Tag Archives: hard of hearing

UPDATED: Celebrating and Sharing Deaf Awareness Month with Celebrities and Events

September is Deaf Awareness Month, but it’s a reminder that we should make awareness about hearing loss and deafness year-long.

Sun shines brightly on a couple walking down the street holding hands.
September celebrates Deaf Awareness Month and the beginning of fall. photo credit: Into Autumn via photopin (license)

People who have deafness or hearing loss and work in the entertainment industry have advocated for more awareness about D/deaf issues.

“Seriously, I don’t find not being able to hear an obstacle or a boundary. For me and for many of us, it is an advantage and it’s a part of my identity in fact. It’s a huge part of who I am.”–Nyle DiMarco

“We really get to prove that the old saying is true — the only thing a deaf person can’t do is hear. I love that we show how diverse the deaf community is and how uniquely individual hearing loss is.”–Katie LeClerc

Marlee Matlin smiles and opens her arms wide.
Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin when she got her Hollywood Star.

“The opportunity to communicate in sign language, one of the most beautiful languages in the world, is an advantage that deaf people enjoy.  It’s a language that combines several elements at once with a simple hand movement and facial expression: meaning, affect, time and duration. It’s just so beautiful that printed or spoken words can’t begin to describe it.” —Marlee Matlin

Lou Ferrigno flexes his bicep for a fan.
Before he was TV’s The Incredible Hulk, Lou Ferrigno won Mr. Universe and Mr. America bodybuilding titles. photo credit: Ferrigno via photopin (license)

“If I hadn’t lost my hearing, I wouldn’t be where I am now. It forced me to maximize my own potential. I have to be better than the average person to succeed.” —Lou Ferrigno

To celebrate Deaf Awareness Month 2016, here is a list of upcoming 2016-17 events for people who are D/deaf, their friends and family members, or for professionals who provide services for them.

If we’ve left anything out, please let us know in the comments below and we can add it.

Deaf Events 2016

Houston Focus Group on Deaf Discrimination and Disability Rights
UPDATe: Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016
Houston, TX
Under the sponsorship of The Capsule Group, the focus group will meet at MMSC (Metropolitan Multi-Service Center) located at 1475 West Grey Street, Houston, TX 77019, from 10 a.m. -1 p.m.

Deaf Celebration EXPO 2016
Sept. 24, 2016
Fort Worth, TX
Sign Shares, Inc. is one the event’s 55 exhibitors.
Steve C. Baldwin, Deaf author, will be selling his murder mystery book there: “Backspace.”

Texas Association of the Deaf (TAD) Symposium
Oct. 1, 2016
New Braunfels, TX

The Houston Interpreters and Translators Association’s interpreter training: Consecutive Interpretation and Code of Ethics on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016. The training will be provided during morning and evening hour sessions. It is approved for 8 hours of ATA; and is pending approval for: JBCC, ATA, CCHI and IMIA. The event includes 2 hours of ethics.
Houston, TX
The trainer will be Virginia Valencia, a federally-certified court interpreter.

International Language Services Conference
Oct. 12, 2016
Houston, TX
“The 5th annual International Language Services Conference will explore a 360° view of the interpreting encounter from start to finish, unifying all stakeholders in the process from the LEP patient to the hospital administrators, interpreter certifying organizations and educators, and  compliance officials.”

Association for Machine Translation in the Americas
Oct. 28-Nov. 1, 2016
Austin, TX

American Translators Conference
(“the voice of interpreters and translators”)
Nov. 2-5, 2016
San Francisco, CA

Deaf Events 2017

Texas Transition Conference
Feb. 22-24
Houston, TX

Texas Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (TSHA) Annual Convention and Exhibition
Feb. 23-25, 2017
Austin, TX

Deaf Seniors of America (DSA) Houston National Conference
Sunday, April 2-Sunday, April 9, 2017

Forging Pathways to Health Care and Biomedical Science Careers, Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Loss
Rochester, NY
June 9-11, 2017
The event’s hosted by the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology.

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Deaf Student’s School Year Begins in the Toilet

An Omaha, Nebraska student with hearing loss reported that he was bullied by two students at school, resulting in damaged property. Other students publicly supported Hernandez.

Picture of a toilet in a bathroom
One place students don’t expect to find their homework: the bathroom toilet. Unfortunately, this is where other students threw the contents of his backpack. photo credit: Morning Light via photopin (license)

Alex Hernandez, a student at Burke High School, said that someone took his backpack during lunch at school, according to a report by KMTV.

His belongings were later found in a toilet, and the picture of it and a plea against bullying, possibly posted by his sister or someone close to him, went viral.

According to the KMTV report, his backpack contained “his tablet, school supplies, homework and debit card in a toilet. It also contained his cochlear implant – without it, he can’t hear.”

A later report appeared to clarify that the assistive technology involved was not the cochlear implant, but a battery for it, indicating the media’s difficulty in learning about technology used by people with hearing loss or deafness.

Hernandez made a stand against bullying: “Those students think it’s okay to bully a deaf student, but it’s not. It’s not okay to bully someone who is disabled, deaf or hard of hearing,” said Hernandez in the report. “Or anyone for that matter.”

According to a report from WGN, the two male students who took Hernandez’s backpack didn’t know him or that he was deaf.

Another student expressed his disapproval. “I actually saw it on Facebook, and it just absolutely sickened me,” said student Devon Fuller. “I can’t believe people at school would actually do that kind of thing,” according to the report.

Hernandez, according to a report from KMTV, is considering transferring to a school his friends tell him is more supporting of students who are hard of hearing.

The Deaf Community reached out to Hernandez. “They said they felt sorry for me and had me in their prayers. They said [they] were here supporting me and they know how it feels like to be deaf. So I’m very happy,” he said.

Despite community caring, Hernandez has “gone through years of bullying due to his disability.”

His mother plans to file a police report. “The bullies think they can continue with this behavior,” said Alex’s mother. “They need to be reminded that there are consequences to stealing and bullying.”

According to a WGN report, students quickly created a GoFundMe page to raise money for school supplies for Hernandez and reached their $800 goal in several days.

Houston Deaf Rally Educates Community about the Need for Live Interpreters

Thursday, Aug. 18, despite thunderstorms, a group of advocates who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing stood up at the Houston City Hall for their right to have preference given to their choice of accommodation at their doctor’s offices or hospitals.

People all wearing white NO VRI, Video Remote Interpreters T-shirts, hold rally signs saying NO VRI.
Houston advocates represented the Deaf Community at City Hall.

Despite recent law revisions, the Deaf community braces for the education needed to ensure that a person who is Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or Deaf-Blind will receive the accommodation of their choice at appointments with their health care providers.

KPFT’s Local News Reporter, Jacob Santillan, covered the event. Listen to the broadcast here or read the broadcast transcript here below the mp3 recording.

Many doctors and hospitals protest paying for live interpreters and in many cases now, people who are Deaf are provided with Video Remote Interpreters, or VRI, without regard to their specific need for accommodation.

The resistance from doctors, hospitals, and clinics to providing interpreters has been nationwide, as evidenced by cases taken up by the U.S. Department of Justice across America as part of the Barrier-Free Healthcare Initiative.

Recent changes involve health care providers adopting Video Remote Interpreting programs to save money instead of asking patients from the Deaf community what they need.

Communication problems addressed by some of the above legal cases would make some health care providers wonder if they would save money after all, if remote interpreting services fail due to technical errors or the physical limitations of having an interpreter over a small screen with a small voice.

A woman signs to a group of people.
Advocates gather around as Dr. Angela Trahan signs. A sign language interpreter voices for people who are hearing.

At the rally, Deaf advocate Robert Yost pointed to a flaw in the Americans with Disabilities Act as the source of problems people who are Deaf have when requesting interpreters for health care.

“Once the law was being passed, it was done by the business community that made an influence on Congress people to vote and put that one word in there that says ‘Reasonable Accommodation’ and that one word is realized that businesses, doctors, medical centers, police departments, everywhere, to have a right to do the cheapest way to interpret for Deaf people,” Yost said, according to the KPFT report.

Other advocates stressed their choice to have their preference of accommodation met.

Man signs to a group of people, some filming him.
Advocate Dana Mallory signs his views.

Advocate Dana Mallory signed, according to the report, “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.”

Having news radio coverage wasn’t lost on Sign Shares’ CEO and Capsule’s Founder, 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. It’s three words we use: Advocate, Educate, and Legislate, and that’s all we are here to do.”

Learn more about the event at Capsule Facebook page. Like our page and stay informed!

Capsule: For the Love of Advocacy!

Sharing contributions with the world & future generations, one Capsule at a time! 

On August 16, 2016, Sign Shares, Inc./International announced the website publication of a new business on Facebook:The Capsule Group, known as Capsule. “We are proud to announce our advocacy group’s website is now live!!! Right before the August 18th rally at Houston, City Hall, well that just gives us goosebumps!”

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.

The Aug. 18 Houston rally is a consumer-demanded event to address the Deaf Community’s response to the increasing use of Video Remote Interpreting, or VRI, at medical appointments without asking people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing about their preference.

At focus group meetings, advocates who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing urged Capsule and Sign Shares’ staff to help them make a stand for their civil rights.

The rally is just one of Capsule’s time capsules–“sharing contributions with the world & future generations.”

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

According to the Founder of Capsule, Detective: Eva Storey on Facebook, “Our late 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 & Hard of Hearing communities from local, statewide, to international. It is far time for a different way to advocate, educate & legislate beyond the scope of interpretation and with flexible, creative freedoms.”

Storey has a disability herself, which informs her about the needs for a better way of supporting others with additional needs. “I myself am a five-time stroke survivor with an auto-immune deficiency, but I don’t go around introducing my disabilities. I introduce myself, raw & real. ‘Hi, my name is Detective: Eva Storey, founder of The Capsule Group.'”

Capsule’s mission is “to advocate, educate, and legislate on behalf of people of all disabilities to have unlimited access to resources and support needed to achieve life!”

According to Capsule’s website, the business exists “For the Love of Advocacy! A Different way to Donate! Advocate, Educate, Legislate!”

By creating Capsule, Storey became the first Capsuler. Meet the rest of the Capsule team.

Register to Join Capsule and begin making your own capsule here.

Fill Your Capsule With Love. Launch.

Follow Your Capsule. It Will Be Loved.

Click here if you would you like to create your own capsule by donating the following for a person with a disability:

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For the Love of Advocacy, Follow Capsule on Facebook.

 

 

 

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.

Featured Abilities Expo Workshop: Accessible Travel with Cory Lee

At the Houston Abilities Expo on Saturday, Aug. 6, accessible travel blogger Cory Lee of Georgia will present a workshop, “Traveling Curb Free: How to Explore the World in a Wheelchair.”

Lee is Founder and CEO of curbfreewithcorylee.com . He writes about accessible travel while using a power wheelchair.

According to Lee’s website, “I want to share my accessible (and to my dismay, sometimes not so accessible) adventures with you. My life goal is to visit every continent, even Antarctica.” He hopes his blog will “inspire you to start rolling around the world.”

Sunrise or sunset over a bridge.
Cory Lee’s recent travels to Pensacola Beach, Florida led to the discovery of a company that rents out power beach wheelchairs. photo credit: The Glorious Daybreak of Gulf Breeze via photopin (license)

Lee’s presentation will offer new options for travelers with mobility needs. “Learn how to properly prepare for accessible travel, what destinations and modes of transportation are suitable for your needs, and even how to deal with those unexpected circumstances that often arise while traveling in new places.”

The accessible travel blogger has written an ebook, Air Travel for Wheelchair Users, which, according to his website, is “entirely devoted to alleviating any fears that wheelchair users may have when it comes to flying.”

Giraffe walking through the wilderness.
Cory Lee travels to an African safari this fall. photo credit: Jaunt I via photopin (license)

South Africa is his destination this October.

His workshop will be from 1:00-2:00 p.m. this Saturday in the workshop area.

Sign Shares boat logo with blue handsAlong with Lee and many ability-oriented presenters and exhibitors, Sign Shares, Inc. and Capsule will be at Houston’s Abilities Expo, Aug. 5-7 at booth 625, next door to the Houston Center for Independent Living’s booth, 627.

Sign Shares is the event’s American Sign Language interpreter sponsor.

The three-day Abilities Expo is free. The event has exhibitors, workshops, and day-long events.

Register for the Houston Abilities Expo for free at this link.

The Houston Abilities Expo has more than 100 exhibitors, including businesses and organizations that support independence, awareness, and advocacy for people of all abilities.

The event will be held at the NRG Center, which was formerly Reliant Center, at Hall E.

British swimmer adds record to Deaf swimming history

A man who completed the swim across the English Channel became the first person who is Deaf to accomplish the feat.

Deaflympics Tapei 2009 sign
Deaflympics are held every four years in host countries worldwide. photo credit: IMG_0029_34 “POWER IN ME !” HDR via photopin (license)

Andrew Rees completed the 21-mile swim from England to France to raise $6,000 via crowdfunding on Just Giving for Great Britain’s UK Deaf Sport’s travel to the next Deaflympics, which will be held in Samsun, Turkey on July 18, 2017.

Giant white cliffs over the English Channel.
Swimmer Andrew Rees began his historic swim across the English Channel in England and swam to France. The waters are cold and the conditions were rough. photo credit: The White Cliffs of Dover (NT) 19-04-2012 via photopin (license)

Rees represented Great Britain and won gold and bronze medals at swimming and water polo in the 1985 and 1989 Deaflympics.

According to his Just Giving page, “The English Channel is the Everest of swimming; in fact more people have successfully climbed Everest than swim the channel.”

Snow atop the peak of Mount Everest.
Fewer people have completed the English Channel swim than have climbed the 29,000 foot Mount
Everest photo credit: Mount Everest from base camp one via photopin (license)

While Rees has met his goal to support the swim team, the campaign is still accepting donations here.

According to the Channel Swimming Association, Rees, who is profoundly Deaf, swam against a strong tide and completed the swim in 15 hours and 14 minutes.

Of the 11 boats accompanying swimmers attempting to cross the channel that day, only two swimmers completed the swim, according to Rees’ Facebook page.

Woman wearing wetsuit assists child in ocean kayak in front of English Channel white cliffs.
Wet suits offer protection from cold Atlantic waters, but channel swimmers aren’t permitted to use them, though they may use grease as a cold barrier. photo credit: Cap’n Nancy via photopin (license)

According to strict standards for swimming the channel, Rees couldn’t wear a wet suit to protect him from cold waters, and he was stung by a jellyfish. The water was rough, causing him to swim three more hours than he expected. When he completed the swim, he could barely walk, according to a Brighton & Hove News article.

“For the last eight hours it was mad. There was a 23-knot wind. I was bobbing up and down. It took me a long time to get there,” Rees said, according to the article.

Galveston's Pleasure Pier has a Ferris Wheel and rides on a pier over the Gulf of Mexico waters.
Galvestonian Leroy Columbo set swimming records, saved lives, and helped start the sport of surfing in Texas. photo credit: Moonrise Over the Pleasure Pier via photopin (license)

Rees is one of many great swimmers who are Deaf, including Galveston, Texas’ swimmer and Guinness World Record holder Leroy Columbo (December 23, 1905—July 12, 1974), who swam 15 miles in the Gulf of Mexico in 11 hours, and saved more than 907 lives as a life guard, according to this blog.

Sign of Tarzan and King Kong with father and son walking in front of it.
Texan Leroy Columbo, a famous swimmer who was Deaf, beat Olympian and Tarzan star Johnny Weissmuller racing down the Mississippi. photo credit: Be care via photopin (license)

Unfortunately, Galveston was unable to raise funds for Columbo to compete in the Olympics, though Columbo beat Olympic medalist Johnny Weissmuller in a 10-mile swim race down the Mississippi River—though Columbo had a dislocated shoulder and finished the last two miles of the race one handed, according to articles in this blog
and in the East Texas Historical Journal.

Rees is giving his teammates the Olympic opportunity swimmers who were Deaf had little hope of receiving in generations past.

“The money he has raised will help our Deaflympic swimmers immensely, and his swim will also serve as an inspiration to them all,” said Great Britain’s Deaf Swimming’s chair, Brian Baxter, according to a a BBC Sport article.