Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Kinect and sign language translation

Last year we told you about research in China here, using Microsoft’s Kinect for sign language. The video below (just posted yesterday) shows how the prototype operates, translating sign language into spoken language and spoken language into sign language--in real time. So far, only about one in 13 words Chinese sign language are available using the device.

Exploring Deaf Rap Culture

Image SLYKI Entertainment 
"I had a meeting with one of the top managers in D.C. and auditioned to see if he would represent me. Dude had the gall to tell me that the voice on the CD wasn't mine. I told him it was and his response was, 'Impossible. Deaf people don't do music. We need to squash this kind of view," says Warren "Wawa" Snipe to Spin magazine. Read more about what's happening with deaf rappers in Spin magazine here.

protest over lack of interpreter for trial

A deaf couple protested outside an Alabama courthouse this week after filing a complaint over the kind of interpreting they received during a recent trial. They say it was a violation of ADA law to not be given a certified interpreter when Donald Boilard's wife took the stand to testify in an assault case as a victim. He served as her interpreter. The prosecutor said getting a certified interpreter would have meant a delay in the trial and he blames the deaf couple for not wanting to put the trial off. Read the full story here.

Judge Limits Sign Language in Courtroom

A Maryland judge has banned sign language in his courtroom--at least in the trial of Clarence Cepheus Taylor--unless it involves the court interpreters. Judge William Tucker is afraid it could jeopardize the outcome of the trial. Taylor is accused of sexually abusing seven female students at the Maryland School for the Deaf. The Howard County courtroom has a deaf defendant, deaf victims and some deaf witnesses. The unique rule is designed to prevent communication between those involved in the trial and spectators. The only signers are supposed to be the court interpreters and those who are communicating directly with those interpreters. Taylor told participants in the trial that anyone violating his sign language ban might be removed from the courtroom--and court officials have been brought in to keep an eye on the spectators for any signing. We first told you about the charges last December, which you can read about here. Read more about the trial going on now in the Baltimore Sun.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Reading Buddies

Kentucky School for the Deaf students are “Reading Buddies” to hearing students at an elementary school. Find out more about the program designed to expose the younger students to sign language from the Advocate Messenger.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Deaf student graduates magna cum laude

Image of Michael Lopez from ANC news
A deaf student who graduated magna cum laude from his college in the Philippines says other deaf people "shouldn’t feel that they’re lacking something. They should remember that they still have God-given gifts.” Read the full story of Michael Lopez from the Philippines news channel ANC here.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Inspirational Touchdown Captured on Video

Eiler Buck attended his middle school's football games in the Dallas suburb of Flower Mound, cheering the players to victory. But Eiler couldn't play himself, due to physical restriction. That didn't stop the team and its rival from letting the deaf eighth-grader score a touchdown during Tuesday's contest. NBCDFW has a video report on what happened. No captions, but you can read the story here.

Wales Petition

There's a petition to get captioning for the TV feed and interpreters at the Wales National Assembly so the deaf can follow the proceedings. The petition, which you can read here, says:
“We call upon the National Assembly for Wales to provide subtitling and signed language access to televised debates and proceedings, to enable the 300,000 with hearing loss and deafness in Wales to follow the democratic processes hearing people already enjoy.”
The petition will be open until Oct 1, 2014 and was submitted by Mervyn James of Newport.

What it's like playing football at Gally

The Washington Post takes a look at the football program at Gallaudet during homecoming week in an article released yesterday. The team undefeated so far this season (6-0) and one player in particular, Adham Talaat, could have a shot at playing in the NFL. The Bison are number one in the country out of the run--averaging 366 yards per game so far. Read the story here or watch a slideshow from the Washington Post about Gallaudet football here.

Disney in Ohio

Disney on Ice performed for a group of deaf students in Dayton, Ohio yesterday. Students from the Deaf Community Resource Center met Mickey, Minnie and the whole gang. WDTN-TV has a video report below (with captions available).

Forbes in Detroit tonight

Rapper Sean Forbes is performing tonight with his band in Detroit at the Rust Belt Market. His performing artist network, D-Pan, will also show music videos. WJBK-TV has an interview with him below. No captions but you can read the story here.

Fox 2 News Headlines

Robertson: Rebuke the "spirit of deafness"

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson told a mother of a deaf child this week who wrote to his 700 Club the first thing to do to help her son is to rebuke the "spirit of deafness." Robertson went on to tell her that this method had worked for him in the past.

Lineman, interpreter work as team on the gridiron

An Athens, Georgia high school football player is making his mark. Read how T.J. Ellison and his interpreter are affecting the Clarke Central Gladiators here.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Friendship Tourney in NY

Three deaf schools took students to the New York School For The Deaf in Rome last weekend to take park in its 23rd Annual Friendship Soccer Tournament. WFXV-TV has a video report (captions available).

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Improving Implant Pitch

University of Washington Researchers say they are on their way to improving cochlear implants--especially when it comes to pitch, which should help with hearing music better. The new process they've developed approaches pitch in a fundamentally different way than current implants. Read some details in Boston Univeristy's student newspaper, the Daily Free Press here.

How deaf women are vulnerable to domestic abuse

Deaf women are twice as likely as hearing women to experience domestic abuse, according to the New Statesman, a weekly UK magazine. Read the "tragic story" of Safiya here.

Joy in a job ‘well said’

Meet the only certified ASL interpreter on the Olympic Peninsula across the Puget Sound from Seattle, according to the Sequim Gazette. Read the story here.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Grant to help Deaf-Blind Children

The U.S. federal government is giving a $10.5 million grant to several organizations working with the deaf-blind children under the banner of National Center on Deaf-Blindness. The group includes the Perkins School for the Blind, the Teaching Research Institute at Western Oregon University, and the Helen Keller National Center. The money will be given over a period of five years through the Education Department’s Office of Special Education Programs.

Federal Government Threatens Housing complex for deaf

A deaf facility in Arizona that the federal government help to build--and then turned around and declared the complex discriminatory. Fox News has a video report on the project which we first told you about back in April here.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Google Patents Gestures

photo from
Google is trying to patent the "heart-shaped hand gesture" and other motions. Google Glass wearers will be able to "like" objects and express other commands by making gestures. The “heart-hand gesture” has been associated with Taylor Swift. You can see the application, thanks to Engadget, here.

Gally still unbeaten

The Gallaudet football team takes on Castleton State College of Vermont today after beating Norwich University last weekend. The Bison won by a score of 30-22 over the Cadets and remain undefeated with five wins.

Signs for a Good Education

The World Federation of the Deaf brought together disability experts in Sydney, Australia for a conference this week. Read more about it from the Human Rights Watch blog here and you'll find a video the group produced about deaf education below that was just released.

Sign team helps crime victim

It took four sign language interpreters worked together for months to help a Philadelphia man express himself. Willie Richardson had allegedly been physically abused and locked in a basement, according to prosecutors. But Richardson has no language and the interpreters helped him convey his story. Read the story from KYW-TV here.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Deaf College Football Player in Texas

The Lamar University Cardinals have a partially deaf defensive back who uses a hearing aid while on the field. Learn about how Montez Hunter went from California to Texas in an article posted in the Beaumont Enterprise here.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Children and hearing loss

A representative from the parent advocacy group ParentMap’s talks about how excess noise can cause hearing loss in kids with Seattle's KING-TV in the video below.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Hear What a Familiar Tune Sounds Like with an Implant

KPLU radio in Seattle offers the hearing a chance to see what its like to have a cochlear implant in a post that includes some brief audio. Take a listen here.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Video: Oranutan asks deaf girl for help in sign language

A group of environmental activists have put put a video showing a deaf girl using sign language with an orangutan. In the Rainforest Action Network video, 12-year-old Lena appears to be talking with Strawberry, Indonesian orangutan about the environment. The orangutan seems to warn her about how oil palm plantations are hurting the environment by tell her, "Your food is destroying my home." The Rainforest Action Network is going after several snack food companies that use palm oil and has created a photo petition here. A recent Reuters report suggested that oil palm can be made more biodiversity friendly according to experts. You can read that article here. Below you can see the Rainforest video for yourself.

Israel Defense Forces

Members of the Israel Defense Forces performed their nation's national anthem in sign language last week. Volunteer soldiers go through a special training course at a military base in the city of Tzrifin, about 40 miles northwest of Jerusalem. At a closing ceremony they all sing the national anthem. All but the deaf soldiers. That is, until last week. The entire group signed the song Hatikva, according to the Israeli news website Walla. You can see the soldiers perform the song in the video below.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Bruises found on young boy

A four-year-old deaf boy in the Vero Beach area of Florida came home from school with suspicious bruises this past week. An investigation has lead to the Indian River County school system to move a bus aide off his regular route. Below is a WPTV video report. Captions are not included but there is a text edition of the story here.

NTID Celebration

NTID welcomed its first students to its Rochester campus 45 years ago. To celebrate, the National Technical Institute for the Deaf welcomed hundreds of graduates back to the campus this week. On Friday, NTID officially opened a new research building--the $8 million, two-story, deaf-friendly Sebastian and Lenore Rosica Hall. There is research already going on in the building. For instance, the video below shows a demonstration of the See-Through, Life-Size Interactive Monitor being developed. A teach can stand behind it, facing the students and write something the students can read at the same time--and a student on the other side of the monitor can type an answer. Read more about the new building here.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Mass for the Deaf

Catholic leaders around the Fort Wayne area of Indiana is trying to get an deaf Catholic community started. The Diocese held a service called Reflection for the Deaf today. Two seminarians have been learning ASL in order to led Mass in sign language. Read more at the News-Sentinel here.

Film Fest looks for Entries

The Maine Deaf Film Festival is accepting entries for the 12th annual Festival taking place on April 25 and 26 of next year. The deadline for submissions is Jan. 1, 2014. There is no required genre or length. The only requirement is that the film must be made by a deaf or hard of hearing filmmaker, it must feature at least one deaf character, or it must be about the Deaf experience. It takes place at the University of Southern Maine’s campus in Portland and sponsored by the school's American Sign Language Club. Find out more about the festival here.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Students raised without sign

The ASL strategy of the California School for the Deaf in Riverside is explained in an article by California's Press-Enterprise here.

Jordan: FCC blocking ADA rules on phone service

I.King Jordan
from Gallaudet University's website
Former Gallaudet President I. King Jordan says the FCC is "throwing up roadblocks that interfere with the use of (services) mandated by the ADA (because the Commission) is over-reacting to past cases of fraud." Find out more in a piece he wrote for Washington's prestigious The Hill publication here.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Impostor service animals posing growing problem

There's a growing problem for those who use service animals--fake service dogs are making business owners more suspicious of the real thing. While it's a federal crime under ADA law to pretend an animal is a service animal, some people still buy vests or identification cards online and then claim they are using a service animal--when they are not. But the Associated Press reports that prosecutions are rare. Read the full story here.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Gallaudet will host a TEDx event next year. TEDx is step-child of the popular, yearly TED gatherings, which have grown in popularity thanks to YouTube. The short presentations given in front of a live audience are easily digestible and straightforward--sometimes humorous and sometimes emotionally moving. The TEDx events are self-organized, local chapters of the TED Conference. The Gally event will take place Friday, February 28 with help from Assistant Professor of Criminology and Sociology Thomas Horejes. It will be unique--the first TED event where all the presenters will use ASL. English captions will be added to the videos that come out of the gathering. If you have an idea about who should be included among the 20 or so speakers, you have until November 15th to submit a proposal. There's more information at the TEDx page here and at the Gallaudet University website here.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Film features Deaf Cast

A Taiwan film features a deaf cast including two deaf women in the lead roles. Chiang Wen-yi and Lin Ching-lan star in Use Your Heart to Listen for Happiness, which is based on real life experiences. One works in an office, where she must work harder than her hearing co-workers to succeed. Chiang Wen-yi plays the role of a woman who struggles to find the acceptance of her husband's parents. The other woman, played by Lin Ching-lan, is a dancer who finds her way to Taiwan’s first troupe for hearing-impaired dancers. Ching-lan has been deaf since birth, graduating with a degree in special education. Wen-yi has a post-graduate degree from the College of Management at Yuan Ze University in Taoyuan County. She now works at works at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, the world’s top contract chipmaker, when she's not acting. Use Your Heart to Listen for Happiness premiered last week. Read more about the movie in the Taipei Times.

Smutty Signs

Kristin Henson is causing a stir with her new book Super Smutty Sign Language. The book is based on her 90-some YouTube videos detailing dirty signs she learned as a student at the Rochester Institute of Technology where she studied animation--not sign language. The book got a boost when the Huffington Post picked up a column written by Henson (which you can read here) where she explains the idea behind the book. She has drawn criticism from people in the deaf community for her signing skills, leading a group to start a petition in an attempt to convince St. Martin's not to publish the book. You can express you own view of the book in the poll on

Sign Language Gets Boost in Japan

The ruling assembly in the Tottori region of Japan has officially recognized Japanese sign and is requiring local governments to promote and use it. This is the first time this has happened in Japan, according to the Global Post. More than 20 million yen ($200,000) is being set aside to provide sign language lessons for people living in the region. The Tottori governor was a sign language interpreter when he was in college at the University of Tokyo, according to Japan News.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Not So Scary Halloween Party

Anthony Smith
A New Hampshire comic book store is holding for Hear in New Hampshire this Saturday (Oct 12)called the Not So Scary Halloween Party. A comic book poster created by a local artist will go on sale with all the money going to the nonprofit. The agency provides educational, therapeutic, and support services to children with hearing loss and their families. Anthony Smith will be putting in an appearance. He's the five year old whose story was told around the country when Marvel Comics created a superhero for him called Blue Ear--a sidekick who uses his special blue hearing aids to help others. There's more info on the event here.

Hong Kong Terp Shortage

There only 10 interpreters for 100,000 deaf people in Hong Kong. That's one terp for every 10,000 people. There are 9,200 profoundly deaf individuals among that group--that's one terp for every 920 people, according to the Hong Kong Association of the Deaf. The South China Morning Post reports the shortage caused one wedding to almost be called off. Making things worse, there's no officially designated sign language in Hong Kong, and no official assessment tools.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Food Market Draws Deaf

A DC food market is becoming a gathering place for members of the deaf community, according to the Voice of America. A video report is posted below, but there are no captions. You can read the story here.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Jump out of a plane!

A Florida skydiving company is offering interpreted tandem dives for the deaf and deaf-blind on Sunday, Oct 20th. The interpreting is free at Skydive Deland (located near Daytona, Florida in the city of Deland). There's more information here. Below is a video about the event.

Hearing "I love you" once again

After a decade of silence, deaf actor, playwright and stand-up comedian Sophie Woolley says her biggest thrill since having her implant turned on was hearing her husband once again say "I love you." Woolley writes in the Daily Mail, "I had been profoundly deaf for several years, and we had come to rely on signing to communicate... But the flick of a techno-switch on the cochlear implant fitted in my skull finally transported me back to a lost world." The Daily mail tells her story here.

Liberty offering ASL degree

The university founded by Jerry Falwell is now offering a sign language degree. Liberty University is the first school in Virginia to make a Bachelor of Arts in American Sign Language and Interpreting an option. Students will not only learn to sign and interpret, they will explore issues in deaf culture. Find out more here.

Courts Broadens ADA

The US ADA law isn't just about making it possible for someone with disabilities to do their job, it's about the entire employment experience. At least that's what lawyers who specialize in that area of law are saying following a ruling by the 5th Circuit. A Louisiana state official sued for not being provided a parking space that would accommodate a disability related to her knee. While the trial court dismissed the case, basically saying the parking space didn't have to do with the primary part of her job, the Appeals court said that fact didn't matter. While the decision does apply across the country, legal experts will be watching to see of other courts join the 5th Circuit in pushing accommodations to include areas that seem indirectly related to someone's ability to do their job.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Gally Police Powers Could Expand

DC colleges--including Gallaudet are considering letting their campus police forces take a more active role in detaining and arresting students in connection with disruptive behavior off campus in the neighborhoods surrounding the schools--especially with loud parties. Some students attending DC schools are questioning whether campus police have any authority to enforce a code of conduct off-campus. That is, can students be treated differently than other citizens away from the school? And there is the question as to whether the campus cops will be required to report their investigations off campus--as they already are by law when it comes to campus incidents. Read more at the Washington Post here.

Gally Sued over discrimination

Angela McCaskill filed a lawsuit against Gallaudet University this past Friday. The University’s chief diversity officer says the school violated an anti-discrimination law when she was placed on leave for signing a petition about Maryland’s gay-marriage law and then demoted when she was allowed to return to work. Her lawsuit names two professors in addition to the school. Read more at the Washington Post here.