Friday, December 26, 2014

Hard of hearing student Denied Interpreter at School

A Southern California school refused to provide a sign language interpreter for a hard of hearing student. Gianna Heaviland filed a complaint with the Civil Rights office of the Department of Education--forcing the San Dieguito Union High School District to adopt a new policy. Unfortunately, Heaviland won't be around to enjoy the change. It came too late for her. She's already graduated and now attending NTID in Rochester, NY. KGTV has a video report.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Suit: Deaf School Negligent in Multiple Sexual Assaults

Parents have filed suit against the California School for the Deaf, Riverside over sexual attacks. They are led by a former state senator and say the school has been negligent--and that "internal documents with student interviews showing that multiple sexual assaults took place involving middle school boys at the boarding school." Read the specifics of the allegations in the Press Enterprise here.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Grinch told in ASL

The daughter of Sheena McFeely and Manny Johnson is back again with a new Christmas story. Last year it was The Night Before Christmas and this year it is How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Shaylee is featured in both videos in promotion of her parents ASL learning site called ASLnook. Take a look at what this Cindy Lou look-alike does to the story.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Gally Student arrested

A Gallaudet student ended up behind bars after he drove recklessly through campus this past weekend. Roy McCall of Auburn Hills, Michigan is facing charges for hitting a firefighter during his wild ride. Police say McCall had to be peppered sprayed during his arrest. More details are in the Washington Post here.

3-D Hearing Aid

image from Colorado State
A Colorado State student has printed a hearing aid with a 3-D printer. Megan Aanstoos is working on her Ph.D in biomedical engineering and is hard of hearing herself. Find out what motivated her to do it and where her project may lead in an article from the school's website here.

Monday, December 15, 2014

DC sign slang

Sign language has subtitles depending on the age of the signers, their culture, and especially their region. The Washington Post takes a look at some signs you may see around Washington, DC but not elsewherehere.

Deaf School Hoops Tourney Results

Kentucky won a basketball tournament for Deaf schools over the weekend. The Kentucky School for the Deaf boys didn't lose a game (3-0) at the Spartan Classic taking place at the Ohio School for the Deaf. Participating teams included Rochester, St. Rita, Ohio, Western Pa, and Kentucky. Read more results here.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

6 days-no terp

Sally Doering spent six days in a UK hospital without an interpreter. NHS Tayside has apologized for what happened to the deaf woman at Perth Royal Infirmary. She didn't know why she was in pain and what doctors did to her until she returned home. And this isn't the first time it has happened to Sally. Read more at the BBC here and the Herald here.

Regional Academic Bowl

The New York State School for the Deaf is hosting the Northeast Regional Academic Bowl this weekend. The winner moves on to the national competition at Gallaudet in Washington D.C. WFXV-TV has a video report.

North Korea's deaf soccer team

Did you know North Korea has a deaf soccer team? Not only does the isolated nation have one, the team is in Australia to play it's "first international friendly game" in Syndey this weekend. The coach gives orders using sign language and the referee uses a flag instead of a whistle, according to the Australia's ABC news. striker Ri Kuk Jin is quoted as saying, "We are people with disability. We are all deaf but we will work hard to improve our football skills through this opportunity so that we can repay our government's policy for protection of people with disabilities." Read more details here.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Jacobs visit PA school

image from ESU website
A former Gallaudet professor spent last weekend talk about his research and books at a Pennsylvania University. Paul Gordon Jacobs particularly focused on his autobiography novel called Neither-Nor. Jacobs is oral deaf, doesn't use sign and left Gallaudet because "he felt his views differed from the professors who taught there." The Pocono Record has more on his visit to East Stroudsburg University here.

UK Terp fraud a whopping £900,000

Shahab and Shehnaz Reza along with their son could be headed to jail soon. A jury found the deaf UK couple guilty of scamming the government out of some 900,000 pounds "involving fake invoices for sign language interpreters." It was almost exactly one year ago when we first told you about the couple here. You can read how the trial is going in the Daily Mail here.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Arrest in ALA murder

Prosecutors in Mobile, Alabama have arrested Myles Xavier Smith for killing a deaf woman. WALA-TV has a video report.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Suit over Musical in Maryland

A deaf Maryland woman is suing because the producers of a theatrical musical tdid not provide captioning. Jessica Gill, with the help of the NAD, has filed against Key Brand Theatrical Group, the Hippodrome Foundation and the Maryland Stadium Authority for not providing captions at the Hippodrome of the show Newsies. The show did provide interpreters and hearing devices, but Gill does not sign though she does have a hearing aid. Read more on the story here.

New Law Would Create Tax-free Savings Accounts

Congress is considering a bill that would give Americans living with disabilities tax-free savings accounts for long-term expenses. The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act is sponsored by Republican Ander Crenshaw of Florida who is Chairman of the House Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee. In the video below, Rep. Crenshaw speaks to his colleagues on the floor of the House about ABLE.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

FCC forming committee on deaf issues

The FCC is creating a Disability Advisory Committee. The Committee's job will be to gather public response on issues like 911 response, closed captioning, video descriptions, etc. Nominations will be accepted until January 12 and each member will serve for two years. For more information, check the FCC's site here.

What Life is like for a Deaf Rabbi

image of Rabbi Yehoshua Soudakoff from
Yehoshua Soudakoff is "just a handful of Deaf rabbis in the world." He led the "first public Chanukah menorah-lighting ceremony last year at Gallaudet University" and will be part of the Rochester Deaf Chanukah Celebration taking place December 22 at the University of Rochester. Read more about Soudakoff and the Deaf Chanukah Celebration planned in Rochester here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Deaf Woman Killed in Alabama

A deaf woman died from a gunshot wound at a apartment complex for the deaf in Mobile, Alabama early this morning. WALA-TV has more on the story here, WKRG-TV has more on the story here and the Mobile Press Register has a report here.

Monday, December 1, 2014

TN Hospital suit over interpreters

Two deaf men are suing a Tennessee hospital for not providing them with interpreters. Robert Buttrum and Michael Hill say this happened several times at Cookeville Medical Center when they came in for medical procedures. The hospital did provide a video interpreter, but the system didn't work, according to their complaint. The hospital has yet to comment. Read more about the case at Disability Rights Tennessee here.

Fired Deaf employee gets settlement

A nonprofit that fired a deaf employee has agreed to pay more than $38,000 for not accommodating the employee. The Metropolitan Detroit Center for Independent Living, also known as the Disability Network, was accused by the EEOC of failing to give the independent living specialist TTY equipment, a video phone or the ability to use text messaging. Disability Network also agreed to provide training on ADA law to its employees. EEOC attorney Nedra Campbell said, "The hypocrisy of this non-profit whose very mission is to help disabled individuals - disadvantaging and then firing someone because of a disability is mind-boggling." Read more at the EEOC's site here.

More on first Gene Therapy

Here's another TV report on the first gene therapy procedure. This video comes from WDAF-TV in Kansas City where the work is being done. No captioning but you can read the story here.

First Gene Therapy

Rob Gerk became the first person to receive gene therapy to restore his hearing back in October at the University of Kansas Hospital, according to Denver's KUSA-TV. The television station reports that Gerk's doctors will have a better idea whether the procedure worked this month. There's more information on the study here.  KUSA-TV has a video report posted below. No captions but you can read the story here.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Eatery with deaf servers given city notice

The notice from the city
A restaurant that hires mostly deaf workers has run afoul of the city of Toronto--because of a temporary wheelchair ramp. We first told you about Signs restaurant in July here. The notice to remove the wheelchair ramp was posted on the Facebook page of the restaurant. The owners wrote, "We put up a temporary ramp as a quick fix while we apply for a permanent one." Read more at CTV here.

Deaf Man Helps Neighbors Escape Fire

A deaf man in Waco, Texas says he's no hero--but his neighbors might have a different opinion after he alerted them to a fire that could have cost them their lives. KXXV-TV has a video report.

KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Couple who faked being deaf to pocket terp money avoids jail time

A UK couple scammed thousands from the government for interpreters they never used. Tracy Holliday and Ian Johnston pretended to be deaf in paperwork they submitted requesting reimbursement for BSL interpreting services. The couple got caught--claimed they "didn't realize what they were doing was wrong" and this week they were sentenced--not to prison but to probation. The Daily Mail has details here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

FL hit and run

A deaf woman is in critical condition after being hit by a car early this morning in Hollywood, Florida. Ebonie Powell was trying to cross the street when she was hit, according to the Sun Sentinel. Police do not know what kind of vehicle it was or who was driving, so they've asked for help from the public. There's more information here.

Translating Speech Into Vibrations

Scientists at Baylor have built a device that takes spoken words and turn them into vibrations which they say could help deaf people perceive speech in a completely new way. The VEST (versatile extra-sensory transducer) uses a mic to take sound and feed them into a phone or tablet where the audio is converted into vibrations. Baylor neuroscientists Scott Novich and David Eagleman presented their work at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience this past weekend in Washington. Their Kickstarter campaign for the VEST has surpassed its goal and raised $47,000. You can read more here. Below is a video about the effort.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Church for the Deaf Opens Doors of New Facility

The Oakwood Baptist Deaf Church opened the doors to its new facility for the first time Sunday morning in Lubbock, Texas. KAMC-TV has a video report.

Looking Back... Nov 25,1854

Deaf Bible Scholar John Kitto died on this day in 1854. He's remembered for putting together one of the best Bible encyclopedias up to his time, the Pictorial Bible and Cyclopaedia of Biblical Literature. Born in Plymouth, England in 1804, he was pressed to work as a child because of his family's poverty. Kitto fell 35 feet while carrying slate tiles up a ladder. He recovered from his injuries except for the loss of his hearing. Kitto endured a difficult childhood, eventually finding his way to drawing illustrations for Bible stories and becoming a printer. A missionary group sent him to Malta and he eventually made his way to Russia, Turkey, Egypt. Kitto died at the age of 50, but not before he was granted an honorary Doctor of Divinity and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Arrest in FL hit and run that killed deaf couple

A deaf couple died a year ago when a truck driver didn't stop for them--now he has been arrested. It happened on the east coast of Florida, near Fort Pierce. Mariah King and Vincent Mathews were changing a tire. The Orlando Fox station had a report about it when the Florida Highway Patrol was still trying to find the truck driver. You can read that report here. They say Robert Bates hit the couple and then left his semi truck at a storage yard. Read more on the arrest from WFTV here.

Prediction about the future of Deaf Culture

One of the contributors to the Auslan dictionary, Trevor Johnston, who is a Professor of Signed Language Linguistics at Sydney's Macquarie University says "There will be a time in the next 50 years where I feel comfortable to say the deaf community won't exist." Find out why he says this in an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Getting to Know.. Cochlear Implants

The FDA first gave approved the use of cochlear implants in the US during of December 1984.

The first successful human implant for hearing was performed in Memphis by surgeon John Shea.

At first, only profoundly deaf people were potential implant patients. That has changed because the electrodes threaded into the inner ear have become much smaller over time. Now, there’s less chance of damaging healthy tissue during the operation.

About 70,000 people in the U.S. have received cochlear implants, according to the FDA.

Some 250,000 people worldwide have received cochlear implants.

Doctors implanted cochlear devices in about 17,000 people worldwide last year.

The implants can cost $25,000 and the surgery can run as equally high.

About 12% of students at the American School for the Deaf in West Hartford, Connecticut have cochlear implants. A decade ago only 3% of students had the devices.

More than 80 percent of children who are or were hearing impaired now attend their local schools. Just a couple decades ago, 80 percent of hearing impaired children attended deaf schools.

Only about one in four of the million or so deaf people in the US are considered good candidates for an cochlear implants, according to The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

It's estimated that some 100,000 people have one cochlear implant but only 5,000 have two.

Children with two cochlear implants gain language skills similar to hearing children within a couple of years, according to a 2011 study out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Advanced Bionics recalled the HiRes 90K implant in 2010 after two patients suffered from severe pain and overly loud sounds.

Australian company Cochlear, LTD voluntarily recalled its Nucleaus 5 unit in the fall of 2011 because moisture caused a few of the implants to shut down.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Deal cut to get Captioning in more Movie Theaters

Owners of movie theaters have made an agreement with groups representing the deaf and hard of hearing to get closed captioning in theaters. The deal still needs the approval of the Justice Department. If approved, the National Association of Theatre Owners would have to have a dozen devices available for reading the closed captioning at megaplexes. Theaters would also have to keep up with how much the devices are used--and have more available if the demand requires it. Plus, theaters would be required to put information on websites as well as on tickets as to which movies have captioning available. And all this would all have to be in place within two years of the agreement's approval.  Groups involved in the negotiations include the National Association of the Deaf, the Alexander Graham Bell Association, the Association of Late Deafened Adults and the Hearing Loss Association of America.

"Crisis" in Scotland

A staff member at a school for the deaf in Scotland had been suspended--amid claims of sexual offenses at the school. Police are investigating Donaldson’s School in Linlithgow.  The Edinburgh News calls the situation a "crisis" in its report, which you can read  here.

LA jail getting redesign

Changes are coming to the Los Angeles County jail. Officials have agreed to redesign it--because a lawsuit filed six years ago. The agreement to settle the suit still needs a judge to sign off on it Monday. Read details at the LA Times.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Deaf Students Train Police Cadets

Police cadets in Norman, Oklahoma are getting training from deaf drivers to help them understand how to deal with drivers who won't be using spoken English when they are stopped. KOKH-TV has a video report.

Gally Frats get White House approval

A video put together by a Gallaudet fraternity has White House approval. The Kappa Gammas video offers an ASL version of a White House PSA about sexual assault.

7 steps to creating a brain implant

Some people who are deaf are opting for brain implants to regain some of their hearing. The BBC has a guide to understand how brain implants are created here.

Two Shot Near Gally

The crime rate is rising faster around Gallaudet University than any other part of Washington, DC. The situation is so bad public officials gathered with residents Monday night to talk about what to do about the problem. Within hours, two people were shot close to the school. WRC-TV has a video report (no captions but you can read part of the report here).

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Purple closes IP Relay

Purple Communications has closed its IP Relay service, leaving Sprint as the only service in operation. Last year Sorenson discontinued its service. A Purple spokesperson said in a video blog post, the move comes in response to the FCC's decision to curtain reimbursements. Earlier this year, the FCC said it was fining Purple millions of dollars for improper billing--a claim Purple has denied. You can read more here. IP relay is a way for the deaf to connect through computers or a smart phone. In the video below, Purple's senior director of operations Diana Herron explains more.

80-year-old man beaten by Police

Bill Swan has bruises all over his face and arms after police officers beat him. Relatives say the 80-year-old man probably couldn't hear their command that he get off of his tractor because his hearing is severely limited. Missouri's KCTV has a video report posted below.


Parole Denied for Florida Deaf Man

Felix Garcia didn't have an interpreter in court when he was convicted for murder at the age of 19. At his parole hearing this week, more than three decades later, his siblings testified they had framed him. But the parole board decided to keep him in prison. Tampa Bay's WFTS-TV has a video report.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Baby registered with a sign name

Image from BSL Zone video
Tomato Lichy and Paula Garfield are both Deaf. They gave their second child the English name Hazel. At first the government balked at their attempt to register the baby’s British Sign Language name. But with a lawyer's help, that has changed. Now, the child's name, written in sign notation as UbOtDDstarL, is listed on her birth certificate. The family explains what happened in their own words in a video here.

Best Candidates for Cochlear Implant Surgery

· People with severe sensorineural hearing loss* in both ears but with a still functioning auditory nerve

· Those who have lived only a short time with hearing loss

· Those with good speech and English language skills

· People living with family willing to work hard in support of the candidate toward acquiring speech and language skills

· Those physically able to handle anesthesia and surgery

· And those who have a desire to live in a hearing world and have realistic expectations about the procedure

*note: Sensorineural hearing loss is a destruction of the hair cells in the cochlea of the inner ear that transmit sound signals to the auditory nerve

Monday, November 17, 2014

ASL application wins HackPrinceton

One of the winning teams of a Princeton University hack contest created a devise for sign language users. Ethan Gordon, David Liu and Jeffrey Han took the best hardware design category this past weekend for their ASL Tegra. Using a camera to detect gestures, it translates them into text. Some 600 hackers were challenged to build something in 36 hours during the HackPrinceton event. First place earned team members hard drives, a remote-controlled helicopter and $1000 in cash. There's more details on the event here.

Getting to Know...The Big 3 Implant Makers

Cochlear implants are likely to become a lucrative market in the future as baby boomers grow older and the number of people suffering from hearing loss increases. There are three main companies making implants.

· Cochlear Limited – This Australian company got its start the early 1980s. Cochlear dominates the market with 70% of the market share and $700 million in sales each year. Cochlear makes the Nucleus cochlear implant, the Hybrid electro-acoustic implant and the Baha bone conduction implant. It  voluntarily recalled its Nucleaus 5 unit in the fall of 2011 because moisture caused a few of the implants to shut down.

· Advanced Bionics – Started in 1996 and acquired by Massachusetts-based Boston Scientific in 2004, Advanced regained its independence in 2007. A Swiss company, Sonova Holding, bought the Valencia, California-based cochlear-implant maker in 2009. With about one fifth of the market, Advanced is number two in the field, though a recall forced the company to make layoffs this year. Phonak is one of its brands. Advanced Bionics recalled the HiRes 90K implant in 2010 after two patients suffered from severe pain and overly loud sounds.

· Med-El – This Austrian company founded in 1989, the company received approval for distribution in Europe in 1994 and FDA approval in 2001. Its U.S. offices are located in Durham, North Carolina.

Student offers music for the deaf

A college senior created a musical experience for the deaf for his thesis. Zachary Bush's program included an orchestra, sign language interpreters and visual accompaniment on a projector. Read more about it in the Colorado State University student newspaper here.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Deaf man hit by car in NY

A deaf man from North Carolina is in critical condition in a New York Hospital after being hit by a Cadillac in New York. The deaf man was walking across West 34th Street yesterday with a woman who lives in the Bronx. The New York Daily News reports the driver was not charged and has more information here.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Deaf referee

Ron Bibler is a high school referee who is deaf. "I'm a coach's dream in most cases, because they can say whatever they want behind me. But for me it's an advantage. I don't get distracted when coaches try to sell me a call or at any of the crowd noise. I just concentrate on the situation" he tells Montana's KPAX-TV. the station profiles the Great Falls native here.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Deaf Teen Who Never Learned To Communicate Transformed by Sign Language

A deaf teen born in remote area of Uganda has his first conversation after learning sign at the age of 15. Journalist Kiki King shows what happened in a documentary airing on the UK's Channel 4. Watch Patrick's amazing transformation begin during his first sign language lesson in the video below. The entire documentary will be available Nov 22.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Eye Music Fest

A four-day festival celebrating ASL is coming to UC Santa Cruz. Eye Music starts Wednesday and runs through Saturday (Nov 12-15). There will be poetry and stories by some of the country’s most accomplished practitioners of ASL performance. Performers include the Flying Words Project, an ASL poetry duo comprised of Deaf poet Peter Cook and hearing co-author Kenny Lerner and former member of the National Theater of the Deaf Patrick Graybill. For more information check the festival website here.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Advocating for the Rights of Deaf Inmates

We call it a prison within a prison," says Talila Lewis, who founded EARD (Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf). She is describing the lives of incarcerated deaf and hard of hearing people. "The vast majority of correctional facilities have no ASL interpreters, and it's not unusual for inmates who rely on hearing aids to be denied the devices—or denied batteries to make them work." Read more from Louisville's NPR Station WFPL here.

Rampant abuse alleged at school for deaf

The California School for the Deaf in Riverside has "chronic underperformance, rendering massive numbers of students lacking life skills and academic abilities, crimes involving sexual misconduct, rape, attempted rape, forceful sexual abuse, sodomy and other illegal sexual conduct," according to an article published by the Orange County Register. Read more here.

Deaf woman killed when her car breaks down on Highway

The family of a Seattle-area woman is grieving her loss. Her car broke down and killed when a semi-truck hit her car from behind. KING-TV has a video report (no captions but you can read the story here).

Viral Video: Deaf Mom dancing with Son

A video of Mark Villaver and his mother, Emilia,  dancing has gone viral. Their moves set to Usher's "She Came to Give It to You" has racked up more than 200,000 views. Mark is the professional dancer who has performed with the likes of Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande. But it's clear where he gets his talent. Emilia

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Cali school gets first Deaf Cheerleader

Iliana Delgado is the first deaf cheerleader at LA's Downey High School. Only about 1 in 5 girls make the squad. She tells KTTV, "“I feel good about myself. Sometimes I feel a little frustrated because I struggle when I can't hear something but people encourage me and I keep going on.” The TV station has a video report posted below. No closed captioning but you can read part of the report here.

Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

Friday, November 7, 2014

Terp issue stops city counsel meeting

The deaf city councilwoman in Montesano, Washington had the city council meeting stopped when she said she could not understand her sign language interpreter. The reason the city was providing an interpreter is that the councilwoman, Marisa Salzer, complained to Washington's Human Rights Commission. The interpreter wasn't certified and, according to KBKW, Salzer couldn't understand her. Read more details here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The untold stories of deaf people in WW1

Image from Action on Hearing Loss
"Deaf people walking along the road were told to stop by sentries. But when they continued to walk, they were shot," historian Norma McGilp tells the BBC. Read about her findings about deaf people who survived World War One  here. The article relates to an upcoming episode of See Hear on BBC Two.

Theater Funding Cuts led to Protests

Deaf actors and theater companies in the U.K. are upset over government decisions that they say are hurting their craft. Read more here.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Hospital settles Terp Claim

A teenage boy spent five hours in a Seattle area hospital without being provided a certified interpreter. Although an interpreter for his school came to help, the Justice department said Swedish Edmonds Hospital should have provided a medically trained and certified interpreter. The Department is requiring Swedish to review its policies related to the deaf, train staff members and give the boy's mother $3000. However, Swedish won't have admit any wrongdoing in the deal. Read the full story at MyEdmondsNews.

Deaf robber uses interpreter

It sounds like a joke from a deaf standup comedian. But it wasn't a joke--at least not for Laura Fairweather. A deaf man broke into her apartment in Scotland and demanded money--through an interpreter he brought with him. Now the man is headed to jail for more than a year. The BBC has more on the story here.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Review of "Visible Language"

While Visible Language lacks a certain polish, and is in need of editing and focus.. it is an important and enlightening work of theater, and for those unfamiliar with the Deaf experience, it offers a good introduction to a whole new world. That's what Broadway World has to say about the production taking place now at Gallaudet University called Visible Language.  Read more of the review here.

Hearing Moms speak differently when one child is deaf

If a family has twins where one child is deaf and the other is hearing, the mother will speak differently to both of them. That's the finding of a new study out of Indiana University's School of Medicine. Researchers say the mother will speak slower, use fewer syllables and use shorter sentences. Details of the study are in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

On this date in 2006

Eight years ago today: On Oct 29, 2006, Gallaudet University's board of trustees voted to revoke the appointment of incoming president Jane Fernandes following protests from students and faculty. Dick Kinney, an investment adviser from Milwaukee, later told the Chronicle of Higher Education that the board decided to commission a study to find who would meet three criteria: The candidate needed to have experience in higher education, an earned doctorate and significant hearing impairment. Only 27 people in the world fit all three criteria, he said. That’s part of why the board ended up going with an unpopular internal candidate, Gallaudet University provost Jane Fernandes who did not learn sign language until she was an adult. She now holds the same position at UNC Asheville. The trustees made Robert Davila interim president until 3 years later, when T. Alan Hurwitz took the position permanently. Hurwitz previously served as president of New York's National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID).

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

New board members for RSD

There are four new members on the Rochester School for the Deaf board of directors.

  • Alum Judy Annis-Donovan who works as a medical technologist at Rochester General Hospital
  • Alum Lori DeWindt who is a psychotherapist at the Deaf Wellness Center at the University of Rochester
  • Pediatrician Scott Smith who is also an assistant professor
  • Architect Philip Wise

Read more here.

Monday, October 27, 2014

25th Silent Sunday

The Arkansas School for the Deaf held it's 25th Silent Sunday Fundraiser in Little Rock hoping to raise more money to fund new technology equipment for the school. KARK-TV has a video report.

Terp video goes viral

A video has gone viral because of the interpreter at the New York Mayor's news conference on Ebola. Some viewers have speculated that the terp is a fake because his facial expressions are so animated. But Jonathan Lamberton is certified. He's just doing his job. The Friday news conference including Mayor Bill de Blasio and health officials regarded updates on the city’s first case of Ebola.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Suit: Hospital didn't provide terps

Denver's Rose Medical Center is facing a lawsuit that accuses the hospital of not providing qualified interpreters for deaf patients. Ronald Zapko and John Towery say a Video Relay Interpreter set up didn't do the job.Read more about the suit in the Denver Post here.

Gallaudet football feels the love

Even though Husson beat Gallaudet last weekend, the Bison football team got some attention for the passion the team plays with. Here's a video report from WCSH-TV.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Roller derby player files complaint

A roller derby player says she wasn't picked for a national team because she is deaf, reports New Zealand's TV3. Marcia Taylor is asking the national Human Rights Commission to look into why coach posted an offensive remark about her on Facebook. Read the story or watch a video report here. No captions.

Video of Deaf-Blind man pushed on railroad track

We told you yesterday about the deaf-blind man pushed on a railroad track. Two men are going to prison for the attack. Below is the security video of what happened in Chelmsford, England.

Speech vs Sign: Bell vs Gallaudet

A new musical opening tonight explores the conflict over teaching methods for the deaf between Alexander Graham Bell and Edward Gallaudet more than 100 years ago. Visible Language features a cast made up of deaf and hearing actors, and offers a combination of ASL and spoken English. Gallaudet was the first president of the college that bears his last name while Alexander Graham Bell is known for having invented the telephone. Gallaudet approved of sign language while Bell discouraged it in favor of lip reading and attempts at spoken English among the deaf. The musical hopes to get past traditional views in the deaf community of both men and let the facts speak for themselves. Visible Language can be seen now through November 16th at Gallaudet University's Gilbert C. Eastman Studio Theatre in Washington, DC. There's more information here. The video below shows construction of the set in time-lapse photography.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Deaf-Blind man thrown on train tracks

"Two men have been sent to prison for throwing a deaf blind man and his brother on to railway tracks," reports the BBC. A detective says, "This is one of the most appalling incidents I have investigated." Read the story here.

Silence on the Grid Iron

El Paso's Burges High School junior varsity football team has three players who are deaf. KAMR-TV gives us a closer look at how it has affected the Mustangs. No captions but you can read part of the story here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tablet case as virtual interpreter

The makers of a tablet case claim it will recognize and translate sign, according to Wired Magazine.
MotionSavvy, an Alameda, California-based startup that’s developing a case for tablet computers that can serve as a virtual interpreter for the deaf. Known as UNI, the case uses gesture recognition technology developed by Leap Motion to translate sign language into audible speech. It then merges this with voice recognition technology to convert spoken word to text. Because there are a variety of signs for any given word, users can upload new signs using a feature called Sign Builder. The system learns how individual users sign, while also distributing each new sign to every UNI device.
However, Wired points out that UNI has a long way to go: It "recognizes only 300 signs, and its voice recognition component remains unreliable."  Read the full story here and watch an introductory video below.

Gally Freshman

This year's freshman class at Gallaudet University are a diverse group. Here's a breakdown as to where they come from:

  • 29 are from California 
  • 25 are from Maryland 
  • 18 are from Virginia 
  • 12 are from Canada 
  • 5 are from China 

Read more at the Washington Post on how the numbers compare to other schools in the DC area.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Bison lose to Husson

Gallaudet's football team lost its third game of the season to Husson over the weekend. The Bison are now 2-3 overall and 2-1 in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference. The win puts the Bangor, Maine school atop the conference with a record of 4-1 overall and 3-0 in the conference.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Remembering Paul Miller

You may not know the name Paul Miller, but you know his work. He became a leader in the enforcement of ADA law. He graduated at the top of his class from Harvard Law School and yet he couldn't get a job because he was born with a form of dwarfism. He served as an advisor to President Clinton and President Obama. Paul Miller died on this day, Oct 19, 2010 at the age of 49 from cancer.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Transcense App

The makers of a new app called Transcense say it can accurately translate in real time so the deaf and hard of hearing can take part in conversations with the hearing who do not know sign. While the app is being tested and is not yet available, the trio who created it are trying to raise funds through an Indiegogo campaign which you can see here. The guys behind the app include Thibault Duchemin, Pieter Doevendans and Skinner Cheng. Duchemin is a CODA and Cheng has been deaf he was a toddler.There's more information at the Transcense website here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Traffic Stop Tips

KOTV in Oklahoma has produced a video offering some tips for police when they stop deaf drivers and tip for deaf drives who are stopped by law enforcement. - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - |

Monday, October 13, 2014

EEOC Looking for Witnesses for FedEx Lawsuit

Over the weekend we told you about a lawsuit filed against FedEx for it's treatment of deaf workers. The EEOC, which filed the suit, is now looking for potential witnesses to the company's failure to provide reasonable accommodations. Find out more and see an ASL video here.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Fake Lottery Email Targets Deaf

Scammers will try to make people believe they have won a jackpot from the USA Deaf Lottery--but there is no such thing. WWBT-TV in Richmond has a video report about the phony email. Captioning available.

NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

FedEx Sued for Discrimination

FedEx has discriminated against deaf workers and the deaf who have applied for jobs for years, according to the EECO. While FedEx Ground hired a number of deaf employees as package handlers, FedEx has not offered adequate accommodations, according to a lawsuit filed in Maryland by the EEOC. The suit claims there are no training videos with ASL or captioning, no tour, orientation, or staff meetings with interpreters present for new employees. FedEx is responding to the complaint by saying it has fair and equal treatment for all of its employees and that these claims are misleading. This suit is the result of 19 charges filed with the EEOC across the country. EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Maria Luisa Morocco said, "The law is clear: Employers have to provide reasonable accommodations to ensure that deaf and hard-of-hearing job applicants and employees are afforded equal employment opportunities--which includes the full benefits and privileges of employment, such as being informed of performance expectations and safety requirements." See the EEOC information here.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Hit for Deaf Theatre

Deaf West Theatre has a hit on its hands with its new production, says public radio's KPCC. The Los Angeles radio station takes a look at Sring Awakening, being peformed at Deaf West Theater in an article here.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

TV captioning facts

  • TV stations and cable and satellite operators have been required to have closed-captioning since 1998.
  • Stations much provide 1350 hours of captioned programming each quarter. That works out to about 16 hours a day.
  • Captioning pre-recorded shows runs between $400 and $1000 per half-hour. Live programming can cost 5 times that amount.
  • There are only about 400 people nationwide work as broadcast captioners.
  • It’s a projected that 1,000 to 3,000 more captioners will be needed in the next few years
  • Captioners earn about $50 to $75 an hour.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The history of Japanese Sign

The first Japanese school for the blind and deaf was established in 1878 in Kyoto. Teachers used sign language for instruction. Thereafter, a number of organizations were set up around the country for the deaf and for those wishing to learn the language. The Japanese Federation of the Deaf in Tokyo eventually published a lexicon in 1969 called Watashitachi no Shuwa (Our Sign Language), the first attempt to catalog common sign language expressions used nationwide.

Getting to know... BSL

British Sign Language or BSL is used by most signers in the UK - a group numbering between 50 and 70,000 people. The earliest British account of signing dates back to a wedding in 1575, where the groom used signs during the ceremony. Samuel Pepys's account of the great fire of London in 1666 refers to a 'dumb' boy who describes the fire using "strange signs". This 'home signing', as it is known, was an ad hoc gesturing system developed by deaf children which would not have been passed down generations or across deaf communities. In 1760, Edinburgh teacher Thomas Braidwood started Braidwood's Academy for the Deaf and Dumb which is considered the first school for the deaf in Britain. The sign language he used later became British Sign Language.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Oral program gets funds

Southern Miss is getting more than a million dollars for its training program for teachers of the deaf. The five year Education Department grant will provide full-tuition scholarships to 40 people who want to earn a master's degrees focused on oral intervention--instead of teaching sign language, the program tries to get children to attempt spoken English. Read more about the grant here.

More than a Super Bowl Champ

The parents of the NFL's only current deaf player says they always knew their son was destined for great things. They tell KCAL-TV, “He’s not just a Super Bowl champion.. he’s a representative of our family.” Watch the full video report below.

Origins of Formal Sign Language?

Sign language as we know it today formally began in the mid-18th century when two deaf teachers developed a system for spelling out French words with a manual alphabet which became French Sign Language (FSL). Thomas Gallaudet brought FSL to the US in 1816. He founded the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut. The new sign language was combined with what was already being used to make American Sign Language (ASL). It’s the 4th most common language in the US today.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Deaf-Blind center opening in Iowa

Charles City, Iowa is preparing to become the first regional site for deaf and blind students. KIMT-TV has a video report.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Rules Change for Deaf Truck Drivers

Deaf truck drivers will no longer be prevented from driving interstate rigs if they cannot speak English. That decision comes from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. A post in the October 1 Federal Register says they will be excepted from the rule if the driver can read and write English. You can read the guidance here.

Balloonists at School for Deaf

Image from KOAT-TV video report
Albuquerque Aloft kicked off the city's Ballon Fiesta this week. One of the crews gave some deaf pre-schoolers a lesson on ballooning. KOAT-TV has a video report here.

Bus Driver "forgets" Kindergartener

A deaf girl was still strapped in her seat on the bus when the driver was through with his route this past Wednesday in Columbus, Ohio. Kaleigh Foster was forgotten. WTTE-TV has a video report.

MSS v ASL in Amarillo, Texas

A Texas school district is not teaching its students ASL but the Morphemic Sign System (MSS) system. This has many ASL users up in arms since the system isn't being used elsewhere. The Amarillo School District says it picked MSS because to promote literacy. KVII‑TV has a video report posted below. No captions, but you can read the text of the report here. (This post has been updated to reflect the difference between MMS and Exact Sign).

First ordained deaf person

It was on this date (Oct 14) in 1884 that 38-year-old Henry Winter Syle became the first deaf person to be ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church in the U.S. and the first to to be ordained in any protestant denomination. Born to Missionary parents in Shanghai, China, Syle lost hearing at an early age to a scarlet fever infection. He was a student of Thomas Gallaudet who attended Connecticut's Trinity College, St. John's College in Cambridge, and Yale. . Syle began a congregation for the deaf four years later (1888) which he lead until his death in 1890, just two years later at the age of 44.

Network TV show captioning Mixup

CBS is looking into how someone possibly hacked into its closed captioning. The first seven minutes of last night's episode of Blue Bloods contained profanity and other sounds unrelated to the TV show. The captioning is believed to have been from another program--the HBO show Real Time with Bill Maher, according to the Dayton Daily News.

Gally Takes Action

image from Chronicle of Higher Ed video
Gallaudet University recently made news when it was determined that it had the highest rate of reported sexual assaults in the country, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education. Find out how the school is using a grant from the Department of Justice to train both students and staff members as to how to address sexual misconduct in a video here

Friday, October 3, 2014

On this date in history

It was on Oct. 3, 1852 that Rev. Thomas Gallaudet (the son of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet) started a deaf congregation, which grew into the St. Ann's Church for the Deaf in New York, the first deaf church in the U.S.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Getting to Know... Nurse Ratched

Louise Fletcher is best known for her role as Nurse Ratched in the 1975 classic One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The film won 5 Academy Awards. Fletcher took home one of those statues for Best Actress. What you may not know is that the parents of the now 78-year-old actress are both deaf. The second of four children, she grew up on Birmingham, Alabama. Her father, Robert Fletcher, served the deaf community as an Episcopal priest. He started dozens of churches for the deaf in Alabama. None of his children had any hearing loss.  Fletcher never forgot her roots. While filming One Flew Over, Fletcher took time to visit students at the Oregon School for the Deaf.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ironman competitor raises money to help deaf community

Casey Davis is raising awareness (and funds) for a website designed to help educate the deaf on symptoms, medications and medical tests. Davis visited Chattanooga, Tennessee over the weekend and WRCB-TV has a video report. No captions but you can read the story here. | Chattanooga News, Weather

Spotlight on China's deaf children

A kindergarten in Shenyang, China gets a visit from China Central Television "to find out what it means to educate children who communicate in a world of silence." The teacher says, ""There is an obvious gap between a sizeable population of the deaf and the existing supply of social facilities assisting deaf children." Watch the video (no captions) or read the story here.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A voiceless classroom

The student newspaper at Iowa State University interviews the only deaf faculty member on campus in an article here. Michael Ballard is part of the reason ASL will be an approved minor at the school by the end of this academic year. Below is a video interview the newspaper did with Ballard.

MSD defends National Championship

Image from WAPT-TV video report
"When we play against hearing schools, it's obvious that they come in, thinking, 'Oh this deaf squad is going to be nothing, it's going to be easy.' But we come out playing so aggressively, that they kind of get shocked," quarterback Keith Brignac told WAPT-TV. He leads the Mississippi School for the Deaf squad in their effort to take home another trophy. WAPT out of Jackson
has a video report here.

Protests in Vermont

Several hundred people gathered at the Vermont statehouse to call on the state to reopen the Austine School for the Deaf. Vermont Public Radio has a report here.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Stolen hearing aids get replaced

A San Diego teen and her mom are happy that the 13 year old will get new hearing aids. KGTV has a video report (captions available).

Friday, September 26, 2014

Justin Bieber partially deaf

A cliff diving accident has left Justin Bieber deaf in one ear, according to numerous media reports. Bieber perforated his eardrum and Hollywood Life says it might have been the force of the water that has caused a small tear in his eardrum. He'll undergo surgery to fix it. He's not the only celebrity with limited hearing (even if his is only temporary). The list of partially deaf celebs includes musicians Huey Lewis and Pete Townshend as well as actors Gerard Butler and William Shatner. Jennifer Lawrence was deaf for a while in one ear after an accident on the set of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A real superhero: El Deafo!

The first graphic novel from deaf artist CeCe Bell is getting some traction in the media. The Washington Post calls the story of her alter ego "funny..beautiful and utterly engaging." El Deafo! includes Bell's memories of childhood from the meningitis at age 4 that left her profoundly deaf to her battles in school where she was mainstreamed. Read an interview with Bell in the Washington Post here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Deaf man killed by Sheriff's Deputy

A Daytona Beach man was trying to get his truck from the towing service. An altercation left the man dead--shot by sheriff's deputy. WKMG-TV has a video report (captions available).

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Accusations against Macy's

A deaf woman in Connecticut says she's had trouble getting changes to her Macy's credit card because the department store insists she must talk to its representatives over the phone. WFSB-TV has a video report (captions available).

WFSB 3 Connecticut

Monday, September 22, 2014

Job Growth projected for Terps

Interpreter jobs will grow tremendously in coming years. KCAL-TV takes a look at that growth, and particularly the Los Angeles market in a story that includes an interview with the chair of the Department of Deaf Studies at California State University, Northridge. Read it here.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Deaf woman claims discrimination in job interview

A deaf Australian woman says she was denied a job interview because she was not able to "speak English." Miranda Reardon has filed a formal discrimination complaint against Darwin-based JebFab Catering Services, according to NT News. The owner claims she did not possess the necessary skills to fill the position. Read more here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Murder investigation stalls

Homicide detectives still don't know who shot and killed a deaf man a month ago in Indianapolis. WXIN-TV has a video report posted below. No captions but you can read the story here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Living with Usher Syndrome

Rebecca Alexander's new memoir Not Fade Away talks about her learning to deal with losing her hearing and sight as teen when she "couldn’t imagine living into adulthood.” But not only did she learn to live with Usher Syndrome, she's embraced her situation and even plans to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro next year. Read more about her life in a New York Post article here.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Gally Conference

Gallaudet is holding a multicultural conference this Thursday and Friday. The gathering will bring together leaders in the fields multiculturalism and civil rights to discuss Educating for Equity and Excellence: Multicultural Transformation Across the Curriculum. Among the speakers:

  • Robert Moses, author of Radical Equations: ‪Civil Rights from Mississippi to the Algebra Project.
  • Carl Grant, co-author of Turning on Learning: Five Approaches for Multicultural Teaching Plans for Race, Class, Gender, and Disability.
  • Marilyn Frankenstein, co-author of Ethnomathematics: Challenging Eurocentrism in Mathematics Education.
  • Marilyn Frankenstein co-author of Culturally Responsive Mathematics Education.
  • Vivian Carlo, author of Multiculturally Transforming Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.
There's more information here.

Central Institute for the Deaf marks 100 years

The Central Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. The Associated Press reports, "Rather than sign language, CID uses the acoustic approach, where students are aided by digital hearing aids and cochlear implants allowing for partial hearing, while also learning to read lips." Read the full story here.

FBI Probing Alleged Abuse of Deaf Kids

An investigation is underway into what's going on at a Florida residential treatment center. Three families are filing suit against the National Deaf Academy, according to NBC News. One mother says, "Our whole family has been broken.” Watch the NBC News report below (captions available).

ASL Celebration

4th Bi Annual ASL Celebration takes place this Thursday (Sept 18) in Sacramento, California. Here's a video about the event.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Deaf love triangle leads to murder and jail time

A UK deaf man was sentenced to 28 years in prison for stabbing his grandfather to death in a fit of jealousy. Awat Akram of Leicester, England was angry that Christopher Penman, another deaf man had begun a relationship with his former love interest who is also deaf. Akran stabbed Penman more than two dozen times while he slept. Read the full story in the Mirror.

Rochester Deaf Awareness Week

Deaf Awareness Week events start Sunday in Rochester, New York. There will be opportunities to learn about 911 texting, business and technology as it relates to the deaf, a baseball game and a dinner at Rochester School for the Deaf. There's more information here.

Deaf Woman Rejected for Jury Duty

A women in Washington, DC is suing to serve on a Superior Court grand jury. Michelle Koplitz, who was Miss Deaf USA in 2010, was rejected this year as a juror because she is deaf. The reason? Court officials didn't want to pay for an interpreter. The lawsuit says that's a violation of ADA law. The National Association of the Deaf Law and Advocacy Center is helping Koplitz and you can read more about the suit from the National Law Journal here.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Twins headed to Gallaudet: "It's awesome!"

A pair of Minnesota twins are headed to Gallaudet University to study--and play sports. Tommy and Sam Ellenbecker helped win their high school a national deaf schools football championship as well as collect numerous other records and titles. Both were basketball all-stars. Read their story here.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Terp is Training Deaf Lyft Drivers

Meet two drivers for riding sharing company Lyft--one drives for Lyft and is a sign language interpreter. The other is deaf and learning to become a Lyft driver. KTXL-TV in Sacramento has a video report. No captions, but you can read the story here.

Students arrested at deaf school

Protests at a deaf school in Ontario led to the arrest of two students and one former student on Tuesday. They want to see changes to the way students are treated at the Ernest C. Drury School for the Deaf--including teachers who refuse to use sign language when talking to them. The trio now faces charges of trespassing and will appear in court next month. Read the full story from the Toronto Star here.

Deaf students rally for military service

North Carolina students are on their way to Washington today for a rally advocating the admission of the deaf to military service. WSOC-TV has a video report.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Charges filed in national scam of deaf

An Ohio deaf woman in her 70s is facing charges of ripping off other elderly deaf people across the country through a lottery scam. More than 1000 people fell for the scam, which she contacted through video relay using interpreters. Read the full story in the Columbus Dispatch here.

TV news advocate and reporter stepping aside

Image from WLS-TV
A well-known advocate for the deaf in Chicago is retiring at the end of the month. Karen Meyer appeared regularly on WLS-TV (ABC-7) for more than two decades, reporting on issues related to ADA law often overlooked by the news media. The television station says news anchor Hosea Sanders and producer Sylvia Jones will continue Meyer's legacy with a weekly report. Meyer, who has been deaf since birth, also retired from DePaul University's Office of Students with Disabilities this year. Read the full announcement of her retirement here.

Gally Drops First Game

Gallaudet was shut out in its first football game of the season. The Shenandoah University Hornets beat the Bison by a score of 20-0 yesterday. Gally had just over 100 yards in total offense. The game was supposed to take place Saturday but lightening delayed the game until Sunday.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Marvel comic featuring deaf hero

Marvel's Hawkeye is deaf, thanks to writer Matt Fraction. Find out why Fraction decided to create the comic book arrow-wielding hero with the experience of severe hearing loss in a KSL-TV post here.  You'll also discover why the issue was dedicated to a deaf teenager living in Utah.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Gally football season underway!

Is Gallaudet's football team ready for a new season? WJLA-TV has a video report on the Bison--who won their conference title last year. No captions on the DC TV station's video but you can read the story here.

Baby's reaction to hearing aids

A video of a UK baby getting hearing aids turned on has gone viral, with more than 5 million views in less than a week. The parents say the video was recorded when their son, Lachlan, was seven weeks old. That was nearly two years ago.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Interpreters requested for deaf man's trial

A deaf Oklahoma man charged with resisting arrest was in court yesterday. His attorney asked for interpreters for the trial. Pearl Pearson was left bloodied and bruised after a scuffle with police. KFOR-TV has a video report which is posted below.

Music for Implant Wearers

Dutch composer Kyteman has produced a song for cochlear implant wearers who can hear only a limited range of frequencies. Kyteman used an orchestra to reproduce Sam Smith's Stay With Me. He put it together especially for a deaf 19-year-old named Vera van Dijk, who tells the story of the song in the video below. There's also another video below it of just the song.