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.”