Tag Archives: American Sign Language

Texas Poster Contest for Artists with a Disability

A picture of a Texas Capitol entrance with the Texas flag hanging in front and on top of the Capitol.
The Office of the Governor promotes disability inclusion through the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities.

According to a bulletin from the Office of Texas Governor Greg Abbott, the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities is calling for art entries for the
National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) Poster Art competition. Entries must be submitted by May 31, 2017.

Picture of screenshot of two former posters, one is paper art of a moon and another shows a cowboy in the sunset.
Above are examples of previous poster contest winners. Use the link below to learn more about the artists and their work.

The winning artist gets statewide recognition when the committee releases free copies of the winner’s art on posters to businesses across Texas.

“The winning artwork is incorporated into the Texas HireAbility Campaign #TXHireAbility,” according to the press release.

In 2016, the committee distributed 2,500 posters.

Submissions

Submissions from Texas artists with disabilities can be sent to the committee via email at GCPD@gov.texas.gov with a photo attachment of the original work in a high resolution digital format, either JPEG or PDF.

They also accept color photocopies, or images on a CD sent by postal mail. The original artwork does not need to be submitted unless it wins the competition. It is free to enter.

All entries must be accompanied by a signed Entry Form, which is available on our website along with the Submission Guidelines.

Due date

Entries must be received by email or postmarked by May 31, 2017. The winner will be announced by June 21.

Artist Recognition

Besides having their art on a poster that is distributed across the state, the original art and the poster will be placed on display in the Office of the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities, as well as at other exhibits.

See previous winners at this link.

The winning artist may opt to be a featured guest at the annual Lex Frieden Employment Awards ceremony this October. Sign Shares, Inc./International won a Lex Frieden award for its support and inclusion of employees with disabilities.

Spread the love for inclusion

Join Sign Shares in ensuring that your office provides access an inclusion in the workplace. If you have an employee who needs sign language or foreign language services, request language services with Sign Shares.

 

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.

DEAF DOCTORS WHO OPENED DOORS
TO MEDICAL SCHOOL

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.

DR. AND INTERPRETER WHO RAISES THE BAR FOR DOCTORS

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 ada.gov,” 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.”

FROM THERE TO WHERE?

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?

COMMUNICATION ACCESS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS OR PROFESSIONALS

  • 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!

 

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Interpreting for Hurricane Matthew to Avoid Repeating Hurricane Andrew’s Deaf Community Disaster

When it was over sea, Hurricane Matthew was a Category 5 hurricane, with the potential to do as much damage as the Category 5 Hurricane Andrew that hit Florida in 1992 with 165 mph winds–and needlessly took Deaf lives.

Picture of a swirling hurricane in the ocean heading toward Florida.
Hurricane Andrew before it took an unexpected turn and struck South Florida. Only one TV station agreed to have an interpreter inform the Deaf Community of the unexpected change–a difference that may have cost Deaf lives. photo credit: Key West Wedding Photography Remembering Hurricane Andrew – 1992 via photopin (license)

Andrew took 65 people’s lives and warnings from local news stations warned that Hurricane Matthew was as serious a threat to the Eastern U.S. coastline.

For the Florida Deaf community, reporting and interpreting about Hurricane Matthew was a time for news stations to redeem themselves and not fail them as they had during Hurricane Andrew, when the Deaf community relied on reports from only one TV station that would accept and interpreter–and no captions at all.

For Hurricane Matthew, not only did news stations use interpreters for Hurricane news along the East Coast, many used Certified Deaf Interpreters too, bringing praise and surprise.

Hurricane Matthew–A Big Difference

Hurricane over the ocean near Florida.
Hurricane Matthew over the Bahamas. Wikipedia reported the hurricane caused 1,027 fatalities. This time, the media took a better approach at informing the Deaf community. photo credit: Official U.S. Navy Imagery Hurricane Matthew pass over the Bahamas. via photopin (license)

In 2016, with Hurricane Matthew, things started differently than they did during Hurricane Andrew.

For Hurricane Matthew, the Federal Communications Commission was available 24 hours a day, assisting with emergency communication providers.

The State reports that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley set the stage for public officials sharing communications with the Deaf Community, by providing a nationally Certified Deaf Interpreter, Jason Hurdich.

One viewer posted, “The sign language interpreter is the best part of Nikki Haley’s press conference. His facial expressions are 🔥🔥🔥.”

Channel 10 of the Miami area, once again a champion for Deaf communications during hurricanes, broadcasted interpreted news, this time with Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez. A graphic artist found the sign language interpreter so fascinating that she shared his video on her website.

Gym with hundreds of people laying on the floor in sleeping bags.
This U.S. Navy image shows preparation in a shelter in Cuba before Hurricane Matthew hit the island. Without proper communication, Deaf community members wouldn’t have known the shelter was available. photo credit: Official U.S. Navy Imagery Service members attached to Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay take shelter inside Denich Gym before Hurricane Matthew hits Naval Station Guantanamo Bay. via photopin (license)

On their Facebook page, Pasco County Schools of Land O’ Lakes, Florida, provided a sign language interpreter, and added Hurricane Matthew emergency communications in Spanish.

The Broward County Emergency Operations Center of South Florida used a Deaf interpreter, with a hearing interpreter signing for him.

The Miami Herald reported that the Deaf interpreter, because American Sign Language is his native language, added more meaning for audience members who are Deaf.

“I process it and put it into an art form or language that is clear to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community,” interpreter Andrew Altmann said. “It’s like a puzzle and I have to put all the pieces together and present it to our community.”

The mayor’s Facebook Fan Kim Black said, “Marty, thank you for publicly supporting the interpreter! You always go above & beyond to support those who work behind the scenes. The Deaf and Hard of Hearing community is fortunate to have leaders like you. You’re a very special person. Stay safe through the storm.

West Palm Beach, Florida’s WPTV, introduced their interpreter on the channel’s website, saying she would interpret for their viewers who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

There was a time though, that the Deaf community fended for itself with no information–and Deaf people died.

Hurricane Andrew: a Deaf Catastrophe

In 1992, before Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida, no one was certain if the storm would strike South Florida. To make matters worse, there had been a few hurricane scares earlier that year and nothing had happened.

According to “Lessons from Hurricane Andrew” by Rick Eyerdam, in the 1990’s, news stations used a “crawler,” which provided a written message at the bottom of the screen to inform people with deafness or hearing loss what was happening and what to do when closed captioning and interpreters weren’t signing.

According to the a Deaf services agency representing 30,000 clients then, when the news stations changed the Hurricane Watch to a Hurricane Warning, they stopped using a crawler.

Female news broadcaster with image of Hurricane Matthew in the background.
As pictured, this news broadcast wouldn’t make any sense to the Deaf community. No interpreter for those who use ASL. No captions for those who are Hard of Hearing. The Deaf and Hard of Hearing community needs visual communication. photo credit: NASA Goddard Photo and Video NASA’s 3D view shows Hurricane Matthew’s intensity via photopin (license)

There were no captions, no crawler, no interpreters.

The equivalent for a hearing person is a TV that is turned off and no radio communications. Nothing.

The South Florida Deaf community had no idea the hurricane now had the highest probability of striking the area where they lived.

When the Hurricane Andrew Warnings were issued to the hearing population, most people went to the stores to buy food and water.

During hurricanes, water supplies can be contaminated, so the stores sold out. Home Depot ran out of generators, since many feared the 90+ degree heat with no air conditioning or power. Stores ran out of wood panels and duct tape to cover windows and keep them from shattering inside their homes.

Everyone went except the Deaf community, which didn’t know because local news stations, according to Tyrone Kennedy, stopped using the crawler to provide words at the bottom of the screen, because emergency messages were long and difficult to reduce to writing.

“Once it changed from the watch to warning, we lost it all. The deaf population had no knowledge of what was going on. They missed out completely,” Kennedy said.

When the Hurricane Warning was issued, Kennedy and Deaf Services called the National Hurricane Center to offer interpreters for hurricane announcements.

He never got called back.

The television stations refused interpreters. Finally, one television station, Channel 10, agreed to have an interpreter on the news.

“By the time those people who would have relied on this information, if it came sooner, found (the station and got the information) by then it was too late. The stores were all empty. There were no supplies left,” Kennedy said.

They also didn’t have enough time to properly evacuate to a Florida city higher north.

After the storm, they couldn’t contact people who were Deaf by phone, since TTYs needed electricity. Fortunately, they forwarded all calls to one apartment with electricity and sent out volunteers with replacement batteries for their TTYs.

After Hurricane Andrew, according to the report, “the deaf community has discussed the effectiveness of closed captioning in the emergency environment and is now recommended all messages be sent in open captioning…”

According to “Deaf People and Hurricanes,” by Elizabeth Sadler, several Deaf Floridians died during Hurricane Andrew.

While it’s too late for those who lost their lives during Hurricane Andrew, at least the Deaf Community received greater emergency communications and acceptance, far beyond anything they dreamed of long ago in 1992.

Learn Sign Language for Hurricane

Broward County’s emergency interpreter, Andrew Altmann, demonstrates how to sign “hurricane.”

 

 

 

Deaf Hawaiian Battles to Save State’s Native Sign Language

Almost as soon as its documented discovery in 2013, Hawaii Sign Language was on its way to extinction.

Linda Lambrecht, a career American Sign Language teacher and past president of the Aloha State Association of the Deaf, is documenting Hawaii Sign Language, or HSL, while its few remaining native signers are still living. She’s one of them.

She hopes they can teach HSL to Hawaiians to preserve it as something that belongs to the Hawaiian Deaf community’s history.

Not long ago, Hawaii faced losing it's native spoken tongue. Now, experts are focused on saving its signed one. photo credit: Cliffs on Molokai Northern Coastline James Brennan Hawaii (27) via photopin (license)
Not long ago, Hawaii faced losing it’s native spoken tongue. Now, experts are focused on saving its signed one. photo credit: Cliffs on Molokai Northern Coastline James Brennan Hawaii (27) via photopin (license)

Lambrecht learned HSL from her older brothers, who are Deaf. According to an article in Hawaii News Today, “‘It wasn’t formal instruction, it was just exposure and that’s what we used to communicate,’ signed Lambrecht, who is also an ASL instructor at Kapi’olani Community College. ‘When foreigners came here and taught American Sign Language it was quite confusing.’”

She presented Hawaii Sign Language to the world at an endangered language conference and stunned the community because a new language hadn’t been discovered in America in decades.

According to the Ethnologue website, which documents the world’s languages, HSL is listed as “nearly extinct,” used by “elderly only.”

Surfer surfing a giant Hawaiian ocean wave.
Will Hawaiians surf this next wave to save a native language? photo credit: Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational Surf Contest Waimea Bay Hawaii Febrary 2016 via photopin (license)

Many Hawaiians who are Deaf don’t support HSL.

The results of the battle within the Hawaiian Deaf community about the value of its native sign language versus the more common and powerful American Sign Language will determine whether Hawaiians keep or abandon their unique sign language and its history.

HSL is distinct from American Sign Language. 80 percent of HSL has different vocabulary. Words such as “mother,” “father,” “pig,” and “small” have signs that differ from those of American Sign Language, according to an article in The Guardian.

See examples of HSL compared to ASL here.

Two things led Hawaiians who are Deaf to desert their native sign.

Pictures of a woman's lips while talking.
Some past and present efforts with Deaf education focus on how they can learn to speak, not sign. photo credit: 160318-N-IU636-154 via photopin (license)

The first was the establishment of a Deaf school, which promoted speaking over signing, according to The Guardian article. “‘The turning point, the beginning of the end of HSL,’ according to Barbara Earth [one of Lambrecht’s students], was the founding of Hawaii’s deaf school in 1914. Like most schools at the time, it promoted oralism, the system of lip-reading and speaking that is almost universally despised in Deaf communities for being painful, unnatural and ineffective.’”

When Hawaiians left the islands to become U.S. mainland soldiers, other Hawaiians also left, causing widespread changes, including the loss of HSL. photo credit: 160318-N-IU636-154 via photopin (license)
When Hawaiians left the islands to become U.S. mainland soldiers, other Hawaiians also left, causing widespread changes, including the loss of HSL. photo credit: 160318-N-IU636-154 via photopin (license)

The second language-killing event was Hawaiian military participation during World War II. While soldiers trained on the U.S. mainland, more Hawaiians moved to mainland states to attend college. Since most Americans who were Deaf used American Sign Language, Hawaii’s Deaf community used it too.

ASL became associated with success, education, and even “whiteness.” According to The Guardian article, “‘Deaf people here would put themselves into an inferior category compared to the people who brought ASL. People said, ‘They’re from America, they’re white people, they know better.’”

“…The forward march of ASL, which in certain ways brings people together, also poses a significant danger to many of the estimated 400 sign languages used all over the world – most of which we know nothing about,” according to The Guardian article.

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)

Few Hawaiians sign now in HSL. Some who know it well prefer ASL instead of the native sign language they know that dates back to at least the 1820’s.

For a pilot study conducted by the University of Hawaii and created through the efforts of Linda Lambrecht and her former student, Barbara Earth—researchers located 19 people who were older and two children of Deaf adults who knew fluent HSL, according to the article.

Mildred was one of the most fluent HSL “masters,” but she preferred ASL. According to the article, Linda Lambrecht said, “‘I remember Mildred would always tell me, ‘I don’t like HSL, I like ASL, it’s for educated people like me.

However, when Mildred had a bad fall and was placed into hospice care, she reverted to using HSL, according to the article. “‘Linda visited her recently: “I saw her signing – and I noticed that she had reverted to HSL.’”

Whether anyone will translate HSL in the future depends on the Hawaiian Deaf community.

According to a Hawaii News Report, “”What we need to do is make sure that we have a good grammatical description of the language, make sure that we have a lot of data, then we need to train the deaf adults who use the language to teach it to other deaf and hearing people—and especially to expose children to it,” said James Woodward, an Adjunct Professor of Linguistics at the University of Hawaii at Manoa who helps document HSL.

Learn more about the history of HSL and attempts to preserve and teach it.

See the most popular HSL signs.

Texas Cities Open Cooling Centers to Cope with Heat

man in suit and tie sweats profusely
Texas cities brace themselves for hot temperatures. photo credit: Misery via photopin (license)

Houston and Dallas have opened cooling centers across their metropolitan areas for people to escape the heat.

Houston-area cooling centers

With temperatures forecast in the upper 90’s all week, and heat indexes making it feel like it’s in the mid-100’s, the City of Houston has activated its heat emergency plan to provide cool places for people to spend hours or the day.

Words read Air Cooled
Spending time in cooler air helps the body prepare for the stress. photo credit: air cooled – Phoenix via photopin (license)

Most of the locations are libraries. Some run regular business hours, as early as 8 a.m. to around 4, 5, or 6:00 p.m. Others stay open as late as 9 p.m. The cooling centers are open different days, with many being closed on weekends or having certain days open.

Click here to locate a Houston-area cooling center near you.

To arrange for transportation to a designated cooling center in Houston, call 3-1-1.

Dallas-area cooling centers

In the Dallas area, Salvation Army has opened cooling stations. According to CBS DFW, centers have weekday business hours, except for the homeless shelters, which provide cooling seven days a week.

Locate a Dallas-area cooling station here.

man dumps ice bucket over his head
Before dumping an ice bucket on your head, maybe you can visit your local cooling station! photo credit: Mission Accomplished – ALS Ice Bucket Challenge via photopin (license)

Planning for heat safety

The Houston Fire Department has many suggestions for heat safety, including:

  • drinking water before going outside,
  • wearing light, loose clothing,
  • avoiding leaving children, seniors, or pets in hot cars, and
  • working early in the day to avoid the heat.

Heat exhaustion or heat stroke can be caused by too much exposure to the heat and/or not enough fluids. Learn more about the symptoms for these two illnesses here.

Deaf heat safety video

Watch an American Sign Language Extreme Heat Emergency Information Video.

The video was produced by the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Northeast Texas Public Health District.

 

ASL is Now at the Law of the Land

Gavel above picture of planet Earth
A group of Deaf lawyers have been sworn in at the highest court in America.

This Tuesday, 12 Deaf lawyers were sworn into the U.S. Supreme Court bar.

According to an Upworthy report, the first Deaf lawyer argued in front of the Supreme Court in 1982. Now, U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts communicated in American Sign Language from the Supreme Court bench.

“Some deaf or hard-of-hearing lawyers doubt that they can actually practice law,” Howard Rosenblum, one of the lawyers who was sworn in that day, told the Washington Post. “But the real practice is based on intellect and deaf people have that in spades,” according to the report.

Upworthy also took a stand on Deaf issues: “Deaf people, like anyone else, are capable of amazing things. But if we’re going to make them find their way in the hearing world, the least we can do is talk to them on their terms.”

Well said, Upworthy!

Houston Internship Opportunity with Disability Advocacy

Pink cherry blossoms in front of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington. D.C.
With this internship opportunity, you can travel to Washington, D.C. License: (license)

If you’re currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program at college, this internship opportunity provides training in disability advocacy and laws, and an opportunity to travel to the nation’s capital to attend a national conference regarding disability issues.

According to a recent announcement from the Independent Living Research Utilization program, the internship includes a $2,160 to $3,600 stipend and will last six to ten weeks during the time frame of June 6 to August 12, 2016.

Travel to the National Council on Independent Living in Washington DC, July 25-28 is required. You can learn more about this annual conference here.

The Independent Living Research Utilization program at the TIRR Memorial Hermann Research Center in Houston, Texas seeks applicants for its 2016 summer undergraduate internship program.

Interns will learn about research, the Affordable Care Act, disability laws and policy, and disability and independent living history and philosophy.

The interns will be supervised by Lex Frieden and Richard Petty at ILRU and will be mentored by other researchers in the Collaborative on Health Reform and Independent Living.

According to the announcement, interns will attend the annual conference of the National Council on Independent Living in Washington, D.C., where they will gain additional exposure to disability issues, policy and the disability movement.

Interns will also assist in conducting town hall meetings regarding centers for independent living, learn from disability leaders, and visit federal agencies and meet federal officials in the disability network.

Applicants should submit:

  • a cover letter indicating their interest and availability,
  • an up-to-date resume,
  • transcript, and
  • a letter of recommendation.

See what a cover letter looks like here.

Need to make a resume? Resume Genius has templates you can download to make sure you cover important topics in the resume and that it looks good.

Submit your application package to Richard Petty at Richard.petty@bcm.edu by April 22, 2016.

Applicants will be evaluated on:

  • Academic performance,
  • previous research experience,
  • writing ability,
  • experience with disability,
  • experience in healthcare, and
  • interest in the field.

Applicants should include the above information in their cover letter and/or their resume.

Applicants should be enrolled as undergraduate or graduate degree-granting students.

Final selections will be made by May 9, 2016.

A majority of ILRU’s staff have disabilities and they provide reasonable accommodations, including:

  • meetings with Interpreters and CART live captioning,
  • TTYs,
  • screen readers,
  • accessible office furniture,
  • chemical-free work spaces,
  • emergency evacuation chairs,
  • flashing alarms,
  • accessible offices, parking, paths of travel, equipment and furniture.

ILRU’s offices, parking, paths of travel, equipment and furniture are physically accessible and convenient for access of staff and visitors with disabilities.