Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Super Bowl Prediction

A Super Bowl prediction from deaf evangelist Mark Lowenstein. He lives in Kansas.

Real-time texting

Real-time texting or RTT is a way for two people to instantly communicate through a personal computer or a mobile phone. When using RTT, the screen shows two conversation boxes, one for each user. As one person types a message, the other sees the words forming, letter by letter. The other person can respond, interrupt, or ask questions at the very same time.

The technology behind real-time text is similar to that used for Internet-based telephone systems like Skype. But getting the service is an uphill battle for users who could greatly benefit from it. There’s little financial incentive for telecommunications companies to serve the niche market of those with hearing loss.

School Recovering After Sex Scandal

Administrators say the Louisiana School for the Deaf in Baton Rouge is a changed campus since reopening in November. The facility was rocked by a sex scandal this past year that included the rape of a six-year-old girl on a school bus. State officials shut it down for a month to upgrade the facility. A half-a-million dollars was spent on improvements including 174 surveillance cameras, a system to track dormitory staff and retrained security guards. A website is now available that shows parents their child’s attendance, grades and disciplinary history. When the school closed, it was discovered that nearly a fifth of the professional staff did not even did not know sign language. They are now required to take classes. Since the changes went into effect, there have been no reports of further problems among the students.

One Year Ago: Silent Super Bowl Ad

American Sign Language got prominent play at lsat year's Super Bowl. A commercial ran featuring a joke that originates out of the deaf community. The PepsiCo ad featured deaf employees of the company. It played out on screen over 60 seconds of complete silence.

Here’s the joke: Two guys are driving to a friend’s house to watch the Super Bowl but neither knows which house is his. They sit in the car, arguing, until one of them has an idea. He starts laying on the horn, and one by one, the houses light up and dogs start barking. But one house stays dark. That’s the house of their deaf friend. Here's the ad.

And here's a behind the scenes look at the making of the ad:

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Robert Davila Story

Moments of Truth tells the story of Gallaudet University interim president Robert Davila. It’s subtitled The Story of a Deaf Leader and chronicles his rise from poverty to become the highest-ranking deaf person ever appointed to a federal government position. He became the first deaf Hispanic to earn a doctorate degree and served as president of several major organizations that serve deaf people. The book was written by Larry Lang, a faculty member at RIT/NTID. Davila grew up in California, one of five sons of Mexican parents. He became deaf when he was 8 and attended the California School for the Deaf in Berkeley.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Million Dollar Gift May Not Reach Schools

Three Georgia schools may never see the million dollars promised to them by Georgia schools Superintendent Kathy Cox. She won the money on Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? and said she would give the money to the Atlanta Area School for the Deaf, the Georgia School for the Deaf and the Georgia Academy for the Blind.
But now, the gift is on hold- and may end up being turned over to her creditors.

She and her husband filed bankruptcy this past year. His homebuilding business has nearly collapsed because of the poor economy.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Kansas School May Close

Kansas State lawmakers are considering shutting down The School for the Deaf in Olathe. That’s despite the fact that Governor Kathleen Sebelius promise not to touch public education as the state comes to terms with a shortfall of $190 million.

A panel was recently convened to determine whether the state should close the school or merge it with the School for the Deaf and School for the Blind. There are about 650 children in Kansas who are of school age.

The School for the Deaf has more than 130 students who would have to return to mainstream schools in their districts.

Troubled Child Needs Help

A family in New Haven, Connecticut is looking for help for their troubled deaf child. WTNH-TV has the story.

Hair Cells & Tnnitus

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.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Deaf Contestant on Amazing Race

A deaf man is among the contestants on this season’s edition of The Amazing Race. The show will feature 11 teams, including Margie and Luke Adams from Denver, Colorado. Marge is 51-years-old and works as a clinical research associate. Her son, Luke has been deaf since the age of two and communicates by sign language. The 22-year-old will be the first deaf contestant on the CBS show. Over the 12 episodes, the teams will travel more than 40,000 miles in 22 days to nine countries, including Switzerland, India and Russia. Challenges will range from a bungee jumping to the cold of Siberia and the heat of India. The show premiers February 15th at 8pm, Eastern. MORE INFO

The Amazing Race

A video of the mother who will appear on the Amazing Race with her deaf son.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Lip Reader

When Shanna Groves of Olathe, Kansas (just outside of Kansas City) found out she was going deaf in her mid-twenties, she ignored the problem. But after two years, she turned around and began writing a novel about being her hearing loss. Lip Reader is a story of an girl living in western Oklahoma who has several family members dealing with hearing loss. There are several people on Groves paternal side of the family with similar issues.

Right now, you can only read the story through an invitation-only blog. She wants to get feedback before going public with the story. An excerpt from the book won first place in fiction at the 2008 Heart of America Christian Writers Network Conference that took place in Kansas City.

To get an invitation to read the blog, write directly to Shanna at

Face-to-Face Communications Helper

The UbiDuo is a small computer with two displays and two keyboards that enable hearing and deaf people to communicate by typing back and forth without a translator. The stand-alone communication device works like an instant messaging system between two people who are face-to-face. But internet connection is necessary. The wireless device is battery operated, allowing for more mobility. Its small size makes the UbiDuo portable.

The product is from the combined efforts of a father and son team, David and Jason Curry. Jason (the son is deaf. Their company is called sComm which stands for simultaneous communications. Ubi is short for ubiquitous, meaning everywhere or being present everywhere. A reference to the mobility of the device.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

New Regent for NMSD

James Borrego is the new regent at the New Mexico School for the Deaf. The Santa Fe developer got the tape from Governor Bill Richardson this week. Borrego earned an engineering degree from New Mexico State University. He takes the place of Margo Manaraze Wagner and will serve on the board until the end of 2012.

Proposal: Close State School

South Dakota’s Governor wants to close the state’s School for the Deaf. It’s part of Mike Rounds plan to balance the state budget. The proposal was presented to state lawmakers Thursday.

Making Drive Thru Easy

Since installing OrderAssist at one of its drive through restaurants in Indianapolis, the Culver’s chain says more than 30 customers use the system each week. It cost about $1500 for the restaurant to install it. OrderAssist provides a buzzer system for deaf and hard of hearing customers to use when ordering. The device is made by Inclusion Solutions out of Chicago.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Audiologist with an Implant

Bill Raymond became the first cochlear implant recipient in Australia to also earn a degree as an audiologist. He graduated from the University of Queensland. Raymond was diagnosed at 15 months of age and received the implant when he was 13. A local Rotary Club helped pay for the surgery. Raymond is now helping children who are adjusting to their own cochlear implants.

Wireless Audio for Classroom

Many classrooms have poor acoustics, making it difficult for deaf children to keep up with their teachers. To help solve this problem, Revolabs has created an amplification system for classrooms using wireless technology. The Revolabs Classroom(TM) Wireless Amplification System runs about $849.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hearing Aids & Ringing in the Ears

Hearing aids might be a solution for people who suffer from tinnitus (a constant ringing in the ears). That’s according to a recent survey conducted by Better Hearing Institute. The non-profit educational organization surveyed more than 200 health professionals who specialize in hearing. Sixty-percent of their patients report relief from tinnitus when they use hearing aids. Twenty-percent described it as “major” relief.

SC School Gift

The Lions Club of Spartanburg, South Carolina is giving the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind a gift of $10,000. The donation will go toward the updating the dormitories at the school. The funds come from the Walker Foundation after the met a goal of raising half-a-million dollars.

Obama's Inaugural in ASL

The swearing in and speech of Barak Obama as President of the United States in ASL.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Gallaudet Gets a Front Row Seat

Gallaudet University explains some of the ways its students and faculty were involved in the presidential inauguration.

Keeping the Beat

WLUK-TV has a great story about a Green Bay drum troupe that is made up of deaf and hard-of-hearing musicians (no closed-captioning).

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The NBA’s 1st Legally Deaf Player

The NBA’s first legally Deaf player is trying to work his way back to the big show after being cut in the preseason by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Lance Allred is playing in the NBA Development League for the Idaho Stampede. The 6’11” center made the league's All-Star team when he played with them before.

Allred grew up in a polygamist compound near Salt Lake City with a 75% hearing loss. He now wears cochlear implants. He didn't play his first organized basketball game until he was an eighth grader. As a senior at Utah’s Weber State, Allred was the third best rebounder in the entire NCAA. He played hoops in Europe

Allred’s autobiographical is due out later this year. It’s called Long Shot. Because his parents encouraged him to read and write because of his hearing-impairment, Allred turned down an offer to have a professional ghost write the story for him. He’s writing the book himself.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Singer Regains Hearing

Southern Gospel singer Bobbie Jean White got a special Christmas gift. The 79-year-old has struggled with significant hearing loss for more than a decade. Hearing aid didn’t seem to help. But in November she received a cochlear implant and it was turned on shortly before Christmas. White says the devise has put her back into dinner conversations and returned her to a nearly normal life.

Best known for songs like Beulah Land, White has recorded 21 albums. The Grand Ole Gospel Reunion has given her two Living Legend Awards.

New Emergency Alert

Michigan-based Silent Call is offering the deaf a new way to stay alert to emergencies. The Sidekick II Signature Series creates a different vibrating signals or a light whenever it detects a sound or motion in telephones, pagers, fire alarms, etc. The Sidekick can go under a mattress to make it vibrate the bed when an alarm goes off. It runs $239.

Next, the company plans to introduce a $225 Silent Touch Wristwatch. It will produce a different vibration for different devices such as a doorbell or smoke detector.

Maryland Real Estate

Looking to buy a house in Frederick, Maryland? There’s a deaf real estate agent who can help. Ann Meehan recently got her real estate license and opened Kamela & Co. Their broker is Real Estate Teams. The success of the Maryland School for the Deaf has brought many deaf people to the area. Ann is an alumi of MSD. A few years ago, she started a group call Kids of Deaf Adults. Unlike CODA, a group that focuses on adults, Meeham’s group is especially concerned with children. And one side note: One of Ann's three daughters, Michelle Lapides, was crowned Miss Deaf America last year.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Murder in Mississipppi

A woman who worked for years at the Mississippi School for the Deaf in Jackson has been found murdered. Patricia Hemphill was only 46-years-old when her body was discovered by a friend at her apartment. Police have no suspects at this time.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Arrested for Two Murders

Two deaf homeless men are facing murder charges in Louisville, Kentucky. The formal arraignments of Michael Knights and Jeston Murray were delayed so a sign language interpreter could be brought in. The two are accused of killing an elderly clerk the day after Christmas when they robbed his store. A few days later, police say they killed another man at an apartment complex. WAVE-TV has more on the story (no captioning provided).

Keller Director Retires

Bob Smithdas is retiring as director of community education at the Helen Keller National Center in New York. The 83-year-old helped to persuade Congress to fund the Center during the 1960’s. The first deaf-blind man to earn a college degree, Smithdas finished schooling at St. John's University nearly half a century after Helen Keller got her bachelor's from Radcliffe. He went on to receive a master’s degree from New York Univeristy. Meningitis cost Smithdas his sight and hearing as a child. Among the speakers gathered to honor him at Friday’s retirement luncheon was talk show host Barbara Walters.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Ipod: Bacterial Breeding Ground

Your Ipod is a breeding ground for germs. The device cold give you a ear infection, according to researchers. A new study shows at India’s Manipal University showed the increased bacterial growth can even be transferred from ear to ear by different users.

They found nine-out-of-ten ear swabs showed harmful bacteria on the ears of frequent sharers. The number was less than on-in-ten for those who seldom let other people use their earphones. Details are published in the Online Journal of Health and Allied Sciences

Another study revealed the number of bacteria increased from ten-fold between users of
airplane audio headsets. Information on this research is in the medical journal Laryngoscope.

University Adding Captions

This semester the University of Arizona is offering students something new: captioning for all media used in class. And that includes videotapes, podcasts and video from the web. The school’s Disability Resource Center is asking instructors to only use media in their classroom that is either closed or open captioned. But if the video is not captioned, the Center is creating its own captions.

Changing Minnesota Law

A group of deaf students and teachers testified before Minnesota lawmakers this week in support of a bill sponsored by State Senator Rick Olseen. Another bill that Olseen recently passed the legislature required drivers of vans or suburbans to undergo physicals. Many teachers and coaches of deaf students could not pass the test because they are deaf themselves. Olseen’s new bill would correct that oversight. Olseen blames the Minnesota Department of Public Safety for a poor interpretation of the wording of the old bill for creating the problem in the first place.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

E-mail Scam

An Email scam is targeting the Deaf community. It appears to be a variation of the well-known Nigerian con. The email claims to come from a deaf girl who says she is heir to millions of dollars. She identifies herself as Stelle Komana in one of the variations of the Email and provides a wild story that her father was killed by fierce bandits in the Ivory Coast. But she claims to be willing to share the money will anyone who will help get the funds to the US. The sender asks for bank account information - which is then used to take money from the recipient. Police advice anyone getting these types of messages to ignore them.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Hearing Aid Volunteers

The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point is looking for volunteers to help with a study on hearing aids. The effort is being lead by a graduate student majoring in audiology. She’s hoping to figure out whether someone's ability to tune out background noise is tied to satisfaction with hearing aids. Volunteers should be between the ages of 55 and 90 years old. The participants also need to have had hearing aids for three months or more. That would include people who have them but don’t wear them.

Here’s where to write for more information:

Kentucky Meetings

A series of town hall meetings are scheduled for the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Executive director Liz Hill and her staff plan to meet the public and address local concerns as well as offer information about state legislation concerning the deaf and hard of hearing.

Here’s the meeting schedule:

• Saturday, Jan. 17 in Madisonville
• Saturday, Feb. 21 in Danville
• Saturday, March 21 in Prestonsburg
• Saturday, April 25, Cold Spring.

More information can be found here.

Gallaudet Coach Honored

The new baseball coach at Gallaudet University will get a soccer award this Saturday. Curtis Pride is the recipient of the 2008 Jerry Yeagley Award for Exceptional Personal Achievement by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. Pride is a former Major League outfielder and will be officially honored at the NSCAA All-America Luncheon in St. Louis this weekend.

According to the NSCAA, the award is supposed to go to a recipient who "exhibits the qualities of sportsmanship, integrity, respect and concern for others, leadership, generosity and appreciation and should exhibit a strong work ethic and have the ability to rise above adversity."

Here's where you can get more info.

Lip Reading School Opens

The country’s first lip reading school will start offering classes starting next month. The Master’s Lip Reading Academy in Chattanooga will focus on helping churches better serve older parishioners. Director David Harrison was born hard of hearing and is certified by the American Academy for Hearing Loss Support Specialists. Classes will be equipped with FM assistive listening devices. Harrison works with the Georgia’s Silent Word Ministries as a missionary.

Gesture-based ASL Game

With the help of sensor gloves, children can use computer software created by the Georgia Institute of Technology to learn sign language. The Contextual Computing Group at the school has created educational games in which deaf children, wearing the gloves, learn sign language. The computer program tracks hand movements to evaluate whether the child has signed correctly. Find out more here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Gallaudet & the Inauguration

Gallaudet University in Washington, DC will close next Tuesday, January 20 for Inauguration Day. The Clerc Center will also be closed the next day. High School students will be out from January 17-20.

Utah Rally

A rally is planned tomorrow at the Robert G. Sanderson Community Center of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in the Salt Lake City suburb of Taylorsville, Utah. Sponsored by the Utah Association for the Deaf, the free event is designed to bring attention to budget cuts affecting the state-funded center.

Boston's Deaf Priest

The Archdiocese of Boston will soon have its first deaf priest. Shawn Carey will be ordained for Boston on May 23 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Carey grew up in Westfield but was unable to take part in regular religious education classes at his home parish because they were not able to accommodate him. His family eventually found a Protestant tutor to help Carey prepare for his first communion. He planned to become a lawyer and studied political science and business at Providence College. It was only after graduation he decided to become a priest.

Monday, January 12, 2009

What Does That Sign Mean?

When researchers at Boston University are finished, you’ll be able to find out what a sign means through their searchable dictionary. You just show the gesture on camera and submit it to the search engine and you’ll find out the meaning. Take a look.

Getting to Know.. Kevin Hall

· Professional golfer from Cincinnati

· Won the Hooters Pro Golf Tour

· Has earned more than $23,000 this season on the PGA Tour

· Meningitis that nearly took his life at age 2 robbed him of hearing

· At the age of 8, Hall was the nation’s second-ranked bowler under the age of 10
· Won his first amateur golf tournament at the age of 12
· Became the first black to earn a golf scholarship to Ohio State University
· Won the Big Ten golf tournament by 11 strokes in 2004

Friday, January 9, 2009

How Much Does Gallaudet's President Make?

Robert Davila of Gallaudet University is the lowest paid college president in the DC area. He earned $292,150 during the 07-08 term. In comparison, former George Washington University president Stephen Trachtenberg was paid $798,827 and American University interim President Cornelius Kerwin got $573,306.

The highest paid president of any college is David Sargent of Boston’s Suffolk University. He got a whopping $2,800,461 according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

On the other end of the scale is Michael Hogan of the University of Connecticut. He turned down a bonus of about $100,000 and so did presidents at Rutgers University and the University of Louisville.

NC: Still Waiting for New Director

The North Carolina School for the Deaf in Morganton is still looking for a director. And it has been nearly a year since the last director stepped down. Parents of students complained Linda Lindsey did not know American Sign Language. Some students and staff were suspended after she stopped students from holding a protest.

In the meantime, the school’s principal, Janet McDaniel, is filling in. State officials say the search will begin again after the new governor takes office.

Murder Plot Hearing Posponed

A judge has postponed until February a hearing for two former students of the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind in Staunton. It is not clear why the hearing was delayed.

The pair is charged with creating a detailed plan to kill faculty and students. School officials say the teens created disciplinary problems during the time they attended the school. Prosecutors say their attack was focused on a particular dorm. Both will be tried as juveniles.

Facts about the Illinois School for the Deaf

  • Founded in 1839 with help from Abraham Lincoln
  • Many students are biracial or black
  • The school covers preschool through 12th grade
  • Nearly two-thirds of the students come from the Chicago area
  • All 286 children are from Illinois
  • 166 are in high school

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Deaf Teen Wins Discrimination Case

A deaf teenager has won a discrimination case in England. Laura Trudgill says she was so humiliated at Colman Middle School (now Coleman Junior) in Norwich during “sports day” that she had to leave the school. The 13-year-old was mocked for standing and running at the wrong times and otherwise performing activities improperly. Trudgill could not hear the teachers telling her she was doing things wrong. No interpreter was provided to help her understand what was expected of her despite the fact five staff members are qualified signers.

Teachers had divided the 240 students into teams of 24 and randomly placed nine deaf students among the groups without providing them a way to understand the complicated rules for activities including running a mini assault course and throwing balls at hoops. Trudgill's parents sued with the help of the National Deaf Children's Society. It’s the first time the group has won a case like this.

The special education needs and disability tribunal ruled that the teen was unlawfully discriminated but the panel of experts declined to impose punishment since the school agreed to changed its proceedures in the future.

Golf Clubs May Cause Hearing Loss

Of all the things that might cause hearing loss, few people probably considered golf as something that should be on the list. But that’s the finding of a new study in England.

Researchers at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital claim golfers may risk losing their hearing by using newfangled thin-faced titanium drivers. The new titanium drivers can produce an "sonic boom" when the club strikes the ball. They recommend wearing earplugs when using the clubs.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sign Language Translator

Krown’s Sign Language Translator lets users type a word into touch screen pad and plays a video illustrating the proper hand sign for that word. There are about 3500 entries. The pocket dictionary will be available soon for around $200.

School Gets Tickets to Inauguration

The Illinois School for the Deaf will be represented at Barack Obama's inauguration in Washington, DC. State Senator Deanna Demuzio secured 15 tickets for both staff and students at the US Capitol. One of the ticket will go to a special friend: Robert R. Davila, president of Gallaudet University. The group will stay at the school while visiting the nation’s capital.

When Obama visited the Illinois School for the Deaf this past fall, Michelle Obama won the hearts of students by signing My name is Michelle.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

High School ASL Going Strong

Only a few students signed up for American Sign Language classes at two high schools in Yakima, Washington when the classes were first offered five years ago. Now there are more than 20 times that number. Nearly 200 are taking one of the six ASL at Davis High Schoool and Eisenhower High School. Some of the classes have students wear earplugs once a week and only communicate in sign language. Extra credit can be earned by joining a monthly gathering of members of the deaf community for Deaf Chat Coffee.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Murder Plot

A couple of Virginia teenagers are due in juvenile court this week to face conspiracy to commit murder charges. Police say they planned to attack the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind in Staunton and kill at least two people. The boys are from Arlington and Augusta County. While enrolled at the school, they were not taking classes. The plot was discovered by administrators.