Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Drugs and Tinnitus: Put Yourself in the Driver’s Seat

Orange County Deaf Advocacy center has jumped into the area of nutraceuticals to promote hearing health and tinnitus management.

This article discusses drugs and tinnitus and theres over 450 drugs can cause tinnitus.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), approximately 37 million Americans have some level of hearing impairment due to the combined effects of noise, aging, disease and heredity, making hearing damage a societal problem. Approximately ten percent of Americans ages 22-60 already may have suffered permanent damage to their hearing from excessive noise exposure; millions more are at risk due to the growing popularity of activities such as NASCAR races and repeated exposure to loud music and industrial noise.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

State commission recommends schools for deaf, blind remain open

Source Link - State commission recommends schools for deaf, blind remain open

The state’s Facilities Closure and Realignment Commission on Monday voted to keep open both the Kansas School for the Deaf and Kansas School for the Blind.

The commission voted to recommend to Gov. Mark Parkinson that the schools maintain separate operations, but work together to find cost-cutting measures within the two operations.

“I can sure hear the sighs already,” said KSD Superintendent Dr. Robert Maile. “I know this caused some anxiety in the community.”

Former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius created the commission to examine the possible closure or merger of several facilities around the state because of the weak economy.

“We were charged to look at whether there were savings there,” Rochelle Chronister, chairwoman of the commission, said about the possible closure or realignment of the schools. “If you don’t have the savings, then it doesn’t make sense.”

The 11-member committee did recommend that the schools look at combining some administrative duties and other cost-saving measures.

The commission is expected to issue a report on the schools and give its recommendation by Dec. 1 to Gov. Mark Parkinson. The commission also will make recommendations on other state facilities.

Commission members had discussed and studied the issue for months and heard testimony from opponents of the possible school closures or realignments.

The three options the commission studied included building two new schools on one campus; moving the School for the Blind onto the School for the Deaf’s larger campus in Olathe; and reducing costs and continuing the schools’ current operations.

Maile said he was not surprised by the decision given the information commission members received about the costs associated with building new schools or realigning the schools onto the same campus.

Maile said “we had a group of architects put a study together a few weeks ago and they came with a cost of about $25 to $26 million” to establish a new campus with two new school buildings.

It was almost as expensive to move the Kansas School for the Blind, which has a smaller campus, onto the current KSD campus in Olathe.

“When they were presented with that information and looked at the financial outlay over several years, the savings didn’t come any where near what it would cost to fix the current buildings and keep both operating the same,” Maile said.

Kansas has 650 children certified as deaf or hard of hearing. The School for the Deaf has 136 students in Olathe and serves 385 students statewide through various outreach programs. The school, which operates on a budget of $9.698 million for fiscal year 2010, has 17 acres, 12 for educational purposes and five acres for athletics. About 22,000 square feet is unused and available. There also are a couple of smaller buildings, built in the 1920s, that could be razed.

Kansas has 1,000 children who are vision impaired. Of those, 665 are legally blind and the remaining children have various degrees of visual impairment. The School for the Blind serves 70 students during the regular term and 50 students during its summer session on a budget of $6.52 million for fiscal year 2010.

The school is on 9.56 acres in Kansas City, Kan. The school has no available space. There is a three-story cottage that the school only uses the first floor, but the second and third stories are structurally unsound.

In 20 years with KSD, Maile said this is the fourth study the state as conducted on the possible closure or realignment of the schools. The Kansas Legislature ordered the previous three studies. This one, however, was some what different, he said.

For one, the governor formed the current commission during some difficult economic times. The commission also took a more in-depth look at the schools’ operations, finances and properties than had been done in previous studies.

“The results they’re coming out with are just same, though,” he said.

Maile said the two schools will get together in the coming months to discuss possible cost-saving ideas.

Some of those discussion items include having one superintendent for both schools, sharing administrative resources such as business and financial management, and other ideas that could save the schools money by combining resources.

Deaf wrestler subject of film shot in area

Source Link - Deaf wrestler subject of film shot in area

Matt Hamill was born deaf, so his grandfather signed him up for the elementary school wrestling team to raise his self-esteem and help him fit in the hearing world.

It worked. In fact, Hamill’s career has been so compelling that a production company was on the campus of Rochester Institute of Technology Tuesday filming scenes for a movie about his life.

Hamill, who grew up in Loveland, Ohio, won three NCAA Division III national wrestling championships as a student at RIT. Now he’s a professional fighter in the UFC — Ultimate Fighting Championship.

In 2004, while working as a bouncer at a bar in Utica, where he now lives, Hamill broke up a fight involving two very big Syracuse University football players. He manhandled the pair so efficiently that a legend grew around the incident and eventually reached UFC officials, who invited him to fight in the organization.

Hamill, 32, graduated from RIT/NTID in 1999 with a degree in electromechanical technology. At 6 feet, 1 inch tall and 205 pounds, Hamill has an 8-2-0 record as a UFC fighter.

Hamill hopes the movie will serve as an inspiration to other deaf people.

“I really just want to be equal with hearing people. When I grew up I felt like I never fit in with those people. I felt really isolated. I felt the only way to be successful was to be involved with sports,” he said.

Hamill is being portrayed by deaf actor Russell Harvard, who played the role of H.W. Plainview as an adult in the movie There Will be Blood.

“We wanted to keep it authentic for the deaf community,” said Eben Kostbar, who wrote the movie, titled Hamill, with Joseph McKelheer.

All deaf characters in the movie are played by deaf actors, Kostbar said.

Kostbar learned about Hamill and got the idea for the movie when Hamill was on season three of the reality show The Ultimate Fighter.

Filming started in the Rochester area on Sept. 15 and is expected to continue until mid-October at several locations.

Kostbar said the movie will be entered in the Toronto or Sundance film festivals and hopefully will be in theaters at the end of 2010.

Troy University gets $1.5 million for interpreters for the deaf

Source Link - Troy University gets $1.5 million for interpreters for the deaf



The Alabama Dual Party Relay Board will give Troy University $1.5 million over five years to fund its training program for interpreters for the deaf.

The program allows Troy students to get an bachelor’s degree in education for interpreters for the deaf. The university hopes to eventually establish a center on deafness at the Troy campus.

The program was started last year with a $250,000 grant from the Alabama Department of Education. State funding dried up when the recession hit, so the new funding was a lifesaver for the program.

“What you have done is to give second life,” Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr. said. “Without your commitment this wouldn’t be possible.”

There are about 40,000 deaf people in Alabama and only 204 licensed interpreters. In 2012, all interpreters will need a four-year degree to obtain licensure.

“There is an acute need there, and this addresses the problem,” Hawkins said.

About 100 students are enrolled in the bachelor’s program for interpreters for the deaf, up from 25 the previous year. Lance Tatum, Troy University dean of education, said Troy would be able to deliver the program via distance education, allowing students at its satellite campuses around the world to enroll in the program.

Judy McLean, chairman of the Alabama Dual Party Relay Board, said Troy’s worldwide reach and its distance learning capabilities were what drew the board to partner with Troy. McLean said there’s a demand for interpreters for the deaf among companies, schools, government agencies and other organizations.

The Alabama Dual Party Relay Board was founded in 1986 to establish a way for the hearing impaired to receive telephone service. A surcharge of 15 cents per customer on Alabama landline phone bills funds the board.

Gilligan’s Place: Helping deaf & blind dogs

Source Link - Gilligan’s Place: Helping deaf & blind dogs

A local woman is trying to get help for the dogs that need it most.

Gilligan’s Place is a near 60-acre sanctuary for deaf and blind dogs. The owner is starting small – and hoping for big things in the future.

"If a deaf dog ends up in a pound, chances are they won't be adopted as readily as another dog and oftentimes they'll put them to sleep,” Jan MacCartney said.

Jan started Gilligan’s Place, located near Ridgeland, last year. She’s applying for non-profit status and hopes to one day foster deaf and blind dogs on her property.

"They're very easy to train,” she said. “They're really not much different than other dogs; expect that they can't hear obviously. Deaf dogs are typically trained using American Sign Language combined with hand signals."

Jan is also part of an online community that rescues deaf dogs. And, she says she can’t wait to have more pups running around her yard.

"They're very worth-while having."

If you decide to bring a deaf dog into your household, Jan says you have to make sure it suits your family.

If you’d like to help get Gilligan’s Place up-and-running, call Jan at 715-203-0076.

New $20 million school gives deaf pupils many pluses

Source Link - New $20 million school gives deaf pupils many pluses

The Maryland School for the Deaf in Frederick has opened a new building for its elementary school. The new $20 million building serves about 75 elementary-age pupils and also houses the school's infant and toddlers program and many therapy programs. MSD Superintendent James Tucker says the building was specially designed with lots of natural light and walls and ceiling tiles made to be "acoustically friendly" to deaf and hard-of-hearing students and staffers. The hallways are extra wide to allow people to walk side-by-side and see each other as they sign. Morning announcements are made via video message boards in each room.

State may take the reins at Rhode Island School for the Deaf

Source Link - State may take the reins at Rhode Island School for the Deaf

The Rhode Island School for the Deaf may be taken over by the state, a situation prompted by poor test results, rocky management, a lack of technology and other issues at the facility. The state-funded school serves about 80 students ages 3 to 21. Only 10% of students tested proficient in reading, and none did in math. The state Board of Regents will vote this week on whether the state should take over the school until June 30, a move recommended by Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist.

Deaf actor is a first for Bowie theater group

Source Link - Deaf actor is a first for Bowie theater group

While auditioning actors for the Bowie Theater Company's latest production, director Estelle Miller was impressed by the enthusiasm of a deaf actor named Gary Small.

Miller was so impressed by Small, in fact, that she created a role for him in the company's production of the Caroline Smith comedy "The Kitchen Witches," which it will present this month.

"He was determined enough not just to come once but to come twice to auditions," Miller said of Small, who is a senior at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt and a Bowie resident. "He is so sure of himself and so positive and so willing to learn … I'll work with anyone who has an attitude like Gary."

With that, Small became the first deaf actor to be cast in a Bowie Theater Company production.

His participation in the play has led to another first for the small community company — two of its five performances will be interpreted in their entirety for the deaf.

Cindy Garmoe, a friend of Small's, has volunteered to handle the interpreting.

Having an interpreter hopefully will allow the company to reach a new audience, said Janice Coffey, its president.

"Hopefully, we will get the deaf community to come out to see this," she added. "If it's successful we may consider doing it in the future."

Because the company is a nonprofit, it normally would not be able to afford to hire an interpreter — who charges fees of about $50 an hour — for its shows, Miller said. She added that she has never seen sign language interpretation done in a community theater production.

Small said he loves the idea that the deaf will be able to attend the play.

He became involved in theater at Eleanor Roosevelt last year when he helped in the production of Dean Pitchford's "Footloose." He thought it would be fun to express himself on stage, he said, adding that he hopes to pursue theater as a profession.

He has been inducted into Roosevelt's Thespian Honor Society, is a member of the school's improvisational comedy team and is the assistant scenic artist in the school's production of Neil Simon's "Rumors" this year.

He attended the Bowie Theater Company's auditions for "The Kitchen Witches" as a way to become more involved in theater.

The play chronicles the fallout between two rival cable-access cooking show hosts who get stuck working together on a new show. Small's role as a television cameraman keeps him onstage for a good portion of the play, but he has no speaking parts.

To assist Small in following his cues, Miller incorporated hand gestures into the other actors' parts.

Garmoe said she's worked as an interpreter with Small for five years.

A nearly two-hour-long production such as "The Kitchen Witches" normally would require two interpreters, but Garmoe has had no luck finding another interpreter to assist her, she said, adding that signing the play alone means she will have to memorize the entire script.

"Having deaf people be involved in things like this is a positive thing in the community," she said. "There are a lot of things they have access to, but if I can help more I'd like to be able to."

Sign language interpretations will be offered for "The Kitchen Witches" at the 8 p.m. performances on Saturday and Oct. 9 at the Bowie Playhouse, which is located at 6314 Crain Highway in Bowie.

Other performances will take place at 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Sunday and 8 p.m. Oct. 10. For more information, call 301-809-3078.

Friday, September 25, 2009

New California Association Of The Deaf Bylaws Seeks To Purge Out The Oralists, The Cochlear Implantees, Etc...

New California Association Of The Deaf Bylaws Seeks To Purge Out The Oralists, The Cochlear Implantees, Etc...

This issue is expected to dominate the deaf blogging/vlogging sphere the next few days.

First of all, the new California Association Of The Deaf bylaws term, "Deafhood", has been placed four times in the bylaws. Here is three;

Section 2.1 PURPOSE
The mission of the California Association of the Deaf is to protect the civil rights of the movement (empowerment) of Deafhood and promote the social, (American Sign Language), cultural, health, educational and economic well being of the Deaf (Californians) Community in the state of California.

Section 4.1 MEMBERSHIP
The Association shall be open to all subgroups of the Deafhood individuals without discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, religion, ethnic origin, or disability.

Section 25.3
Nominations for office shall be those who are part of the Deafhood, a California resident and be active Association member for at least two years.

NOW,

The bottom line since there's no clear definition of "deafhood" is that you cant be part of California Association of Deaf (CAD) unless you're deaf enough!

Here are some video blog activities;

Deafhood in CAD Bylaws?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vz0LfrCy_h4

California Association of Deaf (CAD) Bylaws Are So Screwed (subtitled)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mt1ImU7T2BQ

This is California Association of Deaf, not, California Association of Deafhood

I dont think the IRS would be very thrilled to see this development should someone be encouraged to report it to them.

This is going to be a very hot issue this coming weekend.

Richard Roehm
Deaf American Blog Master

Responding To Alldeaf.com Rumors - Wells Fargo Does Not Discriminate Against Deaf





Click on the National Business and Disability Council award badge below for information on accessibility at Wells Fargo.


National Business and Disability Council Award To Wells Fargo

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Read my lips: Hearing-impaired girl accidentally starts fight, cops say

Source Link - Read my lips: Hearing-impaired girl accidentally starts fight, cops say

In Mesa, Ariz., a woman allegedly got angry because a little girl kept staring at her. The girl, age 10, is hearing impaired and was trying to read the woman's lips, her mother explained. That didn't stop the suspect from attacking Mom and knocking over a stroller with a 1-year-old aboard, police say.

Snip:

"She told me that my daughter was not hearing impaired. She said she doesn't look hearing impaired to me," Goodson said.

Hearing impaired girl wins legal battle against GTU

Source Link - Hearing impaired girl wins legal battle against GTU

A 17-year-old girl with hearing impairment, Rachna Shah, heaved a sigh of relief when she was allowed to take her diploma exams on
Friday after a prolonged legal battle for justice. The Gujarat Technological University (GTU) had to permit her to appear for the test after a Gujarat High Court order in her favour on Thursday. The decision came after irregularities were detected in the evaluation of her answer sheets of remedial tests.

Rachna's fight against the university and education system was not only for herself, but for all those physically challenged students who are discriminated against by state's education authorities. After clearing the boards last year, Rachna enrolled in a diploma course in electronics and communication. Just before she was to take her second semester exams, GTU changed the medium of study to English. Rachna had all along studied in Gujarati medium.

To her shock, she was declared failed in all six subjects. The university provided remedial tests for three subjects, but she was passed in one subject only. She appeared in the mid semester test and secured 67.7 per cent, but was not allowed to attend classes from April this year because she did not clear all the papers in the remedial tests.

She sensed some problem either in calculation of marks or in evaluation of her answer sheets. Rachna requested the authorities to show her answer sheets, which they refused. Ultimately, she approached the officer appointed under the RTI Act, but was shown her copies from a distance only and that too only the first page of the answer book.

She approached the Gujarat High Court demanding transparency in evaluation system, to fix 20 per cent criteria as passing score for disabled students, and to allow her to sit in the third semester. But the judge refused to entertain her application. Ultimately, a division bench of Chief Justice KS Radhakrishnan and Justice Akil Kureshi heard her case. The judges were furious over the university's attitude towards this physically challenged student.

On court's instructions, the university showed answer sheets to Rachna, a team of subject experts re-assessed the copies, upgraded her marks in two subjects and reduced marks in three papers. A 10-member committee was also set up to inquire against the evaluators, who checked Rachna's answer sheets first. A show-cause notice was issued to evaluators asking them why they should not be debarred on counts of negligence and insincerity.

The court's order has not only smoothened things for Rachna alone, but will force GTU to make appropriate changes in its policy towards physically challenged students.

New improvements for hearing impaired programs at College Oaks

Source Link - New improvements for hearing impaired programs at College Oaks

The Hearing Impaired program at College Oaks Elementary has been around for almost 30 years.

But as technology improves over the years, so does equipment for the hearing impaired.

"They have great minds and they are brilliant kids," says Josie McGee, a teacher at Hearing Impaired teacher at College Oaks Elementary School. "Their only barrier is communication."

School officials say the school has seen an increase of hearing impaired children in enrollment over the last few years.

Because of this increase, officials felt it was time to step it up on hearing impairment technology.

"This school year we are going to look at what the real needs of our students are and what types of advanced technology we can use to provide for those needs," says Pauline Hal, Program Facilitator for the Hearing Impaired.

One technological advancement in recent years is the use of cochlear implants.

"These children were born profoundly deaf," says Hal. "Cochlear implants have the potential to assist a child in developing their listening and spoken language."

Kaleigh Henry is one impaired student with a cochlear implant.

Her teachers feel it has really improved her verbal skills.

"If Kaleigh were without the cochlear implant, there's a possibility she never would have been able to voice the words that she can read," says Hal.

The school has also invested in Red Cat listening devices.

Through using the new Red Cat listening device, teachers can talk to their students by using microphones.

These microphones transmit sounds directly to the students ears.

The school plans to continue advancing in hearing impairment technology.

"This will ensure that they are appropriately main streamed into general settings where they will have access to the general curriculum," says Hal.

In addition to the improvements in technology, the school is also making preparations for a sign language class.

The class will be offered to parents and teachers in the community.

College Oaks Elementary is looking at offering these classes by early October.

SpeechStorm Following Etisalat in Providing Voice IVR for Hearing Impaired

Source Link - SpeechStorm Following Etisalat in Providing Voice IVR for Hearing Impaired

SpeechStorm, a specialist provider of phone self-service solutions, announced that within the United Kingdom roughly 9 million individuals categorized as deaf or hard of hearing are unable to reap the benefits of the rising usage of telephone-centric customer care services.

While Internet usability continues to grow, more than 75 percent of customer/organization interaction is still over the telephone. So, for those 9 million hearing impaired customers, there’s a limited outlet to interact with desired organizations.

As SMBs, large organizations, retailers, banks, utilities and telecom companies increase voice-based interaction contact center services, a large portion of consumers are being alienated with the inability to pay bills, check account balances and other common telephone activities.

Video IVR, a video-based communications tool, allows organizations to offer the same services to their deaf and hard of hearing customers as to the rest of their client base, according to Oliver Lennon, CEO ofSpeechStorm ( News - Alert).

“Using Video IVR for self-service, customers can see all the options on the display of their mobile phone – no need to listen to complicated audio menus or speak to voice based systems or call center staff,” Lennon said. “So, this is a perfect fit for the deaf and hard of hearing community.”

Etisalat is the first to offer video calling-based customer services to 8.5 million Egyptian customers, which are user friendly for customers with hearing impairments, and did so using SpeechStorm’s Video IVR technology.

Damian Kelly, director of Video IVR for SpeechStorm, said that Etisalat’s (News - Alert) success and positive feedback from its video-based calling inspired SpeechStorm to create a platform accessible for the hearing impaired.

After Lynne Ellis of the British Deaf Association organized a demonstration of SpeechStorm’s Video IVR for three of her deaf colleagues, their feedback showed promise.

The difficulty of accessing ordinary, everyday services is clearly a big issue for a very large number of customers, Kelly said, adding that the Video IVR addresses this issue so well.

“We will certainly be discussing this with all of our banking, telecoms, retail and utility customers, for whom it offers the potential both to improve and to truly differentiate their customer care,” Kelly said.

In regards to the demonstration of SpeechStorm’s product, Ellis said that her deaf colleagues were very positive about the benefits that Video IVR on a mobile phone would give them.

“They found the system very intuitive and could see all of the options on the display of the phone. The speed with which they would be able to check balances, make enquiries, confirm details without the need for an interpreter, which is an expensive resource, was very appealing,” Ellis said.

Since Video IVR gives deaf and hard of hearing people access to services that were previously unavailable, and with more companies use phone self-service solutions to communicate with their customers, SpeechStorm hit these service barriers daily.

This way, all individuals can have access to the organizations they need, whether by Internet, by telephone and now, by Voice IVR.

Deaf Services in the Ozarks

Source Link - Deaf Services in the Ozarks

A shortage of information about a group of people in need could be causing more problems for that population.

The Missouri Commission For the Deaf and Hard of Hearing says it's hard to know how many people in our area need deaf services. For instance, the Census Bureau isn't getting an accurate count when it goes door to door.

Communication barriers like that are the number one problem and it can't just be solved by learning sign language. Saturday The Commission held its annual expo in Springfield to highlight some of the deaf services in the Ozarks.

The commission says there are a lot of churches that have programs for the deaf. It also says many young people are starting to learn sigh language to become interpreters in Springfield. There is also the Sorenson center, which is a relay service in Springfield.Deaf people can communicate through a video conference and make phone calls.

With the national health care debate on the forefront here's the major problem for the deaf. No matter what coverage they get, there aren't enough doctors who know sign language.

"That problem has been with us for 150 years and it will last until people are ready and aware of the needs of the undeserved population," explains Barry Critchfield, Executive Director for the Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

The commission says each person is different when it comes to learning how to sign. It's similar to learning any other foreign language. Some people pick up quicker than others but it most likely would take a couple of years to become fluent.
Missouri Commission For the Deaf and Hard of Hearing: http://mcdhh.mo.gov/

Arkansas School For The Deaf Breaking Stereotypes

Source Link - Arkansas School For The Deaf Breaking Stereotypes

Football season is in full swing for schools all over Arkansas, but one school is making sure no one is left out. The Leopards took the field Saturday, but they couldn't hear the roar of the crowd. That's because the players are deaf.
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These teens play hard, practice hard and they're just normal kids that don't hear. The small football team is pretty tough, no one sits on the side lines, everyone plays offense and defense and they all stay in the game all four quarters.

Is silence the way you pictures a deaf football game? Think again because if you can't hear the cheers, you can feel the roar.

Rick Porter says, "I get asked quite often, how deaf kids play football? Well they're normal kids."

Porter is the Head Arkansas School for the Deaf Coach, not because of a relative, just because it's where his heart is.

He explains, "I took a sign language course in college and fell in love with it. There was an opening here and that was 12-years-ago."

Coach Porter says out on the field everything is just like any game except the team huddles to sign plays so that the competition doesn't see.

Odell Lee says, "I fell like it's a story I can tell when I get older."

Tenth grader Odell Lee is the only vision impaired player and to move faster he's learning to sign.

"Trying to communicate is sometimes difficult. I have a voice coach, but I can understand most the plays. I'm still learning so instead of them voicing and wasting their time we can just go out and play," Lee adds.

During half time the homecoming court is presented and Mallory Burke is crowned.

Sha Stephens is Mallory Burke's mom. Stephens says, "My motivation and inspiration is because of my girls. I tell them dream big don't let anybody tell you that you can't do anything."

Stephens says two-years apart, both of her daughters were diagnosed (deaf) as toddlers, but the challenges never slowed them down. They are cheerleaders, dancers, win beauty pageants and enjoy school.

"It's not a disability, if anything it's an advantage because they both have been go getters," Stephens says.

On and off the field there is pride and determination. Marcus Henderson signs, "When I get on the field it makes me aggressive and fired up, focused on heart."

Henderson plans to go to college and then play professional football. He adds, "I want to be a successful player that's deaf in the NFL."

Coach Porter says kids like Henderson are why he is here to stay, "It takes passion to be successful in anything, deaf or not. If you don't have motivation and passion you're not going to be successful in whatever you do."

Coach Porter says the entire high school is made up of about 50-kids because most deaf kids go to public school. Students also play basketball, volleyball track and soccer.

If you'd like to cheer on the Leopards you can find their schedule by clicking on the link under the picture.

Deaf man pleads guilty to killing girlfriend

Source Link - Deaf man pleads guilty to killing girlfriend

n the same week a man was sentenced to life in prison for murdering a Westland woman who had ended their relationship, a Westland man had entered a guilty plea to fatally shooting his long-time girl friend who was initiating a separation.

Under the plea agreement, Timothy Catalano pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and will serve a minimum 22 years in prison for killing Tammy Susalla. He also pleaded guilty to felony firearm, which carries a mandatory two-year prison sentenced, but will receive credit for the 749 days he has been incarcerated.

“Love was the motive. She was leaving him, she had a new boyfriend,” Westland police Sgt. Steve Borisch said. “They were still living together. That was a bad mistake.”

Susalla, 44, was shot once in the head as she lay in bed around 1 a.m. Aug. 27, 2007. She and Catalano, both deaf, had been a couple for 24 years and shared a home on Gloria, near Merriman and Cherry Hill.

The couple's 19-year-old daughter and her boyfriend were in the basement of the home at the time of the shooting, but told police they hadn't heard a gunshot. The daughter told police she was awakened by her father, who said her mother was hurt and that he was leaving.

Susalla was airlifted to the University of Michigan Hospital, where she died after a day on life support. Catalano, now 46, fled to his father's home in Jackson County's Columbia Township.

“He (Catalano) told his father and his wife (Catalano's stepmother), who is a retired prison guard, that he had shot his girlfriend. They called police,” Borisch said. “A number of officers responded. He said he had shot his girlfriend in Westland.”

The plea bargain came after unsuccessful defense efforts to have the confession suppressed. The defense also sought to have Catalano found incompetent.

Following two referrals to the Center for Forensic Psychiatry, Catalano was found competent to stand trial.

“Once the motions to suppress the confession were denied by (Judge) Craig Strong, I figured he'd take a plea,” Borisch said. “He (Catalano) told the officers that he had killed her.”

While he is convinced Susalla's killing was premeditated — making it first-degree murder, which has a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole — Borisch said he is satisfied with the plea.

“It was absolutely first-degree murder, but you could get someone funny on the jury and they might not go for first degree,” Borisch said. “I talked to the family and they are at peace with it. He'll be in his 70s when, and if, he gets out.”

Classroom tests techniques for teaching deaf children

Source Link - Classroom tests techniques for teaching deaf children

n an argyle vest and hearing aid, James Redmond followed right along with the students he was in charge of assisting. At 35, Redmond took on both the role of teacher and student in Jennifer Washington's mixed kindergarten-through-first-grade class for deaf and hard-of-hearing students at Nathan Hale Elementary School in Lansing.

After graduating from the Exceptional Children Have Opportunities Joint Agreement program at Tinley Park High School in 1992, Redmond was one of hundreds of thousands of deaf students whose disability severely limited his reading.
» Click to enlarge image
Autumn Smith (left) and Alonzo Howard use sign language and sound out words during a reading lesson.

But a group of teachers led by Washington is on a mission to shatter the barriers that have held deaf students back.

"All of the children that passed through our classrooms before this, we grieve," said Washington, who has been teaching deaf students for 23 years. "We sent them into the world without this."

What the teacher from Richton Park is referring to is a groundbreaking method of teaching deaf and hard-of-hearing children how to read developed by Beverly Trezek, a special education professor at DePaul University.

She combined visual phonics - where students can "see sounds" - and direct instruction - an SRA/McGraw-Hill scripted reading curriculum.

"In the most simplistic sense, deaf children struggle with reading because they can't hear the sounds," Trezek said.

Redmond, for example, never understood the concept of the silent "E."

"I wish I had this program when I was in school, but I'm learning now," he signed.

"Those were things we didn't know how to teach," said Donna Carraher, principal of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing program for ECHO, which draws from 32 Southland districts.

After Carraher first learned of Trezek's method, she figured she had been doing the same thing for 30 years and the results had been the same for the last 100.

"The philosophy was 'Why not?' It can't hurt," said Carraher, who has taught in the field for 36 years.

About three years ago, ECHO was the first in Illinois to pilot the program, and a month into the instruction, teachers saw results. First-graders were doing things juniors in high school hadn't previously accomplished.

"It was like a light bulb went off," Orland Park teacher Sarah Lasky said.

Until then, students were memorizing the words instead of reading them, explained fellow teacher Marissa Noble.

For Washington, who wears a microphone in her ear and an FM transmitter around her neck synced with student receivers, the progress is astonishing.

"It's easy to get tears in your eyes because they're not supposed to be able to do this," Washington said. "But they are, and the future is bright."

Monday, September 14, 2009

CCHAT will speak to hearing impaired

Source Link - CCHAT will speak to hearing impaired

The Monday, Sept. 28, meeting of Hear! Here! (the Woodland Chapter of Hearing Loss Association of America) will feature a presentation by CCHAT (Children's Choice for Hearing and Talking).

CCHAT is a nonprofit auditory/oral school for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. It serves children in the Sacramento Valley and Northern California. The meeting is at 2 p.m. in the Woodland Senior & Community Center, 2001 East St.

Children from birth to eight years of age are enrolled in the school, using hearing aids and cochlear implants to listen and develop spoken language.

Most people think of American Sign Language (ASL) as the primary method of communication for persons who are deaf and severely hearing impaired. The auditory/oral method for teaching the deaf and hard-of-hearing is an alternate choice for teaching children with hearing loss. Teachers of this method are highly trained specialists in education, audiology, and speech pathology.

Signs of the changing times

Source Link - Signs of the changing times

A Bachelor's programme in sign language has been introduced by Indira Gandhi National Open University (Ignou). A four-year programme, it entails
a one year foundation course that imparts English language and sign language skills. Students who have completed class X are eligible for the programme.

"As far as learning needs of the hearing impaired are concerned, there is a lack of awareness. This is reflected in the dearth of quality course materials and infrastructural paucity in our country," says PR Ramanujam, director, Staff Training and Research Institute of Distance Education (STRIDE), Ignou. "Even policy statements of the government regarding education for the hearing impaired fall short of addressing their 'specific' needs. However, the foremost challenge is the lack of trained teachers."

The first graduate programme for the hearing impaired in India, it also hopes to address the challenge of unemployment. According to a recent estimate, only 5% of the hearing impaired children attend schools in India.

"This course has been developed in collaboration with the International Centre for Sign Languages and Deaf Studies (iSLanDS) at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in the UK. This partnership will help us leverage their relatively more sophisticated teaching methodologies and course materials for the benefit of our students through exchange programs. We are being able to understand how specific technologies can assist and augment learning for hearing impaired students. This understanding is also useful for developing new learning assistive technologies and replenishing our computer labs for the benefit of students," he explains.


Ram Das, a history student from St Stephen's College, who is visually impaired, used around 150 audio-cassettes in class X and 250 in class XII for his studies. But then, he points out that it was cumbersome when it came to searching subjects and chapters. But now, with the 'Audio Book Reader' (ABR) recently launched by Samadrishti, Kshamata Vikas Evam Anusandhan Mandal (Saksham), an NGO, things are likely to be better.

The ABR is a pocket size device that reads the audio tracks stored in a Multimedia Memory Card (MMC) with random access to any subject, book or chapter. With a storage capacity of 60 hours in 2 GB capacity memory card, it provides the facility of putting the entire curriculum in a pocket, in a specified language, as per the need. It can be operated through a voice menu and embossed buttons and has a rechargeable battery backup of eight hours. Another advantage is that ABR can also be used as a group-hearing device by attachment of external amplispeakers or audio distributor.

As a pilot project launched earlier this year in Nagpur, the device is being used by over 70 visually impaired people, in the first phase. The ABR comes at a price. It costs Rs 4,000 for individual use and Rs 5,000 for a classroom setup. For a library setup, with 10 headphones and audio distributor, it costs Rs 6,000.

Shirish Darwhekar, special project director, Saksham, says: "In the absence of Braille, visually impaired students are forced to depend on either e-books or audiocassettes and CDs. This means that someone reads out the content of the books and records their voice in a cassette or a CD, which is a tedious process. Thus, we are trying to offer a customized product, which would be based on specific needs of students." He added: "We are trying to involve sponsors to make it cost-effective for underprivileged children."

The Watchdog | ‘Deaf child area’ sign

Source Link - The Watchdog | ‘Deaf child area’ sign

The problem

Ben Nicks of Shawnee has wondered for years about a sign alerting motorists to a “deaf child area” near the 5500 block of Inland Drive in Kansas City, Kan. The sign has been there for at least a decade, he says, wondering, “Is the deaf child still in the area or is he a deaf adult by now?”

The answer

Nicks has uncovered a bit of a mystery. The Watchdog put the question to several officials in Wyandotte County’s Unified Government. After some digging, officials said that records show a sign was most recently placed in the neighborhood in 1994. But that was before the Unified Government better synchronized its record-keeping.

At one time, the signs were placed and rarely retrieved. Now the system has more efficient checks and balances.

The Unified Government has no way to reach the person who requested the sign in 1994. So crews were ordered to take down the sign. The sign will stay down unless someone protests the decision and files new paperwork.

“What goes up must come down,” the wise ones say. The Watchdog can personally verify that the adage applies to the stock market more than to obsolete traffic signs.

Have a problem or question about a public issue? Write in care of The Watchdog, The Kansas City Star Newsroom, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64108, or send e-mail to watchdog@kcstar.com. Include your name and phone number.

Italy grapples with priest sex abuse

Source Link - Italy grapples with priest sex abuse

It happened night after night, the deaf man said, sometimes in the priest's bedroom, sometimes in the bathroom, even in the confessional.

When he was a young boy at a Catholic-run institute for the deaf, Alessandro Vantini said, priests sodomized him so relentlessly he came to feel "as if I were dead." This year, he and dozens of other former students did something highly unusual for Italy: They went public with claims they were forced to perform sex acts with priests.

For decades, a culture of silence has surrounded priest abuse in Italy, where surveys show the church is considered one of the country's most respected institutions. Now, in the Vatican's backyard, a movement to air and root out abusive priests is slowly and fitfully taking hold.

A yearlong Associated Press tally has documented 73 cases with allegations of sexual abuse by priests against minors over the past decade in Italy, with more than 235 victims. The tally was compiled from local media reports, linked to by Web sites of victims groups and blogs. Almost all the cases have come out in the seven years since the scandal about Roman Catholic priest abuse broke in the United States.
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The numbers in Italy are still a mere trickle compared to the hundreds of cases in the court systems of the United States and Ireland. And according to the AP tally, the Italian church has so far had to pay only a few hundred thousand euros (dollars) in civil damages to the victims, compared to $2.6 billion in abuse-related costs for the American diocese or euro1.1 billion ($1.5 billion) due to victims in Ireland.

However, the numbers still stand out in a country where reports of clerical sex abuse were virtually unknown a decade ago. They point to an increasing willingness among the Italian public and - slowly - within the Vatican itself to look squarely at a tragedy where the reported cases may only just be the tip of the iceberg. The Italian church will not release the numbers of cases reported or of court settlements.

The implications of priest abuse loom large in Italy: with its 50,850 priests in a nation of 60 million, Italy counts more priests than all of South America or Africa. In the United States - where the Vatican counts 44,700 priests in a nation of 300 million - more than 4,000 Catholic clergy have been accused of molesting minors since 1950.

The Italian cases follow much the same pattern as the U.S. and Irish scandals: Italian prelates often preyed on poor, physically or mentally disabled, or drug-addicted youths entrusted to their care. The deaf students' speech impairments, for example, made the priests' admonition "never to tell" all the more easy to enforce.

In this predominantly Roman Catholic country, the church enjoys such an exalted status that the pope's pronouncements frequently top the evening news, without any critical commentary. Even those with anti-clerical views acknowledge the important role the church plays in education, social services and caring for the poor.

As a result, few dare to criticize it, including the mainstream independent and state-run media. In addition, there's a certain prudishness in small-town Italy, where one just doesn't speak about sex, much less sex between a priest and a child.

"It's a taboo on top of a taboo," said Jacqueline Monica Magi, who prosecuted several pedophilia cases in Italy before becoming a judge. "This is the provincialism of Italy."

Breaking the conspiracy of silence, 67 former students from Verona's Antonio Provolo institute for the deaf signed a statement alleging that sexual abuse, pedophilia and corporal punishment occurred at the school from the 1950s to the 1980s at the hands of priests and brothers of the Congregation for the Company of Mary.

While not all acknowledged being victims themselves, 14 of the 67 wrote sworn statements and videotaped testimony, detailing the abuse they say they suffered, some for years, at the school's two campuses in Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet. They named 24 priests, lay religious men and religious brothers.

Vantini said he, too, was silent for years.

"How could I tell my papa that a priest had sex with me?" Vantini, 59, told the AP one afternoon, recounting through a sign-language interpreter the abuse he said he endured. "You couldn't tell your parents because the priests would beat you."

Vantini named two priests and two lay brothers - three of whom are still alive - but asked that their names not be printed for fear of legal action. He spoke with the nervousness and agitation he says has accompanied him all of his life from being raped as a child by a priest.

"I suffered from depression until I was 30," said Vantini, who attended the school from age 6 to 19. "My wife said it was good that I spoke out because it lifted this weight from my chest."
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Vantini's one-time schoolmate, Gianni Bisoli, 60, named the same men in his written declaration and in an interview, as well as 12 other priests and brothers from the Congregation, accusing them of sodomizing him, forcing him to have oral sex and to masturbate them.

In his declaration, Bisoli also accused Verona's late bishop, Monsignor Giuseppe Carraro - who is being considered for beatification - of molesting him on five separate occasions while he was a student at Provolo, which he attended from age 9 to 15.

A diocesan probe cleared Carraro of sex abuse. But the investigation interviewed none of the alleged victims, limiting testimony to surviving members of the Congregation, other school personnel and their affiliates, and documentation from the Congregation and Verona diocese.

The late bishop's beatification process was suspended pending the investigation, but is now going ahead to the Vatican's saint-making office.

Five decades later, Bisoli still recalls the route he said he took from the institute, located on a quiet street named for the congregation's founder, Don Antonio Provolo, along the serpentine Adige river to the bishop's residence tucked behind Verona's Piazza del Duomo.

Bisoli, who became deaf at age eight, said he was accompanied by one of his abusers and walked past the red brick Castelvecchio, an imposing 14th-century citadel, then along the main Corso Cavour thoroughfare or the more out-of-the-way pedestrian shopping street Via Mazzini.

"They brought me inside the curia (the diocese headquarters)," Bisoli recalled in an interview. "There was a servant who opened the door, then someone brought me inside. It was dark."

Bishop Carraro appeared, he recalled. "The bishop started to touch me, grope me," he said, running his hands up and down his body, pulling at his shirt and shorts to demonstrate. "I pulled away. But he continued to touch me for 15, 20 minutes. I didn't know what to do."

On a subsequent occasion, Bisoli says, the bishop tried to sodomize him with a banana. Another time, they were on the sofa and he sodomized him with his finger, offering him candy to appease him, Bisoli said.

Once, Bisoli said, the bishop offered him some gold crosses that had caught Bisoli's eye.

"I said 'at least give me 10,000-20,000 lire so I can buy a Coca-Cola or an ice cream,'" Bisoli recalled.

The current bishop of Verona, Monsignor Giuseppe Zenti, initially accused the former students of fabricating their claims in talking in January to L'Espresso, a left-leaning newsweekly. Zenti called the accusations "lies" and a stunt that was part of a long-standing real estate dispute between the Congregation and the deaf students' association, to which the alleged victims belong.
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But when one of the accused lay religious men admitted to sexual relations with students, Zenti ordered an internal investigation into the Congregation. The results found that some abuse occurred, albeit a fraction of what has been alleged.

According to the diocese probe, there were episodes of physical violence against two unnamed students between 1958 and 1965. From 1965 to 1967, two would-be priests with "sexual disorders" were kicked out; while between 1965 and 1990 a religious brother had sexual relations with an undetermined number of students, the investigation found. In all cases the accused were removed.

"There could have been some episodes, some bad apples are possible," Carlo de' Gresti, spokesman for the Provolo institute said in an interview at the school's Chievo campus, where a lay staff now runs a technical school for poor teens. "It happens, even in families. That there could have been 26, 27, 25 pedophiles? There is no objective corroboration from anyone who isn't inside the (students') association."

Advocates, however, says the diocese's investigation was fatally flawed because it didn't interview the alleged victims and only people with links to the school who may have something to hide.

"If they had wanted to shed full light on it, they wouldn't have only heard from priests and lay brothers, but from the deaf as well," said Marco Lodi Rizzini, a spokesman for the victims.

The investigation has been forwarded to the Vatican, said the Rev. Bruno Fasani, spokesman for the diocese. He claimed former students had been manipulated into denouncing innocent priests and accused some of harboring a long-standing animosity to the church.

Zenti, for his part, asked forgiveness from the victims.

"The feeling that prevails is above all one of profound solidarity with the victims of abuse," Zenti said in a May statement. "To them and their families, a humble request of forgiveness is made."

Among the cases the AP tallied, there were charges of inducing boys into prostitution, participation in satanic rituals, and one notorious case in which the church itself determined that an elderly Florentine priest was responsible for "sexual abuse, false mysticism and domination of consciences."

Where there were sentences, they ran from a two-year suspended sentence to eight years in jail, although with Italy's notoriously lengthy appeals process it's unclear how many have been carried out. Where civil damages were awarded, which has been rare, the amounts ranged from about euro15,000 per victim to euro150,000 (about $22,000 to $220,000 at today's exchange rates).

The cases in the AP survey involve civil or criminal cases and investigations. For that reason, the Verona figures were omitted, since no criminal or civil action is pending because the statute of limitations has expired.
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In 2002, when the abuse scandal was erupting in the United States, the No. 2 official in the Italian Bishops' Conference, Monsignor Giuseppe Betori, was quoted as saying clerical sex abuse was so limited in Italy that the conference leadership hadn't even discussed the matter.

But Italian prelates and the Vatican now seem to be taking the problem far more seriously. Monsignor Charles Scicluna, the Vatican prosecutor in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - which handles cases of priestly sex abuse - acknowledged that public awareness of the problem in Italy had increased as a result of the "tsunami" of cases that came to light in the United States.

"There is a change of mentality, and we find that to be very positive," he told the AP.

In a shift for the Vatican, Scicluna acknowledged that priestly sex abuse was an age-old problem that needed to be rooted out.

"I don't think it's a question of happening. It has always happened. It's important that people talk about it, because otherwise we cannot bring the healing which the church can offer to people who need it - both the victims and perpetrators."

Fort Washington Medical Center to Ensure Effective Communication for Deaf or Hard of Hearing Patients

Source Link - Fort Washington Medical Center to Ensure Effective Communication for Deaf or Hard of Hearing Patients

Under a settlement agreement reached with the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services, deaf patients at the Fort Washington Medical Center in Prince
George`s County, Md., will be screened and provided with sign language
interpreters whenever interpreter services are necessary for effective
communication.

The settlement was negotiated following an investigation by the Department`s
Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in response to a complaint from a deaf patient.
The man entered the emergency room late one evening accompanied by his
11-year-old son. Although the man and his son requested an interpreter, none was
provided, and the medical staff relied on the son to interpret for his father in
the emergency room.

Federal laws prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities, and
require entities such as hospitals to provide effective communication for
persons who are deaf or hard of hearing. OCR found that Fort Washington Medical
Center violated the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 when it failed to provide the
deaf patient with an interpreter during his emergency room visit.

OCR Director Georgina Verdugo states, "Hospitals have a legal obligation to
ensure that qualified interpreters are available when needed for effective
communication with deaf or hard of hearing persons, rather than relying on
family members. This agreement helps the Fort Washington Medical Center fulfill
this legal obligation by providing deaf or hard of hearing persons with
appropriate language assistance to ensure effective communication."

"The Washington Lawyers` Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs applauds
this settlement agreement, which will go far to ensure that hearing children of
deaf parents are not required to act as interpreters for their parents in health
care and other serious situations. This practice harms both the deaf parent and
the child, and does not ensure effective communication for the deaf person in
these critical moments," said E. Elaine Gardner, director, Disability Rights
Project, Washington Lawyers` Committee, who filed the complaint on behalf of the
deaf patient.

"We recognize the importance of accurate communication with patients, and we
enthusiastically embrace the new procedures which are being implemented. Our
goal is to ensure that all patients are able to communicate effectively with our
health care providers," said Verna S. Meacham, Fort Washington Medical Center`s
president and chief executive officer.

A copy of the OCR letter of finding and the settlement agreement, along with
more information about OCR`s civil rights enforcement activities, can be found
at www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/activities/agreements/.

OCR is partnering with the American Hospital Association and state hospital
associations across the nation to raise awareness about requirements of the
federal law. More information about the Effective Communication in Hospitals
Initiative can be found at
http://www.aha.org/aha/issues/Disparities/resources.html.

Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are
available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.

HHS Press Office
202-690-6343

Sunday, September 13, 2009

New Product For Hearing Impaired Girls With Hearing Aids

Hearing Aid Box

Pretty Hearing Aid Box
Anti-Humidity Storage Container
For Deaf/HOH Girls


Developing this specialized product is our way of saying thanks to the tens of thousands of deaf and HOH girls for visiting Orange County Deaf Advocacy Center's educational booth at the Orange County Fair in the past 10 years! With major ownership and leadership changes affecting the OC fairgrounds immediate future, it's likely the OCDAC's years at the fair is over.

Stay tuned, were developing one for the boys too.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Deaf dogs to take a bow, earn a wow

Source Link - Deaf dogs to take a bow, earn a wow

The 10th annual Colorado Deaf Dog Play Day for hearing-impaired pooches is 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday in Wheat Ridge.

The Play Day is at Best Friends Pet Care, 11440 West 44th Ave.

Admission is $5 per dog, and humans are admitted free.

Besides fun for the animals, the event provides support and education for people who own or are considering owning a deaf dog, said organizer Rhonda Champion. Deaf dogs sometimes are abused because they're thought to be disobedient; they can be difficult to place in adopted homes because of misconceptions, she said.

In addition to games and other activities for pets, Colorado Deaf Dog founders and other animal handlers will teach owners and prospective owners how to train hearing-impaired dogs.

The Play Day also will include a demonstration by Eric Melvin and his deaf cattle dog, Angelyne. Dog owners should bring chairs, a blanket or mat for their dogs, bags to clean up after their pets, as well as treats and toys to help occupy their pet when they're not engaged in activities.

Deaf dog rescued from cave

Source Link - Deaf dog rescued from cave

Rescue workers in Australia have saved a deaf dog after he got stuck in a cave for five days. A cavalier King Charles Spaniel, called Scooby, could not hear the calls from his anxious owners.

Specialist mine rescue teams used a tiny camera to find the dog through cracks in the cave before inflating compressed air bags to move the rock out of the way before pulling him to safety.

OCDAC Receives 2009 Best of Irvine Award

Last June, we were way too busy helping the deaf and disabled that we missed this award. I wasn’t advised of this until today. This goes to say a lot about the hard work we did to help the deaf and disabled in many different ways. The Eye Fire Vlogs innovation is one new ways we’re using to help the deaf and disabled. Next week I’ll go pick it up. We’re all happy about this!

Richard Roehm
CEO
OCDAC

=============================

Press Release Source Link

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

OCDAC Receives 2009 Best of Irvine Award

U.S. Commerce Association’s Award Plaque Honors the Achievement

WASHINGTON D.C., June 8, 2009 — OCDAC has been selected for the 2009 Best of Irvine Award in the Technical Aids For The Handicapped category by the U.S. Commerce Association (USCA).

The USCA “Best of Local Business” Award Program recognizes outstanding local businesses throughout the country. Each year, the USCA identifies companies that they believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and community.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2009 USCA Award Program focused on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the USCA and data provided by third parties.

About U.S. Commerce Association (USCA)

U.S. Commerce Association (USCA) is a Washington D.C. based organization funded by local businesses operating in towns, large and small, across America. The purpose of USCA is to promote local business through public relations, marketing and advertising.

The USCA was established to recognize the best of local businesses in their community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations, chambers of commerce and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to be an advocate for small and medium size businesses and business entrepreneurs across America.

SOURCE: U.S. Commerce Association

CONTACT:
U.S. Commerce Association
Email: PublicRelations@us-ca.org
URL: http://www.us-ca.org

###

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cochlear Buys Otologics Technology Patents For US$25M

Source Link - Cochlear Buys Otologics Technology Patents For US$25M

Cochlear Ltd. (COH.AU), the world's largest producer of inner ear implants, said Wednesday it agreed to buy patent rights from closely held Otologics LLC for use in its devices for US$25 million.

The Sydney-based company also will engage in joint development activities with the Boulder, Colorado, medical device company, it said in a statement.

Cochlear Chief Executive Chris Roberts said the acquisition and development agreement were steps in achieving the company's long-term goal of a totally implantable cochlear implant.

The purchase price is payable over the period to Dec. 31, 2011, with US$8.5 million having been paid by June 30, 2009, plus a royalty on future sales of certain products involving an implantable microphone, Cochlear said.

The full US$25 million will be treated as acquired intangibles and amortized over about 15 years, it said.

Findings Could Lead To Improved Lip-reading Training For The Deaf And Hard-of-hearing

Source Link - Findings Could Lead To Improved Lip-reading Training For The Deaf And Hard-of-hearing

A new study by the University of East Anglia (UEA) suggests computers are now better at lip-reading than humans.

A research team from the School of Computing Sciences at UEA compared the performance of a machine-based lip-reading system with that of 19 human lip-readers. They found that the automated system significantly outperformed the human lip-readers – scoring a recognition rate of 80 per cent, compared with only 32 per cent for human viewers on the same task.

Furthermore, they found that machines are able to exploit very simplistic features that represent only the shape of the face, whereas human lip-readers require full video of people speaking.

The peer-reviewed findings will be presented for the first time at the eighth International Conference on Auditory-Visual Speech Processing (AVSP) 2009, held at the University of East Anglia from September 10-13.

The study also showed that rather than the traditional approach to lip-reading training, in which viewers are taught to spot key lip-shapes from static (often drawn) images, the dynamics and the full appearance of speech gestures are very important.

Using a new video-based training system, viewers with very limited training significantly improved their ability to lip-read monosyllabic words, which in itself is a very difficult task. It is hoped this research might lead to novel methods of lip-reading training for the deaf and hard of hearing.

"This pilot study is the first time an automated lip-reading system has been benchmarked against human lip-readers and the results are perhaps surprising," said the study's lead author Sarah Hilder.

"With just four hours of training it helped them improve their lip-reading skills markedly. We hope this research will represent a real technological advance for the deaf community."

Agnes Hoctor, campaigns manager at the RNID, said: "This research confirms how difficult the vital skill of lip-reading is to learn and why RNID is campaigning for people who are deaf or hard of hearing to have improved access to classes. We would welcome the development of video-based or online training resources to supplement the teaching of lip-reading. Hearing loss affects 55 per cent of people over 60 so, with the ageing population, demand to learn lip-reading is only going to increase."

The AVSP conference is being held in the UK for the first time since its inception in 1998. The University of East Anglia will host cutting edge researchers including psychologists, engineers, scientists and linguists from as far afield as Australia, Canada and Japan.

As part of the conference, delegates will take part in a Visual Speech Synthesis Challenge in which a number of visual speech synthesizers, or 'talking heads', will battle it out to determine the most intelligible and visually appealing system.

AVSP runs as a satellite conference to Interspeech 2009 which will be held in Brighton. Topics under discussion will include: machine recognition of audiovisual speech; the role of gestures accompanying speech; modeling, synthesis and recognition of facial gestures; and speech synthesis.

Keynote speakers will be Dr Peter Bull of the University of York who will be exploring The Myth of Body Language and Prof Louis Goldstein of the University of Southern California whose presentation is entitled Articulatory Phonology and Audio-Visual Speech.

The research will be presented on September 12 at the International Conference on Auditory-Visual Speech Processing (AVSP) 2009 at the University of East Anglia.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

President Obama's Message for America's Students (Captioned)

Source Link - President Obama's Message for America's Students

Captioned, click on source link.

The President gives a speech directly to America’s students welcoming them back to school. He emphasizes their hope and potential but makes clear they will need to take responsibility for themselves and their education to reach that potential. September 8, 2009.

Pairing cochlear implant, hearing aid benefits adults with hearing loss

Source Link - Pairing cochlear implant, hearing aid benefits adults with hearing loss

Adults with severe hearing loss benefit from pairing a cochlear implant in one ear with a hearing aid in the other ear, even though the sound signals from each device are very different, according to a School of Medicine study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Audiology.

The patients were better able to hear spoken words and to locate the direction of a sound with both devices turned on compared with either device alone. Additionally, the patients liked the fuller, richer sound they heard when using both devices.

"It is increasingly common to place cochlear implants in both ears when patients have profound hearing loss on both sides, but the majority of these bilateral implants are done in children," said lead author Lisa Potts, Ph.D., research instructor in otolaryngology. "Many adults lose their hearing as they age, and it may not be financially or physically possible for them to undergo surgery for two cochlear implants. So it is important to know if there is a benefit to using a hearing aid plus a single cochlear implant."

Each of the 19 study participants received a cochlear implant in one ear and a hearing aid for the other ear from WUSTL surgeons at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. The participants were seen at the Adult Cochlear Implant and Aural Rehabilitation Division at the School of Medicine for cochlear implant programming and hearing aid fitting.

Because the participants were profoundly hearing impaired, the hearing aid restored only partial hearing in one ear, while the cochlear implant gave them a greater level of hearing in the other ear. In addition to the imbalance in sound levels, each device processes sound information in a unique way: A cochlear implant translates sounds into electrical impulses that directly stimulate the hearing nerves of the inner ear, while a hearing aid amplifies sounds so the ear can sense its acoustic vibrations. Specialists have questioned whether patients could adequately integrate the asymmetric signals from implants and hearing aids.

This study showed that when the participants used both a cochlear implant and a hearing aid, speech recognition improved by an average of 14 percent over when they used just an implant or just a hearing aid. When both devices were active, participants also made fewer mistakes in determining sound direction — they were better able to say which loudspeaker emitted sound in a semicircular array of 15 loudspeakers placed 10 degrees apart.

Interestingly, when the participants wore both devices, speech recognition and localization was equally good, no matter the direction of the sound source. That was surprising because of the lower sound correction in the hearing aid ear.

"That result really got our attention," Potts said. "It shows that even when patients have minimal hearing with a hearing aid, it still helps them get input and helps them catch important sound cues. The two inputs are complementing each other. Hearing aids are better at giving temporal speech cues, while implants supply a fuller spectrum of sound frequencies."

Potts said the brain learns to integrate these two separate signals. The sound signals meet in the brainstem and cross all along the auditory pathway up to the brain's hearing centers, which interpret the signals as one sound.

When asked about their subjective sense of how well they heard with the devices, most patients said they felt they heard sound better with both devices turned on.

When both devices were on, they described the sound as "louder, clearer and more natural," "more complete" and having "a little extra depth, richness and volume."

The participants — eight men and 11 women — ranged in age from 26 to 79, with an average age of 50. Almost half had some hearing impairment before age 6.

But nearly all were adults when diagnosed with severe to profound deafness. The patients' ages or hearing history had no statistically significant effect on the results of the hearing tests conducted in the study.

Hearing-impaired artist to exhibit works in Tokyo

Source Link - Hearing-impaired artist to exhibit works in Tokyo

A woman clad in a bright yellow sari looks into a red room where a young girl, clad in a blue salwar, reclines in a chair. Overhead, the
ceiling fan moves lazily, while outside a yellow auto waits. Artist M Ramalingam has been fascinated by the world of colour since childhood.

Spotting the boy's talent, his art teacher at St Louis Institute for the Deaf and Blind encouraged him to study art. Today, at 52, Ramalingam has held innumerable exhibitions and is the only Indian artist who will be showing his work at the 2009 ParaArt Tokyo Exhibition at Seibu Gallery, Tokyo.

"In August, I received an invitation from Nippon Charity Kyokai Foundation to participate in the exhibition," says Ramalingam, who is off to Tokyo on September 10. The aim of the exhibition, which will be held from September 11 to 16, is to enhance self-reliance and self-support of persons with disabilities through the arts, and raise awareness about disability issues.

"My hearing impairment has never been a problem since I am an artist, and what I do is very visual," says Ramalingam, who studied at the Government College of Arts. "In college, my friend helped me with the theory."

Ramalingam has won various awards and grants from the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Charles Wallace Trust, UK, and Commonwealth Foundation. However, the award he cherishes most is President's national award that he received in 1986 for most efficient employee. "I am very honoured to have received it," says Ramalingam, who works with Indian Overseas Bank and paints on weekends. "He paints whenever he gets free time it could be in the morning or evening, though it's usually on a Sunday," says his wife, Latha.

Ramalingam's works depict ordinary people in everyday activities, though carrying an element of fantasy. So you will find a swimming pool next to a bed and a tree inside a living room. You also find recurring motifs of cows, ceilings fans, and the autorickshaw. "Autos are plentiful on our streets. And when you go abroad and depict something that is quintessentially Indian, it's the auto," says Ramalingam, who works with mixed media, Indian ink and acrylics.

During his stay in Tokyo, he will also be teaching art to deaf children there. "It's easier to work abroad as there are lots of interpreters and people who can sign," says Ramalingam, who wants to spend the rest of his life painting. "I have no particular long-term plans. I just want to work with colours," he says, smiling.

Beverly School for the Deaf gets boost from Motorcycle champ Ashley Fiolek

Source Link - Beverly School for the Deaf gets boost from Motorcycle champ Ashley Fiolek

The Beverly School for the Deaf was all revved up to meet Ashley Fiolek.

Fresh off another gold medal victory while visiting the Bay State, the No. 1 ranked United States Amateur Women’s Motorcycle champion made special a pit stop at the Children’s Center for Communication/Beverly School for the Deaf for a two-hour demonstration, Aug. 31.

The campus, which has been educating deaf and communication-challenged children since 1876, was a fitting backdrop for Fiolek, who has been deaf since birth.

“The director from the school found out about me and thought it would be inspiring to the students if I came to the school and showed them what I do,” Fiolek said.

Overcoming personal handicaps has been nothing new for the 18-year-old speed demon. But it’s never stopped her from quickly making a name for herself in the fast and furious cycling circuit. Over the past decade, Fiolek has racked up an impressive array of victories, while continuing to be an inspiration to the students as well as other people with disabilities.

“Ashley was in Massachusetts for a race and graciously agreed to meet our students,” said Judy Gansberg, of The Children’s Center for Communication/Beverly School for the Deaf. “It was wonderful. The kids were thrilled to have a deaf heroine visit.”

Fiolek introduced her self to the students, let them handle her latest gold medal, signed posters and also held a question and answer session. One of the boys even got to sit on her motorcycle, wearing Fiolek’s gloves and goggles.

But it was Fiolek’s performance on her motorcycle that really got the crowd buzzing. Jumping on her Honda CRF250R, the 18-year old rumbled around the grassy hillside pulling several wheelies along the way, while garnering loud cheers from the crowd.

It was clear that Fiolek made quite an impression with the students.

According to Fiolek, her favorite part of these type of events is her interaction with the students.

“I explained to the kids about my riding gear and my motorcycle,” she said. “[I liked] answering all the kids questions and seeing that they were really interested in what I did. I think it was very positive and I had a great time.”

Born and raised in Dearborn, MI, Fiolek started racing motorbikes at the age of 7. She won the Loretta Lynn Air Nautique Nationals in 2004 at the tender age of 13. She went on to capture 13 national amateur championships between 2004-07 and was the No. 1 ranked Women/Girl Amateur Racer of the Year in 2005. Fiolek also won the AMA/WMA Women’s Motocross Championship in 2008, at the age of 17.

Currently residing in St. Augustine, FL, Fiolek continues to drive all over the country sponsored by Red Bull and Honda Motorcycles, spreading her positive message along the way.

“I just started [visiting] deaf schools,” she said. “I have only done two this year, but I am going to do a big one in California [during] Deaf Awareness month. The mayor invited me.”

The Children’s Center for Communication/Beverly School for the Deaf currently serves approximately 100 students from Essex, Middlesex and Suffolk Counties. Approximately 80 percent have a hearing or communication challenges and 60 percent have additional developmental issues. The Echo Avenue school is currently in an expansion phase since more and more students regionally need their educational services.

The Beverly Citizen recently caught up with Ashley Fiolek to get the lowdown on her motorcycle career.



Q. How long have you been riding?

A. I have been racing for almost 12 years.



Q. What was it that drew you to the sport?

A. My dad used to race so he kind of got me involved in it.



Q. How long have you been racing competitively?

A. Since I was 7 I have been racing competitively so 11 years.



Q. What are some of the titles you have won recently?

A. I won a gold medal at X Games and I won the Women's Motocross Association Series last year in my rookie year



Q. What’s been your most memorable moment on the bike?

A. Well, I think being invited to join the Honda Red Bull race team is one of my most memorable moments I am the first girl to do that.



Q. As a deaf cyclist, what are the challenges you face whenever you hit the road?

A. Not really many challenges. I had to learn how to shift when I was younger by vibrations instead of sound and when I race I have to hold my lines because I don’t hear the people behind me.



Q. What is next for you?

A. Competitions. I have one more final race this weekend for this year in Delmont, PA. I’m excited about finishing up my series.

Deaf Auntie has gone radio ga-ga

Source Link - Deaf Auntie has gone radio ga-ga

You can say what you like about Sir Terry Wogan (and I know I have) but the bottom line is, he's good.

Alongside John Peel, he's probably the most professional and original DJ the BBC has ever employed, whose following is huge and loyal because he makes every single devotee feel as though he's speaking solely to them.

In doing so he encapsulates what the BBC is supposed to be there for. To enhance the nation's cultural well-being by offering something totally distinct from commercial rivals.

Chris Evans is also good. But a million miles away from Peel and Wogan. Because he will never offer something you can't already get by tuning into dozens of other record-playing stations on commercial radio.

He may be better than the DJs he's up against, but he's basically a singing telegram made good.

So too is Chris Moyles. Which is why Evans once called him "the new me".

Both are knockabout commercial products, obsessed with their own popularity and ratings.

From next year, when Evans takes over from Wogan, and they're up against each other at breakfast, the BBC will be pitching the biggest broadcasting ego of the 90s against his Noughties mini-me.

Both in direct competition for radio's biggest audience, and both being paid - out of our pockets - three times the Prime Minister's salary for the pleasure.

Small wonder commercial radio stations, which are being hammered by the current collapse of advertising, are despairing at the outrageous advantages given to the BBC by taxpayers.

A station I recently worked for has been forced to slash its workforce with many talented and hard-working presenters and producers sacked.

They feel, with some justification, that the BBC's uniquely-privileged position, plus its huge financial muscle, has helped throw them on the dole. When Evans takes over from Wogan he will no doubt be ordered to ditch what's left of his juvenile persona, and play more Gypsy Kings than Kings of Leon - but many of those ageing TOGs will switch off.

Which won't disappoint Radio 2 bosses as they try to re-position the station as a slightly more mature version of Radio 1, dragging the age of the average listener down towards the crucial 15-44 age-group which is seen as being cool and relevant.

And which is, vitally, the highspending audience commercial stations need to attract to survive.

The BBC is tripping over itself to say Moyles and Evans are very different.

But by handing these commercial beasts the nation's two biggest radio shows and running them head-tohead is about as far away from the public interest remit as you can get.

They're robbing the taxpayer, alienating the over-60s and helping destroy commercial radio.

All to chase ratings and make it look like they're worth an increase in the licence fee.

Goodbye and good luck, Terry. And for the sake of the nation, may your TOGs go with you.

of "The most original DJ the BBC ever employed"

Scooby doh! Deaf dog stuck in cave

Source Link - Scooby doh! Deaf dog stuck in cave

A mine rescue team has been called in to help free a dog that has been trapped in a cave in the New South Wales Hunter Valley for nearly five days.

Scooby the deaf eight-year-old king charles spaniel has been stuck on the rural property at Sweetmans Creek since Sunday afternoon.

He ran into the cave while out walking with his owner.

The RSPCA has been at the site for several days now using jackhammers to clear a path, but have been unable to free him.

There were concerns for Scooby's health this morning, with some signs that he was a little weak.

But he has since been able to drink some water carefully and delicately delivered to him by the RSPCA.

The mine rescue team is on its way from Lake Macquarie on the state's mid-north coast.

They will be briefed by the RSPCA this afternoon before deciding on the best course of action.

Authorities are hopeful the dog will be freed this afternoon.

Cochlear Americas Announces FDA Approval of the Nucleus(R) 5 System, the Newest and Most Advanced Cochlear Implant System Life-Changing Technology Restores Hearing in People with Severe-to-Profound Hearing Loss

Source Link - Cochlear Americas Announces FDA Approval of the Nucleus(R) 5 System, the
Newest and Most Advanced Cochlear Implant System Life-Changing Technology Restores Hearing in People with Severe-to-Profound Hearing Loss


Cochlear, the global leader in
implantable hearing solutions, announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) has approved the Nucleus((R) )5 System for adults and
children with severe-to-profound hearing loss. Working with leading surgeons
and audiologists worldwide, Cochlear has developed the most advanced
technology including a smaller and thinner device with an unparalleled
capability to deliver superior hearing performance and better user comfort.
The Nucleus 5 System is the only one of its kind on the market today that
offers the smallest, most water resistant sound processor, the thinnest
titanium cochlear implant, two-way remote assistant, SmartSound((TM)) 2
technology and AutoPhone((TM)) capability.

Cochlear implants have the ability to restore hearing for individuals who are
severely hard of hearing or profoundly deaf and who receive limited to no
benefit from hearing aids. The new Nucleus 5 System is the most advanced
cochlear implant system on the market for all ages*, which includes powerful
features designed to restore hearing in deaf children so that they have the
greatest potential to develop the spoken language skills necessary for school.
Adults will benefit from advanced features that deliver the best listening
options for phone use, communication in noisy environments and music
enjoyment.

"Cochlear has reached a significant milestone with the introduction of the
Nucleus 5 System. We have built upon our industry-leading hearing performance
and reliability record with new, unique features designed to give users
greater flexibility and help them hear better in difficult situations. We
celebrate this milestone with the dedicated clinicians who have helped us
positively impact the lives of so many people," said Chris Smith, President of
Cochlear Americas.

Nucleus 5 System Delivers the Best Hearing Performance
Built on the industry benchmark set by Cochlear's previous generation system,
preliminary research shows that the Nucleus 5 System outperforms other
cochlear implant systems with higher speech performance results than reported
for other systems. The new system is the result of several years of
development and input from clinicians worldwide. It delivers new
functionality while leveraging the existing stellar technology that the
hearing healthcare industry has come to expect from the market leader.

"Advancements in cochlear implant technology give users greater opportunities
to participate in the hearing world," said Jace Wolfe, PhD., Audiologist at
Hearts for Hearing Foundation. "After having been involved in the global
clinical validation of the new Nucleus 5 Sound Processor, I have seen
first-hand how it will enable users to more fully experience everyday hearing
activities like talking on the telephone, conversing in school and work
settings, and going to concerts."

The Nucleus 5 System's hearing performance record is achieved through a
combination of exclusive features that have been perfected over the last 25
years. This includes a unique patented( (1)) electrode array design that
delivers a richer, more true-to life sound; the industry's only SmartSound 2
technology with the new Set It and Go(TM) program for everyday listening; and
the world's only fully-integrated dual microphones for directionality and
better sound quality in noisy situations. It also features AutoPhone, the
industry's first and only automatic phone detection through an automatic
telecoil for optimized phone use.

"What makes this new implant so remarkable is that it is significantly smaller
than Cochlear's previous implant and any others, resulting in a more natural
fit for adults and children,"
said Bruce Gantz, M.D., Professor and Head of the University of Iowa
Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery.

About Cochlear Implants
Cochlear implants are a proven medical option for children as young as 12
months old with profound hearing loss in both ears and for individuals who are
two years or older with severe-to-profound hearing loss in both ears whom
obtain little or no benefit from hearing aids. They are electronic devices,
which bypass damaged hair cells in the inner ear, or cochlea, and stimulate
the hearing nerve directly. Cochlear implants are designed to restore
hearing, giving users the best possible hearing experience possible and are
becoming the standard of care with approximately 400 institutions in the
United States providing this technology.

About Cochlear
Cochlear is the world leader in implantable hearing solutions. Since
launching the first multichannel cochlear implant system more than 25 years
ago, Cochlear Limited has brought the miracle of sound to more than 180,000
individuals with hearing loss across the globe. Cochlear Americas markets
number one selling products -- the Baha((R)) implantable bone-anchored hearing
device and Nucleus cochlear implant technology. For more information about
Cochlear Americas' products, call the Cochlear Hotline at 800/523-5798 (Voice)
or visit www.cochlearamericas.com.

* Cochlear implants are a proven medical option for children as young as 12
months old with profound hearing loss in both ears and for children and adults
who are two years or older with severe-to-profound hearing loss in both ears
who have not demonstrated benefit from wearing a hearing aid.

(1) US patent 7, 184, 843. [On file] 2007 Feb 27

Nucleus is a registered trademark, and SmartSound, Set It and Go, and
AutoPhone are trademarks of Cochlear Limited. Cochlear and the elliptical logo
are trademarks of Cochlear Limited. Baha is a registered trademark of
Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions AB.

SOURCE Cochlear Americas

Teresa Adkins, +1-303-524-7103, tadkins@cochlear.com, or Anna Czene-Hallinan,
+1-303-200-5423, aczene-hallinan@cochlear.com, both of Cochlear Americas; or
Media, Stephanie DeViteri of Dorland Global, +1-215-928-2385,
sdeviteri@dorland.com

Deaf puppy 'learning sign language'

Source Link - Deaf puppy 'learning sign language'

An 8-week-old deaf puppy in Australia is being taught sign language by her owner.

Border collie Pixie has been trained to recognise hand commands to sit, drop and come forth by owner and Coffs Harbour specialist Liz Grewal, The Australian Sunday Telegraph reports.

Grewal said: "Dogs understand your body language, your hand gestures, they read all of that. They know.

"Consistency is the key to training any dog but you have to emphasise it more with a deaf dog."

She added: "You've to train them in a different way, they train quicker than a hearing dog as there are no noise distractions. I want these dogs to have a fantastic life, and I know they can do it.''

Grewal explained that she gets the attention of her four deaf dogs by squirting them with a small water bottle.

M.P. couple writes book on deaf girl's views

Source Link - M.P. couple writes book on deaf girl's views

A Mt. Pleasant couple wrote a book when they were in college about a young, deaf girl's perspective of the "everyday world" entitled, "Robin Sees A Song" which is scheduled to release its second edition during Deaf Awareness Week, Sept. 21-27.

Jim and Cheryl Pahz were a young, married couple who worked together educating deaf children at a school in Tennessee where the idea to write the book with their students in mind became a reality.

"We wrote the story together, but my wife did the illustrations," he said. "We were college students at the time."

Cheryl Pahz said that the "main message of the book is that there are a lot of ways people can express themselves."

"They can use colors, and shapes," she said. "I always liked to draw.

"The pictures (for the book) were done after the story was written."

She said the two were working on the creation of different forms of media to aid in teaching deaf children.

"When your young and married and used to doing things together, you get to talking about that stuff," she said. "We would be at home talking about the next lesson plan.

"And the idea was brought up. Wouldn't it be nice to write a story about a deaf girl that our students could relate to."

Jim Pahz said the first edition was published by the National Association of the Deaf in 1977, and 32 years later, the book can be found traded on EBay for $25.

"The minimum bid has been for $25, and when it was first sold, it cost $2," Jim Pahz said. "It will be the second edition, and it is the same story."

Cheryl Pahz said that the two of them have always kept up on their sign language, although they are "no longer fluent."

"It does not take long to learn the signs," she said. "But to be fluent you have to use it a lot more than we do now.

"We're quite rusty. You have to move very fast, and we are not all up to speed."

Jim Pahz is a professor in the School of Health Sciences at Central Michigan University where he has worked for 32 years, and Cheryl Pahz recently retired from working in the CMU library.

"I first heard about Deaf Awareness Week in an e-mail that was sent out by the CMU Department of Communication Disorders," Jim Pahz said. "We both loved working with the deaf children.

"They had so much optimism and a sense of exploration."

Jim Pahz said the book, geared towards children, has been in print for 32 years, it was written because there was not a lot of books on the subject.

"In this book, a young girl wonders what sound is like and what it's like when someone sings," he said. "There are ways to appreciate a song in a number of ways."

The authors have been told that their book is both "heartwarming and uplifting."

They have been married for 40 years, and they would like to continue to work together on more book projects.

"We're both near retirement," Cheryl Pahz said. "I'm proud of the pictures, and I'm proud of the message.

"It gives you inspiration to look at t the world in a different way."

Deaf man wins support in claim against police

Source Link - Deaf man wins support in claim against police

A man who is deaf has won support for his claim that he was discriminated against twice when city police officers refused to provide him with an interpreter after he requested one.

An investigator for the Maine Human Rights Commission concluded that Wayne Draper of Augusta was the victim of illegal discrimination in his encounters with police on Nov. 10, 2007, and Jan. 23, 2008.

The investigator, Michele Dion, is recommending the commission uphold that finding at its next meeting, Sept. 21, at the Senator Inn in Augusta.

Commission findings are not law but may become grounds for lawsuits.

City attorney Stephen Langsdorf said he will argue against the finding, saying officers did nothing wrong and that no discrimination occurred.

"There is no basis for a finding of discrimination," he said. "Absolutely none."

Langsdorf wrote to the commission to dispute the investigator's finding.

"In both incidents, Mr. Draper was effectively able to communicate with the Police Department and experienced no adverse consequences," he said.

Sean Ociepka, an attorney with the Disability Rights Center of Maine who is representing Draper, supports the finding.

"The case boils down to communication," Ociepka said. "Under the law, the Augusta Police Department needs to provide effective communication to people who are deaf or hard of hearing, and they failed to do so for Mr. Draper even after he requested they provide him with an interpreter."

Ociepka said Draper and the Disability Rights Center want the Police Department to adopt policies and procedures for dealing with interpreter requests from people who are deaf or hard of hearing, and they want training for police officers.

"We have sought some money compensation for Mr. Draper who was discriminated against and think that will deter similar discrimination in the future," Ociepka said.

According to documents in the case, the Nov. 10, 2007, incident began after Draper and a friend, Jay Green, who is also deaf, spotted a vacant hunter's tree stand at Riverside Drive and Route 3. After failing to find any identification tags on it, they put the stand in the back of Green's pickup.

As they began driving away, the tree stand owner, who had apparently gone briefly to a local store, waved them to a stop. He told the men the tree stand was his and called police.

Draper said he tried to show the investigating officer a card indicating he wanted a sign language interpreter called. He said the officer refused and wrote a note saying Draper was to speak to a different officer.

Draper -- who was never charged in the incident -- tried to get the tree stand owner charged with threatening, but the district attorney's office declined to prosecute, saying in writing that the owner "had a legal right to use reasonable force to stop (Green) from leaving with it."

More than two months later, Draper said he was threatened by the tree stand owner in a local grocery store. Draper had store personnel call police, and Draper again requested an interpreter. He said he was initially refused one, but then officers arranged for him to meet an interpreter at the police station later that night. Eventually the tree stand owner was warned against threatening Draper.