Saturday, April 30, 2011

Looking Back... the First Film

The earliest known film depicting a deaf person and sign language is one of a collection of short clips made by Thomas Edison to demonstrate what "moving picture films" could do in 1902. In the film, a deaf woman recites the Star Spangled Banner in sign language. Made by the American Mutoscope and Biograph company, The Library of Congress has preserved a paper print copy of the film, but the film itself was not preserved, and the identity of the woman, is unknown.

Google's Video Chat

Google will start offering an alternative to Apple's Facetime in the next few weeks. The new video chat service for Android smartphones works over 3G as well as WiFi networks, unlike Facetime. It uses the front-mounted cameras on high-end Android handsets and works with users' Gmail contacts list.

City to Pay Family

Seattle has agreed to pay $1.5 million to the family of a partially deaf man who was shot and killed by a police officer last fall on a downtown street in the middle of the day. John T. Williams, a member of the First Nations Tribe and woodcarver, can be seen on the video below holding his carving knife while crossing the street. When he did not drop it when ordered to do so by police, he was shot five times. The city's police department investigated and called the shooting "unjustified" but prosecutors said no charges would be filed against the officer who did the shooting, Ian Birk, who resigned. The Justice Department is now investigating the police department. The video below does not show the actual shooting, but the policeman can be heard shouting, “Hey, put the knife down.”

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Police Kill Deaf Woman

LA Police shot and killed a deaf woman on the porch of her house last night. She apparently did not hear police ordering her to put the gun down. The LAPD says she fired at family members before they arrived. The unidentified women died at her home.

Live Theater Terp Dies

A sign-language interpreter who worked hundreds of theater productions, including many on Broadway has died. Alan Champion was 55. He passed away in Romona, Oklahoma, near his hometown, after undergoing treatment for appendix cancer which was diagnosed in 2009. Champion was a CODA (Child of a Deaf Adult), both his parents were deaf. He performed on stage as well as interpreted. He was part of a group that interpreted the first Broadway show in 1980 shortly after his move to New York. The show was The Elephant Man starring David Bowie. There is a video about interpreting for the stage featuring Champion here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Theater Captioning

Cinemark will put closed-captioning equipment in all of its 64 California theaters in the next year. The agreement is part of its settlement of a lawsuit filed in Alameda County, California against the nation's third-largest movie chain by Disability Rights Advocates out of Berkeley, California. Cinemark says about half of those 64 theaters already have wireless captioning devices that include a visor to shield the caption from other patrons. The two other big theater chains, Regal and AMC, offer some captioning and is facing lawsuits in other states.

New Gally Project

Gallaudet University broke ground on a new building project yesterday. The new residence hall will be the second to include what's being called the DeafSpace Architectural Concept using design features that maximize deaf people’s visual access by emphasizing sensory awareness, mobility and proximity, acoustics, and light and color treatments. The Sorenson Language and Communication Center, which opened in 2008, was the first construction project on campus to offer DeafSpace. This new residence hall will rise five stories high, cost $16 million, house 175 students and take up 60,000 square feet. The project is expected to be completed by the summer of 2012.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Challenge to Mental Health System

A lawsuit is moving forward against the state of Georgia, filed by deaf residents. A federal judge has approved their challenge of the state's mental health policies. The suit asks for more ASL translators and group home funding for the hundreds of deaf residents in need of specialized mental health care.

Video Mocks Deaf People

KOKI-TV in Tulsa, Oklahoma reports on a video made by high school girls at school that mocks the deaf among others. A video from the TV station is below or you can read the story here.

Name Change

The House Ear Institute in Los Angeles is changing its name to the House Research Institute. The nonprofit plans to continue its work in the area of cochlear implants and brainstem implants, but put more of its focus on genetics, regeneration, prescription drug-induced hearing loss, neural tumors, and autism.

Gally Baseball Record

Gallaudet's baseball team swept a double hitter against Penn St.-Berks yesterday, giving the Bison the most wins in a single season (17-21) for the first time since 1899. That clinches a 3rd place finish in their division. The final scores were 9-8 and 6-5. Gally closes its season with a game today at 3pm against McDaniel College. This Friday the team plays in a division tournament, the first postseason appearance for Gallaudet since 2007.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Lawsuit Threatened

Members of Alabama's Public Service Commission are threatening to sue the state if lawmakers pass a bill that would take $30 million dollar out of the phone service provided for the deaf and put it into the state education budget. The measure is already through the Alabama House and will be discussed in a Senate committee Wednesday. 15 cents comes out of the money paid by landline customers each month for the Dual Party Relay Fund, which pays for relay operators.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Virginia ASL Law

A new sign language law takes effect July 1 in Virginia. Governor Bob McDonnell signed the bill that allows ASL to satisfy foreign language requirements for students. He skipped his first opportunity to sign it, sending it back to state lawmakers for changes. They pass it by a 95 to 3 margin in the House and 34 to 6 in the Senate.

Friday, April 22, 2011

School Layoffs Considered

The Iowa School for the Deaf in Council Bluffs is considering firing 5 teachers to save money. The Iowa Board of Regents say the move is necessary because of a lack of funding. The Board will formally consider the move next week.

Furloughs for Schools

The Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind are putting employees and interpreters on 3 days of furlough covering 3 of the next 4 four Fridays. The goal is to make up a $600,000 budget shortfall.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Security Breach

The records of 4,500 kids is missing from a speech and hearing clinic from the University of West Ontario, containing the records of children for more than a decade. The breach is the result of breaking a fundamental privacy rule in the Canadian province for health care facilities - never transferring unencripted data to a portable device. There are concerns of possible identity fraud from the blunder, since the memory stick contains names, addresses, phone numbers, birthdates, and medical information.

Interim Theater Head

Betty Beekman is the new interim director of the National Theatre of the Deaf, replacing Aaron Kubey. Beekma has served as the West Hartford-based organization's tour director and will take her new position on July 1. She wrote Stories in My Pocket which is being used right now at Little Theatre of the Deaf.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Beverly School for the Deaf

The Boston Globe takes a look at the nearby Beverly School for the Deaf and its new building in an article here.

Hearing Aid Study

An audiology professor is getting $1.5 million to study hearing aids. The National Institutes of Health grant is going to University of Memphis prof Robyn Cox over a five-year period. Cox will compare the effectiveness of features in aids used by older adults.

TEDx Islay

A TEDx event focused on deaf issues takes place this Saturday at Cal State Northridge. For more information, click here. The TEDx events are associated with, but not organized by the famous yearly gatherings in California where TED stands for Technology Entertainment and Design. This TEDx event is called Islay, which is the name of a 1986 novel by Douglas Bullard, who envisioned a place where the deaf community could call its own. We picked the name because TED requires us to name our event after a place, and if there’s a place for the deaf community, it’s Islay.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Donald Trump

A Florida interpreter compares signing for Donald Trump to other possible presidential contenders and office holders. Read the story here in the Palm Beach Post.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Kiss Rocker Deaf in One Ear

KISS guitarist Paul Stanley was born without an ear canal in his right ear. He couldn't hear anything on his right side for most of his life. He now wears a bone conduction device and works with House Research Institute to educate teenage music fans to wear ear-plugs when attending concerts and turn down the volume when using earphones.

Colorado DUI Case

There is a court case involving a deaf man charged with DUI in Colorado. His driver's license was revoked for failing to submit to a blood or breath testing for alcohol impairment. The summary of the case is here.

194 Years Ago Today

On this day in 1817, the first public school especially for the deaf opened (the American School for the Deaf).

Thursday, April 14, 2011

New Gally Faculty Member

Cognitive Neuroscientist Laura-Ann Petitto is joining the Gallaudet University Science of Learning Center. She has been named science director and co-principal investigator of the university’s Visual Language and Visual Learning Center (VL2), which is funded by the National Science Foundation. Petitto's work includes discoveries about learning American Sign Language by children exposed to English and ASL early in life.

Hurwitz at ADARA

Gallaudet President Alan Hurwitz gave the keynote address at the 2011 American Deafness and Rehabilitation Association conference in San Diego. He told attendees that the school is working to better prepare deaf and hard of hearing students to compete in today’s job market. He complimented the work of vocational rehabilitation professionals by saying:
“Just over half of our students receive VR support (of) $9 million. Many of our students would not be able to attend Gallaudet without that support. We are grateful that VR personnel have confidence in our ability to educate these students.”

Deaf Man Beaten

A college student in Boston is facing charges he attacked a deaf black man and pregnant women. Police in the Waltham section of the city say Timothy Schmitt, who attends Bentley College, accused the victims of following him about 2am last Friday. They told him they were headed to the police station to report a stolen car. During an ensuing argument, Schmitt is accused of using a racial slur. Police say he severely beat the deaf man and punched the pregnant woman. Schmitt's family says he did not start the fight and it was not racially motivated, as the victims are claiming. Schmitt is due back in court on May 17th. Until then, the school has suspended him and banned him from campus.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Prof Honored

The American Academy of Audiology is honoring a Hope College psychology professor for his work on on the new hearing-loop technology which broadcasts public-address systems, television and telephone sounds directly to hearing aids. David Myers received the President’s Award during the association’s national AudiologyNOW! Annual convention in Chicago this month. You can read more about what Myers is doing at his site here. His book A Quiet World tells of his own struggles with hearing loss.

Captain of His Team

The vocal leader of the Van Buren High School baseball team is star pitcher Edgar Lebron who is legally deaf. Lebron wears hearing aids and is one of New York City's best junior baseball prospects. Read more about Edgar in the New York Daily News article here.

Reading Trouble

There's a new study that challenges some of the common assumptions about why the deaf may have trouble reading English. You can read about in a Voice of America article posted here.

Renting Discrimination

A new study finds discrimination when renting to deaf people. The Fair Housing Partnership of Greater Pittsburgh released the results of the research funded by FISA Foundation. 56 of the 200 tests involving telephone relay (28%) provided either possible or clear evidence of discrimination against the deaf testers.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Captioned Telephone Services in Virginia

The state of Virginia has decided to use Hamilton Relay technology for deaf and hard of hearing consumers. Hamilton's Captioned Telephone equipment allows users to read captions of their telephone conversations through the use of a CapTel phone. Hamilton's Captioned Telephone Services is available in 19 States and the District of Columbia

Bill Would Take $30 million from Deaf Fund

Alabama lawmakers are considering taking $30 million from a fund that provides telephone service for the deaf and put it toward funding the state's schools. The issue will be debated this afternoon. Republican state representative Jay Love is sponsor of the bill.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Miss. Speech School

There is a story about the Magnolia Speech School in Jackson, Mississippi here.

Woman Dies in Fire

A Nashville woman died last night after her house went up in flames Saturday. Linda Mackey, who was deaf, died from her injuries at a local hospital. Her son tried to save her, but she could not hear him yelling for her. One firefighter was injured fighting the blaze. Investigators have not determined what started the fire.

Deaf Teen America Pageant

Two Florida seniors were crowned Mr. and Miss Deaf Teen America recently. Brooke Stanfield and Keith Banks both attend the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind. The 13th annual Deaf Teen America Pageant took place at the Indiana School for the Deaf in Indianapolis.

Bison Get 1st Win

The Gallaudet softball team got its first win in its new conference on Saturday. The Bison joined the North Eastern Athletic Conference last summer, but it wasn't until this past weekend's doubleheader that the team earned a win in it. Gallaudet defeated Penn St.-Berks 8-3 in the second game. The Bison used to be part of the Capital Athletic Conference and didn't have a win in it since an 11-7 victory over Stevenson University in March of 2009.

Hearing Loss Conference

Experts will gather Friday in Louisville, Kentucky for the 2011 Heuser Hearing Institute Research Symposium on Spatial Hearing and Hearing Loss. The conference will take place at the Hearing Institute and is aimed at promoting better treatment and management of hearing loss. There is more information here.

The Man Behind Closed Captioning

Here's a video about Bill Castner, an electrical engineer whose helped invent the first closed captioning device. Ironically, there is no captioning provided by the the TV station that produced the clip, KAKE-TV in Wichita, Kansas.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Implant Called Magic Device

USA Today calls the Cochlear Implant a "magic device" in an article posted here.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Issue of Deaf Culture

The Boston Globe offers an interview with Professor Harlan Lane author of People of the Eye: Deaf Ethnicity and Ancestry here.

Service Animals in WA State

The Washington State legislature has passed a bill that would change the definition of what qualifies as a service animal in the state if the governor signs it into law. Sponsors of the bill say it would put the state more in line with federal law on what animals are allowed in restaurants and grocery stores. The restaurant industry is pushing the legislation, saying it will prevent people from claiming everything from ferrets to monkeys as service animals. As it stands now, state law defines a service animal as any animal trained to aid a disabled person.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Seattle Ferries Get Video Screens

Video screens are now in operation on 2 Seattle ferries and at 2 ferry terminals to help deaf passengers. The state ferry system calls this a "visual paging project." It's the result of a lawsuit filed by John Waldo. He complained that the announcements on the public-address systems should be accessible to riders with hearing loss. The state settled the suit out of court by agreeing to create a display system. Designed by Four Winds Interactive, the screens went into operation for the first time today on two Bainbridge Island ferries (the Wenatchee and the Tacoma) and two ferry terminals ( the Colman Dock and the Bainbridge Island terminal). If all goes well, the video screens will eventually expand across the ferry system.

Fake Service Dogs

Here's a video about how some people are getting service dogs when they shouldn't. You can read the article here.

My Name is Julius

A new film called My Name is Julius tells the story of Julius Barthoff, who become a lifelong advocate for the deaf. At age 99, the Massachusetts man won the Oticon Focus on People award, which recognizes individuals who provide positive models of people with hearing loss. The film was put together by Olin College of Engineering professor Caitrin Lynch who teaches anthropology. Barthoff became deaf after a bout with diphtheria in his infancy. He was trained to be a lawyer but was not able to practice law due to his disability. Barthoff died a year ago this month. Find out more about the documentary here.

Celebrity Deaf in One Year

Actress Jane Lynch says she has been deaf in one ear since childhood. The 50-year-old Lynch stars on the music-focused hit TV show Glee.

German Sign Language

Gallaudet University offers a class in German language. Read an article about the class here.

147 Years Ago Today

On this date in 1864, President Lincoln signed the charter to found Gallaudet University.

Deaf Expo Saturday

The DeafNation Expo comes to Warren, Michigan (Detroit area) tomorrow. For more information click here.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hamill Review

The new film about a deaf wrestler titled Hamill will be shown in Philadelphia Saturday. Read a review here.

Kennedy Center Debut

Jazz singer Mandy Harvey has been selected to make her debut at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on May 5 in Washington, DC. The Denver native will receive the International Young Soloists Award and $5,000 to help her music career. Harvey is deaf and has recorded and self-produced two albums.

ASL Bill Rejected

Virginia's governor has decided not to sign a bill passed by the state legislature that would allow ASL meet a high school foreign language credit and be accepted at state colleges. The measure was passed by the House in a 95-3 vote and breezed through the Senate by a 34-6 margin. Governor Bob McDonnell reportedly wanted some language changed in the bill and will reconsider it later. Lawmakers could approve the changes as soon as next week.

Sign Idol

Students will have a chance to show off how well they can sign at the University of Rochester next Tuesday. Sign Idol is open to undergraduates and high schoolers from the Greece Central School District. During the competition, students will interpret the lyrics to songs using ASL. The event is sponsored by the American Sign Language Club.

Summit Fri & Sat

The National ASL & English Bilingual Early Childhood Education Summit II starts tomorrow at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Video Relay in Chicago

Chicago's WGN-TV offers a video about how virtual interpreters help deaf hospital patients. Read the story here.

Quebec Child Missing

A search is underway in Quebec for a deaf toddler. Three-year-old Adam Benhamma disappeared from a family gathering Sunday where he was playing with other children. Police are using dogs and helicopters in the search, but they haven't ruled out the possibility that he could also have been abducted.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Listen Carefully Campaign

The Starkey Hearing Foundation is launching an awareness campaign featuring Miley Cyrus. The Listen Carefully campaign includes a series of public service ads and a contest where the winner will spend time with the singer before she performs at the Starkey Hearing Foundation’s Annual Awards Gala in Minneapolis this July. Cyrus recently took a trip to Haiti on behalf of Starkey, where she helped to give out hearing aids. For more information on the campaign, click here.

Friday, April 1, 2011

New NAD Leader

This is the first day on the job for the new CEO of NAD. Howard Rosenblum takes over for Nancy Bloch. She began her role at NAD in 1992 as the first female CEO in the organization's history. Rosenblum served as an senior attorney for Chicago's Equip for Equality for 9 years. Prior to working at Equip, Rosenblum spent 10 years at a private law firm that specializes in disability rights. When he first became a lawyer some 20 years ago, he was the only profoundly deaf attorney in Illinois.