Get Awesome Materials to Raise Hearing and Speech Awareness

Two groups have created a variety of useful materials about communication disorders that are free to use and distribute.

To raise awareness about communication disorders, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association observe Better Hearing and Speech Month each May.

This month, they are holding a social media contest and providing an inforgraphic and a quiz about hearing loss, as well as other communication disorder information in press releases, information sheets, posters, and more.

May Is Better Hearing and Speech Month. Communication: The Key to Connection. National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders logo. Side profile of a woman’s face as she is speaking. Letters float out of her mouth and into the air.

According to the institute’s website, 48 million Americans have a form of communication disorder, while 37.5 million of us have hearing loss–that’s 15 percent of Americans.

NIDCD Hearing Loss and Hearing Aid Use Infographic

Want to use the infographic above? The institute has created a version you can upload to your website or blog here.

Currently, the institute supports research for promoting accessible health care and urges people who think they have hearing loss to have their hearing tested.

Since only 25 percent of Americans who could benefit from hearing aids have used them, there are potentially people who might want them who haven’t had access to them, or who may need them for safety or work-related issues.

On their website, you may take a quiz in the right-hand column to determine if you should have your hearing tested.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association is promoting a social media contest to raise awareness. The association will award points for sharing information on social media and issue prizes for those earning the most points. Prizes will include Amazon gift cards and association promotional materials.

Learn what people with communication disorders, audiologists, speech-language pathologists are doing to raise awareness on this interactive, international map.

The association has also provided many press release materials and patient information handouts about hearing loss–in English and Spanish.

Sign Shares, Inc./International educates society about awareness issues concerning communication disorders through this blog and also on our website, including answering questions people ask about using sign language interpreters and information about how to empower communities by providing communication access.

Request sign language services from Sign Shares here.
















Join a Texas Emergency Management Webinar

Are you prepared for when an emergency strikes?

The Texas State Independent Living Council will host a webinar/virtual conversation, “Conversations on Independent Living: Emergency Preparedness,” on May 5, from 2 p.m.-3 p.m. (CT).

Color-enhanced picture of clouds over the ocean, showing golden and pink hues against black storm clouds.
If floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, or other disasters strike, are you ready? (license)

The guest speakers will be Ron Lucey, Executive Director of the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities, and Danielle Hesse with the Texas Disability Task Force on Emergency Management of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The session will discuss:

  • best practices for emergency communications with members of the disability community;
  • including individuals with disabilities’ needs in emergency management processes; and
  • increasing emergency preparedness in the disability community.

    Picture of trees and a bridge, with high strong water forcefully crossing under it as if from a recent flood.
    Flooding presents a challenge to most Texans with a disability. Are you prepared? (license)

This discussion is open to all members of the public.

Register for the webinar here.

(They will send you an e-mail with call-in information after you complete registration.)

Accommodations: If you need accommodations to join the meeting, contact the Texas SILC by Wednesday, April 26, 2017.

For more information, contact Ashley Fry at 512-371-7353 or






Congressional Bill Challenges the ADA

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) allows people with disabilities the right to go to court if they can’t find satisfaction regarding their civil rights under this law and other disability rights laws.

American flag shines in the sunlight.
Will Congress reduce the power of one of its greatest laws? photo credit: docoverachiever VOTE via photopin (license)

However, a new Congressional Bill, H.R. 620, seeks to change the way people with disabilities may seek redress, or resolutions, to the inaccessible world they encounter. You can read the bill here.

According to a newsletter from the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, the bill will take away some rights that now exist under the ADA.

According to bill H.R. 620, it is designed “to amend the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to promote compliance through education, to clarify the requirements for demand letters, to provide for a notice and cure period before the commencement of a private civil action, and for other purposes.”

The fund opposes the bill. “We must counter the business lobby, which wants to make it much more difficult to attain accessibility when businesses such as stores, restaurants, hotels, etc. disregard their ADA responsibilities,” according to the fund’s newsletter.

Black and white photo of an empty wheelchair at the bottom of some stairs.
Stairs are an example of an architectural barrier for someone who uses a wheelchair, scooter, or cane. But what if they block access to a doctor, lawyer, or school? (license)

Two problems in particular will affect people whose rights are violated under the ADA under H.R. 620, and according to the newsletter, it:

  • “Requires a person with a disability who encounters an access barrier to send a letter detailing the exact ADA provisions that are being violated;” and
  • “Rewards non-compliance by allowing businesses generous additional timelines, even though the ADA’s reasonable requirements are already over 25 years old!”
Gavel with a book in the background
How many actions must a U.S. citizen take before they can bring an action to court? (license)

If a person with a disability encounters an architectural barrier, according to the bill, they must do three things before they can take civil action:

  • “Provide to the owner or operator of the accommodation a written notice specific enough to allow such owner or operator to identify the barrier;” and
  • “Specify in detail the circumstances under which an individual was actually denied access to a public accommodation, including the address of property, the specific sections of the Americans with Disabilities Act alleged to have been violated, whether a request for assistance in removing an architectural barrier to access was made,” and
  • Specify “whether the barrier to access was a permanent or temporary barrier.”

The amendment language also calls for the creation of a “model program with … an expedited method for determining the relevant facts related to such barriers to access and steps taken before the commencement of litigation to resolve any issues related to access.”

H.R. 620 seems to contradict the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution, which states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Since lawsuits allow U.S. citizens to “petition the government for a redress of grievances,” or for a remedy for their problems, then requiring people with disabilities to take additional steps before they can bring a lawsuit would hinder that freedom and cause them to have an additional burden unlike other U.S. citizens.

The fund recommends that individuals let their representatives in Congress know if they don’t wish the ADA to be limited by the amendments that H.R. 620 brings.

To find out who your state’s representatives are, you can type your Zip Code in at Contacts include phone numbers, emails, and social media of your representatives.

Picture of the domed White U.S. Capitol building.
U.S. legislators will vote whether amendments are made to limit the ADA. (license)

You may also contact your legislators via phone by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. You may ask them to help you locate your representatives if you don’t know them.








Doctors with Blindness and Vision Loss Break Attitudinal Barriers

Dr. Jeffrey Gazzara, DO, is a resident in neuromusculoskeletal medicine at Mercy Health Muskegon in Muskegon, Mich. According to an article in DO, from the American Osteopathic Association, Dr. Gazzara is legally blind.

A three-dimensional white figure wears glasses, walks with a white cane, and has a yellow arm band with three black dots.
What preconceptions do you have about what a person who is blind or has low vision can or can’t do? Do you believe they can be doctors? If you don’t believe they can, are you basing that on your experience with sight, or on your experience with blindness?

Dr. Jeffery Gazzara, DO

As with doctors with blindness before him, Dr. Gazzara says that treating the patient is easiest. Adapting to existing medical systems is more difficult for a doctor with vision loss.

“During my clinical years,” he said, “I was rotating in a different hospital every month. That was difficult because I use a special computer system and I had to reconfigure it to access each hospital’s electronic medical record system.”

Dr. Jacob Bolotin

Dr. Gazzara is among other doctors influenced by the success of Dr. Jacob Bolotin, who became the world’s first fully licensed medical doctor, and who was blind since birth.

this picture is a graphic of two hands forming a heart and showing a heart beat pattern. The heart also makes multiple hearts as a representation of beats.
Together with captions for pictures, Sign Shares’ blog posts include Alternate Text for people who use screen readers. That way, they will know that this picture is a graphic of two hands forming a heart and showing a heart beat pattern. Photo credit: geralt, pixabay

According to a National Federation of the Blind article, Dr. Jacob Bolotin “fought prejudice and misconceptions about the capabilities of blind people in order to win acceptance to medical school and then into the medical profession. He was one of the most respected physicians in Chicago in the early twentieth century, particularly well known for his expertise on diseases of the heart and lungs.”

Commenting in 1914 on Dr. Bolotin’s accomplishments, the Philadelphia Inquirer observed, “It is one of the most amazing instances of mind triumphant over physical handicaps that the world has ever known… [Dr. Bolotin] will rank with Helen Keller as one of the wonderful blind persons of history.”

Dr. David Hartman

According to a Gettysburg College article, Dr. David Hartman, a psychiatrist and author, was the first blind person to complete medical school in the U.S.

Dr. Hartman lost his sight at age 8 to glaucoma, according to the article. Though he earned a bachelor’s degree with highest honors and distinction, he was rejected by nine medical schools.

Dr. Hartman wrote a story of his medical experiences, White Coat, White Cane: The Extraordinary Odyssey of a Blind Physician, which was published in 1978, and is the subject of a television movie, Journey from Darkness.

Dr. Timothy Cordes, MD

Dr. Timothy Cordes, MD, has progressive vision loss and is on staff at William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison, Wis.

Dr. Cordes is a psychiatrist who specializes in Addictive Behaviors.

According to an article in The Braille Monitor, Dr. Cordes  interviewed at a residency in the northeast. His interviewer asked, “You know, I just don’t get it. How are you going to know what’s going on with a patient?”

He said, “Well I know you’re reading your email right now as you are talking to me.” Dr. Cordes attributed his sense of humor to part of his success.

Graphic shows a three dimensional model of the bones of the lower part of the spine, hips, and pelvis.
Anatomical models are one of many tools people with low vision or blindness can use during medical education.

Dr. Cordes did things many people with sight might find extraordinary, such as operating: “I scrubbed in, holding that retractor for hours on end. I reached into live people’s bellies and identified organs and blood vessels. I caught babies. In pediatrics I examined kids. One of the children’s parents was a guy I knew. He said, after they finished the exam and walked out, his son said, ‘That was fine, Dad, but who was the dog for?'”

For an article, Dr. Cordes was asked if there were people who were skeptical about his wanting to study Medicine.

He said, “Everybody but the University of Wisconsin! All the other places just said, ‘No, thanks.'”

According to an NBC News report, “In a world where skeptics always seem to be saying, stop, this isn’t something a blind person should be doing, it was one more barrier overcome. There are only a handful of blind doctors in this country. But Cordes makes it clear he could not have joined this elite club alone. ‘I signed on with a bunch of real team players who decided that things are only impossible until they’re done,’ he says.”

Sign Shares Logo of hands and slogan, Interpreting Your WorldAt Sign Shares, we believe in exploring our potential and horizons and not putting limitations on what a person can do.

If you’re a person who is Deaf-Blind and you need interpretive services to make your dreams a reality, have your college or business contact us here to learn more!

Deaf and Interpreter Physicians Open Doors for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community

Doctor sitting at desk reaches out hand for a handshake.
Who determines which qualified candidates will still be rejected at medical school because of a disability? Is it still happening? How many doctors with disabilities do you know?

While many doctors with hearing only worry about earning good grades in their classes–doctors with deafness worry about admission to medical school after the good grades. In the past and perhaps in the present–doctoral candidates who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing wondered if they would be admitted at all, despite their other abilities.

Some pursued their profession past all advice and against the rejection from myriad medical schools. Another crossed the communication barrier and became a Certified ASL Interpreter to meet the needs of patients who wanted to openly communicate with their physician.

The following doctors are pioneers that have opened doors to medical school for people with hearing loss or deafness, and to the Deaf Community. They opened the minds of a Hearing Community that didn’t understand their abilities were less by the ability to hear than by the societal attitudes that believed they couldn’t achieve.


Picture of a door with punch number code
These physicians with deafness unlocked doors that were closed to them by physician and medical school gatekeepers.

Dr. Judith Ann Pachciarz lost her hearing as a toddler, according to Celebrating America’s Woman Physicians. She believes she may be the first deaf person in history to earn both a Ph.D. and an M.D. She is also the “first profoundly deaf woman physician.” Dr. Pachciarz served as doctor at the 1985 World Games for the Deaf in the Los Angeles area.

Dr. Pachciarz advocated for the right to study to be a doctor when they were considering Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

A pile of keys of different sizes and colors
There are many keys to open access to careers, including education, advocacy, and communication tools.

“In 1963 I met all the qualifications for medical school admission as I did in 1979. In 1977 I wrote Health Education and Welfare Secretary [Joseph] Califano, who was considering the provisions of Section 504: ‘I am a thirty-five year old deaf woman who has wanted to be a doctor of medicine since early childhood. I have encountered resistance and discrimination at every step from grade school through graduate work to a Ph.D…thus the enthusiasm, expertise, and dedication I could provide to health care…is denied…When will our equal educational opportunities be protected under the law? Fifteen years—how much longer do I have to wait?’ Secretary Califano signed Section 504 after concerted collective action, and I was accepted into medical school two years later,” she said in the article.

At the time of the article, Dr. Pachciarz was a hospital pathologist and director of the blood transfusion service at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles.

Picture of an older man in a suit with the words...Deaf doctor makes patients feel heard.
A screen shot of Dr. Phillip Zazove on CNN.

According to a CNN report, Dr. Phillip Zazove, who is deaf, “makes patients feel heard.” Zazove, who has profound hearing loss, was the third if American physician. Not only does he serve the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community, but he also mentors doctors who are deaf.

According to the article, Dr. Philip Zazove is an author, physician and chair of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Michigan.

Drs. Pachciarz and Zazove were both told as children not to expect much for careers. They chose to be pioneers and advocates, instead of giving up.


Hands using sign language spell A, S, L.
A-S-L, The hands spell the abbreviation for American Sign Language, a tool that enable doctors to communicate with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community in one of their languages.

According to an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dr. Deborah Gilboa is “one of the few doctors in the nation who is fluent in American Sign Language.”

While completing prerequisites for medical school, Galboa became a certified ASL interpreter.

Pencil eraser over notebook paper with pieces of the eraser on the paper.
Many people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing wish doctors would erase communicating with them using pencil and paper and begin using sign language or having interpreters. Photo credit: Hometown Beauty via photopin (license)

“People who are deaf or hard-of-hearing are said to be one of most under-served disability populations in terms of health care. Lack of sign language interpretation is the most frequent subject of Department of Justice cases regarding compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act in health care settings, according to the website,” according to the article.

Dr. Galboa said doctors need to step up and meet the Deaf Community’s needs, “The deaf community puts up with uncertainty about their health care that leaves them poorer for it, and I don’t mean financially. As doctors, we want to know what’s really going on. The deaf community’s expectations of doctors is very low. We need to raise those expectations.”


How will societal attitudes limit future physicians with deafness or hearing loss? How many physicians will opt to learn ASL, or at least adopt methods of communication that are suitable for truly understanding procedures and conditions?

Have times changed?


  • Are you a person with deafness or hearing loss who wants to become a medical professional?
  • Do you want to provide communication access to medical students?
  • Are you a medical professional who needs more communication access?

Woman with unreal blue eyes and black hair and background, reads, Sign Shares, Interpreting Your WorldSign Shares, Inc. can help! We provide services for people with deafness, hearing loss, and deaf-blindness, as well as foreign language translation for people with hearing.

Request Services here!














Adapting to Usher Syndrome and Deafblindness

Molly Watt is a young speaker, vlogger, and author who is Deaf-Blind and advocates for people who have Usher Syndrome, the condition she has. Watt has created an awareness video about the syndrome, as well as an open-captioned vlog about technology she uses daily to assist her with both hearing and vision loss that comes from having Usher Syndrome.

Young woman walks down street using a guide dog. Words at bottom of slide "and the worst case scenario for any deaf person is to lose their sight"
Molly Watt describes how Usher Syndrome is a worst case scenario for someone with hearing loss in one of her awareness videos.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, Usher Syndrome is a genetic disease or disorder that affects both hearing and vision and is one of the leading causes of deaf-blindness.

Symptoms of the syndrome include:

  • deafness or hearing loss,
  • balance problems,
  • retinitis pigmentosa, which causes night-blindness, and
  • a loss of peripheral vision (side vision) through the progressive degeneration of the retina.
Screen shot from a video showing tunnel vision and the words Steps can be quite disorientating.
Molly Watt portrays the tunnel vision she has in an awareness video.

Retinitis pigmentosa eventually causes “tunnel vision,” where a person can only see straight ahead.

There are three types of Usher Syndrome, ranging from Type 1, where children are born profoundly deaf, have problems with balance, and eventually become legally blind, to Type 3, where children may have normal hearing at birth, and gradually lose hearing, vision, and balance.

Picture of cell phone with message that it's connecting to hearing devices. At the bottom fo the slide text asks how she hears music if she can't hear and the response is Hearing Aids-duh!
Watts wears hearing aids that she pairs with her cell phone. The direct connection between her cell phone and hearing aids provides better quality sound. She also pairs her hearing aids with a smart watch.

According to the institute, early diagnosis of Usher syndrome is important so parents can enroll their children in training programs to manage hearing and vision loss.

Frame from a vlog that shows a black guide dog and says "Occupation: guide dog for the blind my mobility aid."
Molly Watt’s vlogs often include her guide dog, which is a vital tool for her independence.

Typically, treatment will include:

  • hearing aids,
  • assistive listening devices,
  • cochlear implants,
  • communication methods such as American Sign Language;
  • orientation and mobility training;
  • communication services; and
  • independent-living training that may include Braille instruction, low-vision services, or auditory training.

Sign language can be a vital tool for communication for people who have advanced Usher Syndrome, since people without hearing or sight may choose to communicate using Deaf-Blind Tactile with an interpreter. This process allows the person with deafblindness to feel the interpreter’s hands as they sign.

Sign Shares, Inc./International provides services for people who are Deaf-Blind, Deaf, and Hard of Hearing, as well as for people who are Foreign Language Hearing.

You may book an interpreter with Sign Shares using this link.

Download the fact sheet on Usher Syndrome at this link.

Learn more about Molly Watt and her mission to educate others about Usher Syndrome at





Disability News Update: Advocacy Resources

The beginning of a new year is a great time to begin collecting valuable information and resources for advocacy. Below, you’ll find resources for:

  • workplace accommodations,
  • disability inclusion,
  • accessible signage, and
  • pre-school inclusion.
Woman in wheelchair interacts with a dog.
Is your workplace accessible? If not, JAN has a guide for you! photo credit: Bennilover Benni, the Christmas Elf, making friends via photopin (license)

Do you need a Great Workplace Accommodation Resource?

The Job Accommodation Network, or JAN, has updates its resources to provide a Toolkit to help businesses build an inclusive workplace.

The kit provides streamlined access to its resources that can assist employers and their staff with workplace accommodations for people who have disabilities.

Included in the toolkit are tools for:

  • Employers, employees, co-workers and others in the workplace, and
  • Reasonable accommodations.

Do you understand Disability Inclusion?

The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion, or EARN, has created a captioned video, “Primer on Disability Inclusion.”

“John Kemp, President and CEO of the The Viscardi Center, explains the benefits of fostering a disability-inclusive culture in your organization.”

To begin with, employers should make sure that people with disabilities are present and included in all levels of employment.

Does your place of business have accessible signage?

The U.S. Access Board has created an animation demonstrating accessible signage.

“The 15-minute animated film reviews and illustrates requirements in the standards for signs and clarifies common sources of confusion. It covers provisions for visual access, tactile signs, required access symbols and other pictograms.”

Adults and small children make paper crafts in classroom.
Preschools should also be a place where children of all abilities are included.

Did you know pre-school needs to be inclusive too?

According to the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) issued a “Dear Colleague Letter” on Least Restrictive Environment for preschool age children.

The letter “provides information on why it important to offer educational programs for our youngest learners with disabilities from the start, and how states and districts can achieve this goal and meet their obligations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.”

According to the letter, OSEP wishes to “reaffirm our commitment to inclusive preschool education programs for children with disabilities” because the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act applies to children of all ages—including those in pre-school.



Work and Home Technology for Hearing Loss

Technology provides many solutions, but some people with hearing loss, or their employers or loved ones, aren’t aware of devices that could assist the person with hearing loss at work, home, or during recreation.

Harris Communications has created a downloadable and online Free Guide to Assistive Technology that will help people who have hearing loss, or their employers or family members to explore creative solutions.

Until recently, smart watches were most useful for people who could hear. Now, some smart watches are more friendly for those with hearing loss. photo credit: TechStage Sony SmartWatch 3 Steel Edition _ 3 via photopin (license)
Until recently, smart watches were most useful for people who could hear. Now, some smart watches are more friendly for those with hearing loss. photo credit: TechStage Sony SmartWatch 3 Steel Edition _ 3 via photopin (license)

It includes newer resources, such as vibrating smart watches, and personal listening devices similar to hearing aids that don’t require a prescription, as well as old standbys, such as vibrating alarm clocks and flashing light signalers for many sounds in the home or office. For businesses, they have ADA kits ready with a combination of products.

Why Don’t People with Hearing Loss Know about These Already?

If a person grows up with a strong network of people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing who provided them with information about tools they could use to make daily living easier, they often know about this equipment. At least, they know about most of it, since new technology is developed often.

If a person gradually experiences hearing loss, they may or may not have resources to teach them about available technology to solve many problems they may encounter.

When a person loses hearing, if they have sight, they will use their sight and residual hearing to assist them.

Living with Less Sound: Using the Other Senses

When our hearing is affected, our others senses help us in new ways. photo credit: woodleywonderworks listen up: ears really are strange looking if you think about it via photopin (license)
When our hearing is affected, our others senses help us in new ways. photo credit: woodleywonderworks listen up: ears really are strange looking if you think about it via photopin (license)

In some cases, both vision and hearing are affected, and a person may use a variety of light or sound products to use their remaining senses as much as possible. The sense of touch is another option.

Signaling sounds with light is one of the first ways a person can get a visual cue for a sound. For example, their door bell may ring, and they may set up their home to have a light flash.

Vibration is another tool. A person may arrange it so that when their cell phone would normally ring, instead it vibrates so they can feel it. They may need other options for when they don’t have their phone on them, such as a flashing light.

Picture of sounds system's adjustment knobs.
Just like in a music studio they alter certain sounds, so do products for people with hearing loss so they can make the most of what they have. photo credit: Sergiu Bacioiu Audio Mix via photopin (license)

Sound may be a tool for people with hearing loss too, and this is much more specific to the person. Each person has a unique hearing range. One may hear in a high frequency range, another may hear medium frequency, and yet another only low frequency. There also many be deficits within those ranges.

People who are Hard of Hearing have learned from experience whether they hear higher women’s voices, or lower men’s voices–or if some sounds are out of their range, such as fire alarms, perhaps.

Many hearing loss products offer superior amplification, clarity, and a variety of ranges so that a person can set them to sounds they may hear. For example, a person with high frequency hearing loss may set their amplified alarm clock to a low tone that will wake them up.

Sound may not be enough of a wake up cue, and people with hearing loss may also use a vibration disc under their mattress to ensure they wake up. Alarms with this ability also often have flashing light function. Sound, light, and vibration are all three available in many alarm clocks for the consumer segment with hearing loss.

Picking the Right Product

Flashing police car light.
Flashing lights aren’t everyone’s friend and may trigger seizures in those with Epilepsy, and migraines in others. photo credit: T.H. Images Police Light Moments via photopin (license)

People may have several disabilities at once. Epilepsy  can be seriously impacted by flashing lights. So may migraines, for those that experience them, so flashing light models are for many, but not all people, and this should be part of determining the right product for the right person.

Where to Purchase Products for People with Hearing Loss or Deafness

Businesses such as Harris Communications have great value within the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community, since they provide specialized products that are difficult to find, and all in the same place. They also provide free shipping.

More Vendors has thousands of products and provides free shipping.

Teltex has many products and you can subscribe to their email to receive discounts and special offers. provides iOS solutions for people who have Apple products. It’s powered by Teltex.

You can see a selection of hearing loss products at Amazon here.

Independent Living Aids, LLC provides vision, hearing loss, and mobility products.

If you live or shop in the UK, here is a good technology resource from Action Hearing Loss.

You May Receive Financial Assistance to Pay for the Products

People with hearing loss or deafness may receive assistance purchasing products that assist them with work or daily living. They should contact their state office of Health and Human Services to see which agency may assist them in their state.

Map of the United States on asphalt
photo credit: dalioPhoto SURFACE LINES via photopin (license)

Find your state’s department of Health and Human Services here.

Getting Assistance in Texas

In Texas, the Texas Workforce Commission assists people with Vocational Rehabilitation. This is for people who are going to school or are planning to work.

If you’re new to hearing loss, are no longer working, or can’t work right now, it may be easiest to contact Deaf and Hard of Hearing Specialist to assist you in finding resources you can use. They understand hearing loss and will connect you to the right people and products.

Support for Employees and Students with Hearing Loss or Deafness

Just because someone has hearing loss or deafness doesn’t mean they know which equipment could help them adapt to a world with many sounds.

For example, someone who always used a radio alarm clock who suddenly has hearing loss, wouldn’t know that there’s a technology solution–the vibrating and/or light flashing alarm clock! Most people with hearing loss or deafness have hearing families, so they may not have known about ways technology helps us adapt.

Kudos to Harris Communications for providing a handy question-and-answer page for people with hearing loss and their needs.

While Harris makes some recommendations–and they have useful products–I have additional recommendations.

Amplified, Captioned, and Video Phones

Black and white picture of a young Bob Hope on the telephone.
Do you know if your phone system produces quality sound, or are you just Hope-ful it does? photo credit: classic_film Bob Hope, on the Phone, circa 1940s-1950s via photopin (license)

Harris’ first topic was Staying in Touch and they recommended an amplified phone, the Panasonic KX-TGM450S Amplified Phone. Many people use only cell phones. If you need a cell phone, what kind do you get?

Test friend and family members’ phones to see which provide the clearest amplification for you. Which ones sound fuzzy? Which don’t provide enough volume? While I used to use Nokia phones to get enough volume, now Samsung phones have better sound–for me. See which works best for you.

While amplification works for many, it doesn’t give me the accuracy I need to communicate with strangers or conduct work. For those, a captioned phone works. Harris Communications offers captioned phones, though many people qualify for free captioned phones or video phones (for using sign language and/or seeing speakers). Below are some vendors that may provide a phone free to you.

I’ve used both Captioncall and CapTel phones and while the captioning isn’t perfect and can be slow, most of the time it’s a benefit–and the captioned phones can also be programmed to suit your type of hearing loss. They also provide super amplification that is appropriate only for people with hearing loss and isn’t provided with standard phones.

Man talks on cell phone looking at big picture of a man.
Seeing people on video makes it easier to communicate because you can read their lips too. photo credit: dalioPhoto face time at 53rd st via photopin (license)

Video phones assist for those who use sign language. People may make or receive calls using a video phone. If you’re the employer of someone who uses sign language, then your employee may have this type of phone, but they might need one for the office. In some cases, it’s free.

Captioned and video phones need special assistance to be wired into an office’s existing system, but I’ve had this done. Support from any of the companies below will assist with the process.

Free Video Phones

Captioned Phones

Skype, Face Time, Google Hangouts, or other Video Chat

One of the reasons employees or students with hearing loss can’t hear as well on the phone is because the quality of sound is less than in real life. Also, we often read lips–whether we know it or not.

Video chat offers people with hearing loss the chance to hear and see what’s said. There’s also usually a chat option so what’s not heard can be typed.

If you’re the employer of someone who uses sign language, they probably use some video communication methods like Face Time.

Ask your employee or student for the best way for you to communicate with them–and don’t pressure them to do what’s most convenient for you. They make extra effort for many interactions, not just the ones with you.

Alarms and Watches

Picture of digital alarm clock and person lying in bed ready to hit alarm clock with a hammer.
Common alarm clocks don’t usually bother people with hearing loss–in fact, they may not work! photo credit: purplemattfish Permanent Snooze – Day 114, Year 2 via photopin (license)

Harris’ second topic was Being on Time. Many people with hearing loss say it’s difficult to wake up because their cell phone, watch, and/or radio alarms don’t do the job.

Enter the vibrating, flashing, or light alarms. Harris Communications recommends the Sonic Alert Sonic Boom Super Shaker Bluetooth Bed Shaker. This vibrating device is controlled by your cell phone. A vibrating disc is set under the mattress and shakes the bed when the alarm goes off.

I prefer a physical clock. My first vibrating alarm clock was the Sonic Alert Boom, but it only had a single alarm! I could have bought one with dual alarms for $5 more.

My advice is to seek a dual alarm. The Sonic Alert Boom clocks come with a vibrating device that slides under the mattress. I can’t feel the device through the mattress–until it vibrates at the appointed time. It can wake me up. Make sure that the alarm you want comes with bed shaker and isn’t a separate purchase.

Now, I have the Sonic Alert Sonic Bomb Jr, which has dual alarms and a stronger sound that I can program to be in my hearing range (a deeper buzzer). While the sound won’t wake me up by itself, once I’m awake, it keeps me from snoozing too long. The clock also has a snooze button. It has a flashing light that if placed in front of you may also help. This alarm clock has stronger signals than the Sonic Alert Boom, so I recommend this one.

They also make travel alarms with bed shakers. I have the Sonic Alert Traveler. It’s not as strong as the other alarm clocks, but better than nothing when I travel!

To supplement a travel alarm clock, I order an ADA kit for my hotel rooms, which should include a flashing door bell alarm. Tip: ask for the manager if hotel staff don’t know where it is. Hotels are required to have this.

Then, I order room service coffee when I need to wake up, so the flashing door bell when they bring me coffee is a second way to wake up. The ADA kits have vibrating alarms, but I haven’t programmed one of those correctly, so I bring mine.

If you’re used to waking up with your watch alarm, Harris has a series of vibrating watches, including a smart watch.

There are more options for waking up, including alarms that gradually lighten the room.

Picture of a professional quality alarm clock with flashing light fire alerts.
This alarm is accessible for those with hearing loss or deafness because it flashes when it goes off. photo credit: Amarand Agasi Displaced via photopin (license)

Devices can be connected to door bells and fire alarms, creating a complex system of light signals for the home, office, or classroom.

Sleep Assistance Technology

People with hearing loss may have tinnitus, which is a ringing or buzzing in the ears. Devices with sounds may assist with this. Harris Communications recommends the Sound Oasis Therapy Machine. Some of the sounds the machine makes may mask the sounds of tinnitus.

I have tinnitus and it can disrupt sleep. Some eye drops, and some medications cause my ears to ring loudly. Whenever the ringing gets out of control, I examine what I put in my mouth or on my body that was new and different that day. Most of the time, when I stop using the new vitamin, medicine, or eye drops, the tinnitus gets quieter.

Picture of sunset with waves skimming over rocks in the water.
Ocean waves are one of the many sounds that may combat tinnitus. photo credit: tdlucas5000 Dawn Breaking on a New Year via photopin (license)

My old-school method for out-of-control tinnitus was to play music or leave a TV running with sound because tinnitus is less disruptive with other sounds. I also read to get my mind off the noise. Wearing hearing aids reduces the disruption for some, while others say it makes tinnitus worse. There are tinnitus vitamins on the market, but the two I tried made it worse.

Other Cool Devices

Notification Systems

Besides the devices I mentioned, there are a variety of tools to use. A light flashing device can be connected to your door bell or vibrating alarm clock. Check out Harris Communication’s Notification Systems, which include these visual light signalers, as well as baby crying and fire alarms for people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

Cell Phone Accessories

There’s another device that lights up when your cell phone rings. I had this one, but it went off too often because it was triggered by my cell’s email notifications too, but there are other brands and Cell Phone Accessories here, including bluetooth loops.

Paging Systems

a man talks on a walkie talkie
Notice how this man has to hold the walkie talkie up to his ear. Employees with hearing loss may not be able to use traditional walkie talkies. photo credit: Oneras watchman via photopin (license)

Many businesses are concerned about the ability to reach their employees, especially if they use on-site radios, such as in technical facilities. One option is for them to text you and you to have a lighting, vibrating alert set. Another option is a lighting, two-way personal pager system.


Big sign reads blah, blah, blah perhaps 100 times.
This is how your meetings could sound to employees or students without interpreters, captioners, or assistive technology. photo credit: Blabla via photopin (license)

The old school option is to sit closest to the main speaker. However, in classrooms and at meetings, often many people speak, sometimes from across the room or from behind, cutting off a person’s ability to read their lips or capture quality sound.

Man writes man formulas on a chalkboard.
While this teacher is speaking at the blackboard, students with hearing loss are hearing next to nothing. (Photo by Jonathan Ernst) photo credit: World Bank Photo Collection A student solves a mathematics equation at the Mfantsipim Boys School in Cape Coast via photopin (license)

Speakers may also turn their back to the audience, disabling any lip reading, which is essential to people using their vision to supplement hearing loss or deafness.

At the bare minimum, a person with hearing loss would need to sit within a few feet of the main speaker. They need an agenda, outline, and/or handouts beforehand to assist them with determining what topics are being discussed–these make lipreading easier. Speakers should always face the audience, not turn away. Any videos or TV should be captioned.

Woman's face and text below reads, Does your life have meaning?
Captioned films have a lot more meaning for people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. photo credit: via photopin (license)

If you use a TV for your presentation, televisions since the 1990’s have captioning capability. Enable it. Learn how to do this before the meeting since doing this for the first time can take a while or may be incredibly fast. Don’t try to make it pretty, if it has those options. All caps with a black background offers good visibility. Make sure the person needing captions sits close enough to the TV to read them easily–even if they need to change seats to do so. Reserving an extra viewing seat near the TV makes it easier to offer this accommodation.

If you show videos from YouTube, make sure that when you click the captioning option on the video, that captions are on the video. If the video doesn’t have captions, select another video with a similar topic that does. YouTube has many videos to select from, even for the exact same topic. They also have the option for you to create captions for your own video content.

If you bring DVDs or even older VHS tapes, ensure that they have captions. Look on the back of the box for clues. Does the box say “CC” for Closed Captioned, or does it say it includes “Subtitles for People who are Hard of Hearing”? Sometimes you have to look hard for it. Westerns, music videos, and Discovery Channel products are notorious for not providing captioned content, so be on the lookout.

While at first using captions is different, many people who think they hear well discover that they have missed many words the captions show them. Captioned videos are a tool that benefit more employees or students than you realize!

Adult puts a blue hearing aid on a young girl.
Children with hearing loss have fewer strategies for adapting and benefit from creative solutions. photo credit: bundesinnung_ha Kind, Hinter-Ohr-Gerät-Anpassung. Copyright: biha, 2015 via photopin (license)

If your employee or student is functionally deaf, and a good sign is if they use sign language, then a sign language interpreter may be required for the entire meeting. The interpreter would request captions for videos. Ask your employee what they need, again, without pressure from you about the costs. We can save money many ways, but let it not be in ways that discriminate employees and students.

Picture card showing sign language
How many ways are there to sign? Apparently, less and less with the widespread use of American Sign Language. photo credit: Positive signs via photopin (license)

In some cases, a student or employee may be functionally deaf but not know sign language. If this is true, live captioning, or CART, can be requested and a person with a stenography kit can type what is said at the rate of 250 words or so a minute. This is if your content is involved. In many cases, a note taker won’t work well unless they’ve been trained.

Capsule and Sign Shares' LogosDo you need to request a sign language interpreter or CART? Contact Sign Shares 24/7/365 and we can help.

Loops and Assistive Listening Devices

A loop is a system that can feed sound directly into a person’s hearing aid, offering them a chance at direct sound. Portable loops enable them to take the device from place to place.

I’ve used three portable loops for work and school. My favorite was from Williams Sound. I take it with me, push a button on my hearing aids and a button on the loop and we’re connected and I hear more clearly those sounds around me, which is better for small group participation in a large room, when I need to hear the people near me most.

Picture of assistive listening devices, boxes that have small microphone
Assistive listening devices communicate to one another via FM, making clearer sound. photo credit: set 9000 via photopin (license)

Assistive Listening Devices, called ALDs, are generally more appropriate for people with mild to moderate hearing loss, but there are a few options for those with greater hearing loss.

These devices generally use two devices. One receives sound, the other transmits it. They communicate to each other via FM radio, which means the sound from one box to the other is pure.

ALDs work well in classrooms, meetings, and churches, when the speaker wears the transmitter and the person with hearing loss holds or wears the receiver. Since the receivers often have microphones too, it’s possible at times to need only the receiver.

When I was in college, my hearing loss was moderate, and the college provided me with a Williams Sound Pocketalker Pro. I had to remove one of my hearing aids to use it but I was blown away with the superiority of this sound over my hearing aids in a classroom. Wow. The microphone on the device is awesome. Buy an extra windscreen if you purchase one of these. Since the microphone sticks out, the microphone cover, or windscreen, gets the most wear and tear.

When teaching with severe hearing loss, I used the Comfort Audio Contego FM system with a neck loop so I didn’t have to keep track of my receiver–I wore it around my neck. My transmitter was placed at the back of the classroom or near a group of students I wanted to hear best. Both the transmitter and receiver paired with my hearing aids, so I didn’t have to remove them.

At this level of hearing loss, it was a temporary and not a permanent solution, but it was better than using hearing aids alone.

The Comfort Audio Contego FM system would work well for someone with mild to moderate hearing loss, but I would recommend the Pocketalker first, since it’s an affordable, quality product with great amplification and clarity.

Old School Tools


Picture of a mirror on a wall.
Mirrors allow people with hearing loss or deafness to see the world that makes sounds behind them. photo credit: judy dean Hotel room via photopin (license)

One of the cheapest assistive technology items for someone with hearing loss in an office or home is a mirror. Since people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing often don’t hear people approach, or know when someone is standing behind them, this leads to shock and sometimes a surprised scream when co-workers magically appear.

Place a mirror on the wall in front of your normal work stations and you can catch movement behind you and have less surprises by co-workers whose approaching footsteps you can’t hear. There are doormats that flash lights when people enter the room if this is a bigger problem than a mirror can solve.

Office/Work Space Organization

Two people sit in an office at their computers, the door is behind them so they face it sideways, not directly.
These office desks aren’t ideally suited for someone with hearing loss or deafness because they don’t face the door. The open space could be an advantage if the environment isn’t loud. If it is, extra noise could make it more difficult for a person with hearing loss to hear. photo credit: World Bank Photo Collection Yosr works as a consultant for an export promotion agency via photopin (license)

Ideally, if you have hearing loss or deafness, placing your desk or chair facing the door or the most co-workers is the best option. If you have an enclosed office, then placing the desk with your back to the wall and face facing the door will help. If you have a work area that is too noisy, request a quieter area where it will be less stressful to communicate.

Learn Some Sign Language

Physicians like Doctor Strange here who are friendly with those who use sign language stand out like local superheroes. photo credit: Strange Magicks via photopin (license)
Physicians like Doctor Strange here who are friendly with those who use sign language stand out like local superheroes. photo credit: Strange Magicks via photopin (license)

There are places online where you can learn some sign language, and there are also sign language dictionaries. If you and the employee or student share some signs, it cuts down on confusion and miscommunication. Every location has specific vocabulary and necessary emergency signals, plus there are common communication signs that could benefit anyone with hearing loss or deafness and create a welcoming environment. has an ASL University that has videos teaching sign language for free. Here is the 100 First Signs.

Want to learn some specific words in sign language? Use a sign language dictionary!

Signing Savvy has an extensive American Sign Language dictionary. You can also use Google to help you find words in sign language by typing the word you want + American Sign Language.

Disclaimer: While I mention products from Harris Communications, I was not paid by them nor do I receive any funds for my reviews. I don’t and have never worked for them. I have purchased several products from them and am thankful that Harris Communications has been a one-stop shop for me and others who have hearing loss or deafness.




2016 Sign Shares’ Facebook Reflections

Sign Shares Interpreter Your WorldThe Sign Shares’ Facebook page provided insights during 2016 on Deaf news, advocacy, and civil rights events, respect for all humanity, celebrating ability, reflections on the loss our Founder, Deborah Gunter, and the deaths of David Bowie, Prince, Muhammad Ali, and Star Trek’s Anton Yelchin, sports victories, and holiday celebrations.

As of early January 2017, Sign Shares’ Facebook page has 58,386 likes.

Men and women in holiday sweaters pose in front of a lit Christmas tree inside a restaurant.
Sign Shares’ Executive Assistant, Anthony Butkovich, and CEO, Eva Storey, pose with Deaf community members Darla, Robert, and Nancy.

December 2016
Sign Shares shared a quote: “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one.”

Uber driver Scott Anderson has Cerebral Palsy. “Uber for all,” we said.

H3 Network Media Alliance broadcasts 2016 highlights in International Sign. A year of signed and captioned news in 29 minutes.

george michael link to video Wham! Wake Me Up Before You Go-GoGeorge Michael died on Christmas. “You made my 80’s,” said Sign Shares’ CEO, Eva Storey. “Props to you Mr. George Michael. May you Jitterbug them Angels! Peace! Love & Neon Lights!”

Happy Holidays 2016-The Sign Shares Family.Sharing Time: “Miracle on 34th Street’s” Santa Claus signed to a young girl.

Sign Shares wishes Happy Birthday to a team member and shares a Sparkling Christmas Tree Cocktail recipe.

Picture of a single blue rose.Reflections: Our CEO, Detective: Eva Storey shared, “Dec. 15, 2016, was a pause from posting on social media as it was a day of reflection for us at Sign Shares. Five years ago we lost our Founder and there isn’t a day we don’t cherish her amongst the community; continuing the legacy. As we ‘evolve,’ one of Debbie’s most used words for Sign Shares; we stay true to her reminding us she just held the mirror up for us as we got to where we are at by just being ourselves.’

‘We are who we are today because we are people who know our own truths and wisdom. We are respecters of respecters. We are dareful communicators. We honor spirituality and authority. We are passionate people who are entrusted because we are loyal and trustworthy. We welcome all humbly who have all these listed traits; with no hidden agendas.’

Eva Storey picture: a woman with dark hair smiles.
Detective: Eva Storey, Founder of Capsule.

“We Advocate, Educate, and Share our knowledge to all who truly seek it with open minds, open hearts, and not an ounce of doubt or hatred. We are creative thinkers who will always offer individuals solutions and options. We happily help the willing; exalting all measures…’

“To Debbie, our Mentor, Friend, Mother, Daughter, and Sister to most all … Keep enjoying the universe and keep watching over us! On behalf of the Sign Shares Team, All is Well~”

Sign Shares' Kathy Fritsche wears a green sweater with attached ornaments and tinsel.
Kathy won the ugly sweater contest with win her spin on holiday threads.

Sign Shares held its Ugly Sweater Christmas Party on Dec. 10: “Like tradition, Anthony’s cousin’s restaurant [Massa’s South Coast Grill] is always good times & great food! Thanks to family and friends who came out and just had a hilarious time at our Ugly Sweater theme party! Our Ugly Sweater Winner, Kathy! She decorated her sweater to win! Hahaha, some showed up too cute to win ugly sweater (wink Darla), you were adorable! Marco, well you make a potato sack look good! Thanks to Joe Massa, Massa’s South Coast Grill for always being top charts with fabulous food and incredible hospitality!”

Man walks toward camera smiling while people dressed in holiday reds talk and eat behind him.
Anthony Butkovich acting as one of the holiday party’s hosts, while Deaf consumers and Sign Shares’ staff and interpreters eat in the background.

See the Christmas Party Album.

November 2016

I love my Cowboys with Dallas Cowboys blue star.The Dallas Cowboys won 10 straight games.

Sharing Time: “Every Thanksgiving we like to pick drinks to mix that we share with you. One of our chosen drinks is below . . . Below is a gluten-free Tito’s speciality!” Drinks we shared: The Jalapeño Daisy and the Marsellian Martini.

For Thanksgiving, we said, “We are thankful to our families, friends, clients, staff team, and advocacy groups! We are thankful to our communities from local to international!”

The EEOC and FedEx Battle to Define Employer Requirements Under the ADAOur Facebook page shared Christina Goebel’s blog post, “The EEOC and FedEx Continue Battle to Define Employer Requirements Under the ADA.”

Sign Shares' Deaf Advocate, Marco Segovia in scary Halloween costume with hat and shroud over his face.
Sign Shares’ Deaf Advocate, Marco Segovia can scare you in sign language.

We posted a belated video of Sign Shares’ Deaf advocate, Marco Segovia, signing in his Halloween costume.

Chicago Cubs: Two players celebrate their championship.The Chicago Cubs won their third title in the World Series. According to The New York Times, “World Series M.V.P. Ben Zobrist hit a go-ahead double, and Miguel Montero followed up with an R.B.I. single to give the Cubs the insurance run they needed.”

October 2016

Two people in business attire stand with their daughter, wearing a police uniform.
Sijaama with Whitney.

Tragedy struck on the home front and the daughter of Sign Shares’ Office Manager, Sijaama Branch, had a serious work-related injury.

According to CBS7, “On Saturday Oct. 1st, 28-year-old Whitney Branch fell off the side of a patrol unit while chasing a suspect who was believed to be involved in a shots fired call. Branch suffered a severe head injury and was rushed to Medical Center Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.”

On the blog, we said, “Prayers to one of our own. Much love and light to the Branch family! May God bless every person aiding in the recovery to your lovely, strong daughter! God bless the wonderful community of Odessa! The SS & Capsule Team Family! Facebookers stretch out your hands in prayer to our wonderful office manager!”

Update: As per our Christmas party 2016, Whitney is doing well!

On Oct. 20, Sign Shares was proud to support the Houston Deaf Grassroots Movement. “We are excited to show our support to such a wonderful cause. Thank you Earl Holloway and Thurman for creating such a great movement! Homegrown fresh out of Houston.”

Woman signs. Facebook post shows she blogged from Louisiana.
This woman was denied an interpreter at a medical appointment.

We shared a post about a woman who was denied accommodations and deprived of the ability to communicate with nurses. They contacted the local news.

August 2016

Picture of many people in white T-shirts with signs and T-shirts that say Deny VRI.
Picture with: Brenda Vance, Eva Prune, Darla Connor, Janie Morales, Dana G. Mallory and Angela Trahan in Houston, Texas.

Aug. 18 Rally: Sign Shares on Facebook: “We are proud to say that we had our ‘Deny VRI’ Rally at the Houston City Hall, one month after the Affordable Care Act, Section 1557 stated on July 18, 2016, that we have a choice in our care.”

Picture of people with T-shirts and signs that protest Video Remote Interpreters.
Deaf Advocate Marco Segovia and HCIL’s Darla Conner stand up for the rights of those who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

“Regarding the voice of the community … ‘Deny V.R.I.’ … We love all these wonderful people in the photos, even in the rain, we made our voice heard! Peace out!”

See a video of the Houston rally.

View Rally Album 1.
View Rally Album 2.

Sign Shares Houston rallyFrom the radio transcript from 90.1 FM, KPFT Houston, covered by Local News Reporter Jacob Santillan, about the Sign Shares Inc./The Capsule Group, and Houston Deaf community’s Rally for the Deaf Community Protesting Against VRI (Video Remote Interpreting) as the Deaf Community chooses a Live, In-Person Interpreter):

A police officer and a woman use sign language, while others take notes.
Detective: Eva Storey and Capsule’s Founder advocates for greater access for people who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

{Detective – Eva Storey: “There are several things, first, to make it understandable to a hearing person or hearing world it’s a 3-D language. … So it’s a gestural language; it’s a 3-D language. Making someone write English or let’s say Spanish it’s like having someone foreign speaking write in a different language they don’t know. … The second bad thing is that technology goes down. We’ve had historic floods in the past 6 – months or so, on and off, and technology goes down. … The third thing is that it’s very impersonal. You just can’t have that flat-screen work with a language that is a body language. It’s a whole body, facial communication, the whole structural, and the choice factor. It’s just not giving them a choice…”

{Reporter, Jacob Santillan:} “Sugarland resident, Dana Mallory says that Live Interpreters can be critically necessary in emergency situations for which VRI may not be entirely effective. Sherri Frost Interpreting… (Dana Mallory): “So I am here to recognize the problems we are noticing here in the Deaf community, preferring to have in an emergency situation a live person rather than a video remote interpreter. To meet their goals, we as Deaf would prefer to have a live person we want to be able to have the choice.”

{Detective – Eva Storey:} “This is unique. I love the fact that we get the hearing world especially public radio coming in here, because the only way to get and make effective for the Deaf community is going to the hearing world, and mainstreaming them and with education. Its three words we use Advocate, Educate, and Legislate, and that’s all we are here to do.”

Two men sit, one signs, Hello, my name is Dana Mallory.
Dana Mallory and Marco Segovia.

In a video, Dana Mallory and Marco Segovia share information about the upcoming Houston Rally.

Screen Capture of the Capsule website with black and white logo and pictures of Eva Storey, Anthony Butkovich, and Christina Goebel.
The Capsule Group’s website went live in August of 2016.

The Capsule Group’s website went live. On Facebook, Sign Shares’ CEO, Detective: Eva Storey said, “We are proud to announce our advocacy group’s website is now live! Right before the Aug. 18 rally at Houston, City Hall. Well that just gives us goosebumps! Yayy! This group was developed by community demand. Sign Shares has been interpreting since 1986 and through observations, now it is time we amplify the voice of the entire community’s struggles.’

“Our hearts are within advocacy on a daily basis. Our later founder asked me one day to bring my passions for all disabilities forward and collaborate my love for advocacy. This includes a main focus on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities from local, statewide, to international.’

“It is far time for a different way to advocate, educate and legislate beyond the scope of the interpretation and with flexible, creative freedoms. The struggles of the disability community happen on a daily basis…’

CapsuleLogoThe Capsule Group's Founder, Detective: Eva Storey“I myself am a five-time stroke survivor with an autoimmune deficiency, but I don’t go around introducing my disabilities. I introduce myself, raw and real. ‘Hi, my name is Detective: Eva Storey, founder of The Capsule Group.’ And when I say ‘Group’ that means the community. Meet my team partners via this website and come share with us. It would be our pleasure to meet you in person. Love & amazing blue light! – Capsulate Life!

Capsule on Facebook.

Capsule’s mission: “To advocate, educate, and legislate on behalf of people of all disabilities to have unlimited access to resources and support needed to achieve their fullest potential.”

Capsule’s Chief Operating Officer, Christina Goebel, reports on the upcoming rally.

Woman signs showing a small computer screen. Captions read, "Let me explain to you about that."
Dr. Angela Trahan signs about the VRI video screen, showing how it reduces the size of communication.
Deny VRI Deaf Rally-Houston, Aug. 18, 2016 @ 10 a.m.
See the video at

Sign Shares’ broadcasted a signed and captioned video advertising the Aug. 18, “Deny VRI – Video Remote Interpeting” City Hall Rally.

Man uses sign language for interpreter and captions read: "My friends said 'VRI Deny. We choose a live interpreter.' That's a great idea."
Deaf Advocate Robert Yost signs about the right to choose a live interpreter.

Aug. 5-7, Sign Shares and Capsule exhibited at the Houston Abilities Expo at booth 625, next door to the Houston Center for Independent Living’s booth. Sign Shares provided interpreters for the event.

Woman with unreal blue eyes and black hair and background, reads, Sign Shares, Interpreting Your WorldSign Shares updated its Facebook profile picture on Aug. 1.

Starbucks hires 10 Deaf baristas in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

July 2016

One of the original Sign Shares’ cast members, Basil Reyna, stopped by our Facebook page to pay respects to our founder, Debbie Gunter. “Sign Shares in Houston, Texas a Wonderful Agency to work for. My job history there was over 30 yrs. I met so many wonderful people through Interpreting for Sign Shares in the colleges and grade Schools throughout the Houston surrounding suburb communities. Miss my boss Debbie Gunter. .. May she Rest In Peace and may her legend continue in the establishment “

July 4th with Captain America and Wonder Woman pictures.Sign Shares’ celebrated July 4th with Captain America and Wonder Woman.

June 2016

CGLogo_Confetti_ROUNDEDThe Capsule logo appeared for the first time on the Sign Shares’ Facebook page on June 6, 2016.

Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. You have the right to request your choice of accommodation with your health care provider.Sign Shares promoted the upcoming Section 1557 deadline. “Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act backs you up even more. You must be given the choice for proper language access. It is your right, knowing your language is 3D.”

As a reminder, Sign Shares began offering Section 1557 wallet cards to assist in the communication process with health care providers.

June 7, the Texas State Independent Living Council held a public hearing for the State Plan for Independent Living. The hearing was held in Houston at the Houston Center for Independent Living. Our blog said, “We show our support toward the Texas State Independent Living Council and the Houston Center for Independent Living. As far as our industry goes, we encourage Deaf and Hard of Hearing people to attend this public hearing. It would be another way to express yourselves.”

Galveston County Daily News reads, "At Galveston rally, a call for live language interpreters"Capsule’s Founder, Eva Storey, shared about our Galveston, Texas rally on Friday, June 3, “This past weekend we extended our outreach to our fellow brothers and sisters in the Deaf communities in Galveston, Texas area. Their voices are important in this crusade as these meetings are turning into a major movement, a march on supporting and preserving the rights for a Deaf and Hard of Hearing individual. These meetings are based upon a diverse, think tank team, who have a heart for Deaf people and for people of all disabilities. Sign Shares Inc. and The Capsule Group, known as ‘Capsule’ is there to amplify the voices of these dynamic communities in mighty ways.’

“For 30 years, Sign Shares has pioneered the individual voices of Deaf people, interpreting for them. Now, through ‘Capsule’, they will be (Advocating, Educating, and Legislating) for all of them in one harmonious accord. Capsule advocates for people with all disabilities, but the first community that needs servicing, immediately, is the Deaf and Hard of Hearing; since they are communities that are very misunderstood, under valued, and under served for so many assumed reasons, especially in Houston, Texas and surrounding areas.’

Galveston County Daily News, says, "At Galveston rally, a call for live language interpreters and shows an interpreter and people who are Deaf watching her.
Sign Shares provides live interpreters for its events.

“Our latest rally in Galveston, Texas was critical since the demand of the communities required us to visit. When we learn of a need, Sign Shares and Capsule will be there and do more after the discussion. We will make things happen on behalf of each individual’s name. We send kudos to The Galveston Daily News for attending the rally, with a special shout out to reporter: John Wayne Ferguson, who wrote the story with a very factual and empathetic approach.’

Galveston Deaf advocate, Janie Morales.

“A special thank you to those who paid for the article access like the group ‘Reality of Interpreting,’ we appreciate you! Including: people like Darla Connor one of our think tankers & Janie Morales a Deaf Galveston community member, who made front page, and whose story is very impacting to learn about.’

“No one is trying to push technology away, but if you do not give a person an option, you are doing an injustice. Also, please do not force the person or mislead the person of their option.’

Card says: "No VRI. I know my rights. My choice is a Live Interpreter. I'm Deaf and my language is 3D. Call my agency, Sign Shares, Inc. p 713.869.4373."
Order your My Choice cards from the Sign Shares website at

“When The Community Sleeps Well, We Sleep Well… or We Just Keep Working On Behalf of The Community Even When They Sleep!“New Law Revisons Gives Patients the Choice of

Four people look on as people present.
Eva Storey and Christina Goebel look on as Deaf advocates present their views at a focus group at the Houston Center for Independent Living.

The Facebook page also shared pictures from Sign Shares’ June focus group, held at the Houston Center for Independent Living.

Iran beat Sweden in the Deaf World Cup.

The Sign Shares’ blog posted information about Section 1557 Affordable Care Act revisions.

Collage of Muhammad Ali saying he's one of the greatest.Muhammad Ali died. “Celebrate how great you are!” our Facebook page shared. Muhammad Ali quotes:

  • “What you are thinking about, you are becoming.”
  • “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
  • “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”

The Cleveland Cavaliers won the 2016 NBA Championship, 93-89, Final. Our blog said, “Lebron James, you gave the old school to the new school and you served this game! Irving you rocked Cleveland! Come back from a 3-1 deficit! Yeeehawww from Texas and the SS Team!”

father's dayThe Sign Shares’ Father’s Day post wished fathers and those who have the role of fathers a happy day–including Darth Vader and son.

June 19th’s Goodie Bag was: “Sharing makes the world a better place.” Quotes:

  • “From my heart to yours. Those we love and lose are always connected by heartstrings into infinity.”
  • “The essence of spirituality is to be kind and loving to all life.”
  • “I am not this hair, I am not this skin. I am the soul that lives within—Rami.”

anton yelchin news notice of the Star Trek's star's death.The new Star Trek movie’s Chekov, Anton Yelchin, was killed when his car failed at his home.

orlando shootingThe Orlando nightclub shooting was June 12, prompting several Sign Shares’ Facebook posts concerning peace. “Our hearts and prayers go toward the families hurt by the Orlando shootings this week. May peace surround you during this hard time. America the home of the brave.”

Promoting peace, our Facebook page shared John Lennon’s “Imagine,” with captions.

May 2016

Sign Shares' pictures show Happy Birthday, Sijaama, Bettye, Eva, and Anthony.Sign Shares shared an album of birthdays and other events from the first part of 2016.

nyle dimarco winsNyle DiMarco, who is Deaf, won Dancing with the Stars. We loved his tango. DiMarco performed part of the tango blindfolded. “Congratulations to winner of Dancing with the Stars, Nyle DiMarco! Deaf Proud and you go, Nyle, you have rhythm!”

mr momSign Shares’ wished moms and Mr. Moms a Happy Mother’s Day with a scene from Mr. Mom.

April 2016

Once they got a break from the rain, our Facebook page shared Jimmy Cliff’s song, “I Can See Clearly Now,” with captions. “I can see clearly now the rain is gone. I can see all obstacles in my way… It’s gonna be a bright (bright), Bright (bright) sunshiny day.”

Ladder 16 of the Houston Fire Department insignia and two big red firetrucks.
Ladder 16 of the Houston Fire Department

April brought floods to much of Texas, including Sign Shares’ home office area in Houston. CEO Eva Storey shared, “I want to give a personal shout out to ‘Ladder 16,’ who helped guide people that were on a particular highway that day struck by high water. I was amongst those people. I remember saying to misled as I started my vehicle, “God part the waters like you did for Moses.’ Wow, and there was Ladder 16!’

picture from a rooftop of houston
Our Houston home base was prone to flooding in 2016.

“Granted safety is always first, but in our profession, we pretty much adopt the postman’s creed: “Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their rounds.”

houston flood picturesSee the Houston flood album.

prince of purple rain diedPrince died at 57, prompting us to say, “So young to go so soon. My goodness what sad news. Thanks for all your uniqueness and talent! Rest in peace Mr. Purple Rain!”

houston flood legal help blog postOur blog shared information for legal assistance regarding the Houston floods.

deaf lawyers swear in for the supreme court barLike many of those in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community, we celebrated the swearing in of 13 Deaf or Hard of Hearing lawyers to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Bar.

Our Facebook page celebrated doctors in a series of posts. “Every day, we should celebrate those physicians who chose a professor of compassion and those who tread our lands without borders helping all different kinds of communities. So, here is a share of love for you docs. Thanks for playing a part of our healing process. We embrace you. Please remember to be kind to provide proper communication access for all. Every language counts!”

March 2016

easter including quote that it's not about the's about The Lamb.Easter wishes included peeps and painted eggs and the quote: “It’s not about the bunny … its about The Lamb.”

The Persian New Year is Nowruz.Ever mindful of diversity, our Facebook post provided a link to understand more about the Persian New Year, or Nowruz, which began on March 20 in 2016.

February 2016

The Sign Shares’ team had some purging beginning 2016: “Can you say, Facebook detox? Well, it was a New Year’s resolution! We didn’t even post a Happy New Year’s? Oh, the humanity! Not even, Happy Valentine’s Day? Could this mean we were actually doing stuff, outdoors, within the world? Ahhhhh! Well now we are back in full effect.”

January 2016

david bowie rainbow with a rainbowDavid Bowie died on Jan. 10. His death was a shock, and Sign Shares’ CEO took a breath before posting about it. “Deeply saddened to learn of David Bowie’s passing. He practically raised me. So much I want to say right now … but have to go into meditation over this and spin some of his vinyl first.”

She later posted, “You reshaped the world with your talents and now you’re on another level reshaping the universe. RIP David Bowie … David Bowie changed the face of music, entertainment, fashion, record producing, and until age 69, he never lost his style, his talent, and kept reinventing himself, hence the record release of ‘Blackstar’ in 2016, keeping his old school sax and unique expressions. What a legacy indeed.”

deaf playSign Shares’ first Facebook post of 2016 was about “Spring Awakening,” a play with actors who are deaf and hearing.