirators may have stolen tens of millions of dollars from the government program. The 7 contractors companies engaged in the scheme are located in Austin, Texas, Miami Lakes, Florida, Rockville, Maryland, Las Vegas, Nevada, Phoenix, Arizona, and Huntington Beach, California. One firm operated in both New York and New Jersey.

YouTube Captioning

New Google technology will generate captions on YouTube videos automatically. The search giant and owner of YouTube showed off new feature today that will automatically bring text captions to many videos on the site by the end of the week. The speech recognition technology gives users the choice of reading the captions in 51 languages, although it will only work with English language videos at first. Ken Harrenstien, a deaf engineer helped develop the automatic captioning system. The technology will first be used with educational content from schools like Stanford, Yale, and MIT, then PBS and Google's own corporate videos. The reason the technology is being rolled out slowly is that the softward is not perfect and the Google team wants to improve it through user feedback.

There are already several hundred thousand videos on YouTube with closed captions, most of which come from broadcast networks that include them in their programs. Some other online video sites like Hulu also have some professionally created videos with closed captioning.

People uploading video to YouTube will also have the option of uploading a text file of the words spoken in the video. Google will turn the text file into captions to match the written words with the video. The captions will make it easier for anyone to search text inside videos and find specific snippets within a video.

Deaf Playwright Feature

Looking back... 2003. Five years ago Garrett Zuercher wrote a play called Quid Pro Quo as part of his senior thesis while a student at Marquette University. The play was performed by fellow students and Garrett figured that would be the end of it. But his little production was picked, along with six others out of over 1,300 other productions nationwide to perform at the Kennedy Center. Here's a report by a local TV station about the Milwaukee student at that time. (no captions).

Music Player for Deaf

SOUNZZ is a new MP-3 player intended for the the deaf that translates musical notes into vibrations. An LED light show change color and brightness along with the music. A high range oscillator senses the emerging vibrations. It has not been announced when the device will go into production but you can read more information about it here.

Youth Making Difference

WWLP-TVm in Massachusetts have a report on a teen making a difference at his school and on the footbal field. Read the story here.

Service Dog Controversy

A Colorado woman has been fined $500 by her condo's home owner's association because she has a service dog that isn't certified. However, an ADA spokesman says an animal doesn't have to be certified to be a service animal. As long as the animal is individually trained to perform a specific task for an individual with a disability, it qualifies. there are no pets allowed in her Fort Collins condo building. Julianna Rigby, who is deaf in one ear, says Pookee helps her function with her hearing impairment. The Park Lane Towers association is refusing to budge, claiming ADA law doesn't apply. The group is threatening to put a lien on her property and has hired an attorney to force Rigby into court next week.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New Gally Chief

Don Beil will become Gallaudet University's Chief of Staff starting in 2010. He worked for 35 years at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, where he served for the last five years as executive assistant for T. Alan Hurwitz, Gallaudet's next president. Beil has authored 10 books on computing and served with the Peace Corps in the African nation of Somali.

Biker Killed

Here's a video report on the woman killed in a motorcycle-bike wreck from KTVK-TV . No captions but more details on the story are below.

Bicyclist Killed

A 68-year-old deaf woman was killed today while riding her bike in Mesa, Arizona. A motorcyclist hit Melva Millensifer at an intersection early in the morning. No charges are expected against the drive of the bike because Millensifer was riding against a red light. The motorcyclist suffered minor injuries.

Quiet Communicators

The student newspaper at the University of Georgia offers this front page story today on the deaf student organization on campus.

Barring Deaf Jurors?

The Ohio Supreme Court yesterday heard arguments on whether a juror can be disqualified from a case because of a hearing impairment. The issue came up in a 2002 murder trial. Scott A. Speer was facing charges in Ottawa County for killing Jim Barnett. Barnett fell from Speer’s boat while on Lake Erie. The evidence included an audio tape of a 911 call. That led the defense to attempt to get juror Linda Leow-Johannsen disqualified because she has a hearing disability. She told the court she could lip-read if a witness faced her. The judge refused to dismiss her and Leow-Johannsen was seated. She voted with the rest of the jury to convict Speer of aggravated vehicular homicide. He was sentenced to four years in prison. An appeals court overturned the conviction and ordered a new trial because of she couldn’t actually hear the 911 call, despite the fact it was put into the record by a court reporter and Leow-Johannsen could read it. The appeal’s court said she couldn’t make a just decision because she couldn’t hear Speer's tone of voice, inflection, and demeanor. Now the Ohio Supreme Court is looking at the decision. A ruling against allowing Leow-Johannsen as a juror could effectively bar the deaf from serving on juries in the state.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cable Captioning Problems

Some Comcast customers are having a problem with closed captioning. The cable provider's digital terminal adapters have a bug, causing the devices to display closed-captioning text incorrectly. Characters are repeated in two-letter segments. For example, "effective" was displayed as "efeffefectctivive e." Comcast is blaming the supplier of the terminal adapters, Thomson, for the problem. The under $50 units are designed to convert a digital program lineup into analog format. The Comcast program offering the devises is called Project Cavalry and is mainly having problems in these areas: San Francisco, Portland, Washington state, Philadelphia, and Chicago.

State Slashing School $'s

Students at the Tennessee School for the Deaf will be bused home instead of flying if cuts to the state education budget pass the legislature. The department's $4.9 billion budget is expected to be trimmed by nearly $12 million. That includes removing the $800,000 for student flights.

Deaf Priests

The lack of deaf priests will be discussed at a pontifical council gathering in Vatican City this week. The international conference is themed The Deaf Person in the Life of the Church. It runs from Thursday through Saturday.

There are an estimated 1.3 million deaf Catholics in the world but only 13 ordained deaf priests. Eight of them serve in the US, two are in Great Britain and one each serve in Brazil, Congo and South Korea.

National Champs

The Maryland School for the Deaf football team is national deaf championship again - for the 7th time in a row. The Orioles' volleyball team also picked up a national championship banner. This is the team's 4th time in a row to earn that honor. The football team finished the season with 10 wins and one loss. The Orioles volleyball squad only lost only one game as well. The champions were selected by Deaf Digest.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Walk for DeafHope

The Oakland School for the Arts will hold a walk for DeafHope and the charter school's theatrical production of The Wiz. The Ease on Down the Road fund-raiser will take students, faculty and staff on a four-mile trek on December 4th. The school hopes to raise $50,000 through pledges for each walker. The proceeds will be split between the organizations.
DeafHope was founded in 2003 by deaf women to combat domestic abuse and sexual assault against deaf women and children.

Orioles Stake Claim to Title

The Maryland School for the Deaf's football team finished its season with a 49-0 shutout of California SD-Riverside this past Friday. The Orioles are now 10-1 and looking for an 8th national deaf prep championship. The national deaf prep officials will decide who gets the national crown within a few days.

Buck Fever

A new children's book called Buck Fever tells the story of a child left parcially deaf from an ear infection. The main character in the book penned by Cynthia Chapman Willis is twelve-year-old Joey who is a talented hunter but the pre-teen is more interested in playing hockey and drawing. Joey struggles to tell his father that he doesn't want to shoot a deer. Publisher's Weekly says Willis avoids "easy answers, clich├ęs, and moralizing, instead focusing on Joey's inner struggle and the stress his mother's absence causes." It's for kids ages 9 to 13.

Hearing Aid Use

While 95% of people with hearing loss can be helped with hearing aids, only 23% currently use them (Hearing Review). Only 12% of US kids with significant hearing loss use an aid (Better Hearing Institute). Of those who own a hearing aid, one out of six do not use it at all (US News & World Report) and about one out of three do not wear them daily.

Volleyball Champs

Gallaudet University has won the ECAC South Region Tournament championship trophy in volleyball. The Bison beat top seated DeSales University 3-1 over the weekend. Gallaudet finishes the year with a 27-14 overall mark.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Deer Hunt

A boy Scout Scout camp near Truman Lake, Missouri offers deaf children the opportunity to take part in a two-day deer hunt. Children from the Missouri and Kansas Schools for the Deaf joined their parents last weekend for one of the hunts. Click here for more info about the Scouts in the area.

Toddlers Get Implants

Here's a link to an article in today's Denver Post about small children recieving cochlear implants.


A new documentary is being made about a 100-year-old Boston resident Julius Barthoff. He has been profoundly deaf since childhood. The film is going by the working title Julius and is being made by a professor at Olin College in Needham. Caitrin Lynch hopes the film will help viewers see the world through Barthoff’s eyes. It should be finished early next year.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hiker Rescued

A deaf hiker is safe after a rescue operation in Simi Valley, California. The 14-year-old son of Tereza Kristall reported her missing last night. The 45-year-old was text messaging the teenage, saying she was on a steep hill where she had fallen and temperatures were dropping. Emergency workers were able to find her using GPS data from her phone to guide a rescue helicopter. Kristall was treated for hypothermia and injuries she recieved in a fall.

Crime in Texas

The story of a Texas man fighting for his life after a home invasion left him injured. KTVT has this video report (no captions).

Gally Prez Honored

The staff of a San Diego-area school have decided to name the facility after Gallaudet's president, Nearly 50 children, mainly Hispanic, are served by the school. Next year the program will expand from pre-school and elementary school to the middle school. All of the school's staff members are fluent signers, even those who teach the oral/aural classes. Davilla is the first Hispanic person to graduate from Gallaudet and first deaf Hispanic person to earn a doctoral degree.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Deaf Veterinarians

The number of deaf veterinarians in the US range from 40 to more than 100. There are more than a dozen veterinary schools and colleges that have graduated deaf students, according to the Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Losses.

911 Calls

Can you make emergency calls through IP Relay or Video Relay Service? In this ASL video, the FCC offers an answer.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Outpouring of Support

Someone broke into the Durham Deaf Services, stealing equipment and causing thousands in damages over the Halloween Weekend. But the Oshawa, Ontario facility has had a happy ending to the crime. It has received an outpouring of community support including $1000 from the Ontario Electrical League and $500 each from Honest Movers and Ontario Power Generation. ADT Security Systems is donating a security system which includes strobe lighting for deaf clients. The head of Durham Deaf Services says,
"We're so appreciative to have people coming forward to help out. It certainly restores our faith in humanity to see so many individuals and businesses reaching out to us right now."
The organization helps more than 500 clients.

Dial Arounds

Can "dial around" providers still be used with VRS and IP calls, dispite the changes made by the FCC? The agency offers an answer in this ASL video.

Why the Video # Change

Here is a ASL video explaining why the FCC is requiring a 10-digit number in order to make non-emergency IP Relay or Video Relay Service (VRS) calls.

Registering for a Video #

In this ASL video, the FCC explains how the registration process to get a 10-digit number in order to make non-emergency IP Relay or Video Relay Service (VRS) calls.

Why Video # Requirement

In this ASL video, the FCC explains why the agency is requiring a local 10-digit number in order to make non-emergency IP Relay or Video Relay Service (VRS) calls. These new rules goes into effect today.

How to Get a Video #

In this ASL video, the FCC explains how to get a 10-digit number in order to make non-emergency IP Relay or Video Relay Service (VRS) calls.

New Videophone Rules

Here's an FCC-produced video in ASL about new rules requiring a local 10-digit number in order to make non-emergency IP Relay or Video Relay Service (VRS) calls. These new rules goes into effect today.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Awareness Expo

Northern Arizona's Yavapai College will host a Deaf and Hard of Hearing Awareness Expo tomorrow 10am to 1:30pm in the college's library community room. Disability Advocate Dr. Nanette Bowles will speak about the impact of hearing loss on people's lives. There will also be a free hearing test.

Cincinnati Benefit

A Climb-A-Thon will benefit the Cincinnati Deaf and hard of hearing community on November 21st. It’s the 2nd time Community Services for the Deaf has held the event. Climbers raising the most money will be given prizes. The cost is $10 per climber.

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

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Commercial Casting

If you know ASL and Spanish or Tagalog, you could be shooting a commercial next week. Casting is underway for a non-union shoot in Los Angeles next week. The pay is $2500. The commercial makers are looking for men and women in their 30's. If you are interested, send your name, phone number and a photo to this address: or call for an audition at (310) 775-6616.

Texas Man Robbed, Beaten

Fort Worth Police have arrested three teens in connection with an attack on an 85-year-old deaf man that left him seriously injured this morning. The man's niece tells the Star-Telegram that the suspects kicked in the door leading from the garage into the home. The deaf man told them, “Take whatever you want, just don’t hurt me” but that's exactly what they did. They beat him until he was down on the floor as he begging them to stop. They stole money from his house and took his pickup truck. Police found it wrecked later. The teenagers are likely to be charged with three other robberies that took place in the same area. The deaf man remains in intensive care.

Deaf Studies Digital Journal

Gallaudet is launching a peer-reviewed academic and creative arts journal in ASL and English. It's believed to be a first for the signing community. The Department of ASL and Deaf Studies will oversee the Deaf Studies Digital Journal. Sponsored by the University and the Sorenson Legacy Foundation, the multimedia publication publish twice yearly and include academic articles, commentary, literature, film, video, visual arts, historical footage of signed languages, interviews, reviews and news about community events.

Matlin on Family Guy

Actress Marlee Matlin took part Sunday night in special put together from the people who produce the Fox comedy Family Guy (video below). She took part in a sketch that made fun of her speaking voice. Here’s what she told Entertainment Weekly about the appearance:

"I was just part of the joke. I learned a long time ago from when I did Seinfeld never to take anything seriously and to be part of the joke is the best way to show what a good sport I was.. I know a lot of deaf people might have been offended when they made fun of my voice but remember, it was MY voice they were making fun of. I was more than happy to show up and show them that I could dish it as well as I could take it and that being offensive works both ways.. Humor comes in all forms and everyone has their cup of tea about what makes them laugh. But the day we censor humor is a sad one for sure. All I gotta say is, lighten up, people.”
Matlin is developing a program for Showtime.

Hungary Accepts Sign

The country of Hungary has decided to acknowledge sign language as an official language of the Eastern European nation. Hungary's Parliament unanimously adopted a bill seeking to recognize sign language as an "independent and natural" language yesterday. This allows the deaf the opportunity to use sign language in official communication and the right to an interpreter in legal situations.

Monday, November 9, 2009

India's Driving Law

India may soon allow the deaf to drive. It's one of the few countries in the world where the deaf are not allowed to drive themselves. There are only 26 such nations, according to the NAD. India's high court has given the government three months to make a decision. There are around 50 million deaf in India.

Deaf Folklore

A presentation is planned at Michigan's Kalamazoo Valley Community College entitled Deaf Folklore: Deaf People, Culture and Identity. Simon Carmel will speak and offer Wednesday night at the Student Commons Theater located on the university's Texas Township Campus. Carmel was born deaf and has been collecting anecdotes and material reflecting the deaf community for years.

Battle Over Game Show Winnings

Here's an ABC video report on the dispute over funds won on the game show Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader. The money was intended for Deaf schools in Georgia. Click here for the written story.

Family Guy & Marlee Matlin

Family Guy voices Seth MacFarlane and Alex Borstein mocked Marlee Matlin during a skit on Family Guy Presents Seth & Alex's Almost Live Comedy Show. The half-hour special aired last night on the Fox network. The routine involved pretending Matlin is calling Moviefone! and the automated system cannot recognize what she is trying to say followed by a segment where Matlin attempts to sing pop songs but can't fully pronouce the words. But what was especially unexpected is that Matlin herself made an appearance. She then made fun of Alex Borstein who was pretending to do her voice, including some fat jokes and an offer to teach Borstein some sign language. Here's the clip with unfortunately no captions.