Friday, December 31, 2010

Girls Hearing Loss Up

Hearing loss from blaring club music is up among adolescent girls over the last decade. A new study finds it is nearly the same as that for adolescent boys for the first time. Teens are exposed to enough loud noises that their long-term hearing may be in jeopardy. Details are in the online edition of the journal Pediatrics . The increased headphone-use did not appear to be the cause of the increase in hearing loss among teen girls. Instead, the study authors point to the extremely loud music often found in club or music concert settings.

Online Torah Class for Deaf

A website that helps students to learn Torah in real-time, interactive classrooms will begin offering classes that will accommodate the deaf next month. Web YeshivaThe first class, Jewish Laws of Shabbat: Cooking, will be taught by Rabbi Gabe Pransky. An interpreter will be viewable in a video box.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Shot During Robbery

A deaf Ohio man is in critical condition after he was robbed and then shot by a gang at a bus stop. Police say Sherman Robinson of Dayton was attacked by 4 men who shot him in the back, even though he turned over his valuables to them.

Silent Warriors Roll

The Alabama School for the Deaf are undefeated in boys basketball, so far this season. The 13-0 Class 1A Silent Warriors also won the Don Hackney Classic tournament recently by beating the Mississippi School for the Deaf, the Georgia School for the Deaf and the Atlanta Area School for the Deaf. Their next game is a week from today (January 6th) against Fayetteville.

Before They Can Talk

Classes teaching BSL are being offered in the UK. The Chronicle tells the story here.

Suit Against Bus Service

A deaf-blind bus rider is suing the Columbus, Ohio bus service. WCMH-TV explains why in the video below. You can read the story here.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Skateboarding Brothers

WHAS-TV in Louisville, Kentucky reports on a pair of deaf brothers who are making a splash in the skateboarding scene.

Lim's Art Making an Impact

A deaf Malaysian artist is receiving praise for the his work on TIME magazine's year-end cover picture. Leon Lim, who works out of New York, created the image of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange using the text of a leaked cable. He was third runner-up in the editors' list of newsmakers but was the Readers' Choice in a poll conducted by TIME. Deaf since birth, Lim is in the U.S. on an art scholarship.

Hospital Refuses to Provide Terps

A Miami hospital claims it doesn't have to provide interpreters to deaf patients because it is not a public establishment. Maura Mena made a discrimination complaint against Palmetto General Hospital because. The Florida Human Relations Commission sided with the hospital, saying hospitals aren't covered as public accommodations under the Civil Rights Act. Now the case is before the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee which has asked the Human Relations Commission to decide whether the hospital cafeteria qualifies the entire facility as a public establishment.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


A film about sign language is taking it's place among a select group of 25 to be preserved by The Library of Congress as part of the National Film Registry. Among the 25 films are The Exorcist, Airplane and a two minute film from 1913 called Preservation. It features George Veditz, president of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) demonstrating in sign language the importance of defending the right of deaf people to sign as opposed to verbalizing their communication. This was one of the first motion-picture recordings of American Sign Language. Veditz made this film specifically to record sign language for posterity at a time when oralists were making inroads in the education of the deaf. You can see the film here.

The Library of Congress selects just 25 films each year for preservation because nearly half of the films made before 1950 and some 90% of those made before 1920 have been lost.

1st Implant

Uganda has its 1st cochlear implant recipient. The story of 4-year-old Elaine Mukaaya is told by Boston's WCVB-TV here.

Ohio Church Break-in

Someone broke into the Agape Deaf Church in Dayton and stole $4 over the weekend out of a change container.

Two Children Die in Fire

Two deaf children died in Arizona over the weekend in a mobile home fire. Seven-year-old Justin Stevens and 11-year-old Zachary Stevens died in an accidental fire in Fort Mohave that injured five other memebers of their family - the parents and three other children. Jeff Stevens, the father, is the most seriously injured, after trying to rescue the boys that he lost. A fundraiser is planned to help the unemployed couple.

Deaf and Jewish

An estimated 50,000 deaf Jews live in the US, according to advocacy groups for the Jewish deaf. There are only a handful of synagogues for the deaf and half a dozen deaf rabbis.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Memories Betrayed

The former head of the Texas School for the Deaf now faces Alzheimer's disease. The Austin Statesman profiles him here.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Fired for ASL Gestures

An ASL teacher is out work this Christmas because a student complained about her gestures. Jaye Brown has taught for more than a dozen years at Shasta College in Redding, California, but she was let go because she used gestures, common in Deaf Culture, to describe people and body parts. Students have set up a support page for her here and a petition has been started here. So far, the administrators have been unwilling to reconsider the decision. You can call their office at (530) 242-7524 to express your opinion.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Diving Trips for the Deaf

There are few companies that offer diving trips for the deaf and hard of hearing. Siren, Worldwide Dive and Sail is one of them. The company has been doing one major trip in Southeast Asia for the deaf each a year since 2004. They've taken divers to spots like Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. The next trip is scheduled for September in the Maldives, some 500 miles off the southern tip of India. Founder Frank van der Linde first decided to expand his business to the deaf community after working with a deaf British dive instructor. Hearing guests are encouraged to learn at least the basics of the sign-language alphabet to be able to communicate with the deaf patrons. The trips are focused on guests who use either ASL or BSL (British Sign Language). Deaf or hard of hearing customers get a 20-25% discount on trips. Find out more here.

Bill Would Force ASL Acceptance

A Virginia state legislator is proposing a law that would require state colleges to accept ASL as a foreign language fulfillment for incoming students. Virginia High Schoolers are already allowed to use ASL as a graduation requirement, under a 1998 provision from the Virginia Department of Education. House Bill 1435, proposed by Dickie Bell, would make colleges accept it as well, whenever a foreign language is required for admission. The University of Virginia already accepts ASL and maintains an ASL program. However, it's a different story at James Madison University’s language department, where several proposals to recognize ASL as a foreign language have been rejected.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sale of Deaf School Goes Through

Michigan's governor has signed a bill, allowing the sale of the state school for the deaf in Flint. A developer is buying the campus, plans to renovate it and make it the new home of the Michigan School for the Deaf and a new school - the Powers Catholic High School. Some families of deaf students had sought to block the sale. Here's a video report on it from WJRT-TV.

Noises Off

A Gallaudet play has been selected to compete for Kennedy Center honors. The fall production of Noises Off made such an impression on the judges in attendance, they want it to be part of the the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Students will perform in the Region 2 competition taking place at Towson University on January 15th. If they win, the student directed play wins, it will have a spot in an April showcase among the nation's best at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. The production Goya: en la Quinta del Sordo (in the house of the deaf man) rose to the national round in 2008.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A feel for the Game

The New York Times profiles the only deaf men’s basketball player in Division I in this article.

Next Generation 911

The FCC is getting closer to updating the nation’s 911 services with the ability to receive text messages, photos and video from mobile phones. The agency has just filed a Notice of Inquiry asking the public to comment on what's called Next Generation 911. NG911 could potentially also provide location responders with location information.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski offered the example of the 2007 Virginia Tech campus shooting as an example of the problem. Students tried to send text messages to 911, not realizing that the technology was not supported. He says, "If you find yourself in an emergency situation and want to send a text for help, you can pretty much text anyone except a 9-1-1 call center."

Last year, an Iowa call center became the first to install equipment that could do so.

You can find more information here. Look for FCC Takes First Step to Help Revolutionize America's 9-1-1 Services for Consumers, First Responders.

Czech Republic

A report about the work of Baptists among the deaf in Czech Republic can be read here.

Deaf in Russia

Here is a video report about the struggles of the deaf in Russia. To read the story, click here.

Least Accessible UK City

Bristol is Enlgand's least accessible city for deaf customers, according to the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID). Only 3% of businesses in the city are accessible for hearing aid users because of a lack of induction loops, equipment used by some two million people in the UK who wear hearing aids.

Life for Deaf Jews

There's an article about how the Jewish community is dealing with deaf members of its community. Read it here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hit by a Truck and Given Up for Dead, a Deaf Woman Fights Back

Read about it in the New York Times.

New VRS App

AT&T is offering a new video relay app at the iPhone app store. It works with the iPhone 4 and allows deaf and hard of hearing customers to make unlimited VRS calls using the at no additional cost. AT&T has offered video relay services to customers for years, but the new AT&T VRS app provides a more convenient way for users to make VRS calls by going through Wi-Fi hotspots. The app contacts an AT&T ASL interpreter who then initiates a FaceTime video call with the user. There is also free software called AT&T Video Link that allows people to use computers to make the connection.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Video Released of Shooting

Police dash-cam video has been released of a Seattle shooting that left a deaf man dead. The video (below) does not show the actual shooting, but the policeman can be heard shouting, “Hey, put the knife down.” John T. Williams, who was a woodcarver, did not drop the knife, so police officer Ian D. Dirk shot him 5 times. The firearms review board held that the shooting was not justified and Officer Birk has quit.

Bison Victorious on Road

Gallaudet University beat the defending conference champion in men's basketball yesterday. The Bison topped Penn State-Berks by a score of 67-51. It's their 5th win in 6 games. Gallaudet is now 4-1 in the conference and 7-3 overall. The team will open its second half of the schedule on the road against defending conference champion SUNYIT on Saturday, January 8.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Infant Screenings

Does it make a difference in language development to ID a baby as deaf? Researchers in the UK are looking into it. They are studying whether deaf teens have better language skills if doctors determine they were deaf as infants. The University of Southampton study is comparing a pilot screening program conducted in Southampton and London in the 1990s to how those kids are doing now as teenagers. They already found that the screening seemed to make a difference when the children were 8 years old, and they want to see if that still holds true now.

A Christmas Suprise

WAPT-TV in Jackson, Mississippi shows how a school for the deaf got a Christmas surprise in this video:

Deaf Student's Art

A newspaper in Lynchburg, Virginia profiles a deaf visual artist here.

Implants Change Couple

The Richmond Times Dispatch explains how cochlear implants have changed the lives of one couple here.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

CSI: Chicago?

Marlee Matlin lobbies for CSI: Chicago. Read about it here.

Bowl Game Appearance

The National Anthem will be signed at today's Humanitarian Bowl. The students are part of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Group at Sawtooth Middle School. They performed publicly for the first time yesterday and will open the football game at 5:30 pm, Eastern when the Fresno State Bulldogs (8-4) take on the Northern Illinois Huskies (10-3).

Friday, December 17, 2010

Interpreting at the Hospital Video

A Day in the Life of an Interpreter

Interpreter in the Classroom Video

Changing VRS & IP Relay #s

The FCC is considering changing Video Relay Service (VRS) and IP Relay to toll free numbers (800 or 866 numbers). The federal agency is also proposing a one-year transition period. Today is the deadline for comments on the topic. You can make them here.

Lady Bison May Crack Rankings

The women's basketball team at Gallaudet is close to earning a spot among the Top 25 teams. Gallaudet is the only NCAA Division III women's basketball team from the North Eastern Athletic Conference to receive votes in the Top 25 poll and the USA Today/ESPN Division III Top 25 coaches' poll. Boasting an 8-0 record so far this season, the team is basically #33 and #28 in each poll, respectively. The Bison:
  • lead the nation in steals per game with 19.8
  • are 4th in the nation in scoring margin (28.8 points)
  • 10th in scoring offense (79.1 points per game)
  • 10th in rebound margin (12.8 per game)
  • 10th in turnover margin (9.0)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bison Rise

The men's basketball team at Gallaudet now have more wins than last year's entire season. Last season, the Bison had 5 wins out of 24 games. This season, the team picked up its 6th win last night. And they've only lost 2 games, so far. Gallaudet got by Penn St.-Abington by a score of 88-83.

The Fab Five

There were only 5 students who graduated from the Georgia School for the Deaf yesterday. They are profiled here, in the Rome News-Tribune and again here in the Moultrie Observer.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

ASL in Space

The Texas School for the Deaf just received a video.. from space! Astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson used an hour of her time aboard the International Space Station to respond, in sign language, to student questions about what it is like living in space. A series of science lessons using the footage provided by NASA will be created using the video.

Michigan Protest

Alumni from Michigan's School for the Deaf plan show their opposition to the sale of the school to a private developer at the state house. The state would get $1.3 million for the 85 acre site and the developer would build a new school for the deaf and lease the site back to the state for 2 million dollars a year. A private school would also be built. Both state houses approved the deal, but an error in the senate's version has kept it from getting to the governor's desk for his signature.

New Mexico Celebration

The Farmington Daily Times looks at a gathering honoring the New Mexico School for the Deaf here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Internet Santa

A Scranton, Pennsylvania paper explains how Santa is using the Internet to reach deaf children. Read the story here.

Woman Finds her Passion

A Georgia sign language interpreter is profiled here by the Gainesville Times.

Guilty of Murder

A Kentucky jury has found a deaf man guilty of killing two people in Louisville. Prosecutors say Jeston Murray killed an elderly man at an army surplus store with a stolen ax. They broke into an apartment and killed another man, just few days later. He could get the death penalty while his codefendant plea bargained a life sentence.

Surgeon Gets Honor

An expert in cochlear implant surgery will be recognized today. University of Iowa professor Dr. Bruce Gantz will receive the Distinguished Mentor Award from the Medical School for his outstanding mentoring and impact on trainees. Gantz is a leading neurotologist who established the Iowa Cochlear Implant Clinical Research Center 15 years ago. It is considered one of the world's premier cochlear implant centers.

Monday, December 13, 2010

ASL Classes.. by the numbers

A major new survey of language studies on colleges campuses shows ASL is rising quickly in popularity. Of the 12 languages with rising undergraduate enrollments in 2009, only Spanish, ASL, and Korean show continued growth at the graduate level. In 2009, there were 83,450 students enrolled in introductory ASL courses (up from 72,694 in 2006) and 7,487 enrolled in advanced classes (up from 5,249 in 2009). That's more than a 16% increase in the number of students enrolled in both advanced and introductory ASL between 2006 and 2009 (from 78,829 in 2006 to 91,763 in 2010). Read the full report from the Modern Language Association of America here.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Silently Seeking Romance

Gallaudet University recently held a speed dating night. Graduate student Aneesah Silvels organized the event as part of a class project. It drew about two dozen people, mostly students from Galluadet and Towson University. The rules included only 5 minutes with each person and... no talking, only ASL. The Washington Post put up photos of the gathering here.

ASL Colleges Classes

Here are the course enrollment numbers for ASL, according to a newly released report from the Modern Language Association of America. ASL was the fourth post popular language to learn, behind Spanish, French and German.
  • 1990 - 1,602
  • 1995 - 4,304
  • 1998 - 11,420
  • 2002 - 60,781
  • 2006 - 78,829
  • 2009 - 91,763
Read the full report here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

TSA Rules on Hearing Disabilities

If you'll be traveling by air during the holidays, review these suggestions from the TSA:
  • If you need to communicate with the Security Officer, inform her/him of your disability and the way in which you can communicate. TSA Security Officers are trained to provide whatever assistance they can to persons with hearing disabilities.
  • If the screening process is unclear to you, motion to the Security Officer that you can't hear and ask him/her to ask the Security Officer to write the information down.
  • If you can read lips or are hard of hearing, ask the Security Officer to look directly at you and repeat the information slowly.
  • It is not necessary to remove hearing aids or the exterior component of a cochlear implant at security checkpoints.
  • It is best if you wear your hearing device while going through the metal detector.
  • According to Otolaryngologist and Otolaryngology surgeons, hearing devices such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, external component of cochlear implants, and middle ear implants are not affected by X-ray inspection or walk-through metal detector screening. In addition, these devices may also safely be screened using Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT).
  • If you are concerned or uncomfortable with going through the walk-thorough metal detector, or are uneasy with having your external component of your cochlear implant X-rayed, you can ask for a full body pat-down of your person and a visual and physical inspection of the exterior component while it remains on your body.
  • Assistive listening devices must undergo x-ray screening.
  • If you use a hearing dog, you and the dog will remain together at all times while going through the security checkpoint. See the "Service Animal" section for more tips on service animals in the screening process.
Read more here.

Deaflympics Hopeful

There is a profile of a deaf ASL teacher hoping to represent the U.S. in snowboarding at the Winter Deaflympics in Slovakia in Michigan's Flint Journal. Read it here.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Deaf Commencement Speaker

A deaf student will speak at a college commencement in California Saturday. Kirstie Kampen won the right through a competition to speech at the ceremonies of UC, Davis. About 750 graduating students and their guests are expected. Her speech reads in part, “I am a deaf student who learned to use what I still have — an intelligent mind, an unwavering spirit and the encouraging support of my family.“ By the time she became a teenager, Kampen had a profound hearing loss. The cause is unknown. She uses ASL, lip reading (because her hearing family does not sign), a hearing aid, and cochlear implant. Kampen hopes to attend medical school and become a cardiac surgeon. You can watch the ceremony take place live by clicking here on Saturday at 10am, Pacific.

Deaf Expo 2010

An international conference on deaf issues will take place in New Delhi starting Monday. The second Deaf Expo 2010 will focus on technologies and educational aids for people with hearing disabilities in the country. Some 500 people are expected. The Miss India Deaf Contest will take place during the Expo.

CSI Goes to Deaf School

CSI producers have picked Tony Award-winner Phyllis Frelich to play the part of a teacher at a school for the deaf. A murder at a school brings investigators. Frelich will butt heads with Sara in the episode which also features Marlee Matlin. The episode is tentatively scheduled for February 3. Frelich is deaf and won a Tony for her work in the 1980 Broadway production of Children of a Lesser God.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Jewish Group Gets Big Donation

Gallaudet University's organization for Jewish students is getting a large donation from a DC couple. Richard and Lois England are giving $125,000 to the University's Hillel. The funding will provide educational and cultural Jewish programs. The Englands have also provided an equal amount in need-based scholarships. With the money comes a name change to the Hillel Program.

Health Care Interpreting Certification

NTID will offer the 1st certificate program for health care sign language interpreters. NTID is a college at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. The one-year certification includes 160 hours of classroom work on campus and at medical settings off-campus. It will begin in June and cost $800. The application deadline is January 15th. You can find out more information here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

City Refuses to change Dog Ban

Denver could be violating ADA law by banning pit bulls. The city council voted last night against exempting service dogs from the ordinance. Some of them say they didn't like a part of the ADA law that does not allow service animal users from being required to show a dog has been trained for the role. The ban has been in place for more than 20 years. Animal advocates say the problem is not the breed, but the owners. Some service dog owners are considering legal action against the city because federal law requires local governments to make "reasonable changes" in ordinances to accommodate the disabled.

Mock Court Trial

Students in Ventura County, California got a chance to see how ASL works in the courtroom. Read the story here.

Discrimination at Prison

A Texas judge has ruled the state's prison system violated federal law in a discrimination case involving a deaf man. The Hughes Unit prison near Gatesville refused to provide Jeremy Durrenberger an interpreter when he visited to see an inmate. Durrenberger tried several times to get help, even making suggestions of how the issue could be easily resolved, but he was turned down. One corrections officer told Durrenberger he was “not disabled” because he did not use a wheelchair. The Judge noted that prison officials had not presented any evidence to show that accommodating him would impose any burden.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Winning Weekend

The Gallaudet University men's basketball team won both of its games this weekend. The Bison left upstate New York with victories against Keuka College and the Weed Physical Arts Center. That gives the Bison a 2-0 record in their conference and 5-2 overall, matching the team's total number of wins last season. They had no conference victories last season. Gallaudet is back in action Wednesday at home against NEAC foe Penn St.-Abington at 7 p.m.

From Silence to Sound

Read about a documentary detailing an Oklahoma man's experience going through cochlear implant surgery here.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Discimination Complaints Soar

More people with disabilities filed discrimination charges against employers in 2009 than at any other time in the 20-year history of the ADA, according to the EEOC. About 21,500 ADA-related job complaints were filed with the agency last year.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Dancer's Story

Read a profile of a deaf ballet dancer in Indianapolis is here.

Failure to Train

The Supreme Court helped to set guidelines related to training law enforcement officers in how they deal with the public, including deaf individuals, in a case known as Canton v. Harris. A woman who was acting strangely was taken to the Canton Police Department. Officers failed to provide her with needed medical attention. She was later diagnosed with an emotional disorder and received treatment at a hospital. She later filed a suit in 1983 saying this was a violation of her due process rights by the city. While agreeing that there was a failure in this case on the part of the officers, the Court found there was liability only when the inadequate training amounted to “deliberate indifference to the rights of the persons with whom the police come in contact.” In other words, liability hinged on the adequacy of the training program instead of the performance of an individual officer in a particular case. This case may come into play whenever a deaf person is mistreated by officials and then files a lawsuit against a municipality for failure to respect their rights.

Double Murder Trial

A deaf, homeless man is on trial for murder case in Louisville, Kentucky. Prosecutors accuse Jeston Murray for killing 72-year-old Darrell Spencer in 2008, who worked at an Army surplus store and stabbed Marcus Penny a few days later. He could get the death penalty if he is convicted.

Kiss Investigation

A bus aide for the Indiana School for the Deaf has quit after a student accused him of kissing her on a bus. Brownsburg Police are looking into the allegation. The aide was put on leave by the school's administration after the report of the incident reached them and he resigned the very next day.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Million $ Gift

The Starkey Hearing Foundation donated 100 digital hearing aids to the Washington School for the Deaf this week. All the recipients were carefully screened in October and personally fitted for the devices which cost at least a $1 million but came free from the Minneapolis-based private foundation. The devices won't replace American Sign Language because the school offers a bilingual education.

New Revelations about Missing Girl

A missing deaf girl in North Carolina girl may have been raped before her death. Investigators say her body was likely dismembered in the bathtub of her family home. They say DNA tests confirmed that human remains found last month are those of 10-year-old Zahra Clare Baker. A family friend says a relative of the family told him that the girl may have been assaulted by two men at a North Carolina home.

Movie Theater Suit

A class action lawsuit filed against the Cinemark movie chain on behalf of the deaf. The company owns Century Theatres which, according to the lawsuit, does not provide closed captioned movies. The suit is particularly aimed at its theaters in Alameda County, California.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ball Player Dies

A Yankee infielder who helped raise awareness of deaf issues has died. A baseball injury left Gil McDougald nearly deaf. He died Sunday at his New Jersey home at the age of 82. A member of 5 World Series championship teams, McDougald was selected the American League’s Rookie of the Year in 1951 and was a five-time All Star.

CSI is Calling

CSI is looking for a deaf actress to play the mother of Gil Grissom. The casting notes describe the character as a "strong, confident, intelligent and influential woman" who has "never allowed her lack of hearing to keep her from doing." She's also a former librarian, fluent in ASL. The part will show up during episode 13 of the crime drama series, which is titled The Two Mrs. Grissoms.

Hospital to Pay $80k

New Hampshire's Portsmouth Regional Hospital will pay $80k for ADA violations. The agreement settles a lawsuit filed because the hospital failed to provide an interpreter to two deaf people on many occasions, despite the facility's written policy saying it would do so. Rosalie and Donald Valery will get $50,000 and Brian Minch $10,000. The hospital also agreed to pay a $20,000 civil penalty to the government. Portsmouth Regional also said it would:
  • Provide live interpreter within an hour 80%
  • Provide a video conference with an interpreter within 15 minutes
  • Hire a 24-hour disability coordinator
  • Hold staff training
  • Perform data collection on it's progress
  • Update its complaint procedures
  • Create notification forms
  • Make TTY service available
  • Advertising its services for the deaf in the local newspaper

Monday, November 29, 2010


A profile of ASL teachers in New Jersey public schools is here.

Leslie Nielsen Dies

Actor Leslie Nielsen has died. What many people did not know about the versatile actor, known for both his serious and comedic roles, is that he was legally deaf and wore hearing aids most of his life. It didn't stop him from starring in films like The Poseidon Adventure, Airplane and the The Naked Gun. A Canadian, Nielsen graduated from high school at 17 and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, even though he was legally deaf, and later became a radio DJ. He died Sunday in Fort Lauderdale at the age of 84.

Fighter History

A rundown of the fight history of deaf Ultimate Fighter Matt Hamill here.

YouTube Caption Changes

Google is rolling out big improvements to its YouTube automatic captions. The search giant says the changes have already cut errors by one-fifth. You can access the tool by clicking on the little “cc” button on most YouTube videos and selecting Transcribe Audio.Google software engineer Ken Harrenstien, who is deaf, says the software was released before it was perfected because there are some situations in which it is very accurate or at least very helpful. Google says people have watched video with automatic captions more than 23 million times. If your do a Google search on a phrase that happens to be in the middle of a video, Google will take you directly to that place in the video.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ally ASL

Ally ASL is back in business. The Texas 22-year-old's YouTube account, Ally ASL, was shut down recently after several music companies decided her translation of some 90 popular songs into American Sign Language was a violation of copyright law. Allyson Townsend (her real name) asked for help from the Electronic Frontier Foundation which got YouTube, Warner and Universal to agree that it was a case of fair use. Check out her Facebook fan page here and you can watch one of her videos here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Silence

Austrailia's ABC network is offering a British thriller tomorrow night called The Silence. It's about a deaf girl who witnesses the murder of a policeman. The Silence attempts to show what cochlear implant users hear. Deaf actress Genevieve Barr plays the lead role. A graduate of Edinburgh University, Barr was teaching in an inner London secondary school and had to give up her teaching career to take on the role. The Guardian newspaper says it has a "storyline that leaves the viewer wanting more."

Fulbirght Scholarships

The Chronicle of Higher Education says Gallaudet University is top producers of U.S. Fulbright Students. Gallaudet also received this distinction in 2007. The Fulbright Program gives master's and doctoral candidates and recent B.S./B.A. graduates or graduating seniors opportunities for personal development, academic enrichment, and international experience. All three Gallaudet students who applied for Fulbright grants in October 2009 were awarded fellowships to pursue research abroad. You'll find the full list here.

Woman Escapes Fire

A Georgia woman was not woke up by her strobe light when a fire raced through her apartment building last night. Debra McCord of Fort Oglethorpe is deaf and unaware of an evacuation because of the blaze. A neighbor rang her doorbell, setting off strobe lighting inside provided by a old and weak unit. It wasn't enough to wake her. Fortunately, the neighbor knew McCord was deaf and alerted police. She escaped without serious injury. The apartment manager says she plans to install a strobe fire alarm.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cochlear Stock Rises

The price of Cochlear stock soared after word of a recall by rival Sonova. Cochlear is an Australian company that dominates the cochlear implant business. It gained the most during 2010 in Australian trading after Sonova announced it was voluntarily recalling its HiRes 90K cochlear implant. At one point, Cochlear advanced 4.1 percent to hit $77.96 on the Australian stock exchange.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hostage Hoax

Police in Buffalo got a call from someone saying they were deaf and held hostage. It turned out to be a hoax. WIVB-TV has this report.

Implant Market Facts

The cochlear implant market is about $800 million and expected to grow at a double-digit rate because the number of new patients is growing by about 200,000 each year.

Implant Recall

A hearing aid implant recall has sent the stock of a Switzerland-based implant maker tumbling. Shares of Sonova, the world's largest hearing aid maker, fell after the announcement that Advanced Bionics, which it owns, will recall its HiRes 90K cochlear-implant device. Two patients suffered from severe pain and overly loud sounds just days after activation of the device. Advanced had another recall six years ago.

Teens Raise Money for Deaf School

WDAF-TV in Kansas City offers a video report on 4 teens who put together a 5k walk to help the Kansas School for the Deaf.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bright Student Rejected

Oxford University has rejected one of Britain's best students for a place at the school. Deaf since birth, Anastasia Fedotova earned six A grades in math, physics, chemistry, biology and general studies. The 19-year-old communicates with help from hearing aids and by lip-reading. Born in Russia, she grew up in Germany and came to England in 2005. Her sponsors are demanding an explanation from the school, though she plans to now apply to Cambridge University.

Spill Suit Denied

A lawsuit filed by 4 deaf people against a Minneapolis country over a contamination spill has been dismissed. Their suit claimed Dakota County should have provided them sign-language interpreters after a mercury spill in Rosemount. A judge disagreed and now an appeals court has come to the same conclusion. Although the judges said interpreters should have been provided during the emergency, they ruled that they deaf residents failed to prove that it was the county's responsibility to provide the service. They also wanted the county to provide interpreters at meetings on the subject after the spill. Dozens of people were treated for mercury exposure after teenagers dumped two jars of it onto a playground. A disaster response team scrubbed the residents with soap and water, but the plaintiffs said they were confused and didn't participate because there was no interpreter to explain the process.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

School Leader Disappears

The director of Rhode Island's School for the Deaf is gone and school officials don't know when she'll come back and won't say why she is gone. Lori Dunsmore has taken an indefinite leave of absence from her post. She took over three years ago as only the second deaf person to lead the school in it's 134-year-old history. The assistant director and a teacher had recently left despite the school moving its dwindling enrollment into a new $31 million facility.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

New ASD Prez

The American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut has tapped David Carter as President of the Board of Directors for the school. Carter's current position is that of Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications for Magellan Health Services. He succeeds Carleton Mowell and has been involved with the school for the past seven years.

Deaf Expo in India

The 2nd International Deaf Expo takes place in New Delhi, India from December 13th-17th. The topic will be Empowering Technologies in Education of the Deaf/ Hard of Hearing. For details go here.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Implants & Scanners

If you have a cochlear implant and go through a full-body scanner at the airport, audiologists say it will not set off the machines. However, it could make an usual sound as you go through. It is a good idea to carry a medical card with you that says you have an implant.

Award Winning Earplugs

Etymotic's BlastPLG earplugs has won an Innovation award which will be presented at at the upcoming 2011 Consumer Electronics Show taking place this January in Las Vegas. The electronically enhanced earplugs run about $450 each and are designed to safeguard military personnel from long-term hearing damage. It will blocks certain frequencies when explosives or other loud noises take place but allow sounds at other frequencies to reach the inner ear. For more information, check here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hit & Run Driver Kills Student

A recent college graduate planning a career as a sign language interpreter was killed Sunday night in Boston. Andy Prior had attended Northeastern where he majored in American Sign Language. Someone driving an SUV hit him while he was riding a motorized scooter and drove off. Police have made no arrests in the case and have appealed to the public for information on the driver.

ASL Credit

Seton Hall may soon offer students the opportunity to take American Sign Language classes for credit as a second language. Right now, ASL classes count only as an elective or in certain majors in the College of Arts & Sciences. The Student Government Association at the New Jersey campus is promoting the idea but no decisions have been made by the administration. However, the interim Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, Joan Guetti, has suggested that ASL shouldn't count as a second language, any more than than mathematics should count as one.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

1st Prison with Videophone

Deaf inmates in Virginia will get access to a videophone and interpreters as part of a settlement with the Powhatan Correctional Center. This will make the Richmond-area Center the first major prison in the country to have a videophone. Until the settlement, Powhatan had only been providing an interpreter once a week for more than a dozen deaf inmates. This meant the prisoners were not able to take part in educational programs and had limited communication with prison staff and medical personnel. The lawsuit filed by inmates also complained that they did not have adequate access to sign-language interpreters, visual notifications of safety announcements.

False Arrest Suit

A deaf man from Pasadena, Maryland is suing local police for false arrest. Prosecutors filed charges against 58-year-old Stephen Pyles for burglary two years ago and later dropped them. Ironically, he was the one who called officers to report the crime through a TTY telephone. Pyles is asking for $1.5 million in damages. Officers who responded to the call claim Pyles punched one of them without provocation. Pyles claims the officer grabbed him and wrestled him to the group, handcuffing him behind his back which prevented Pyles from communicating.

64 Out of Work

Communication Services for the Deaf in Sioux Falls is laying off 64 workers at one of its local call centers. They will lose their jobs at the beginning of the year. The move is fallout from a decision by Qwest Communications not to renew its contract with South Dakota company that has been in place for four years.

App for Captioning

Hamilton is offering a new Android app for deaf users. It is available on the iPhone, Blackberry and Android devices and offers real-time conversation captioning so users can read what is being said. Android devices that support the new app include the HTC Aria, Motorola Backflip, Samsung Epic, and the Droid line. Read more about it here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

FCC Selects Deaf Lawyer

The FCC has appointed a deaf man to head of its Disability Rights Office. Gregory Hilibok is the first person with a disability to head the office. Hilibok has been an attorney in the office for nine years and was spokesman for the Deaf President Now movement in 1998 at Gallaudet University. He holds a degree in government from Gallaudet with a degree and J.D. from Hofstra Law School.

Questions Raised About State Deaf & Blind School

A former employee of the Colorado School For The Deaf And The Blind speaks out on the school's direction for the future. Here's a video report from KRDO-TV. Read the story here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Courage in Sports Awards

Motocross Champ Ashley Fiolek was honored at the annual Courage in Sports Awards on CBS television yesterday. Since joining the Women's Motocross Championship three years ago, the deaf teen has earned two titles along two X Games gold medals. Fiolek was honored along with former USC football star Stafon Johnson, NBA Hall of Famer and Mayor of Detroit Dave Bing, and the Wingsuit Pilots, a group of daredevil skydivers. The Courage in Sports Awards recognizes athletes who demonstrate extraordinary courage, spirit, and perseverance in the face of adversity in order to succeed in their chosen sport.

Lego Robotics League

A teenager in Huntsville, Alabama helped to create his team's science contest submission based on the knowledge of hearing he has gained through having a cochlear implant. Read about it here.

Deaf in Africa

Here is a video report from TV2 in Sierra Leone about the education of deaf children, explaining why one school does not use sign language. (no captioning)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Learning 2 Languages

An Idaho newspaper takes a look at how deaf immigrants are learning two languages at once here.

Hotel to Make Changes

Hilton has cut a deal with the feds to make its hotels more ADA friendly. The hotel chain will make changes to about 900 Hilton-branded facilities including Hampton Inn and Doubletree. Hilton will also pay $50,000. According to government attorneys, Hilton failed to build its hotels in compliance with the ADA, doesn't offer enough ADA compliant rooms and has not offered its disabled guests a way to book what rooms are available. This is the most sweeping changes required by the Justice Department. The company has agreed to better train its employees and improve its website.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


The Maryland School for the Deaf football has ended its season with a perfect record.
The Orioles beat the California School for the Deaf at Riverside in its last game by a whopping 80-0 score. The win may give Maryland an 8th consecutive National Deaf championship. The Orioles keep 9 teams scoreless over the course of the season. The team loses 14 seniors after this season.

Tackling Sports with Gusto

The Los Angeles Times takes a look at how deaf students at one high school are embrasing sports in this article.

Fatal Bus Accident

The driver of a green Suburu was killed yesterday when she ran into a bus from the North Carolina School for the Deaf on Highway 109 near Wallburg. Two adults on the bus were injured. The last student had already been dropped off before the accident. Police say the driver was Nancy Griffin of Kernersville.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Love Language

You can increase the funding for The American Society for Deaf Children simply by viewing the video belo called Love Language, produced by the Jubilee Project. Funding increases for the group each time it is viewed during November.

Scam Charges Tossed

A judge has thrown out charges against a man for alledgedly scamming an roofer despite the testimony of an elderly deaf woman. WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh has a video report.

Film Wins Award

A movie about a deaf ultimate fighter has won a Hollywood award. The American Film Institute (AFI) gave Hamill its Breakthrough Award, along with $5000. The film was inspired by the life of fighter Matt Hamill. AFI FEST 2010 includes 97 films from 3000 submissions representing 31 countries.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mobile Captions Service

Hamilton Relay and Mobile Captions Company are launching a Mobile Captions Service with help from Wireless provider Consumer Cellular. Like closed captioning on TV, the service will let the deaf and hard of hearing to read typed captions of what is being said on a wireless phone display as the conversation is taking place. The service is only availabe on a Nokia E5 phone. When customers place a call, the Nokia E5 automatically connects to Hamilton Relay Service. A live operator types the information in real time.

ASL Comedy Tour

The ASL Comedy Tour is coming to Las Vegas. The show will take place November 13th at Alexis Park. Comic Keith Wann will make an appearance at the Vegas show and he'll later perform in Broadway’s upcoming West Side Story for the deaf. You'll find more information about the ASL Comedy Tour here and a complete listing Keith's tour here.

Keith Wann's ASL Comedy Tour DVD - demo from Keith Wann on Vimeo.

125 Years

The New Mexico School for the Deaf celebrated its 125th anniversary yesterday. In 1885, a deaf couple by the name of Lars and Belle Larson, started the school in a small adobe house in Santa Fe. Two years later, the New Mexico Territorial Legislature officially established the New Mexico School for the Deaf at the same site you will find the school today. It serves some 120 students on the campus and 50 others throughout the state by satellite. Its outreach program serves 270 students. There are four buildings on campus listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

New Evidence in Girl's Disappearance

There are reports in the media that police have found human remains in a creek during their search for Zahra Baker, a missing deaf girl. Authorities are only saying they have discovered new evidence. She's been missing from her home in Hickory for more than a month and police have indicted that they believe the 10-year-old is dead, after finding her artificial leg. Her stepmother, Elisa Baker, has been charged with obstruction of justice for writing a fake ransom note. Her father, Adam Baker, has arrested been on other charges.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

School hires PR Firm

The Lexington School for the Deaf has hired a public relations firm to promote its brand among families of deaf children and professionals. Harrison Leifer DiMarco will provide marketing services for the Jackson Heights, New York school and its three service centers. The school offers educational programs through high school age students. Lexington service centers provide audiology, speech, vocational, and mental health services.

Improving Captioning

Broadcast Engineering magazine discusses the technical aspects of how captioning can be improved here.

Teacher Trouble

A deaf public school teacher says she faced discrimination during her time in the schools of Loudoun County, Virginia before she was let go. Adonia Smith started working at Frances Hazel Reid Elementary School in Leesburg three years ago, after having earned a doctorate in deaf education and working for 13 years as a teacher. According to Smith, administrators regularly refused to provide a qualified interpreter in order to save money. Instead, she was expected to carry around a whiteboard and type out messages on a laptop.

MIT Research

Read about how new findings from MIT researchers may improve hearing aids here.

Deaf Prof at UF

The student newspaper at the University of Florida profiles a professor who teaches ASL at the school here.

Man Sentenced for Attacking Deaf-Blind Woman

A Tampa, Florida man has pled guilty to charges related to holding a deaf-blind woman against her will. The 40-year-old woman thought she was getting a ride from a friend and says Luis Alberto Mendez tried to kidnap and molest her. Mendez claims she was trying to bum a ride. A judge sentenced Mendez to 364 days in jail. Since he had remained in jail since his arrest, Mendez was released because he had already exceeded the jail term.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Video Relay Service Gets 1/2 Million

Deaf-owned Convo Communications is borrowing a half of a million dollars from a Southern California bank to expand its services. Convo provides video relay services, having recently launched Convo Anywhere, a cloud-based Web application. Founded in March 2009, Convo has since grown to four call centers and gross revenues close to $4 million for 2010. The CEO of Convo, Robin Horwitz, is deaf. Read more at the company website.

New Zealand Teachers to Gather

The New Zealand Sign Language Teachers Association holds it 11th National Conference in Wellington, New Zealand November 27-28. For more information go here.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Deaf Research Convention in Brazil

The 5th International Deaf Academics and Researchers convention takes place November 21-24 in Florianopólis, Brazil. For details, click here.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Govenor Steps In

There's good news for the New Mexico School for the Deaf. As we reported earlier this week, voters narrowly rejected a state ballot measure that would have given the school $3 million for renovations. But now, Governor Bill Richardson has announced that he is making $100,000 in stimulus funds available to help finish the financing for a new heating and cooling system. The money is coming out of his American Recovery and Reinvestment Act discretionary funds.

Friday, November 5, 2010

World Deaf Poker Tourney

The 6th annual World Deaf Poker Tournament will take place tomorrow at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The tourney will include two Texas hold’em tournaments for the deaf and friends of the deaf. Proceeds will go to the American Society for Deaf Children, an advocacy group, and the Southern Nevada Silver Knights which is an organization run by people who are either deaf or hard of hearing.

Gally Film Fest

The WORLDEAF Cinema Festival is underway at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. It's the first deaf film festival to be held at the school. There are movies by deaf filmmakers and movies by hearing filmmakers about the deaf experience. Oscar winner Marlee Matlin will stop by tomorrow.

Getting a lot of attention are the two stars of the soon coming indie flick called Hamill. It's about a deaf ultimate fighter. Shoshannah Stern is best known for her recurring roles on shows like Lie to Me and Weeds while Russell Harvard played Daniel Day-Lewis's grown son in There Will Be Blood.

Voters Reject Money for Schools

New Mexico voters narrowly rejected a ballot measure Tuesday that would have given $155.5 million to schools like the New Mexico School for the Deaf. Had the bond passed, the school would have gotten $3 million for renovations. The bond was defeated by fewer than 2,500 votes statewide.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Helping the Deaf to Speak

WGHP-TV reports on teaching the deaf in Greensboro, North Carolina. (no captions)

Pond Searched for Missing Girl

North Carolina investigators says they've found a bone that might belong to a missing 10-year-old deaf girl. Zahra Baker also lost a leg to bone cancer. She was reported missing several weeks ago by her father. Meanwhile, her stepmother, Elisa Baker, faces charges for admitting that she wrote a phony ransom note. Searchers are now focused on a pond, which is being drained as police looked for more evidence.

Deaf Robbery Victim Dies

An elderly deaf man has died in Columbus, Ohio from injuries he suffered when he was beaten and robbed last month. 83-year-old Paul Earhart had been in a coma since the attack. Prosecutors say DNA from under his fingernails and eyeglasses could put his assalant behind bars. Police have already arrested one man for the crime: Jason Frost. They say Frost drove the getaway car, but another man was also involved in the attack. Earhart lived in an apartment complex for the deaf after having worked for many years at the Ohio School for the Deaf.

RTID Record

A record 1,521 students now attend the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID)in Rochester. More than 1,300 of them are deaf or hard-of-hearing. NTID was first established by Congress in 1965.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

New Prez for RIT

The new president of RIT's National Technical Institute for the Deaf is Gerard Buckley. He will be the first graduate from the school to serve in the position. He starts his new job at the beginning of the year. The search for a new president began a year ago. The search committee looked at 18 applicants. All three finalists are deaf or hard of hearing. The 54-year-old Buckley has worked as chairman of the Department of Educational Outreach at NTID, Associate Dean for Student Services and is currently Assistant Vice President for College Advancement. Besides a bachelor's degree in Social Work from RIT's College of Liberal Arts, he holds a master's degree in Social Work from the University of Missouri in Columbia and a doctorate in Special Education from the University of Kansas in Lawrence. His wife, Judy, is a sign language interpreter.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Time Traveler on Film?

A rumor on the Internet speculates that a woman captured on a 1928 film was a time traveler. She appears to be talking into a cell phone in a piece of film shot at the Hollywood premiere of a Charlie Chaplin movie called The Circus at Grauman's Chinese Theatre. It is included on a new DVD. The folks at LiveScience point out the woman was likely hard of hearing and holding what is called an ear trumpet. The woman appears to be talking and was perhaps she was yelling at the man who quickened his pace ahead of her. Watch the video and decide for yourself or read more about it at LifeScience here.

Deaf Job Applicant Gets $184K

A Texas woman was awarded $184,400 because a company refused to take her application or interview her because she is deaf. The woman was applying for a stock clerk position at Smith Personnel Solutions has four outlets in the state. She was allegedly told her that she could be “dangerous” because she “couldn’t communicate" even though she had 3 years of experience as a stock clerk without any history of communication problems.

Cash for Research in Iowa

The University of Iowa is getting a $225,000 grant for biological research related to deafness and communicative disorders. The money comes from the Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Everyone Has a Story

A young South African talks about her experiences in the country as a deaf woman here. Vicky Fourie has become a successful writer and crowned 2nd Princess in the Miss Deaf International contest earlier this year.

Parents Appeal Ruling

A legal fight over the South Dakota School for the Deaf is not over. A group of 8 parents filed a lawsuit but lost in court are now appealing. The lower court ruling allows the state to close the Sioux Falls main campus and just offer outreach programs and services in local schools.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Marlee Goes Extreme

Marlee Matlin talks about her part in helping the Extreme Makeover project at the Oregon School for the Deaf in this video.

Help from Hollywood

Famed horror movie director Rob Zombie helped to design the haunted house for the Oregon School for the Deaf. Here's a video interview with him about it.

Makeover at Deaf School Airs Tongiht

The work done by the TV show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on the Oregon School for the Deaf will be unvieled on tonight's show. It airs at 8pm Eastern, 7pm Central on ABC. See a video preview with Marlee Matlin here.

Clarke Selling Buildings

Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech in Northampton, Massachusetts is looking for someone to buy or lease some of its buildings. The oral school started in 1867, but has gone from more than 40 students living on campus in 1995 to only 7 now. The real estate has some value because the campus is close to Smith College and downtown Northampton.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Sound of Music

The Oprah Winfrey Show featured a Sound of Music reunion this week. Members of the movie cast gathered to reflect on the hit film and Oprah spoke with people who say their lives have been changed by it. One of these was Kaitlyn. She was born profoundly deaf, but at age 5, she received her first cochlear implant. "The very first music I ever heard was Julie Andrews singing 'The Hills are Alive,'" Kaitlyn says. "It was an awakening experience for me. It was as if someone put a 30-piece orchestra and stuck it inside my head. I was overwhelmed after living in a life of silence." When it comes to her favorite things, Kaitlyn's is music. She's now mentoring sign language interpreters who work in the theater. "The Sound of Music changed my life," she says.

Hospitals Agree to Make Changes

Federal prosecutors say Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New Hampshire has agreed improve its services for deaf clients. Two people had filed complaints about not getting proper medical help at the facility because they were not provided sign language interpreters. They will receive a $35,000 settlement from the hospital. In September, Nashua's St. Joseph Hospital made a similar committee wiht prosecuters. In July the city’s other hospital, Southern New Hampshire Medical Center, did the same thing following complaints about a failure to provide interpreters. None of the hospitals are admitting liability.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Film Festival

The first WORLDEAF Cinema Festival will take place at Gallaudet University from November 4-7. New films with connections to the the deaf community, workshops for aspiring filmmakers and actors and an awards night involving a competition of more than 170 films. Marlee Matlin will be a presenter. One of the keynote speakers will be Hollywood producer Samuel Goldwyn Jr. Other speakers include the stars of Hamill, a film that's based on the life of deaf wrestler Matt Hamill.

Deaf Agency Owners Plead Guilty

The owners of a deaf service agency in Maryland has plead guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud yesterday in a New Jersey courtroom. John T.C. Yeh and brother Joseph Yeh owned Rockville-based Viable. They admitted trying to defraud the FCC's Video Relay Service program by paying people to make fake calls. They submitted about $55 million in claims to the federal agency, asking for reinbursment. Other charges were dropped in return for the guilty pleas. The brothers face 20 year prison sentences at their February 9th sentencing. 24 other people from around the country also faced charges. At least 11 pleaded guilty in the past year. John Yeh has been a part of National Asian Deaf Congress and National Deaf Business Institute. A trustee of Gallaudet University, he was selected by Deaf Life magazine as Deaf Person of the Year in 2008. New York's Snap!VRS agreed to aquire Viable last year, pending the outcome of the investigations and prosecutions.

Switched at Birth

A new pilot TV show in production for ABC Family will featured a deaf character. The drama called Switched at Birth tells the story of two teen girls who discover that they were accidentally switched at birth. One grew up in a wealthy family while the other lost her hearing as a child due to meningitis and grew up with a single mother in a poor neighborhood. The families meet and try to learn to live togehter. ABC Family put out a wide casting search for the role of the deaf gilr, looking for deaf and hard of hearing actors for the part. Newcomer Katie Leclerc was selected. She has a rare disease that affects hearing and balance. She is fluent in American Sign Language. The network is currently casting two more deaf or hard of hearing actors for other roles in the series.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

School Gets Large Cash Gift

The Kentucky School for the Deaf is getting more than $50,000 from several funds to provide new programs and equipment for the campus. Contributors include the Perkins Reserve Fund, the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, the Hudson-Ellis Foundation and the Kentucky Humanities Council. Middle and high school students at the school will get job training in visual communication arts with an academic focus on language arts. Some of the funds will go to the audiology department for a state of the art digital hearing aid analyzer.

New State Deaf School Opens

Deleware's governor attended a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Rhode Island School for the Deaf. Construction began two years ago on the new facility. The 23 classrooms will house students from preschool through 12th grade. attend the school which now has 23 classrooms. There are two science labs and a newly renovated gymnasium.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Extreme Makeover Tonight

An Extreme Makeover show featuring the Oregon School for the Deaf will air tonight on ABC. The special Halloween-themed show focuses on the school's popular annual haunted house. The Makeover team renovates the 12,000 square foot basement where the Nightmare Factory is usually held. Marlee Matlin also surprises the students during their free trip to the Starkey Hearing Foundation in Minnesota.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Big Apple = Big Noise

A new study shows New York can damange your hearing. Researchers checked noise levels at 60 places and most of them reached above 70 decibels. Sound levels over 85 decibels can lead to hearing loss, but even lower levels can harm hearing if these levels persist. And low, but steady noise levels can lead to other health problems, including stress, risk of heart disease and sleep disruption. Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health is presenting the study at the International Conference on Urban Health at The New York Academy of Medicine.

Student Drop Off Mistake

A deaf 5th grader in Omaha, Nebraska was dropped off at the wrong bus stop. Jayman Washington's family had moved to a new place three miles from the old location. School policy requires bus drivers to wait until the student is inside the house before leaving, but the bus driver took off as soon as Jayman was out the door. School authorities are refusing to say whether any disciplinary action would be taken against the driver.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hospital Refuses to Help Deaf Woman

A deaf Chicago woman says a local hospital is refusing to keep its promise to provide her with cochlear implants. The hospital calls it a misunderstanding. Here's a video report from the Chicago Fox station. Read the story here.

Cruise Ship Lawsuit

A lawsuit filed against Norwegian Cruise Line has been settled. Five deaf and four wheelchair-bound passengers who took cruises in the Hawaiian Islands accused the cruise line of ADA violations. If a judge approves the deal, Norwegian will pay $100,000 in damages and $40,000 in civil penalties to the U.S. Government. Plus, the Cruise Line will offer sign language interpreters and written transcript of the emergency drill. Wheelchair-bound passengers will get accessible bus transportation to the cruise ship and on shore excursions.

Football Champions

The Wisconsin School for the Deaf has won the 8-man football championship for Great Plains Schools. Wisconsin beat Oklahoma 46-42 with an last minute interception deciding the outcome.

Interview with Deaf Fighter

Ultimate Fighter Matt Hamill is interviewed in this video after beating Tito Ortiz.

Jury Duty Challenge

A Syracuse, New York man had to fight for his right to serve on a jury. David Branfield was dismissed from duty a few months ago when Oswego County court officials found out he is deaf. After Branfield complained, court officials acknowledged his dismissal was a violation of ADA law. Branfield was put into a new jury pool last month. He wasn't selected, but had he been picked, court officials say Branfield would have been accomodated by letting him read the transcript on a laptop as it is written by the court reporter.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Nightmare Factory

The Oregon School for the Deaf's Haunted House is now open. Read more about The Nightmare Factory here.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Deaf Fighter Triumphs

Deaf Ultimate Fighter Matt Hamill decisively won his match tonight and may be headed for a shot at the championship. He easily won a unanimous decision and may have put an end to the career of Tito Ortiz. Ironically, Ortiz was at one time Hamill's teacher. Ortiz recently made controversial comments about Hamill being an easy to beat opponent because Hamill has a "soft head" and lacks balance because he is deaf. The judges scored it 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 for Hamill who improves to a record of 10 wins against 2 loses.

TV Show at Deaf School

Read details about what happened when ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition visited the campus of Oregon School for the Deaf here. The Halloween-themed episode of the show is scheduled to air next Sunday.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Anit-vertigo Implant

A Seattle man has become the first to receive an anit-vertigo device. Doctors at the University of Washington implanted it into his head yesterday. The vestibular prosthesis has a balance disorder called Meniere's disease that causes vomiting, vertigo and tinnitus. The device resembles a cochlear implant, but while a cochlear implant uses only one electrode to stimulate the auditory nerve. This device uses three shorter arrays to stimulate the vestibular nerve, which is crucial for balance. While it is not a cure, it is intended to relieve the symptoms of patients. The processor goes behind ear and is activated it when someone is overcome by symptoms.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Indicted for Sexual Assualt

Dallas prosecutors believe they've finally got the right man in two sexual assault cases involving children - crimes for which a deaf man (Stephen Brodie) went to jail and was only recently exonerated. A Texas grand jury indicted Robert Warterfield today. The fingerprint of the convicted child molester was found at the scene of an asault that put Brodie behind bars.

Deafness & Equilibrium

Are deaf fighters more susceptible to knockouts in boxing and in the Ultimate Fighting ring? That was the recent opinion expressed by Tito Ortiz, who'll take on Matt Hamill, who is deaf, this Saturday in a UFC competition taking place in California. Dr. Johnny Benjamin had this to say about it in a medical column:

Deafness, equilibrium and concussions (knockouts) have little, if any,
significant relationship. Deafness is a loss of hearing, not balance. The inner
ear has some function in both hearing and equilibrium, but they are very
separate issues. urthermore, what any of this has to do with an athlete's
ability to withstand a blow to the head is difficult to understand. Concussions
are an issue involving brain function and not the inner ear and/or vestibular
apparatus. There is not a shred of reputable medical literature that even
suggests that deaf athletes are more susceptible to concussions than any other

Dr. Benjamin is a member of the Association of Boxing Commissions' MMA Medical Subcommittee.

Audit: Problems at School

An audit team says the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind in Romney aren't doing their jobs. The state Department of Education group found problems with teaching materials, buildings, technology, food preparation, and weak security at the facility. The school is technically governed by the Legislature, but is expected to follow the same rules as public schools.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fighter Apologizes for Comments

Ultimate fighter Tito Ortiz is apologizing to the deaf community for comments he made about his next opponent, Mat Hamill, who is deaf. Ortiz said:

"I've noticed he's deaf, so he has a soft head, you hit him with more and more shots. You hit them with soft shots because their equilibrium, they don't have no equilibrium. He's been babied his whole life coming from being deaf of course and he's going to be babied after when I knock him out."
Ortiz later said in a Twitter post, "I want to apologize to the deaf community for the remarks I made about Matt it was uncalled for. He is a good fighter and I was out of line." The two will meet in the ring this Saturday in California.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dad: Kidnappers Set Fire

The father of a deaf girl, missing in North Carolina, says kidnappers set fire to his yard to distract him while they abducted his 10-year-old daughter. But police are treating the disappearance of Zahra Baker as a homicide case. Over the weekend, her father called 911 and told a dispatcher that someone set fire to his care and left a ransom note saying kidnappers had taken his boss' daughter. It turned out that she was safe. Zahra's stepmother is now in jail for writing the note, facing charges of obstruction of justice.

Suit Not Over Yet

An update on a story posted earlier: A civil rights groups now says a settlement has not been reached, as it indicted earlier, between deaf prison inmates in Virginia and the state's department of corrections. The Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs says inmates at Powhatan Correctional Center near Richmond are still working on a deal.

Inmates Score a Victory in Virginia

A lawsuit against the state of Virginia by deaf inmates has been settled out of court. Inmates at the Richmond-area Powhatan Correctional Center had sued the Department of Corrections for failing to provide equal access to information and technology. State officials have agreed to install a videophone for visitors, provide sign language interpreters, and visual notifications about events.

The FCC Wants Nominees

The FCC is looking for people to serve on two new advisory committees it is creating to help with emergency services for the deaf and blind. One committee is called the Emergency Access Advisory Committee and the other is called the Video Programming and Emergency Access Advisory Committee. The committees will help the Commission implement the recently passed 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act which is intended, among other things, to bring more video captioning to the Internet and other media. The Commission wants nominees who either have disabilities or else have serves as advocates for the disabled.

Gene Study on Hearing

A new study of mice points to proteins in two genes as key players in the ability to hear. University of Minnesota Medical School researchers looked at how mutations in the genes can lead to hearing loss. Knowing which proteins in which genes relate to hearing can lead to developing drugs to save it. Details of the NIH-funded study are in the online edition of the journal PLoS Genetics.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Minnesota Office Shutting Down

A part of Minnesota's Deaf and Hard of Hearing Service Center is closing next month. The Department of Human Services is shutting down the Rochester service center due to budget reductions. Employees may move to the Mankato office.

Ultimate Fighting Championship

Ultimate fighter Mat Hamill will fight again this Saturday. The deaf, one-time wrestler has nine wins against 2 losses and puts a four fight win streak on the line. He'll enter the cage against future hall of famer Tito Ortiz (15-7-1). The event will be pay-per-view from Anaheim, California. If Hamill manages to win, he may get a shot at the title. A moie about him called Hamill will be out soon.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Made in China

A greeting card business based in Idaho employs a dozen deaf women in China where education and job opportunities are minimal for those with hearing loss. The women make handmade mini-quilts for the cards designed by Kim Cheeley, owner of Itty Bitty Witty Knitties. It's part of a training programs designed by the Asia Project Grace in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province in south-central China. Asia Project Grace is a humanitarian mission effort that helps the workers learn Chinese sign language among other things. Find out more about the card company here and Asia Project Grace here.

Team Gets Win 200

The Maryland School for the Deaf football team earned its 200th win yesterday. The Orioles shut out the Baltimore Freedom Academy by a score of 47-0 in their homecoming game. The decision for the team's to play each other was only made this week, when the Indiana School for the Deaf cancelled a planned contest with Maryland (more on that story is below). Fortunately, Baltimore had an open date and the team was willing to make a last minute change.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hazing and Bullying

School administrators say the incident that got players and coaches of the Indiana School for the Deaf football team resulted from "roughhousing and horseplay." School superintendent refused to go into detail about the incident that led to the cancellation of today's scheduled game against Maryland School for the Deaf. Apparently, the hazing and bullying was so severe that two assistant coaches lost their positions and the legal authorities had to be notified. The incident took place after last weekend's game against the Texas School for the Deaf in Austin.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Matlin on the Apprentice

Marlee Matlin will be a part of the Celebrity Apprentice cast next Spring. The actress will attempt to avoid hearing "You're Fired" from Donald Trump each week. Matlin will be joined by La Toya Jackson, Mark McGrath, and Star Jones among others.

NBA Signers

Students from the University of Central Florida will sign the national anthem for every Orlando Magic home game this season. They will work in teams, with one student standing beside the singer and another giving cues from the sidelines. Some of the signers are deaf or hard of hearing. Few NBA teams provide ASL interpretation at their basketball games.

Deaf Schools Cancel Game

There will be no football game tomorrow between the Maryland School for the Deaf and the Indiana School for the Deaf. The Indiana school has withdrawn from the contest, taken disciplinary action against some of the players and fired two assistant coaches. While administrators have not gone into detail, there was apparently an incident that took place during their their trip to Austin last weekend to play Texas. Someone was involved in valdalism and there was an accusation of sexual assault, but the school says an investigation showed there was no assualt. Indiana Deaf has has lost 20 consecutive games while the Maryland team, hasn't lost any games this season. Baltimore Freedom Academy has agreed to play Maryland as a replacement game tomorrow.

Why No ASL Classes?

UCLA and San Diego State University offers classes in all sorts of obscure languages, but not sign language. UCLA's student newspaper has looked into why and was told by administrators that it's "because no one has lobbied us for it." Yet no one at the large school demanded to have Mixtec, Aymara, Quechua, and Zapotec taught and yet they are. Read the full story here.

Unemployed Father Volunteers

Warren Miller of Indianapolis is looking for work. In his spare time, the deaf graphic designer is doing volunteer work. Read about his situation here.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Volleyball: Deaf National Team

A deaf high school volley ball player is profiled in Florida's Naples Daily News here.

Celebrating 10 Years of Education

The Moog School of Columbia, Missouri is holding a ribbon cutting ceremony today in celebration of a decade of serving deaf children and their families. The facility focuses on kids up to age six. There are 16 students enrolled now. It is the only oralist program in Central Missouri. KOMU-TV in St. Louis has a video report here.

Bluetooth for Hearing Aids

Siemens has created a Bluetooth box that sends music right to hearing aids. The new Simens miniTek is about the size of an iPod Nano. It receives audio from any Bluetooth device, such as a phone. It will even work with hearing-aids that are completely in the ear canal.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Taking the Plunge

A high school swim team with two deaf swimmers is profiled in this Fargo, North Dakota news site. Read it here.

Arrest in Wrongly Convicted Case

A Dallas man is behind bars for a crime that a deaf man was wrongly sent to prison for committing. Stephen Brodie spent a decade in jail for sexually assaulting a young girl in 1990 before he was exonerated of the crime last month. A fingerprint found at the scene didn't match Brodie's fingerprint. But police say it does match that of Robert Warterfield who was arrested today in relation to another different sexual assault.

Profile of Football Player

KSHB-TV in Kansas City offers a video report on a deaf high school football player. The text of the story can be read here.

Missing Girl Report

A girl missing in North Carolina hasn't been seen for a month, according to Hickory police. CNN has this report.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Missing Girl Search Becomes Homicide Investigation

The case of a missing North Carolina girl is now being treated as a homicide. 10-year-old Zahra Clare Baker was deaf, was battling bone cancer and used a prosthetic leg. Investigators have filed charges against the disabled girl's stepmother, Elisa Baker, for writing a fake ransom note. No murder charges have been filed. But she also faces charges for writing worthless checks and larceny among other things.