Friday, February 26, 2010

Fake Lottery Ticket

A graduate of the New York State School for the Deaf has admitted he tried to alter a lottery ticket to make it appear he had won. Yann Spindler of Buffalo claimed his Mega Millions lottery ticket earned him $252,000,000. But Spindler didn't know there was no jackpot winning tickets sold for that day. He plead guilty to an attempted grand larceny charge and told police he wanted to open a school for the deaf with the money.

Call for Captioning

The Association for Airline Passenger Rights is starting an online petition to call on the US Department of Transportation to require commercial air carriers to provide closed-caption or subtitles on all in-flight entertainment. Captioning is already required on all safety and information related videos but not movies and television shows. The petition is here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Rape Accusation at Hospital Crime

A New York hospital employee is under investigation for allegedly raping a deaf male patient in the psychiatric unit. The Kings County Hospital Center gained national attention when a womman died in a waiting room after being repeatedly ignored by staffers. The victim of the rape is described as developmentally disabled and the employee is said to be a registered sex offender in Florida.

Deaf Woman Recounts Years Of Abuse

A Nashville woman who is deaf shares her story of abuse.

New Captioning Rules

The FCC has changed its rules on closed-captioning complaints. The new rules require immediate attention by video programming distributors (and that includes TV stations) to viewer complaints. Viewers can now file complaints directly with the FCC along with the video provider. However, the complaints must be filed within 60 days of the alleged violation (previously the complaint had to be filed during the calendar quarter) and the complaint must give the specific rule violated. The programming provider then has 30 days to respond.

Deaf School Teacher Layoffs

WPRI-TV in Providence reports on layoffs planned at the Rhode Island school. No captions though you can read the story here.

Help for Abuse

A Nashville organization offers counseling and safe houses for deaf women who have been abused. Hearing Bridges is sharing some of these woman's stories in hopes of inspiring others to get the help they need.

School Marks Anniversary

The West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind will celebrate its 140th anniversary in just a few days. The school's 161 students live on campus. Back in the 1960s and early 1970s the school typically had between 350 and 400 students.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

D-PAN at Central

Some 500 students came to see Sean Forves of Deaf Professional Artists Network (D-PAN) last night at Central Michigan University. He showed several videos and provided a live musical signing performance. Recently installed subwoofers in the auditorium literally let students feel the music.

Faculty on Notice

The entire faculty of the Rhode Island School for the Deaf will be laid off at the end of the school year if they do not meet new requirements for teaching at the facility. The staff of 35 teachers have just been notified they must meet the professional qualifications outlined in the federal No Child Left Behind Act that insists teachers must have expertise in the content areas in which they teach. Until now, the school has only required certification related to teaching the deaf and hard of hearing.

Winning Swimmer

Here's a profile of Kristin Ates, a deaf swimmer who has a cochlear implant for Tulane University in New Orleans from the Times-Picayune.

IP-Relay for iPhone

Purple Communications is now offering the first app on Apple’s App Store designed specifically for the deaf. The IP-Relay for iPhone lets users make direct relay calls from the App’s dial pad or choose a contact from the phone’s address book. The app includes features like Trusted Relay where all the calls will be handled by Purple IP-Relay. Calls can be customize by font and background. Here's a video explaining the App in ASL.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Setting Terp Standards

By a vote of 94-0, lawmakers in Indiana have passed a bill to set state standards for sign language interpreters in educational settings. The measure now goes to Governor Mitch Daniels. If the signs the bill into law, existing state rules will be voided, according to sponsor Greg Porter.

Monday, February 22, 2010

1000 Point Career

Johnny Jackson went out with a bang. The Senior guard from Tuscaloosa, Alabama scored his 1000th career point in final moment of his last game as a player for the Gallaudet men's basketball game yesterday. He finished with a game-high 35 points and five rebounds. The York College Spartans won the game 83-70.

This was the final men's basketball game for the Bison in the CAC as they move to the North Eastern Athletic Conference this summer.

Gestures and Words

Your brain can distinguish between gestures and words- even when gestures are words. Researchers at San Diego State University studied the brains of deaf ASL users. They found different regions of the brain lit up when the deaf subjects signed than when they pantomimed. And that held true, even when the word and gesture were identical. The results were presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science and expected to be published later in the journal Language and Cognitive Processes.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Central Michigan Concert

Sean Forbes will appear at Central Michigan University Tuesday night. He's a deaf peformer who presents music in a way for people to both see and feel it. Forbes is founder of the Deaf Professional Artists Network (D-PAN). Students in the school's two-year ASL program are sponsoring the event.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Fitness Center Opens

A new fitness center for deaf and blind adults has opened in downtown Mobile, Alabama at the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind. The school is working with Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services which holds training classes at the facility for clients related to independent living several times a week.

Implant Complications

It's not rare for children who are given cochlear implants to have complications. A study of more than 400 young patients found about one-in-ten experienced complications during the follow-up period. And about a third of those needed a second surgery for re-implantation. Two dozen had major complications, including severe infections and meningitis. Nineteen had minor complications including vertigo, soft-tissue infections, persistent inflammation of the middle ear and facial paralysis. Researchers say the young age of implantation didn't seem to be the cause of the complications. Details are in the Archives of Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery.

Guilty Plea in Scam

The former co-owners of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Interpreting Services plead guilty in US District Court in Trenton this week to conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Irma Azrelyant and Joshua Finkle are accused of taking part in a scheme to defraud a federal program out of millions of dollars by submitted more than $7 million in fraudulent billings to the federal Video Relay Service program. They'll be sentenced in June and could get as much as 20 years in prison.

Win For Bison

Gallaudet University men's basketball team hopes to start a winning streak this afternoon when the Bison take on Lancaster Bible College in a non-conference game that starts at 2 pm in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Gallaudet beat Christendom College in a non-conference game Thursday night. The 87-70 win ended a 12-game losing streak for the Bison who are now 5-17.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ella's Joy: Book brings delight

Sign language teacher Marjorie Dykem has written her first children's book. She joined one of the shows on WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids to talk about Ella's Joy. Here the video (no captions).

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New Travel Tools

Travel site is offering new search tools to help the deaf find accommodations with accessibility equipment for the deaf. The firm says it's contacting hotels directly to make sure those requests are met for travelers. The call center is already getting about 500 calls a week about the service.

Largest Relay Services Contract

Most of California's Relay Services contract went to AT&T. It's the largest such contract in the country and based on the total number of relay services minutes. The contract begins in June and run for three years. It covers TTY Relay Service but not IP-based or video relay services.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Couple Saved By Kids

Children in a Tempe, Arizona apartment complex are being credited with saving the lives of a deaf couple living next door. A fire broke out early this morning. The kids woke up, then got their parents up, who in turn banged on the deaf couple's door where the first started. The couple was taken to the hospital for minor burns and smoke inhalation. The apartment itself is said to be a total loss.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Abuse Lawsuit Filed

Two former students at schools for the deaf in Nova Scotia have filed a lawsuit claiming they were sexually and physically abused at the facilities. Walter Wile of Calgary is now 61 years old. He spent 9 years at both the Halifax and Amherst schools in the 1950s and 1960s and says he was abused at both places. Myles Murphy of St. John's is 59. He attended the residential school in Amherst in the early 1960s. Eight people have joined their class-action lawsuit so far.

The End for State Deaf School

The future of South Dakota's School for the Deaf campus in Sioux Falls is up in the air. The handful of students still attending classes there will be mainstreamed or sent to another state's residential program. The board of regents is reviewing its options with the property and buildings which are valued at about $10 million. That include leasing parts of the 14-acre campus or selling it. If they decide to sell, the state legistlature would have to approve of the deal and the proceeds will go to the School and Public Lands Endowment.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Hawaii Diving

Hawaii School for the Deaf and the Blind sophomore Brandon Johnson finished second in the one-meter diving event at the Local Motion/HHSAA Swimming and Diving Championships at Kamehameha-Hawai'i. He had 465.80 points behind Spencer Madanay who had 468.50 points for Punahou.

Miracle Worker on Broadway

Abigail Breslin is making her New York stage debut playing Helen Keller in the first Broadway revival of The Miracle Worker in almost 50 years. The New York Times profiles her here.

Champion B-ball Team

The Iowa School for the Deaf girls basketball team has won the championship game of the Great Plains Schools for the Deaf tournament. The Bobcats defeated the Minnesota School for the Deaf 38-33 last night. It's Iowa's first title.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fêtes de la Nuit

A show called Fêtes de la Nuit is playing at New York's Ohio Theatre located in the Soho district. A reviewer for Blog Critic says, "The large ensemble cast includes singers, dancers, and deaf actors, and is virtually without a weak link." The dance focused story of love set in Paris runs through February 27th.

Buzzer Beater Caught On Camera

Here's a video from KPTV showing a last second shot in a basketball game between Willamette Valley High School and Oregon School for the Deaf. The half-court shot came at the end of the first half . Willamette Valley Christian made the shot and went on to win in double overtime 51-50.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Lawsuit Filed Against School

We told you yesterday about a lawsuit filed by a former student at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind against the former president because of a sexual assault. Here's a video report from WYFF-TV (no captions).

Baseball Bows to Snow

Gallaudet University's baseball team will have to wait at least a week before starting its 2010 season. The blizzard that's dumped more than three feet of snow on Washington has forced the cancellation of tomorrow's scheduled double hitter against Arcadia University. The Bison will hopefully play host to Penn State-Berks a week from tomorrow and Penn State-Altoona the following day.

Vigil for ASL Program

A group called No Deaf Child Left Behind held a vigil this morning at Michigan State University. The school is considering dropping its ASL program. The University's Board of Trustees meets today and several groups will speak on the issue.

Cousin Bette

Deaf West Theater in Los Angeles is offering performances of Cousin Bette through March 21st. Here's a review of the show from the LA Times.

Looking Back:GoAmerica Changes Name

One year ago, GoAmerica changed its name to Purple Communications. Even the company's stock ticker went from GOAM to PRPL. Besides providing text and video relay, the company combined its interpreting services under the banner Purple Language Services. That includes Sign Language Associates (or SLA), Hands On Services and Visual Language Interpreting (VLI). Hands On first used purple in its logos, leading some to refer to it as the 'purple company'. The tagline for the newly branded company will be Powered by Purple.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Suit Over Sexual Assault

A former student is suing the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He claims the school didn't do enough to stop sexual assaults by another resident student at the school during the 2007-2008 academic year. The suit does not reveal the student's name. Antwan Robinson is the resident student accused in the suit. He was charged with criminal sexual conduct and is now serving a four year sentence at Kirkland Prison in Columbia. Pamela Shaw was dismissed from the school's presidency.

How the Brain Handles Silence

Researchers at the University of Oregon say they have found the part of the brain that switches off sound processing. The discovery may lead to improved designs for hearing aids and cochlear implants. It could also help children with speech and learning problems. The process is a crucial part of hearing and understanding speech and how we know when sound stops by finding the boundaries between the different parts of words.. It’s controlled by an independent channel of synapses inside the brain's auditory cortex. Details of the work by Oregon university's Institute of Neuroscience are in the latest issue of the journal Neuron.

Winning Moments Contest

Miami 5th-grader Caroline Masia won an NFL-sponsored Super Bowl essay contest by writing about hearing for the first time when she received a Cochlear implant. But not everyone is happy about the 11-year-old's victory in the Winning Moments contest. Following posts on deaf blogs against celebrating her changed life, Masia's mother tells NBCMiami, "People in the deaf community are very split and emotions run very high on both sides of the issue. We are used to this by now, but it still always shocks you. Many people in the Deaf community believe we mutilated her." Caroline will serve as a reporter for and participate in Super Bowl activities. Here is video on the story from NBCMiami. (no captions).

View more news videos at:

Super Bowl Signing

You might have seen a student at Florida School for the Deaf and Blind in St. Augustine on the Super Bowl broadcast. 18-year-old Kenish Battles signed the national anthem and America the Beautiful while Carrie Underwood and Queen Latifah sang. Her dance teacher selected her out of 27 others to rubs shoulders with stars.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fraud Charges

A company out of New Hampshire claiming to help the deaf rework their mortages but is really a fraud, according to police. They say Eric W. Eliason (who police say also goes by the name Ricky Masci) defrauded deaf people, claiming to provide mortgage services but without the proper licenses through Deaf and Hard of Hearing Mortgage Consultants. Eliason is accused of taking money from clients and telling them their applications were in process but they were eventually told their mortgage companies rejected their refinancing. But he apparently never contacted the mortgage companies and never returned the money to clients, even though he promised to do so. His Web site - which is still up as of this writing - claims the company is "a nationwide deaf owned mortgage company.. utilizing American Sign Language or spoken English." Prosecutors say he could get as much as 30 years behind bars for trying to take advantage of people's hearing impairments.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

New Deaf Community Center

KHBS-TV reports on a new deaf center in Fort Smith Arkansas. (no captions)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Implant Sales

The company that makes the best-selling cochlear implant in the world says profits were up 8% during the second half of last year. Cochlear Ltd is based in Austrailia and reports implant sales for the period rose 7% to more than 9800 units. It recently introduced the Nulceus 5 implant to the US. Sales also increased for the company’s Baha, a bone-anchored hearing aid which is designed for those who are deaf in one ear. Company officials predict 15% growth in 2010.

Deaf Entertainers Documentary

Hundreds turned out at Bremerton High School near Seattle for the first public showing of See What I’m Saying: the Deaf Entertainers Documentary. It introduces audiences to deaf comedian CJ Jones, deaf actor Robert DeMayo, deaf rock ‘n’ roll drummer Bob Hiltermann, and hard of hearing singer TL Forsberg. The full captioned film will be shown in 25 cities during the spring. Athens, Georgia is the next stop. See the full schedule of cities is here.

Georgia Winner Supports NAD

University of Georgia student Abby Killough was named Miss Savannah River 2010 Saturday night. She was crowned at Augusta State University. She'll next compete in the Miss Georgia pageant. Killough's platform is the National Association of the Deaf. She's studying communication sciences and disorders at UGA. She would like to pursue a career in audiology and help children and adults with hearing problems.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Hopital to Pay $105k

The family of a woman who died at North Memorial Medical Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota has settled a lawsuit with the hospital over its failure to provide sign language interpreters. Mary Ann Nelson's family had met with doctors for months without understanding she was dying of cancer. Both her and her husband David were deaf. The Minnesota Department of Human Rights says the medical team failed to communicate effectively with the Nelsons. State regulators say North Memorial has now agreed to pay $105,000 to settle charges that she and another patient were not provided proper access to qualified sign language interpreters. David Nelson had repeatedly asked for an interpreter. The other deaf patient involved in the suit, Mark Epstein, filed a complaint saying he asked for an interpreter every day at North Memorial during his 2007 hospitalization but was turned down. Even though North Memorial employees claimed he never asked for an interpreter, state regulators said it didn't matter. An interpreter was needed in Epstein's case and the medical personal had a duty to recognize the need and do something about it. North Memorial now must not only pay the agreed amount, it must provided training for workers and begin using video relay with deaf patients. Hopital officials must produce evidence that they are complying with the agreement for the next two years.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Students Make Valentines For Sick Children

WYFF-TV in Greenville, South Carolina reports on a Valentine's Day gift from students at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

1st Deaf Page

The Mississippi legislature has its first deaf page. 19-year-old Derek Schmitz of Florence is a senior at the Mississippi School for the Deaf in Jackson who uses ASL and wears a hearing aid to help with his minimal residual hearing. An interpreter is accompanying him on the floor at the Mississippi Capitol where he delivers messages and runs errands for lawmakers. Schmitz eventually plans to become a veterinarian though his interest in politics has been sparked by his recent experiences.

1st for Dubai

Eton Institute in Dubai is offering the country's first sign language course starting February 14th. A part of the proceeds from the course will be donated to the Dubai Centre for Special Needs. The beginner-level Introduction to Signing class will involve 30 hours of interactive learning over five weeks. For more information click here.

Bummy's Student Center

The California School for the Deaf in Riverside will dedicate the Gerald "Bummy" Burstein student center today. He gave $100,000 to a fund to help provide leadership opportunities for area deaf students. Burstein spent many hours in the room when he worked at the school.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Proposed Law Would Require Captioning

Kentucky lawmakers are considering requiring closed captioning be made available at movie theaters. Those with at least five screens to have at minimum of one screen with a closed captioning service. The bill proposed by State Senator Ray Jones would also require captioning be offered in different ways including hand held devices and words on the screen.

Striving for an Accessible Campus

The student newspaper at the University of Washington reports on accessibility issues at the school in this article.

Art on Display

Deaf students showcased their talents in the arts. KGET-TV in Bakersfield, California offers this video report (no captions).

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Feds Investigate Sheriff's Office

The Sheriff's Office in the California county of Alameda has cut a deal with federal authorities after a justice department investigation. Officers in the San Francisco-area county arrested a deaf and blind man but failed to provide him with a tactile interpreter two days. The Sheriff's office has agreed to now provide interpreters whenever needed, post notices in its waiting rooms and train staff members on the new policy.

Implant Study: Positive Result

A new study finds children with cochlear implants feel about the same concerning their life as their hearing peers. Researchers at the Dallas Cochlear Implant program say the findings support their claim that implants have a positive impact on young children. In the past, research suggested that deaf children have a harder time in making friends and feeling socially accepted. Details of the study are in the February issue of the Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery journal.

School May End Operation

The South Dakota School for the Deaf may soon close. The 14-acre Sioux Falls campus has only five students and state lawmakers are looking to save as much as $700,000 through the closure. If the school stops operation, the ASL program would move to a mainstream school.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Scam Warning

Someone is targeting the deaf persons with a scam where the victims are told they are on a special list to recieve government money. However, the caller or email writer claims personal information will be necessary before the money is sent. The scammers ask for the person's address, occupation, date of birth, account numbers and passwords. This information is used to access those confidential accounts.

Prisoners Sue

Deaf inmates in Virginia have filed a lawsuit claiming state officials are violating ADA law. The discrimination suit says there are too many limits on their access to sign language interpreters and that there are not enough communication devices or visual notifications about events and information related to safety issues.

Split Refunds

The IRS offers advice on Split Refunds in ASL.

Digital TV Closed Captions

There are two types of captions available on broadcast digital channels. One type is similar to the caption that appears on analog channels. The viewer can't change the caption. The other type can be customized by viewers. It can have different sizes and background colors.