Friday, July 31, 2020

YouTube is ending its community captions feature

YouTube will discontinue its community captions Sept. 28. It allowed viewers to add subtitles but YouTube says it wasn't used enough. “You can still use your own captions, automatic captions and third-party tools and services,” YouTube said in an update on its help page here.  An online petition asking Google to change the decision has gotten more than 90,000 signatures.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

The Kentucky Deaf School will start its year online

The Kentucky School for Blind and Kentucky School for the Deaf says it will start year online. The Kentucky Department of Education approved the plan which means the Kentucky School for the Deaf in Danville will begin instruction on August 24. At least the first six weeks of classes will be held online. A decision about the rest of the semester will be decided in October. In a letter to families, Principal Toyah Robey wrote: 
When we are permitted to return to campus, KSD will provide details in advance of our Healthy at School procedures to ensure the safety of our students and staff when on campus. It is critical that all comply with these guidelines to safeguard the health and welfare of everyone. 
Read the full letter here.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Marlee Matlin Implores Hiring of More Deaf Actors

Academy Award winner Marlee Matlin is working to recognize the talents of deaf and disabled actors as they struggle for work in Hollywood. She talks about it in this New York Times video.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

On this date in 1990: The ADA was signed into law

It was on this day (July 26, 1990) that President George H.W. Bush signed the American Disability Act into law. Senator Tom Harkin says the ADA law was inspired by his deaf brother. The Iowa Democrat says watching his brother, Frank, struggle against social barriers motivated him to push the ADA bill through the U.S. Congress. The law prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training and other conditions and privileges of employment.  The National Technical Institute for the Deaf President Gerard Buckley writes about the importance of the Act in an article here. You can also read more about the law in the article 30 Years After a Landmark Disability Law, the Fight for Access and Equality Continues and watch the signing in the video below.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Two Docus about the Deaf Community Coming to Netflix

Deaf U and Audible will be on Netflix soon. Both documentaries are about the deaf community in the U.S. Deaf U is an eight-episode series following a group of Deaf students at Gallaudet University. It will have a Netflix premiere on Oct. 9.  Audible is a 36-minute film that follows Maryland School for the Deaf high school athlete Amaree McKenstry-Hall. The film is about the pressures of his senior year—both on and off the football field.  Nyle DiMarco tweeted about the Deaf U series yesterday:

Thursday, July 23, 2020

VA School for the Deaf and the Blind planning to reopen

The Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind plans to meet in the classroom five days a week—starting next month. Read more about it from WHSV-TV here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Harvard Law School’s first deaf-blind graduate: 'My disability was never my barrier'

Harvard Law School’s first deaf-blind graduate speaks out on ableism in a video for Yahoo Life. Haben Girma says: 
People often ask, ‘Is disability a barrier? How has deaf-blindness been a barrier?’ And then I ask people, ‘Why are you assuming that a disability would be a barrier?’ That's an ableist assumption. We need to move away from thinking ‘is disability a barrier’ and instead move toward thinking, ‘how do we make our service accessible, how do we make our schools accessible? 
Watch the video of the author, lawyer, and disability rights advocate here.

Sunday, July 19, 2020


Unspeakable is a public service announcement about Black Lives Matter featuring members of the deaf community put together by Pittsburgh filmmaker Emmai Alaquiva. She says, “It is my hope that ‘Unspeakable’ brings attention to the basic human right of communication access as a thread which connects us all." 

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Some parents at odds with Florida deaf school

The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind is not offering a distance learning option for the school year despite the rise in coronavirus cases in the state. "If families don't want their children in a classroom with other students in a state that's a coronavirus epicenter, they're left no choice but to leave the school," reports First Coast News.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Protecting the Deaf Community from Investment Scams

This SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) video shows how a fraud takes place from the point of view of a man from the deaf and hard or hearing community who was defrauded by someone they thought they could trust. While the names and people are made up, the story demonstrates how even the most responsible investors can be victims when they put their guard down.

Florida School Staffers identified as being part of offensive photo

Some Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind staff members are in an offensive photo taken of members of Kappa Gamma fraternity at Gallaudet University—including a media specialist and an athletic director. An associate instructor from the University of North Florida is also in the photo, according to a report by The Florida Times-Union. Read more details here

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Nyle DiMarco is getting his own comedy show

from Nyle DiMarco's Instragram
Nyle DiMarco will play a "charismatic, street-smart deaf man" in a new comedy series. The model, deaf activist, and TV star tweeted about it recently: 

if i told my younger self that i would eventually have my own series about Deaf culture, i wouldn’t believe it. deaf people leading in a series about deaf culture? not possible! this is huge for me... thank you all

DiMarco has also revealed that he has potentially been exposed to the coronavirus. He has experienced a fever, chills, a sore throat and lost his smell and taste. He is now recovering in self-isolation. Read more about it from Deadline here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Deaf Groups Sue Florida Gov

Disability Rights Florida and the National Association of the Deaf have filed a lawsuit against Florida's governor for failing to make his COVID-19 briefings accessible in sign language. Ron DeSantis 

Howard A. Rosenblum, who leads the NAD, says:
Health threats such as coronavirus impact everyone including deaf and hard-of-hearing people, and it is imperative that all governmental announcements be accessible to all of us including in ASL. Given the extraordinary surge of coronavirus cases in Florida, full and equal access to information is critical.
Read the full complaint here

Monday, July 13, 2020

Investigation into principal at deaf school

A high school assistant principal at the California School for the Deaf, Riverside, is under investigation for his part in a fraternity at Gallaudet University that was recently suspended for anti-Semitic activities. 
Tim Hile belonged to Kappa Gamma and is seen in a 2006 photo apparently giving a Nazi-style salute As a Gallaudet University student. Read the full story here.

Remembering a "tireless champion and advocate for the Deaf community"

Harlan Lane
PHOTO: Mary Knox Merrill/Northeastern University
Harlan Lane died a year ago today (July 13, 2019) at the age of 82 from Parkinson’s disease. A psychologist and linguist, Lane helped to found the ASL program at Northeastern University. But he will mostly be remembered as a "tireless champion and advocate for the Deaf community." Among the books he authored was The People of the Eye: Deaf Ethnicity and Ancestry. He argued in the book that deafness is not a disability but a unique community. Lane became interested in Deaf culture and ASL in the 1970s while teaching at the University of California, San Diego. He happened upon students who were signing to each other and wanted to learn more. He explained in an interview with the Northeastern in 2011 here. The interim co-director of the ASL Program at Northeastern, Angela Herbert, said:
Professionally speaking, he was decades before his time in terms of understanding the value of Deaf people and the Deaf community. There are so many books on ASL, Deaf culture, and the Deaf community now, but when Harlan was starting out, that just wasn’t the case.
People at Gallaudet University remember Lane as a professor in the 1980s who was an outspoken member of the “Deaf President Now” movement. Read more about Lane here.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

How the 1918 influenza pandemic affected the Kentucky School for the Deaf

The 1918 influenza pandemic (also known as The Spanish Flu) killed millions of people including 14,000 people in Kentucky. The Advocate-Messenger takes a look at the effect the outbreak had on the state's school for the deaf here

Commissioner for the deaf put on paid leave

The Massachusetts commissioner for the deaf is on paid leave while an investigation is underway into his fraternity activities during college. The fraternity engaged in racist and anti-Semitic practices. WCVB-TV reports Commissioner Steven Florio of the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing told staff about his participation in some of the frat's controversial activities. Florio also sent an email to staff in which he wrote, "I disavow my past affiliation with the fraternity." Read more here.

Steven Florio
Steven Florio from WCVB-TV video

Friday, July 10, 2020

On this Date: Sentenced to Life in Prison

It was on this date (July 10) in 2002 that a District of Columbia judge sentenced Joseph Mesa, Jr. to six life terms without the possibility of parole for the murders of two Gallaudet classmates. The 22-year-old from Guam was convicted of first beating Eric Plunkett to death in September of 2000 and then stabbing Benjamin Varner to death in February of 2001. Both attacks took place in Gallaudet dorm rooms. Mesa took money from both victims but turned himself into police a few days after killing Varners. Pleading not guilty by reason of insanity, Mesa told jurors he saw hands wearing black gloves telling him in sign language to kill the 19-year-olds. Mesa's defense attorney suggested that the attack on Plunkett was prompted by rage over an unwanted homosexual advance. Mesa was convicted on all 15 counts and was, at last report, serving time at the United States Penitentiary in Atwater, California near San Francisco, a high-security facility.

On this Day: First Deaf Pro Baseball Player born

Ed "Dummy" Dundon was the first deaf player to play baseball professionally. He was born on this day (July 10) in 1859. After attending the Ohio State School for the Deaf, Dundon went on to play several years of professional baseball. He had two seasons with the Columbus Buckeyes before retiring and becoming an umpire. During his hitch with the Buckeyes in 1883 and 1884, Dundon had a record of 9-20 and a 4.25 ERA.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Little girl greets deaf delivery driver in sign

A video has gone viral that shows eight-year-old Tallulah greeting deaf delivery driver in Greater Manchester, England. She used the sign language to surprise Tim Joseph. They had became friends and Tallulah drew a picture of a rainbow for the driver to thank him for his efforts amid the coronavirus pandemic. Joseph told the BBC, “Tallulah realized I was deaf and then one day she surprised me when she signed to me, ’Have a good day.’ I think she learnt sign language at school.” The video was taken by Tallulah's mother, Amy Roberts.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Getting to Know.. Autumn Weaver

Greetings from Iowa interviewed Autumn Weaver in the video below. Autumn became Miss Iowa in 2014. She was born deaf and received a cochlear implant at age three. Find out more about her in the video below.

Monday, July 6, 2020

How Rochester Became a Hub for the Deaf

Rochester is home to one of the largest deaf and hard-of-hearing populations in the U.S. Read about how that came about in an article from the Daily Beast here.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Gally's plan for fall teaching

Gallaudet University will start the fall semester remotely, then slowly bring students back for in-person learning based on recommendations from the school’s reopening task force and city officials. Below is a video from President Roberta J. Cordano about the fall semester and you can read more information here.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Getting to Know: Cochlear Limited

You could have bought stock in Cochlear Limited at the turn of the century for about $10. A few days ago the stock was worth more than $133 a share.  Cochlear Limited is the biggest of the three companies that dominate the cochlear implant market. More than a quarter of a million people have a Cochlear implant. Based in Australia, Cochlear Limited does most of its business in Europe and the U.S. through more than a dozen subsidiaries. With a billion dollars in annual revenue, the company features brands like Nucleus and Baha. More than a quarter of a million people have one of its implants. It employs more than 4000 people. Read more here.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

On this day in history: 27 year ago

It was 27 years ago today (July 1, 1993) that the FCC requires all U.S. analog television receivers with screens 13 inches or larger to include built-in decoder circuitry that could display closed captioning.