Tag Archives: Sign Language

Deaf Scholar: Appreciating Sign Language and English

Since a popular talk at Stanford University, a scholar who is Deaf has continued her quest to understand the beauty of both sign language and English.

Rachel Kolb at RE:CREATE TEDx
Rachel Kolb presents at TEDx about her experiences with English and sign language.

Rhodes Scholar Rachel Kolb gave a TEDxStanford Talk: “Navigating Deafness in a Hearing World.”

Kolb was born profoundly deaf and knows sign language.

She said, “I could have chosen to use sign language today instead and that would have been a perfectly viable choice. But for me, the answer was 18 years of speech therapy.”

Kolb tells the story of a presentation she gave to her middle school history class.

Days after the presentation, she said the teacher’s feedback was: “You should never speak like that in front of a group without an interpreter. It is not fair to anyone who has to listen to you.”

This lack of awareness causes some in the d/Deaf community to shy away from speech, but not Kolb.

She has challenges though, she said, and one of those is social communication with hearing people when she relies solely upon reading lips.

Rachel Kolb says, "Never put limitations on this child."
Kolb shares about what her speech therapist told her mother when she was 18 months old–to not limit her.

“I communicate fine face-to-face, but walking into those kinds of group conversations is like watching a world championship ping pong match with ten different people and half a dozen balls,” Kolb said.

In another article, Rachel Kolb’s mother, Irene Kolb, shares about learning what to do about her daughter Rachel’s hearing loss. Irene went to the library and read about hearing loss and communication.

“I learned that the biggest window of opportunity for language acquisition is from birth to three years. We started using signs that same day and within a few months, Rachel was communicating to us with baby signs,” Irene Kolb said.

When cochlear implants were approved by the FDA and their daughter was a candidate, Irene Kolb said, “We chose not to pursue cochlear implant surgery for her because we were sensitive to the message it may send, that she was not okay being deaf. The most profound book I read was Deaf Like Me. With that book, we came to the early realization that Rachel may never learn to hear or speak, even with a cochlear implant, but we could learn to sign.”

Kolb’s father, Bill Kolb, shared a story about how he came to understand deafness through a New Mexico state-sponsored program.

He said, “Then during one visit the individual brought a record that gave me, as a hearing person, an insight to what  different levels of hearing loss sounded like. The record repeated a story over and over again, and each time the narrator would drop certain frequencies until the recording lost all frequencies – that is, let me hear what it sounded like to be profoundly deaf. This recording really hit home with me. Going forward, I decided I would learn as much as I could about how to communicate with my precious daughter.”

According the the article, her parents learned sign language over lunch where they worked and took continuing education sign language classes. Their daughter Rachel studied at Deaf, mainstream, and private schools—an environment that may have helped her develop an appreciation of diverse communication.

“Having a family that signed and that worked to provide language access for me gave me a sense of confidence in myself, even when things got challenging,” Kolb said.

Stanford News reported that Rachel Kolb had a unique perspective on communication.

Rachel Kolb says, "But I can learn how to use the abilities that I do have."
While she doesn’t have a choice over everything, Kolb says, she does have a choice over how to use her abilities, which include sign language and English.

She signed, “As someone who understands the different forms communication can take, from spoken to sign language, I understand the value of flexibility in transmitting ideas. I see well-rounded, effective communication as essential to ideas, creativity and progress.”

In an article she wrote for the New York Times, Kolb illustrated the d/Deaf communication dilemma. She said, “While talking to a hearing person at a noisy party, I inevitably reach the point when I want to stop, switch off my cumbersome voice, and let my hands fly.”

“The general advantages of sign are numerous: not only talking through overwhelming noise, but chatting to friends from various distances, or through barriers like doors or windows. Sign, too, possesses a vibrant visual-spatial orientation and a robust directness of expression that spoken languages lack,” she said.

Kolb uses a party example to illustrate how people who don’t know sign language may have a limited ability: “…when faced with a noisy party filled with signing-impaired people, I sometimes marvel, instead, at the skill my eyes and my hands possess.”

She said people who are hearing note her ability to visually navigate a loud environment where hearing people have difficulty too. They’ve commented that it would be preferable to use sign and she encourages them to learn.

When people do learn sign language, she said it helps people to grow. “It is the human desire to communicate – which always strains to break out of presupposed categories, always insists upon its own flexibility and power.”

Communication is unique to the person and situation, to their education and experiences, but it’s valuable to embrace flexibility in communication with others, regardless of ability.

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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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Houston Deaf Grassroots Movement National Corner Rally this Thursday

The Houston Deaf Grassroots Movement will have a National Corner Rally this Thursday, Oct. 20, at Houston City Hall. This is part of a national effort to raise awareness about Deaf issues.

The three goals of the national Deaf Grassroots Movement are: Communication Access, Education, and Employment.

Street painting of sign language hand showing beginning of alphabet, A, B, C, D...
When people don’t know sign language or use captions, Deaf and Hard of Hearing community members need accommodations to have equal rights. photo credit: Hindrik S put your hand … via photopin (license)

Deaf Grassroots members will hold events at 85 cities across the nation, including:

According to Deaf YouVideo, the National Association of the Deaf met together with the Deaf Grassroots Movement to plan events for this Oct. 20.

Howard A. Rosenbaum of the National Association of the Deaf signed, “DGM and the NAD work together and support each other. Allow me to explain how. The NAD has always met with the federal government to discuss various issues including education, employment, and access. While such discussions are productive, sometimes we get nowhere. Thanks to DGM’s movement and making noise about our needs, the federal government reached out the NAD recognizing their actions. This helps the NAD continue the dialogue we want to have with the federal government. I am very appreciative of the work DGM has done to support the rights of deaf and hard of hearing people.”

“October 20th is a very important day! You can get involved by looking for the DGM Facebook page in your state, and find out details about October 20th. You can join for an hour, a few hours, or all day! Your time contributed to this movement will have an impact across the country!”

Map showing location of City Hall at 901 Bagby Street, Houston, Texas 77002The Houston event will be from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at 901 Bagby Street, Houston, Texas 77002.

“There is a serious need to fight for the Deaf rights of communication, education, for jobs and many other issues of discrimination. The Deaf community must continue to fight for these rights and the best way to do so is to make the public aware of the issues of discrimination,” according to the event’s listing at the Deaf Network of Texas.

Participants will meet at corner intersections. Members of the Houston Deaf community are encouraged to attend to bring attention to their rights.

According to the event listing, “There is power in numbers and you will want to attend with your friends.”

To learn more, contact Darla Conner at dconner@cbfl.cc,  at 713-491-2381VP, or at 713-974-4621voice/tty.

Click here to let event organizers know you wish to attend.

NAD and DGM Links:

Follow @National Association of the Deaf:
Facebook – https://facebook.com/nad
GooglePlus – https://plus.google.com/nad
Twitter – https://twitter.com/nad
YouTube – https://youtube.com/nadvlogs
Website – http://nad.org

Follow @Deaf Grassroots Movement:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/events/deafgrassrootsmovement
Official Website – http://www.tdgm2015.org

Deaf Grassroots Movement Hashtags:
Facebook – https://facebook.com/hashtag/dgm
Instagram – https://instagram.com/explore/tags/dgm
Twitter – https://twitter.com/hashtag/dgm

Related Deaf Deaf Grassroots Movement:
Deaf Grassroots Movement – National Deaf Rally
Deaf Grassroots Movement Nationwide Rally
Deaf Protest at White House in Washington DC
Deaf Protest At The White House 2015 Live Video

Texas Governor Proclaims Deaf Awareness Week

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation recognizing the week of September 18-24, 2016 as Deaf Awareness Week. The celebration is part of the month-long Deaf Awareness Month.

Governor Greg Abbott is speaking, the top rim of his wheelchair is visible.
Gov. Greg Abbott recognized this week as Deaf Awareness Week, kicking off social and awareness events this week. photo credit: Greg Abbott via photopin (license)

In a press release from the Office of the Governor, Abbott said, “Among those with disabilities,Texans who are deaf and hard of hearing have long been recognized for their contributions to our state. In fact, the 6th Texas Legislature helped to ensure the support of this community with the establishment of the Texas School for the Deaf in 1856.

Each September, organizations across Texas set out to raise awareness of this special population of citizens and promote available resources for the educational needs of Texans who are deaf or hard of hearing.

I encourage all Texans to support and celebrate the many unique and individual achievements of all citizens of our communities, and especially at this time, to honor Texans who are deaf and hard of hearing. I thank the many professionals and educators dedicated to assisting their fellow Texans and for their contributions focused on the best for all deaf and hard of hearing in Texas. Working together, we are ensuring a brighter future for our state.”

According to the press release, Texas School for the Deaf Superintendent Claire Bugen said,“We commend the Governor’s office in encouraging all Texans to gain a better understanding of the achievements of deaf people and their contributions to the world we live in. This annual event offers us the opportunity to increase public awareness of deaf issues, deaf people, and culture. Activities and events throughout Deaf Awareness Week encourage individuals to come together as a community for both educational events and celebrations.”

Upcoming Deaf Awareness events

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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.

 

 

 

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.

 

DeafSpaces: Architecture for the Deaf Community

Vox and Curbed created a video and article to demonstrate how DeafSpace differs from spaces created for people who hear.

The close captioned video begins with the open captioned words: “We live in a world built for people who hear.”

A concrete and red brick wall.
Bricks walls and painted concrete aren’t Deaf-friendly because they don’t provide reflection, aren’t transparent, and the red can be tiring to the eyes of those trying to read sign language. photo credit: Rothkoesque via photopin (license)

Curbed houses the article, “How Gallaudet University’s Architects Are Redefining Deaf Space.”

Gallaudet University is America’s only liberal arts college for people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

According to the article, “Deaf (with a capital D) is a cultural identity that stems from pride in signed language and what Deaf Studies professors call ‘Deaf ways of being,’ or shared sensory experiences and cultural traditions.”

“DeafSpace is an approach to architecture and design that is primarily informed by the unique ways in which Deaf people perceive and inhabit space,” according to the video.

The video explores some of the five basic principles of DeafSpace.

Space and Proximity

Teacher signs to student writing on whiteboard at the front of a classroom.
This student needs to see the teacher’s facial expression and hands while signing. This requires extra space, whether at the whiteboard or in the hallway. photo credit: A teacher works with a hearing impaired student via photopin (license)

According to the article, “Facial expressions are important in ASL. So are body movements; to be able to sign comfortably, a person needs adequate space—more than is typically required for someone engaged in spoken conversation.”

The video shows wide hallways that accommodate two people signing and using full body language while having more space to sign and maintain eye contact.

Sensory Reach

The principle refers to “how Deaf people use their senses to read the environment,” according to the article. DeafSpace would extend the person’s sensory reach, by allowing him or her to view between rooms and have low-glare reflective surfaces so people would see shadows indicating someone is outside the room.

Glass elevator.
This glass elevator is Deaf friendly because those who can’t hear can see someone is in the elevator and that it’s moving. photo credit: combi nation via photopin (license)

In the video, they show transparent elevators and some offices have opaque glass walls, while some public rooms have clear glass walls.

Mobility and Proximity

“DeafSpace design calls for ramps and wide, gently sloping stairs; ‘soft’ intersections to prevent pedestrian collisions…” according to the article.

Wide concrete stairs with wheelchair ramp added on top, but is at dangerous slope that is too steep.
This space isn’t Deaf friendly because it doesn’t allow people to sign to one another without having to worry about tripping. It’s also not accessible to those using wheelchairs, scooters, or strollers. photo credit: Wheelchair Ramp – Sortedams Sø / Øster Søgade via photopin (license)

In the video, instead of stairs, which hinder the free-flow of communication, ramps allow greater access and would accommodate other disabilities that might need white canes or wheelchairs.

The video also shows classrooms in a U-shape that allows for signers to view one another.

Light and Color

Soft green room with Yoda with lightsaber lit green on a desk.
The soft green walls of this room are Deaf friendly because it is a restive color for the eyes. photo credit: Jedi, Yoda is! via photopin (license)

“Certain colors, especially muted blues and greens, contrast well with a variety of skin tones, making them easy on signers’ eyes,” according to the article. “Lighting should be soft and diffuse, and avoid dimness, backlighting, glare, and abrupt changes in illumination levels.”

In the video, Derrick Behm, from Gallaudet’s Office of Campus Design and Planning, signs in natural lighting that is restive to the eyes.

Acoustics

Room with chair immediately next to a window air conditioning unit.
The air conditioner next to this chair isn’t Deaf friendly because the loud noise would be amplified by a Deaf person’s hearing aids or cochlear implant. photo credit: fra_256sv2_energy_star_25000_btu_230_volt_window_mounted_heavy_duty_air_conditioner_with_temperature_sensing_remote_control via photopin (license)

According to the article, “In general, acoustically quiet spaces are the goal. Hearing aids and cochlear implants amplify sounds, and for their users, the hum of air conditioning or loud echoes can prove extremely distracting.”

DeafSpace is part of an architectural movement similar to Universal Design, where architectural design considers how to complement all abilities, not just mainstream ones.