Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ball Player Dies

A Yankee infielder who helped raise awareness of deaf issues has died. A baseball injury left Gil McDougald nearly deaf. He died Sunday at his New Jersey home at the age of 82. A member of 5 World Series championship teams, McDougald was selected the American League’s Rookie of the Year in 1951 and was a five-time All Star.

CSI is Calling

CSI is looking for a deaf actress to play the mother of Gil Grissom. The casting notes describe the character as a "strong, confident, intelligent and influential woman" who has "never allowed her lack of hearing to keep her from doing." She's also a former librarian, fluent in ASL. The part will show up during episode 13 of the crime drama series, which is titled The Two Mrs. Grissoms.

Hospital to Pay $80k

New Hampshire's Portsmouth Regional Hospital will pay $80k for ADA violations. The agreement settles a lawsuit filed because the hospital failed to provide an interpreter to two deaf people on many occasions, despite the facility's written policy saying it would do so. Rosalie and Donald Valery will get $50,000 and Brian Minch $10,000. The hospital also agreed to pay a $20,000 civil penalty to the government. Portsmouth Regional also said it would:
  • Provide live interpreter within an hour 80%
  • Provide a video conference with an interpreter within 15 minutes
  • Hire a 24-hour disability coordinator
  • Hold staff training
  • Perform data collection on it's progress
  • Update its complaint procedures
  • Create notification forms
  • Make TTY service available
  • Advertising its services for the deaf in the local newspaper

Monday, November 29, 2010


A profile of ASL teachers in New Jersey public schools is here.

Leslie Nielsen Dies

Actor Leslie Nielsen has died. What many people did not know about the versatile actor, known for both his serious and comedic roles, is that he was legally deaf and wore hearing aids most of his life. It didn't stop him from starring in films like The Poseidon Adventure, Airplane and the The Naked Gun. A Canadian, Nielsen graduated from high school at 17 and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, even though he was legally deaf, and later became a radio DJ. He died Sunday in Fort Lauderdale at the age of 84.

Fighter History

A rundown of the fight history of deaf Ultimate Fighter Matt Hamill here.

YouTube Caption Changes

Google is rolling out big improvements to its YouTube automatic captions. The search giant says the changes have already cut errors by one-fifth. You can access the tool by clicking on the little “cc” button on most YouTube videos and selecting Transcribe Audio.Google software engineer Ken Harrenstien, who is deaf, says the software was released before it was perfected because there are some situations in which it is very accurate or at least very helpful. Google says people have watched video with automatic captions more than 23 million times. If your do a Google search on a phrase that happens to be in the middle of a video, Google will take you directly to that place in the video.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ally ASL

Ally ASL is back in business. The Texas 22-year-old's YouTube account, Ally ASL, was shut down recently after several music companies decided her translation of some 90 popular songs into American Sign Language was a violation of copyright law. Allyson Townsend (her real name) asked for help from the Electronic Frontier Foundation which got YouTube, Warner and Universal to agree that it was a case of fair use. Check out her Facebook fan page here and you can watch one of her videos here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Silence

Austrailia's ABC network is offering a British thriller tomorrow night called The Silence. It's about a deaf girl who witnesses the murder of a policeman. The Silence attempts to show what cochlear implant users hear. Deaf actress Genevieve Barr plays the lead role. A graduate of Edinburgh University, Barr was teaching in an inner London secondary school and had to give up her teaching career to take on the role. The Guardian newspaper says it has a "storyline that leaves the viewer wanting more."

Fulbirght Scholarships

The Chronicle of Higher Education says Gallaudet University is top producers of U.S. Fulbright Students. Gallaudet also received this distinction in 2007. The Fulbright Program gives master's and doctoral candidates and recent B.S./B.A. graduates or graduating seniors opportunities for personal development, academic enrichment, and international experience. All three Gallaudet students who applied for Fulbright grants in October 2009 were awarded fellowships to pursue research abroad. You'll find the full list here.

Woman Escapes Fire

A Georgia woman was not woke up by her strobe light when a fire raced through her apartment building last night. Debra McCord of Fort Oglethorpe is deaf and unaware of an evacuation because of the blaze. A neighbor rang her doorbell, setting off strobe lighting inside provided by a old and weak unit. It wasn't enough to wake her. Fortunately, the neighbor knew McCord was deaf and alerted police. She escaped without serious injury. The apartment manager says she plans to install a strobe fire alarm.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cochlear Stock Rises

The price of Cochlear stock soared after word of a recall by rival Sonova. Cochlear is an Australian company that dominates the cochlear implant business. It gained the most during 2010 in Australian trading after Sonova announced it was voluntarily recalling its HiRes 90K cochlear implant. At one point, Cochlear advanced 4.1 percent to hit $77.96 on the Australian stock exchange.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hostage Hoax

Police in Buffalo got a call from someone saying they were deaf and held hostage. It turned out to be a hoax. WIVB-TV has this report.

Implant Market Facts

The cochlear implant market is about $800 million and expected to grow at a double-digit rate because the number of new patients is growing by about 200,000 each year.

Implant Recall

A hearing aid implant recall has sent the stock of a Switzerland-based implant maker tumbling. Shares of Sonova, the world's largest hearing aid maker, fell after the announcement that Advanced Bionics, which it owns, will recall its HiRes 90K cochlear-implant device. Two patients suffered from severe pain and overly loud sounds just days after activation of the device. Advanced had another recall six years ago.

Teens Raise Money for Deaf School

WDAF-TV in Kansas City offers a video report on 4 teens who put together a 5k walk to help the Kansas School for the Deaf.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bright Student Rejected

Oxford University has rejected one of Britain's best students for a place at the school. Deaf since birth, Anastasia Fedotova earned six A grades in math, physics, chemistry, biology and general studies. The 19-year-old communicates with help from hearing aids and by lip-reading. Born in Russia, she grew up in Germany and came to England in 2005. Her sponsors are demanding an explanation from the school, though she plans to now apply to Cambridge University.

Spill Suit Denied

A lawsuit filed by 4 deaf people against a Minneapolis country over a contamination spill has been dismissed. Their suit claimed Dakota County should have provided them sign-language interpreters after a mercury spill in Rosemount. A judge disagreed and now an appeals court has come to the same conclusion. Although the judges said interpreters should have been provided during the emergency, they ruled that they deaf residents failed to prove that it was the county's responsibility to provide the service. They also wanted the county to provide interpreters at meetings on the subject after the spill. Dozens of people were treated for mercury exposure after teenagers dumped two jars of it onto a playground. A disaster response team scrubbed the residents with soap and water, but the plaintiffs said they were confused and didn't participate because there was no interpreter to explain the process.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

School Leader Disappears

The director of Rhode Island's School for the Deaf is gone and school officials don't know when she'll come back and won't say why she is gone. Lori Dunsmore has taken an indefinite leave of absence from her post. She took over three years ago as only the second deaf person to lead the school in it's 134-year-old history. The assistant director and a teacher had recently left despite the school moving its dwindling enrollment into a new $31 million facility.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

New ASD Prez

The American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut has tapped David Carter as President of the Board of Directors for the school. Carter's current position is that of Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications for Magellan Health Services. He succeeds Carleton Mowell and has been involved with the school for the past seven years.

Deaf Expo in India

The 2nd International Deaf Expo takes place in New Delhi, India from December 13th-17th. The topic will be Empowering Technologies in Education of the Deaf/ Hard of Hearing. For details go here.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Implants & Scanners

If you have a cochlear implant and go through a full-body scanner at the airport, audiologists say it will not set off the machines. However, it could make an usual sound as you go through. It is a good idea to carry a medical card with you that says you have an implant.

Award Winning Earplugs

Etymotic's BlastPLG earplugs has won an Innovation award which will be presented at at the upcoming 2011 Consumer Electronics Show taking place this January in Las Vegas. The electronically enhanced earplugs run about $450 each and are designed to safeguard military personnel from long-term hearing damage. It will blocks certain frequencies when explosives or other loud noises take place but allow sounds at other frequencies to reach the inner ear. For more information, check here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hit & Run Driver Kills Student

A recent college graduate planning a career as a sign language interpreter was killed Sunday night in Boston. Andy Prior had attended Northeastern where he majored in American Sign Language. Someone driving an SUV hit him while he was riding a motorized scooter and drove off. Police have made no arrests in the case and have appealed to the public for information on the driver.

ASL Credit

Seton Hall may soon offer students the opportunity to take American Sign Language classes for credit as a second language. Right now, ASL classes count only as an elective or in certain majors in the College of Arts & Sciences. The Student Government Association at the New Jersey campus is promoting the idea but no decisions have been made by the administration. However, the interim Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, Joan Guetti, has suggested that ASL shouldn't count as a second language, any more than than mathematics should count as one.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

1st Prison with Videophone

Deaf inmates in Virginia will get access to a videophone and interpreters as part of a settlement with the Powhatan Correctional Center. This will make the Richmond-area Center the first major prison in the country to have a videophone. Until the settlement, Powhatan had only been providing an interpreter once a week for more than a dozen deaf inmates. This meant the prisoners were not able to take part in educational programs and had limited communication with prison staff and medical personnel. The lawsuit filed by inmates also complained that they did not have adequate access to sign-language interpreters, visual notifications of safety announcements.

False Arrest Suit

A deaf man from Pasadena, Maryland is suing local police for false arrest. Prosecutors filed charges against 58-year-old Stephen Pyles for burglary two years ago and later dropped them. Ironically, he was the one who called officers to report the crime through a TTY telephone. Pyles is asking for $1.5 million in damages. Officers who responded to the call claim Pyles punched one of them without provocation. Pyles claims the officer grabbed him and wrestled him to the group, handcuffing him behind his back which prevented Pyles from communicating.

64 Out of Work

Communication Services for the Deaf in Sioux Falls is laying off 64 workers at one of its local call centers. They will lose their jobs at the beginning of the year. The move is fallout from a decision by Qwest Communications not to renew its contract with South Dakota company that has been in place for four years.

App for Captioning

Hamilton is offering a new Android app for deaf users. It is available on the iPhone, Blackberry and Android devices and offers real-time conversation captioning so users can read what is being said. Android devices that support the new app include the HTC Aria, Motorola Backflip, Samsung Epic, and the Droid line. Read more about it here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

FCC Selects Deaf Lawyer

The FCC has appointed a deaf man to head of its Disability Rights Office. Gregory Hilibok is the first person with a disability to head the office. Hilibok has been an attorney in the office for nine years and was spokesman for the Deaf President Now movement in 1998 at Gallaudet University. He holds a degree in government from Gallaudet with a degree and J.D. from Hofstra Law School.

Questions Raised About State Deaf & Blind School

A former employee of the Colorado School For The Deaf And The Blind speaks out on the school's direction for the future. Here's a video report from KRDO-TV. Read the story here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Courage in Sports Awards

Motocross Champ Ashley Fiolek was honored at the annual Courage in Sports Awards on CBS television yesterday. Since joining the MotorcycleUSA.com Women's Motocross Championship three years ago, the deaf teen has earned two titles along two X Games gold medals. Fiolek was honored along with former USC football star Stafon Johnson, NBA Hall of Famer and Mayor of Detroit Dave Bing, and the Wingsuit Pilots, a group of daredevil skydivers. The Courage in Sports Awards recognizes athletes who demonstrate extraordinary courage, spirit, and perseverance in the face of adversity in order to succeed in their chosen sport.

Lego Robotics League

A teenager in Huntsville, Alabama helped to create his team's science contest submission based on the knowledge of hearing he has gained through having a cochlear implant. Read about it here.

Deaf in Africa

Here is a video report from TV2 in Sierra Leone about the education of deaf children, explaining why one school does not use sign language. (no captioning)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Learning 2 Languages

An Idaho newspaper takes a look at how deaf immigrants are learning two languages at once here.

Hotel to Make Changes

Hilton has cut a deal with the feds to make its hotels more ADA friendly. The hotel chain will make changes to about 900 Hilton-branded facilities including Hampton Inn and Doubletree. Hilton will also pay $50,000. According to government attorneys, Hilton failed to build its hotels in compliance with the ADA, doesn't offer enough ADA compliant rooms and has not offered its disabled guests a way to book what rooms are available. This is the most sweeping changes required by the Justice Department. The company has agreed to better train its employees and improve its website.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


The Maryland School for the Deaf football has ended its season with a perfect record.
The Orioles beat the California School for the Deaf at Riverside in its last game by a whopping 80-0 score. The win may give Maryland an 8th consecutive National Deaf championship. The Orioles keep 9 teams scoreless over the course of the season. The team loses 14 seniors after this season.

Tackling Sports with Gusto

The Los Angeles Times takes a look at how deaf students at one high school are embrasing sports in this article.

Fatal Bus Accident

The driver of a green Suburu was killed yesterday when she ran into a bus from the North Carolina School for the Deaf on Highway 109 near Wallburg. Two adults on the bus were injured. The last student had already been dropped off before the accident. Police say the driver was Nancy Griffin of Kernersville.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Love Language

You can increase the funding for The American Society for Deaf Children simply by viewing the video belo called Love Language, produced by the Jubilee Project. Funding increases for the group each time it is viewed during November.

Scam Charges Tossed

A judge has thrown out charges against a man for alledgedly scamming an roofer despite the testimony of an elderly deaf woman. WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh has a video report.

Film Wins Award

A movie about a deaf ultimate fighter has won a Hollywood award. The American Film Institute (AFI) gave Hamill its Breakthrough Award, along with $5000. The film was inspired by the life of fighter Matt Hamill. AFI FEST 2010 includes 97 films from 3000 submissions representing 31 countries.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mobile Captions Service

Hamilton Relay and Mobile Captions Company are launching a Mobile Captions Service with help from Wireless provider Consumer Cellular. Like closed captioning on TV, the service will let the deaf and hard of hearing to read typed captions of what is being said on a wireless phone display as the conversation is taking place. The service is only availabe on a Nokia E5 phone. When customers place a call, the Nokia E5 automatically connects to Hamilton Relay Service. A live operator types the information in real time.

ASL Comedy Tour

The ASL Comedy Tour is coming to Las Vegas. The show will take place November 13th at Alexis Park. Comic Keith Wann will make an appearance at the Vegas show and he'll later perform in Broadway’s upcoming West Side Story for the deaf. You'll find more information about the ASL Comedy Tour here and a complete listing Keith's tour here.

Keith Wann's ASL Comedy Tour DVD - demo from Keith Wann on Vimeo.

125 Years

The New Mexico School for the Deaf celebrated its 125th anniversary yesterday. In 1885, a deaf couple by the name of Lars and Belle Larson, started the school in a small adobe house in Santa Fe. Two years later, the New Mexico Territorial Legislature officially established the New Mexico School for the Deaf at the same site you will find the school today. It serves some 120 students on the campus and 50 others throughout the state by satellite. Its outreach program serves 270 students. There are four buildings on campus listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

New Evidence in Girl's Disappearance

There are reports in the media that police have found human remains in a creek during their search for Zahra Baker, a missing deaf girl. Authorities are only saying they have discovered new evidence. She's been missing from her home in Hickory for more than a month and police have indicted that they believe the 10-year-old is dead, after finding her artificial leg. Her stepmother, Elisa Baker, has been charged with obstruction of justice for writing a fake ransom note. Her father, Adam Baker, has arrested been on other charges.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

School hires PR Firm

The Lexington School for the Deaf has hired a public relations firm to promote its brand among families of deaf children and professionals. Harrison Leifer DiMarco will provide marketing services for the Jackson Heights, New York school and its three service centers. The school offers educational programs through high school age students. Lexington service centers provide audiology, speech, vocational, and mental health services.

Improving Captioning

Broadcast Engineering magazine discusses the technical aspects of how captioning can be improved here.

Teacher Trouble

A deaf public school teacher says she faced discrimination during her time in the schools of Loudoun County, Virginia before she was let go. Adonia Smith started working at Frances Hazel Reid Elementary School in Leesburg three years ago, after having earned a doctorate in deaf education and working for 13 years as a teacher. According to Smith, administrators regularly refused to provide a qualified interpreter in order to save money. Instead, she was expected to carry around a whiteboard and type out messages on a laptop.

MIT Research

Read about how new findings from MIT researchers may improve hearing aids here.

Deaf Prof at UF

The student newspaper at the University of Florida profiles a professor who teaches ASL at the school here.

Man Sentenced for Attacking Deaf-Blind Woman

A Tampa, Florida man has pled guilty to charges related to holding a deaf-blind woman against her will. The 40-year-old woman thought she was getting a ride from a friend and says Luis Alberto Mendez tried to kidnap and molest her. Mendez claims she was trying to bum a ride. A judge sentenced Mendez to 364 days in jail. Since he had remained in jail since his arrest, Mendez was released because he had already exceeded the jail term.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Video Relay Service Gets 1/2 Million

Deaf-owned Convo Communications is borrowing a half of a million dollars from a Southern California bank to expand its services. Convo provides video relay services, having recently launched Convo Anywhere, a cloud-based Web application. Founded in March 2009, Convo has since grown to four call centers and gross revenues close to $4 million for 2010. The CEO of Convo, Robin Horwitz, is deaf. Read more at the company website.

New Zealand Teachers to Gather

The New Zealand Sign Language Teachers Association holds it 11th National Conference in Wellington, New Zealand November 27-28. For more information go here.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Deaf Research Convention in Brazil

The 5th International Deaf Academics and Researchers convention takes place November 21-24 in Florianopólis, Brazil. For details, click here.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Govenor Steps In

There's good news for the New Mexico School for the Deaf. As we reported earlier this week, voters narrowly rejected a state ballot measure that would have given the school $3 million for renovations. But now, Governor Bill Richardson has announced that he is making $100,000 in stimulus funds available to help finish the financing for a new heating and cooling system. The money is coming out of his American Recovery and Reinvestment Act discretionary funds.

Friday, November 5, 2010

World Deaf Poker Tourney

The 6th annual World Deaf Poker Tournament will take place tomorrow at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The tourney will include two Texas hold’em tournaments for the deaf and friends of the deaf. Proceeds will go to the American Society for Deaf Children, an advocacy group, and the Southern Nevada Silver Knights which is an organization run by people who are either deaf or hard of hearing.

Gally Film Fest

The WORLDEAF Cinema Festival is underway at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. It's the first deaf film festival to be held at the school. There are movies by deaf filmmakers and movies by hearing filmmakers about the deaf experience. Oscar winner Marlee Matlin will stop by tomorrow.

Getting a lot of attention are the two stars of the soon coming indie flick called Hamill. It's about a deaf ultimate fighter. Shoshannah Stern is best known for her recurring roles on shows like Lie to Me and Weeds while Russell Harvard played Daniel Day-Lewis's grown son in There Will Be Blood.

Voters Reject Money for Schools

New Mexico voters narrowly rejected a ballot measure Tuesday that would have given $155.5 million to schools like the New Mexico School for the Deaf. Had the bond passed, the school would have gotten $3 million for renovations. The bond was defeated by fewer than 2,500 votes statewide.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Helping the Deaf to Speak

WGHP-TV reports on teaching the deaf in Greensboro, North Carolina. (no captions)

Pond Searched for Missing Girl

North Carolina investigators says they've found a bone that might belong to a missing 10-year-old deaf girl. Zahra Baker also lost a leg to bone cancer. She was reported missing several weeks ago by her father. Meanwhile, her stepmother, Elisa Baker, faces charges for admitting that she wrote a phony ransom note. Searchers are now focused on a pond, which is being drained as police looked for more evidence.

Deaf Robbery Victim Dies

An elderly deaf man has died in Columbus, Ohio from injuries he suffered when he was beaten and robbed last month. 83-year-old Paul Earhart had been in a coma since the attack. Prosecutors say DNA from under his fingernails and eyeglasses could put his assalant behind bars. Police have already arrested one man for the crime: Jason Frost. They say Frost drove the getaway car, but another man was also involved in the attack. Earhart lived in an apartment complex for the deaf after having worked for many years at the Ohio School for the Deaf.

RTID Record

A record 1,521 students now attend the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID)in Rochester. More than 1,300 of them are deaf or hard-of-hearing. NTID was first established by Congress in 1965.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

New Prez for RIT

The new president of RIT's National Technical Institute for the Deaf is Gerard Buckley. He will be the first graduate from the school to serve in the position. He starts his new job at the beginning of the year. The search for a new president began a year ago. The search committee looked at 18 applicants. All three finalists are deaf or hard of hearing. The 54-year-old Buckley has worked as chairman of the Department of Educational Outreach at NTID, Associate Dean for Student Services and is currently Assistant Vice President for College Advancement. Besides a bachelor's degree in Social Work from RIT's College of Liberal Arts, he holds a master's degree in Social Work from the University of Missouri in Columbia and a doctorate in Special Education from the University of Kansas in Lawrence. His wife, Judy, is a sign language interpreter.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Time Traveler on Film?

A rumor on the Internet speculates that a woman captured on a 1928 film was a time traveler. She appears to be talking into a cell phone in a piece of film shot at the Hollywood premiere of a Charlie Chaplin movie called The Circus at Grauman's Chinese Theatre. It is included on a new DVD. The folks at LiveScience point out the woman was likely hard of hearing and holding what is called an ear trumpet. The woman appears to be talking and was perhaps she was yelling at the man who quickened his pace ahead of her. Watch the video and decide for yourself or read more about it at LifeScience here.

Deaf Job Applicant Gets $184K

A Texas woman was awarded $184,400 because a company refused to take her application or interview her because she is deaf. The woman was applying for a stock clerk position at Smith Personnel Solutions has four outlets in the state. She was allegedly told her that she could be “dangerous” because she “couldn’t communicate" even though she had 3 years of experience as a stock clerk without any history of communication problems.

Cash for Research in Iowa

The University of Iowa is getting a $225,000 grant for biological research related to deafness and communicative disorders. The money comes from the Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Everyone Has a Story

A young South African talks about her experiences in the country as a deaf woman here. Vicky Fourie has become a successful writer and crowned 2nd Princess in the Miss Deaf International contest earlier this year.

Parents Appeal Ruling

A legal fight over the South Dakota School for the Deaf is not over. A group of 8 parents filed a lawsuit but lost in court are now appealing. The lower court ruling allows the state to close the Sioux Falls main campus and just offer outreach programs and services in local schools.