Saturday, May 27, 2017

Mocking Sign Language on the Jimmy Fallon show

During an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, guest Jamie Foxx started doing fake sign-language to the camera.  The winner of both "DWTS" and "America's Next Top Model" Nyle DiMarco says it was disrespectful for Foxx to mock deaf people. Fellow Oscar winner Marlee Matlin tweeeted at Foxx, "I’d be happy to give you sign language lessons so you could be funnier." Here's a video posted by TMZ that shows what happened.

Friday, May 26, 2017

" I see his voice. I hear his face."

image from
The hearing mother of a deaf child has written a piece for the New York Times titled, "My Deaf Son Fought Speech. Sign Language Let Him Bloom." The writer, Elizabeth Engelman, works at the Family Center on Deafness in Largo, Florida and writes the blog OnDeafness. She says":
"In American Sign Language, the sign for cochlear implant is similar to the sign for vampire. Vampire is signed with two fingers like teeth to the throat. Cochlear implant is signed with two fingers like teeth behind the ears. The audiologist told me not to sign at all. She said sign language was a crutch that would hinder his speech.. The audiologist adjusted the pitch and tuned the levels to make a simulation of sound. She called this process mapping, but there were no guideposts to show the way. How do you chart loneliness? How do you trace a landscape of silence and sound between mother and son?"
Read the full story in the New York Times here.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Louisiana considers the "d" in Deaf

(image from
Louisiana state legislator Pat Smith wants to change how the deaf are referred to in state law. Her bill HB253 would ask the Louisiana State Law Institute to distinguish between lower case "deaf" and upper case "Deaf." A committee endorsed her resolution yesterday. Read the text of her bill and how it is progressing through the legislature here.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Helen Keller's message to the Nazis

image public domain
Helen Keller wrote a letter to Nazi students in 1933 who played to burn her collection of her essays, How I Became a Socialist. Read it and some background on it at Open Culture here.

Deaf patients struggle to get interpreters in medical emergencies

A investigative reporting website that focuses on health issues says a "review of hospital inspection reports and court records found dozens of instances around the country when deaf patients said they were not provided adequate interpreter services." Particularly of concern is hospital dependence on Video Relay Interpreters instead of in-person ASL interpreters. STAT reports:
Many deaf patients have taken to social media to complain about the use of video interpreting services in emergency rooms. Numerous patients tell stories about a blurry video feed and describe having to set up the video interpreting service themselves when nurses don’t know how to operate the equipment, or being unable to focus on a small screen in a crowded room.
Read the full story here.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Chances

image from
The Chances is "a show written by, and starring, deaf people" and, according to the Bay Area Reporter, has been picked up by Sundance Now, an AMC-backed streaming service. The Chances focuses on two best friends, one is engaged and the other is trying to move on from his ex-boyfriend. The show earned positive reviews at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Read the full story here.

a new South Texas Festival

The Good Vibrations Music and Arts Festival took place for the first time in San Antonio yesterday. KSAT-TV says it was "specifically for the deaf and hard of hearing community and has this video report.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

meet Millicent Simmonds

image from Wonderstruck trailer
Millicent Simmonds is 14 years old and like most teenagers her age-except she's deaf and starring in a major motion picture called Wonderstruck.  The Associated Press reports the director of the film told reporters at the Cannes Film Festival, "It was our incredible good fortune to find this girl, Millie, who from the very beginning — the very first time I saw her tape — I just shivered. There was something about the integrity of her as a person that showed through that was true and ultimately you see it on the screen. Our good fortune in finding Millie can't be overstated." Read the full story about Millicent Simmonds here

Life on Sesame Street

Linda Bove played Linda the Librarian on Sesame Street for years. KJZZ radio in Phoenix sat down to talk with the deaf actress to see what it was like.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Good Vibrations Music and Art Fest

The Good Vibrations Music and Art Festival takes place Saturday in San Antonio. There will be craft booths, food, a lightshow and a deaf-accessible concert. The current Miss San Antonio, deaf singer Emma Rudkin, will perform. KSAT-TV has more in a video report.


Julianne Moore says it was an "incredible privilege” to have a deaf role in the film Wonderstruck. But "the Oscar-winner was met with criticism when she took the role in the film," reports Vanity Fair. Many in the deaf community question having a hearing actress take the role of a deaf adult when there are many capable deaf actors available. However, other roles in the film did go to deaf actors. Wonderstruckis about "the journeys of two lonely deaf children living 50 years apart." Read the full story here.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Deaf woman: all the stupid questions she's been asked

A Scottish woman named Bea shares in a video inappropriate questions she has gotten from people because she is deaf. The video was posted by BBC Social.

Using Movie Magic to Translate ASL

"Researchers are using computer-animation techniques, such as motion-capture, to make life-like computer avatars that can reliably and naturally translate written and spoken words into sign language, whether it’s American Sign Language or that of another country," reports Slate. It's the same technology that made Ratatouille and Happy Feet successful animated films. "The signing avatars can also be used in apps and games to help deaf children get early exposure to language, which is critical for their cognitive development." Read the full story from Slate here.

Monday, May 15, 2017

A drug to reverse hearing loss?

MIT researcher Bob Langer and Harvard Medical School’s Jeff Karp say they have developed a drug that could address hearing loss by using chemical compounds to multiply and create new hair cells in the inner ear. Their company is called Frequency Therapeutics. You can read their press release about the drug here. Frequency Therapeutics published a research paper about their approach in the journal Cell Reports. Read more about Frequency in The Week. "Another Boston biotech," reports Xconomy named "Decibel launched in October 2015 to develop drugs that combat some of the biological reasons for hearing issues."

Friday, May 12, 2017

Deaf Woman Denied Terp at Airport

The ACLU has filed a discrimination complaint saying a deaf woman was stopped and interrogated at Honolulu's airport. Customs officials apparently refused to provide her with a sign language interpreter, despite her repeated requests. The ACLU quotes the unnamed woman (who didn't want to be named) as saying:
I was so scared and felt alone. For people with deafness, being cut off from our ways of communicating is terrifying. I have traveled a lot, but have never experienced anything like this at any airport ever. With this complaint, I just want to make sure that other deaf people coming through Hawaii’s airports are treated with basic respect and dignity, and that disabilities are accommodated.
Read the full story in HawaiiNewsNow.