Tag Archives: interpreters

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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World ASL Poker Coming Soon to Austin

According to a post from the Deaf Network of Texas, the World ASL Series of Poker, or WASP, Tour #5 will be held in February in Austin, Texas.

Royal Flush poker hand with cards 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace.
photo credit: I Win via photopin (license)

The ASL poker series was developed to “bring renowned poker games to all deaf, hard of hearing, interpreters, and family members of deaf or hard of hearing adult poker players of all languages in different regions of America,” according to the series’ website.

The group was formed by Texas residents Jay Levine of San Antonio, Matt Erickson of Austin, and Dan Stoddard of Austin. Tournaments will be held at different casinos. 

There has been debate about whether people who use ASL can do so in poker games and at casinos, and when, if at all. This relates to industry rules that English only is accepted in poker, usually unless the dealer and all the players at the table use the same language. Notepads have also been in use.

Anyone wanting to play games at a casino who uses sign language should contact the casino ahead of time to learn what restrictions apply during play.

Here, you can read about an example of casino staff and a deaf advocate debating when the Americans with Disabilities Act applies and when it doesn’t in relation to poker.

WASP, however, invites a variety of abilities to play.

The event will be held Friday, Feb. 5 in Austin at the Austin Deaf Club, 8818 Cullen Lane, Austin, Texas 78748.

Admission for Friday night only or for Saturday night only is $10. Saturday full-day admission is $20. Early admission paid on Friday offers a discount of $25 for both days. Additional fees may apply, contact event coordinators or the flyer below for more information.

For more information, contact wasptour@gmail.com.

See the Tour Flyer.

 

 

The Need for Star Wars Access for All Abilities, Signing May the Force Be with You

Children dress up as Jedi masters from the Dark Side with red lightsabers.
People of all abilities want to put on a costume and share the Star Wars’ experience. Credit: Christina Goebel, Star Wars: The Force Awakens Dec. 17 premiere at Disney Springs in Kissimmee, Florida

While premieres for the latest Star Wars movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, were last night, the film opens in nationwide theaters today. Almost everyone who wants to can view one of the coolest movies in the galaxy–but not quite. For one blogger who uses a wheelchair, leaving home to view the movie with a damaged wheelchair could endanger his life. Another young man may be attending the film because of director J.J. Abram’s and others’ contributions.

Access to movies for people of all abilities will take a community effort.

Star The Force Awakens Wars lit up on the ground.
This Star Wars: The Force Awakens step and repeat on the ground at Disney Springs in Kissimmee, Florida makes it easy for everyone to snap their picture, even if they use a wheelchair. Credit: Christina Goebel

Movies have been a stress point for many people with a disability. For some, they need captions or amplification to hear, others need descriptive voice, and others need physical access to parking, the building, and accessible seating and bathrooms. Many theaters now provide this access and indicate next to the movie listing if it’s accessible.

A lot of work is still needed for ensuring access, as you can tell from viewing this “official” trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens that has no captions or this one, with 22 million views–but no captions for people who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or Deafblind. As for descriptive voice for people who are blind, also not there.

Star The Force Awakens Wars light display on side of a Disney building.
This Star Wars: The Force Awakens building wall projection provides another accessible backdrop for people with many abilities. Credit: Christina Goebel, at Disney Springs

Here is how theaters accommodate disability, but visit your theater’s website or call to verify and if necessary, reserve access:

  • Descriptive voice: actions described by voice, supplied for those with low vision or blindness and available over a theater-provided headset
  • Closed-captioning: viewed by theater-provided Sony glasses, a captioning device, or shield (View a captioned video of how captioned glasses work here.)
  • Open captioning: scheduled less frequently, captions are shown on the film itself for all to see
  • Assistive Listening Device: a theater-provided amplification device for those with mild to moderate hearing loss
  • Accessible Parking, Seating, and Bathrooms: those spaces with no seats allow someone using a wheelchair to sit–and may run out temporarily during Star Wars’ showings
  • Showings for People with Cognitive Disabilities: usually scheduled later for showings, allow viewers to walk around or talk as they desire, sound may be lower for those with Autism, reduces stress about “proper behavior” for viewing films
  • Showings for with Sign Language for People who are Deaf: usually scheduled later with sign language interpreters

Watching films with sign language is a truer form of communication for those who are culturally Deaf and use sign as their primary method of communication.

To see how different sign language is from captions, learn how Deaf Star signs, “May the Force be With You!”

Seats in a theater with open space next to them to accommodate a wheelchair.
Seats with open spaces next to them are for wheelchairs. Don’t occupy these areas unless you or family members need them. photo credit: Riverview Theater [006/366] via photopin (license)
If you need accommodations, call early for theater access, especially when seats will be full, to know if there will be enough accessible seating, if captions will be available for the 3D version of the movie, if the film will have descriptive voice, if an open captioned film will be shown, or if there will be enough amplification devices on hand.

On crowded days, those using wheelchairs might want to call ahead to arrange for assistance carrying their food and drinks while navigating thick crowds in hallways.

Those needing additional access should show up early to the film to ensure their space or equipment is available. Accessible seating and equipment take extra time to arrange.

While many people with disabilities will experience Star Wars: The Force Awakens in theaters, some will not.

Darth Vader kneels on ground. He has painted the words Epic Fail on the wall.
Technology exists to improve people’s lives, but many can’t receive access to it. In some cases, when equipment fails, people with disabilities may have to wait years for a replacement. photo credit: Weston Super Mare – Epic Fail via photopin (license)

For actor, blogger, and activist Dominick Evans, Dec. 17 was a reminder of the downside of the lack of access. Evans said in his blog, “Not only can I not go see [Star Wars: The Force Awakens], but I probably won’t be able to see it until it comes to streaming or television. The reason is because I lack access to the things I need to not only get out of my house, but also out of my bed. I have been trapped in bed before, and it sucks, but today it is my reality…not because I’m disabled, but because any type of equipment and services I (and others) need, are 10 times more expensive. ”

Wheelchair foot rest is alone on floor, broken off the wheelchair.
Something as simple as a broken wheelchair foot rest can contribute to broken bones for the user because the wheelchair can roll over his or her foot. photo credit: Broken leg via photopin (license)

Evans has had a broken wheelchair for three years. He said that if insurance comes through, he may have a new wheelchair next spring. In the meantime, Evans’ wheelchair is painful and dangerous to use.

Not having a wheelchair is one of Evans’ access problems. Another is needing a new Hoyer lift, equipment used to move Evans into his wheelchair and out of it.

Evans said, “Due to something called contractures in my legs, which can be very painful, my legs hang around the bar of the kind of lift I use. My feet snag on it, and I have recently experienced multiple sprained feet and broken toes.”

The new lift that won’t break Evans’ bones costs $5,000 and may not be covered by insurance.

For people like Evans, not having appropriate technology is life-threatening and deprives him of choices many of have that we take for granted.

“This is the part of having a disability that stinks the most … knowing you could have your freedom back, but lacking that access to get the things you need, to make it happen. Today I wish I could go to the movies. I have long been a Star Wars fan,” Evans said.

Evans asks us to think of him when we experience the film at theaters. He said, “So today, if you get to go enjoy Star Wars…have some popcorn for me, and think about ways you can help support the disability community, so those of us currently unable to go see this film, or any other film franchise we happen to love, due to lack of access, have a greater chance of not facing these barriers, in the future.”

J.J. Abrams standing a podium next to microphone.
J.J. Abrams, director of the new Star Wars movie, has contributed to the access of those with disabilities. Have you? photo credit: J. J. Abrams via photopin (license)

J.J. Adams, the director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, contributed $50,000 this year to the family of 10-year-old Michael Keating, a young man who has Cerebral Palsy and whose family needed an accessible van to transport him. They needed more equipment too, since his mother had two hernia surgeries related to moving her 70-pound son.

According to a Washington Post report, Abrams said, “Katie and I made the donation. Likely for the same reason others did: we were moved by the Keating family’s grace, strength and commitment to each other.”

Picture of Yoda's head. It reads, "Try not. Do or do not. There is no try."
Abrams lives Yoda’s mantra by taking action to ensure greater access for others. It’s probable that a young man whose family he helped was able to see his movie because of Abrams’ contribution. photo credit: Yoda wisdom via photopin (license)

Sign Shares staff realizes the need to advocate for access and inclusion so that everyone can live, work, and play in the least restrictive environment. Sign Shares has contributed to disability events across the state and nation to support disability education, awareness, inclusion, and advocacy for people of all abilities.

If you need a sign language interpreter, CART live captioning, or similar resources, you can request services here or call: Local (Houston): 713.869.4373 • Toll Free: 866.787.4154, or at the Videophone numbers for callers who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Videophone 1: 832.431.3854 • Videophone 2: 832. 431.4889.

The Sign Shares’ advocacy team can provide resources to those who need technology, access, or advocacy information. Contact us here or by calling the numbers above, at  or at the Videophone numbers for callers who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Videophone 1: 832.431.3854 • Videophone 2: 832.431.4889.

May the Force Be with You!

 

 

 

Deaf Students at Harvard Request Greater Access and Inclusion

According to an article in The Harvard Crimson, some students are embracing Deaf culture more at Harvard University, while students ask for ASL courses for full inclusion.

The subject of the Harvard article, Westley “West” A. Resendes, has had some good experiences at Harvard as a student who wears a cochlear implant and self-identifies as culturally “Deaf.”

According to the article, “He had interpreters for lectures, sections, and thesis meetings, as well as outside events at the Kennedy School of Government and Kirkland House.”

Cynthia Carvey signing.
Sign Shares’ interpreters like Cynthia Carvey don’t censor what is said. Deaf students want all of the same information as everyone else. (license)

The university provides full inclusion during access. For example, Resendes recalls that when Family Guy creator, Seth McFarlane, visited Harvard, the celebrity learned signs for vulgar words in ASL and then said them and watched the interpreters sign them, according to the article.

Times have changed for students who are deaf at Harvard. A professor from the deaf college Gallaudet University, Caroline M. Solomon, said there were no staff interpreters when she arrived at Harvard.

According to the article, “Halfway through [Solomon’s] first semester, however, the school hired an interpreter full time, who stayed with her for the next four years.”

Resendes and others sometimes don’t receive interpreters if they can’t give advance notice, according to the article.

Sarah D. Gluck, a deaf graduate student pursuing a degree in speech and hearing bioscience and technology, said, “Hearing students have the privilege of walking through the hallway and seeing a poster for something, like a science lecture or talk that’s happening that day or later that week, but it’s hard for me to have any sort of spontaneity.”

Gluck and others who are deaf must give two to three weeks’ notice of their intentions to attend an event, according to the article.

Many pictures in one of a woman showing sign language symbols with her hands.
American Sign Language classes teach one of America’s most-used languages. They also educate some of tomorrow’s interpreters. photo credit: See Hear via photopin (license)

Besides the difficulties of interpreter availability at Harvard, the lack of American Sign Language, or ASL, classes thwarts students like Resendes. The university had ASL courses in the 1990’s, but dropped them due to funding. Now, according to the article, the only ASL courses are provided by the campus organization CODA.

According to the article, Resendes tried fulfill his Harvard foreign language requirement with ASL and his request was denied. Currently, Harvard students can study ASL only as a source of research.

Resendes said, according to the article, that the standard is “rather unfair…considering other languages can be taken for pleasure at Harvard,” and that “The University needs to reconsider its outdated position on ASL.”

Significant strides are being taken by the university journalism staff because they are providing balanced news by presenting news from the perspective of deaf students. Also, The Harvard Crimson reporters aren’t perpetuating stereotypes and are including issues relevant to students with all abilities.

Human Writes with a W is written on paper with a marker.
By including the interests of students who are deaf and hard of hearing, Harvard journalists help to cultivate an inclusive environment on campus. (license)

Media inclusion is crucial for the future inclusive environment at Harvard, because without news coverage, students and faculty at the campus wouldn’t know the issues faced and changes needed.

According to Susan C. Levine in “Reporting on Disability,” “Media coverage plays a crucial role in educating the public on disability issues. It could–and should–be helping people understand that these are civil-rights issues. But more often than not, reporting on disability perpetuates negative stereotypes or fails to tell the story from the perspective of people with disabilities.”

Man reads newspaper intently.
Campus media influences how well a university accepts, rejects, or ignores students of all abilities. photo credit: Eligh Reading via photopin (license)

Like many universities, Harvard is working toward greater access and inclusion for all students and the article in The Harvard Crimson is proof that the campus culture encourages growth.

If you would like to provide a more inclusive environment for people who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or Deafblind, you can request services from Sign Shares here or call 713.869.4373 or 866.787.4154.

 

 

 

 

 

Houston Commission on Disabilities Meeting will Swear in New Commissioners

Picture of Houston skyline showing highway and tiered and glass skyscrapers.
Like Houston, most mayors have a committee for people with disabilities. The committee can usually be accessed at the mayor’s website. (license)

The Houston Commission on Disabilities will meet from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 10.

According to the mayor’s website, “The Commission is responsible for advising and making recommendations to the mayor, City Council, department directors and the individual designated by the mayor to head the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.”

The month’s agenda includes the swearing in of seven new commissioners. Michael Mcculloch will discuss the possibility of a Disability Pride Parade. There will be time for public comment  after the presentation. The commission meets every second Thursday of the month from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., unless otherwise noted.

ASL interpreters and CART services will be available for the meeting.

The meeting will be held at the Multi-Service Center, 1475 West Gray, and Houston, TX 77019.

Review the meeting agenda here.

Source: Houston Commission on Disabilities

Holiday Gift Ideas with Free Shipping for People with Deafness, Hearing Loss, and Interpreters

Presents under a Christmas tree.
Have you found some unique gifts for your loved ones with deafness or hearing loss?

Harris Communications offers many products for individuals with hearing loss. Currently, the company offers free shipping.

Harris Communications has provided a holiday gift guide, including the following gift guides:

Girl with Christmas tree lights behind her.
Products with lights offer alternatives to products that might otherwise have sound, such as fire alarms and phones.

Gift ideas include bed shakers–which now work with cell phones and have many options, light on cell phone signalers, new devices with different light signals for different sounds, assisted listening devices, amplified or TTY  phones, and also includes items such as apparel, rugs, keychains, drinkware, and jewelry. They also have products for interpreters.

DeafGifts.com sells more refined jewelry, apparel, home decor, and games. Novel items include:

Two boys stand in front of Hanukkah candles.
This season is a time to show our loved ones how much we care with thoughtful ways of showing our love and acceptance.

Both companies offer ASL books and videos.

Celebrating Thanksgiving with Sign Shares

Sign Shares team in the office.
Celebrating Ms. Bettye’s birthday (l-r): Eva Storey, Christina Goebel, Tonia Osberg, Anthony Butkovich, Bettye Washington (back), Sijaama Branch (front), Lorinda Hernandez-Howard, and Michael Akinosi.

We have so much to be thankful for, most of all for you and for one another!

Sign Shares has  celebrated birthday hugs and awards, supporting the disability community through arts and more.

Group of people signing to one another.
The Sign Shares family at the Disability Touching Film Festival in Austin, Texas.

Sign Shares was honored to be a part of the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities’ Cinema Touching Disability Film Festival in Austin, Texas. Sign Shares was a Director sponsor for the event.

In a recent Facbook photo album, Sign Shares’ staff Eva Storey and Michael Akinosi interact with Lizzie Velasquez. Velasquez is an international speaker and activist who is the subject of a film, A Brave Heart. The film explores how Lizzie turned a malicious viral video touting her as the “world’s ugliest woman” into a stigma-shattering victory.

Eva Story and Lizzie Velasquez talk.
Lizzie Velasquez shares a moment with Sign Shares’ Eva Storey.

The Sign Shares team also viewed the Jessica Cox film Right Footed. Cox is an advocate, pilot, and martial artist who was born without arms. The film follows her advocacy for disability rights.

 

Cynthia Carvey signing.
Sign Shares’ Cynthia Carvey in action.
Sherri Frost talking with others in background.
Sign Shares’ Sherri Frost interpreting.

Enjoy these pictures of Sign Shares’ interpreters in action.

 

Group poses for birthday in front of large balloons.
Sign Shares staff Michael Akinosi, Eva Storey, and Sherri Frost celebrated a milestone birthday with William “Randy” Gunter.

Our pictures also share our family with you–recent birthdays for Sign Shares’ family members Bettye Washington and William “Randy” Gunter, and a picture of the Sign Shares’ Lex Frieden award!

Quote: Look at everything as though you were seeing it for the first or the last time. Then your time on Earth will be filled with glory. Betty

Hands raised in blue light.On Facebook, Sign Shares’ President and CEO, Eva Storey, said, “We have more memories to create and wrap up by the end of the 2015 year. We always have you all in our hearts and minds. Love and Blue Light, the SS Family!”

Woman and man pose for selfie.
Eva Storey and Anthony Butkovich at CTD’s film festival.