Saturday, February 28, 2009

Students Win Drawing Contest

Fifth and sixth grade students from the Oklahoma School for the Deaf have won a national contest celebrating the 75th year of nationally syndicated comic strip Alley Oop. Out of nearly 400 submissions, the drawings of eight students from the school were selected for publication by Alley Oop creators, Jack and Carole Bender. You can see them here.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Hearing Loss & Eye Disorders

A large number of children who suffer from hearing loss, also have eye disorders. A study at the University of Washington shows this is the case for about 20% of these children. Details are in the Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery.

Deaf Man Refused Interpreter in Court

A judge was wrong to refuse a deaf man his request to have a sign language interpreter in court. That’s the ruling of an appeals court in Wisconsin, overturning the ruling of judge Richard Nuss against Dean Kedinger of Waupun. He had fined Kedinger more than $23,000.

It all started when Kedinger’s neighbor sued him after Kedinger cut down trees along their property line. Kedinger countersued, saying he did have permission to cut the trees down. Kedinger asked the judge for an interpreter but was refused. Kedinger decided not to attend the hearing without one.

Here’s the remarkable comment from Judge Nuss as told in The Reporter:

"(Kedinger) walks into a store, buys a loaf of bread, puts gas in his car, pays his bills, engages in normal affairs of everyday life. He doesn't have an interpreter on his arm, and somehow he survives. But when it comes to a court proceeding, he all of the sudden needs an interpreter."

The appeals court said the judge’s action defined common sense and failed to provide Kedinger his right to due process.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

CNN:Teaching Children Sign

Former Deaf School Employee Faces Charges

KTBC-TV in Austin reports on a former Texas School for the Deaf employee accused of having an improper relationship with a student.

Academic Bowl: Midwest Regional

The Midwest Regional competition in the 2009 Gallaudet University Academic Bowl starts today at the Wisconsin School for the Deaf

Teams are made up of five players. They answer questions in eight academic categories. There are five regional competitions.

The Mid-Atlantic Region takes place at the Model Secondary School for the Deaf in Washington, DC starting March 12. The Northeast regional takes place March 26th at Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf in New York.

The top three teams from each region get a free trip to the national championship along with one wild-card team selected from the five regional fourth-place teams. That takes place April 25-28 at Gallaudet University.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Scottish Composer's New Works

James Douglas is one of Scotland’s leading classical music composers. He’s also profoundly deaf. Douglas has written four new works that will be performed by the Scottish ensemble The Glorious Company a week from Friday in Wester Ross. Entitled the Return to the Highlands, the performance will feature work inspired by Douglas’s travels over the past decade.

Investment Scheme Rip-off

A Hawaii businessman faces charges that he swindled deaf investors out of millions. The Feds say Marvin Cooper, who is deaf himself, took investors money through Billion Coupons, Inc through a Ponzi scheme, using the funds for personal items like a million dollar home and electronic equipment. Cooper raised nearly four-and-a-half million from seminars and Web site with promises of large gains on the foreign exchange market. Most of his 125 investors are deaf. Cooper has not yet answered to the charges and his assests have been frozen.

Verdict in Plot to Attack School

They were accused of planning to kill faculty and students at the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind. But two former students were found not guilty of the creating the supposed plot. Their attorney blamed the situation on a misunderstanding, saying one of the defendants was “overheard making a very inappropriate joke." Police found no weapons in their possession and little evidence turned up that they actually intended to attack the school. Both students are deaf.

Academic Bowl National Championship

The 2009 Gallaudet University Academic Bowl national championship starts today at the Washington DC School. Teams are made up of five players. They answer questions in eight academic categories.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

School Merger Moves Forward

Oregon’s Education Board is throwing its weight behind an effort to put the state schools for the deaf and blind on the same campus. It’s the plan of State School Superintendent Susan Castillo. She wants both schools at the Oregon School for the Deaf. The facility has 52 acres. That would allow the sale of the School for the Blind’s 8 acres.

School Employee Gets Six Years

A Texas judge has sentenced Shane Flournoy to six years in prison. The former dorm supervisor pleaded guilty to having an improper relationship with a student at the Texas School for the Deaf. Flourney confessed to his pastor last year that he had sexually abused a male student. The school fired Flourney after his arrest. He faces other sexual assault charges in Houston.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Suspensions at Louisiana School

Two employees of Louisiana School for the Deaf are on paid leave. A state investigation is underway into accusations of inappropriate touching or physical contact between a teacher and students. The instructor and his supervisor may face criminal charges.

Amazing Race: Episode 2

Here’s an update on Margie and Luke Adams. Luke’s deaf and his mom has joined him on the CBS show The Amazing Race. They are in the running for one million dollars.

After the first episode, they were in first place! Luke told the audience he just wanted to show people what a deaf person can do.

Another team (siblings Tammy and Victor) say Luke is "very observant". All of the teams say Margie and Luke are a force to be reckoned with.

During the second episode, Luke gives Jaime (an former NFL cheerleader) which says "kick ass and don't get eliminated." Luke admits to the audience that he likes the redheads.

At point in the show, Margie and Luke decide to throw pies at each other over Luke’s objection. He says, "What can I do? She's my mom."

At the end of the second show, they find out they now in 4th place. A very respectable start.

Luke has been deaf since the age of two and communicates by sign language. The 22-year-old is the first deaf contestant on the CBS show. His mother, Marge, is 51-years-old and works as a clinical research associate.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Brain and Hearing Loss

If you are getting older but hearing aids don’t help you, it may be more than just your ears that are giving you trouble. Changes in the brain may be partially to blame for hearing loss among seniors. Details of the new research will be presented today at the 2009 Midwinter Meeting of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology. The study links a part of the brain that relates word recognition with gradual hearing loss. The idea that the grey matter plays a role in hearing loss as we age is not new concept but this research helps push the ball forward.

Gally: Best Season in Years

Gallaudet University completed its basketball season with the a 77-62 loss to York. That leaves the Bison with a 11-14. Despite the losing record, its one of the best records for Gallaudet in years. More Details.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Arkansas Hearing Loss Bill

Arkansas lawmakers are considering a bill to help deaf children get the help they need before they get to school. Richard Carroll, a member of the Green Party, is sponsoring the bill to support SoundstARt. It would:

• Provide funding for a position for a person who would oversees the state’s screening programs and diagnostic centers.

• Fund the bank run by the Arkansas Children’s Hospital and the Arkansas School for the Deaf a Hearing Aid and Technology

• Set up a network of mentors to support parents of children with hearing loss.

Teaching Baby Sign

The Examiner (based out of Denver) has this story on teaching ASL to sign language.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Teen's Battle to Get to School

A family in Alaska has won a judgment against the Anchorage School District. A judge has ruled the school district must provide transportation for 13-year-old Katelyn Reese to get to her school. She is the only middle-school student needing a ride from the Mat-Su school district to her classes at the Alaska State School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Anchorage. The Anchorage district school refused to give her ride in 2007, saying the Mat-Su district or the state should pay the bill. Katelyn Reese has been deaf since the age of three. The Anchorage district plans an appeal.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hawaii Connection to Amazing Race

Luke Adams once attended school at the Hawaii Center for the Deaf and Blind and lived in Oahu. His former teachers can’t believe he’s racing around the world for a millions dollars on the Amazing Race. Former teacher Ami Tsuji-Jones tells KGMB-TV, “He was scared of the dark, scared of roaches, scared of everything, so I can't imagine him being involved in the Amazing Race. I'm very excited to see how he's going to do on the show."Here’s a report from the station on Luke’s adventures as the first deaf man on the show.

Amazing Race Contestant

KCNC in Denver has this brief report on the first deaf man to compete on CBS' Amazing Race.

New Charge on Wireless Bills

Kentucky plans to add a surcharge to wireless phone bills to support telecommunications equipment for the deaf, hard of hearing and those with speech disabilities. There’s already two surcharges on landlines that go toward the effort. The PSC says there are some 650,000 people in the state who need the services. At the same time, many people are no longer using landlines, opting for wireless service exclusively. The charge will be about two cents a month for both landlines and wireless numbers.

Teen Gets Award for ASL Presentation

A Wisconsin teen is getting recognition for her help spreading American Sign Language. High School Senior Kyra Sommerfeld has been given Prudential Spirit of Community Award. She created a workshop for the Chippewa Falls police department about ASL and taught the officers some basic signs. Sommerfeld also created cards they could carry in their wallets for quick reference when they meet a deaf person. She’ll next share sign language with the city’s fire department and the EMS department.

Sommerfeld got the idea from working with deaf students. She’ll get a engraved bronze medal at a ceremony next month. Sommerfeld created a 27-page booklet of basic sign language that an officer might need to use.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards is a nationwide program that honors young people for "outstanding acts of volunteerism." It’s sponsored by Prudential Financial and the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Academic Bowl

High school teams from around the country are gathering in regional competitions for a shot at attending the 2009 Gallaudet University Academic Bowl. Teams are made up of five players. They answer questions in eight academic categories.

There are five regional competitions. The West Regional took place this past weekend at the California School for the Deaf-Fremont and this Thursday 16 teams will gather in North Carolina for the Southeast Regional at the Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf. The Midwest Regional starts February 26th at the Wisconsin School for the Deaf while the Mid-Atlantic Region takes place at the Model Secondary School for the Deaf in Washington, DC. Finally the Northeast regional takes place March 26th at Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf in New York.

The top three teams from each region get a free trip to the national championship along with one wild-card team selected from the five regional fourth-place teams. That takes place April 25-28 at Gallaudet University.

Lawmakers Fight Plans to Close Deaf School

Pennsylvania state lawmaker Ken Smith says he's ready to file a lawsuit if the Scranton State School for the Deaf is shut down. Smith met with state educations this past week and came away convinced there is no plan to accomodate students at the school. Governor Ed Rendell has proposed ccutting the entire $7.35 million budget earmarked for this school year. There is talk that one solution would be working with the nonprofit Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf to create a new school. In the meantime, state senator Robert Mellow plans to introduce an amendment to stop the school’s closing until legislators can review the situation. The unexpected news of the plan to close the school has upset students, parents and teachers at Scranton.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Deaf Team Leads Amazing Race!

A deaf man and his mother are in first place after this season’s premiere of The Amazing Race. The show features 11 teams, including Margie and Luke Adams from Denver, Colorado. When they arrived first at the end of the episode's leg, host Phil Keoghan signed to them "You're Team number one." For coming in first place, they won a trip for two to Puerto Vallarta. Luke told the audience he just wanted to show people what a deaf person can do. Luke has been deaf since the age of two and communicates by sign language. The 22-year-old is the first deaf contestant on the CBS show. His mother, Marge, is 51-years-old and works as a clinical research associate. Over the 12 episodes, the teams will travel more than 40,000 miles in 22 days to nine countries, including Switzerland, India and Russia. On the first show, they faced the challenge of making a bungee jump. In future episodes they'll have to deal with the cold of Siberia and the heat of India. MORE INFO

Protection in a Pill Coming?

There may be a way to protect against hearing damage from loud noises like concerts. A company called OtoMedicine, working scientists from the University of Michigan and the University of Florida say a combination of antioxidants appears to prevent damage in guinea pigs when given before exposure to loud noises. Researcher at Washington University got the same result in mice. The soup of nutrient supplements is a combination of beta-carotene, vitamin C, and E along with magnesium. The research is being presented this weekend at the 2009 Midwinter Meeting of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology.

Church Opens Counseling Center for Deaf

Brentwood Baptist Deaf Church is holding a grand opening this afternoon for its counseling services. Walk Ministries is opening new offices at First Baptist Nashville. The new program works with First Baptist Nashville’s counseling services and pastoral care ministry. The offices will be closer and more convenient for the deaf than the Brentwood location. The services are being lead by CODA Beryl Corey, a licensed master of social work

The Brentwood Baptist Deaf Church meets at the Inman Center. The facilities were built specifically to enhance the worship experience of the deaf. Seats have a direct sight line to the stage and are spaced further apart. Floor speakers allow deaf worshipers to feel the music. And anyone with a hearing aid can tie into the sound system.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Gesturing Linked to Better Grades

Babies who use more gestures wind up with larger vocabularies when they reach school age. That’s the finding of psychologists from the University of Chicago. The research suggests, but does not prove, a connection between parental gesturing and better grades. But the findings support the view that parent-child interaction matters just as much before the child begins to use words as after. Details are in the journal Science.

Wresting Winner

Gwen Haley is the winner of her district wrestling championship in just her second season. The 18-year-old was born deaf and relies on an interpreter to relay instructions from her coach during a match. She wrestles for Houston’s Cypress Ridge High School . The school has worked with at least four deaf wrestlers in the past.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Domestic Abuse

Captain Rita Baker of Tennessee’s domestic violence division tells WSMV-TV,
"From what I understand, (the number of deaf or hard of hearing victims of
abuse) could be as much as one in two women."

Baker says she recently realized that in all of her years with the domestic violence division, she never called in a sign language interpreter.
"That tells me not that we're lucky that there's no deaf people being abused,
but quite the opposite: that these people are not getting our services, and that
was a concern to me.”
Read more here or see a video

Implant Story on North Dakota TV

WMOT-TV in Minot, North Dakota has a video report on cochlear implants.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Children's Books in ASL

There are new versions of two classic children’s books designed especially for kids with hearing loss. Portland sign language interpreter Laurie Meyer couldn’t find books in ASL, so she decided to print her own. She started ASL Tales which offers The Princess and the Pea and Rapunzel. They come with an ASL DVD. Here's a peak.

When you’re in Rome..

The Deaf Baptist Fellowship in Rome, Georgia has been meeting at the Hollywood Baptist Church since it first began in 2003. Six deaf people joined pastor Mason Fenner on that first Sunday. The church began to grow and a youth service was added in 2005. The regular service now includes video and other visual aides. But there are no interpreters. The service is entirely done in sign language. The outreach is an effort of the Georgia Baptist Convention.

ASL Story Time

If you live in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania area, your children can enjoy American Sign Language Story Time at the Fredricksen Library in Camp Hill. The free volunteer-run program has several dozens adults and kids at each reading. Story times are scheduled for 10:30 am on these dates: February 21, March 7, 21, April 11, 25, May 9, 23.

Video Relay in Illinois Schools

Mainstreamed deaf students in Charleston, Illinois now have video relay service at their disposal. Sorenson’s VRS is now at Charleston High and Middle Schools as well as Jefferson Elementary School thanks to the Eastern Illinois Area Special Education Cooperative. The Cooperative serves eight counties.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

McDonald's Robbery

Mesa, Arizona police are searching for two suspects who robbed a deaf man at a McDonald’s restaurant. He was getting out of his car when a woman approached him and tried to start a conversation. She grabbed the money out of his hand and ran, followed by a man. The victim was not injured.

Here’s the description police are giving out of the couple:
  • white female with dirty blond hair and blue eyes, 5 feet 5 inches tall, between 35 and 45 years old, wearing a pink shirt.
  • white male, between 25 and 30 years old, and was wearing light brown pants, a black shirt, and a black hat.

Church Bridges Gap

This article in Colorado's Craig Daily Press talks about services for the deaf at Calvary Baptist Church. Craig is a little town in the Northwest corner of the state.

Connecticut Teacher of the Year

A fifth-grade teacher at the American School Of The Deaf is Connecticut's Teacher Named Teacher Of Year. WFSB-TV has the story.

State Bill on Closed Captioning

Maryland lawmakers are considering a bill that would require captioning on all state and county political ads, or a transcript on the campaign website. It was introduced by State Senator Norman Stone, a Democrat from Baltimore. Its fate is in the hands of the Maryland Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee. The bill would require closed captioning on web political ads, cable political ads and require transcripts on the campaign website. It also requires website transcripts of radio ads. Three states – Minnesota, Florida and Rhode Island already have similar laws. One lawmaker on the other side of the isle is skeptical. Republican David Brinkley says no one has ever asked him to closed caption his TV ads.

Colorado Teacher of the Year

Susan Elliott of Highlands Ranch High School in Littleton is the 2009 Colorado Teacher of the Year. And she’s one of the four finalists for the 2009 National Teacher of the Year Award. The winner of that award will be honored by President Obama in April. Elliott is the school’s deaf and hard of hearing instructor. She also teaches English and social studies as well. Elliott suffered hearing loss at an early age and became profoundly deaf in her late teens.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Outrage over Proposed School Closing

WFMZ-TV has a video report on plans by the state of Pennsylvania to close the Scranton State School for the Deaf. (no captioning). Click here and then on Watch Video.

TV's Switch to Digital

Communication Service for the Deaf is opening a video phone call center and launching a Web site today designed to help the deaf and hard of hearing with the digital television transition. The FCC has given the CSD a grant of more than one million dollars in the effort. If you don’t have cable or satellite service, you’ll have to buy a converter box for your TV to keep picking up the stations. But there has been little information in sign language about the switch and how to access closed captioning. More info.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Court: Deaf Man's Right Not Violated

Even though Kendall Lee Kail cannot hear or speak the Minnesota Court of Appeals has ruled he is not a "person disabled in communication" and not entitled to a sign language interpreter when police pulled him over in 2007.

The St. Paul man was charged with drunken driving. His case was dismissed by a district judge because officers violated his rights because they refused to provide him a interpreter. But prosecutors appealed. Now the state’s highest court says writing notes was enough and overruled the judge.

Videophones at Deaflympics

The International Committee of Sports for the Deaf has tapped Viable to provide videophones and communications equipment as well as video interpreting services at the next Deaflympics in Taipei, Taiwan from September 5-15. Some 4,000 athletes and officials and 10,000 fans are expected to attend. Viable is a deaf owned and operated company.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Deaf Fire Chief

He may be the first deaf fire chief in the country. Mark Kite has taken over leadership duties at the Yukon Volunteer Fire Department in South Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. That puts him in charge of 75-fire fighters. It’s a family tradition for the Kites. Mark’s grandfather, father, brother and even his son have all served the community in this way.

Mark Kite was born nearly deaf and while he uses a hearing aid today, Kite relies on sign language whenever he's talking with other deaf people. At night, Kite turns on a paging system that flashes and a unit that vibrates his bed to wake him if there is a fire alarm.

There are an estimated 50 profoundly deaf firefighters around the country.

Quest at Gallaudet

Gallaudet University will host shows and workshops from a group called Quest and it’s Wings Company next month. The visual theater company is made up of an ensemble of deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing performers using mime, movement, gesture, dance, and sign language. The group will also offer hands-on learning about theater and perform three plays: Mosaic, Alice and I Carry the Flag.
  • Alice is a fanciful interpretation of Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice in Wonderland.
  • Mosaic is a tale about the pressure to conform and the individual’s need for freedom.
  • I Carry the Flag follows a young soldier’s journey into war.

For more info click here.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Stimulus Bill

The NAD explains how President Barack Obama's proposed Economic Stimulus Bill would affect the deaf and hard-of-hearing if it is passed by Congress.

Rock Concert for the Deaf

A rock concert for the deaf will take place in Toronto on March 5. It’s part of Ryerson University’s Alternative Sensory Information Displays (ASID) project. Among the artists scheduled to perform: The Dufraines, Fox Jaws and Hollywood Swank.

Those attending will be able to use what’s called the Emoti-Chair. Developed by a professor at the school, the Emoti-Chair captures sound frequencies and turns them into sensory stimuli. That way, the chairs vibrate and move right along with the music. Captioning and interpreters will be available at the concert as well.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Football Player in Action

In the post below, we told you about the Maryland School for the Deaf student who'll be playing for a Division 1 school next season. Here's a look at what Ryan Bonheyo looks like on the field.

Deaf Player Moves to Division I School

A star running back and linebacker for the Maryland School for the Deaf will soon get the chance to play for a Division I college. Ryan Bonheyo (pronounced bon-HEY-oh) will take the field Towson University this fall. The school is located just outside Baltimore. Yesterday the school formalized a full scholarship offer to him. Here's a link to an interview with Ryan's coach.

Emergency Alert System

Deaf Link has come up with system that sends out emergency alerts in American Sign Language which can be picked up through email, pagers, cell phones (if the device has text capability) and PDAs (with email capability). The company already provides video remote and pre-recorded interpreting systems for government officials to communicate with the deaf during emergencies. Now, the Accessible Hazard Alert System is available just for signing up online. Users simply provide an e-mail address, text pager address or information about other assistive capable devices, along with an physical address. Here is where you sign up.

PA School May Close

Pennsylvania’s Scranton State School for the Deaf may close by the end of the year. Governor Ed Rendell is proposing to cut the entire $8 million that typically goes to the state-owned from next year’s budget. The governor's plan is to have the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf to pick up the slack. The Scranton Times quotes the president of the board of trustees as saying the move is “like a bomb being dropped” because they were not expecting the change. Students have put up signs that say "Save Our School!"

Residential and day service for deaf students may still be provided but some legislators and education officials are working to keep the school open. The Scranton State School for the Deaf employs 75 faculty and staff members and more than 100 students attend the school that was first founded in 1880.

Child Gets Implant

Here's a report on a three-year-old’s experience with receiving a cochlear implant in Oregon.

Writing Contest

If you are a high school student with a hearing loss, you could win a $500 cash prize for your writing. It’s one of the items given away by the Explore Your Future program at RIT's National Technical Institute for the Deaf. Other prizes include a scholarship and travel expenses to the NTID. You must be in grade sophomore or junior to enter the 4th annual Rochester Institute of Technology SpiRIT Writing Contest. You have until March 15th to enter. That means coming up with a short story or poem, a writing sample and a personal reflection. Awards will be handed out this summer at RID.

Jaimie Sloan (Merkel, Texas) and Laruen Aggen (Algonquin, Illinois) won last year.

Click here for details.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Accommodation Effort in Ontario

In the next 3 years, Ontario wants all section of city government to make information available in ASL and other means of communication such as Braille. Candidates for municipal offices would also be required to provide campaign material in forms that are accessible to those with difficulty hearing or seeing. The price tag is about $3 million. The government is gathering comments on the plan. One part of the effort that is not clear, is whether interpreters will be required at city council meetings and public events like festivals.

Deaf Business Gets Major Client

Viable just picked up a big client. The Department of Commerce has selected Viable’s VPAD+ as the videophone of choice for its deaf and hard of hearing employees. The phone was also picked last week for the Department of Defense by the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Taskforce. The VPAD+ is a lightweight, standalone VOIP videophone with a touchscreen monitor. It works with both WiFi and Bluetooth. Viable is a deaf-owned and deaf-operated provider of video relay services (VRS) located in Rockville, Maryland.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

'Swatting' Conspiracy

A new kind of telephone fraud is creating problems for police around the country. Fake callers are using the internet-based phone service intended for use by the deaf to call in bogus information to 911 operators. It’s called “swatting” because the caller will use the VoIP networks to make up a story about a murder inside a home. Heavily armed police SWAT teams will then show up at the house. And there’s no way for the operators to know the call is a fake. It’s a flaw in their computer systems that could lead to problems when a deaf person makes a real emergency call.

Massachusetts teen Matthew Weigman has pleaded guilty in Dallas to charges that he was part of a nationwide swatting group that struck more than 250 times. More than once, he made up a story about killing family members and threatening hostages with an rifle. He even bragged about what he did. Weigman is blind and used online names like Little Hacker. He faces as much as 13 years behind bars. A co-conspirator has already been sentenced to two years in prison.

In an earlier case, a teenager in Washington State used the internet service to call 911 in Southern California. He told emergency operators that he said he was high on drugs and had just shot his sister. He said he was calling from an address that he randomly picked out. Prosecutors say a police SWAT team from Orange County responded, showing up the couple’s house and ordering them out of the home and on the ground. The teen pled guilty to charges last year and was given three years in prison.

Deaf Performing Artists Network

D-PAN or Deaf Performing Artists Network puts together ASL enhanced music videos. Sean Forbes started the nonprofit. His interview with CNN is below.

Construction Halted at School

Work has stopped at the California School for the Deaf on new dorms and an activity center. Because of state budget problems, building materials are sitting idle on the Riverside campus. Funding for the project has been suspended. That means the building will campus will not be finished in time for graduation ceremonies in June. The old buildings are more than 50 years old.

Sign Language in Bangladesh

Bangladesh (next to India says it will introduce sign language at the state level. It will initially be used by the state-run television news and eventually adopted by other media outlets. The move will also make it easier for the deaf to enroll in higher education.

Monday, February 2, 2009

One School Will Stay Open, One School..

While state lawmakers consider closing the South Dakota School for the Deaf in Sioux Falls, the South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Aberdeen appears to be protected.

What’s the difference?

The Aberdeen school is a residential facility. But the School in Sioux Falls closed its dormitories a couple of years ago. Twenty students live at the Aberdeen school and it serves about 165 students statewide.The Sioux Falls reports enrollment of 34 while serving 388 deaf students statewide through its outreach program.

Implants get Boost in UK

Cochlear implants are getting a thumbs up from England’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (or NICE). The agency suggests children get implants for both ears. The recommendation means the UK’s National Health Services will pay for the procedure, paving the way for thousands of deaf children and adults who do not get sufficient benefit from hearing aids to receive cochlear implants. The UK's first cochlear implant went to Michael Batt with funds from The Ear Foundation 20 years ago.

Signing at the Super Bowl

Who was that signing America the Beautiful at the Super Bowl? It was New Jersey teacher Kristy Lynch. Faith Hill performed the song shortly before the opening kickoff. Lynch teaches sign language at Bergenfield and Dumont high schools. Here is a video of her practicing.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

School Eliminates Programs

The Idaho School for the Deaf and the Blind is cutting it’s professional development programs and summer camp. Its residential program is under scrutiny as well because of state budget cuts. Some 80 students live on campus.

Deaf Actress Takes Lead in Play

Children of a Lesser God will be playing at the Barksdale Theatre in Richmond, Virginia starting this Friday. The Tony award-winning show hit Broadway in 1980, telling the story of a troubled deaf woman and a hearing teacher at a school for the deaf. Marlee Matlin starred in the 1986 film version.

Taking the female lead in the Barksdale version will be Erica Siegel. The 31-year-old grew up in Maryland, suffering hearing loss as a child because of an illness. She refused to wear hearing aids even when she attended Emory University. Siegel compensated for it by learning to lip read. She is strengthening her sign language skills for the part in the play. Siegal used Signed English (signing that follows English grammar) to communicate with deaf friends and not ASL.

Siegel recently played deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie at the Imagination Stage in Bethesda, Maryland in the show Playing From the Heart. She also toured with Wings Company, a group of deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing actors that work with Quest: Arts for Everyone.

Extra Phone Call Boost

Cell phone users with some hearing loss may find help using the ClarityLife C900 mobile phone. It amplifies incoming sound by 20 decibels and it doubles as an emergency-response device. It will calls and text-message five preprogrammed numbers until there is an answer. With large buttons and large fonts, the $270 phone is available form Clarity Products and will work with cell phone plans offered by T-Mobile or AT&T.