Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Orange County Deaf Advocacy Center Newsletter - January 30, 2010


OCDAC Releases New Year's Resolutions;

The NCD-sponsored National Summit on Disability Policy will take place July 25–27, 2010, at the Renaissance Washington, DC Hotel, 999 9th Street, NW, Washington, DC.

This National Summit is an invitation-only, working meeting to develop recommendations to guide improvements in disability policy and programs for the next decade.

Hosted by NCD, this Summit commemorates the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Topics for discussion will include: Civil Rights, Education, Emergency Management, Employment, Healthcare, Housing, International Affairs, Statistics and Data, Telecommunications and Technology, and Transportation.

OCDAC is making plans to attend this summit.

Brought to you by the Orange County Deaf Advocacy Center Http://



We have lots of new items and our webstore count stands at over 660 items!

Lots of products for the deaf, and blind, and other disabilities. Remember your parents, grand parents, brothers, sisters, family members, co-workers who need adaptive equipment. Employers can shop here for equipment and accessories for their hearing impaired workers.

Buy Here, Buy Now, Pay Less with our ADA kits! This includes long term savings associated with ADA compliance.

Stop by today to start your shopping.



Deaf Leader Anthony Mowl Pleads Guilty For Role In FCC Fraud Scheme - Faces Up To 20 Years Prison & Up To $250,000 Fines

Brought to you by The Orange Deafie Blog Http://



Visual Sound Is A Phone Concept For The Deaf With Transparent Touchscreen

Woooo Wooo Wooo! This is great new technology for face-to-face communication possibilities!

Brought to you by Modern Deaf Communication



Get yourself an OCDAC credit card through a special program at

We get a $50 donation for each person who completes the signup, and uses the card.



The 25th Annual International Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference

Please save the date, and the new location for our 25th anniversary conference:

March 22-27, 2010
Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel
San Diego, CA

Brought to you by ASL News


Take a look and bookmark our new search page! Http:// . It's a good source of information you can use.



Like Sister Like Deaf Brother!

Fraud Discovered At USA Deaf Sports Federation – Pan American Deaf Games 1999

Amy Mowl the HEARING sister of the newly convicted former Viable VRS executive Anthony Mowl been able to pass herself as a deaf woman in the 1999 Pan Am Games deaf woman’s basketball team.

Whats even more exciting is that she even owns a few school records (basketball) at the Indiana School for the Deaf and at the North Carolina School for the Deaf.

So, it’s like sister like deaf brother!

Brought to you by the other Orange Deafie Blog at



The Orange County American Sign Language Meetup Group - - and the Orange County Deaf & Hearing
Impaired Meetup Group meets each 3rd Fridays of the month.

We are currently pondering a new locations for all of our meetup events because our competition appears to have hijacked the excitement, prestige, and normalcy of our cherished monthly gatherings.



Teri Sentelle the famous zen vlogger arrested for possible domestic violence

See Booking record :

Teri had been seen at deaf-hope events and wonder if this arrest becomes a scandal.

Brought to you by the Hearing For Life Foundation Http://



Tinnitus affects people with or without hearing loss.

Tinnitus is the ringing sensation that occurs in the ears. Severe tinnitus can be painful and disable a person. Orange County Deaf Advocacy Center has two people serving in a patient advocacy council. Orange County Deaf Advocacy Center wants to help people retain their productivity by helping them manage tinnitus.

We are introducing a nutraceutical cocktail of Ginkgo Biloba, Zinc, and Garlic to manage tinnitus (ringing) in the ears. New studies show that a combination of these three working together helps manage tinnitus. We have the research that suggest the cocktail helps manage tinnitus.

This cocktail doesn't create the flush reaction you get from using high dosage of Niacin taken to manage tinnitus.

Tinnitus management kit contains Ginkgo Biloba, Zinc, Garlic, pill minders box, carrying case, and 2 sets of ear plugs.

Kit is assembled by people with disabilities.

If you care about your ears, please shop through our paypal link below now

Tinnitus 2 month management kit $79.99 - Free Shipping On All Orders!

Refills each month $29.99 (Link will be mailed to you with your order)

The funds generated from this offering will be returned to the community in the form of assisted housing, education, advocacy, free equipment, outreach, and conference activities.

***These Statements have not been evaluated by the US FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease. There is no guarantee this will help you manage tinnitus. This may work on some people and this may not work on some people too.



Poor inclusion policies causes two popular deaf social networking sites, and, to close in less than a week.

Brought to you by the Eye Fire Vlogs Http://


Please donate to Orange County Deaf Advocacy Center. We have a lot of work to do on behalf of people with hearing and speech impairments and we have a donation form ready for your use.

Donation form :

Thank you very much for the time youve taken to read this newsletter and clicking on the donation link above.



Dear Deafness Specialist,

I’m writing to let you know about this book which was featured as book of the month in the December/January 2009 issue of RNID’s One in Seven magazine. Now available on CD for large print or use with screen reading software, as well as in regular print, of “Words in My Hands, A Teacher, A Deaf-Blind Man, An Unforgetable Journey reviewer Michael Simmons says:

“in sheer humanity…this book, a true story, is told with almost palpable joy–and tears–at all the ups and downs involved…this is straight American-talk about relations between a deaf-blind client and his teachers, and Helen Keller understandably, is evoked.”

With my degree in Therapeutic Recreation, I am also a certified sign language interpreter in Colorado, and the author of this book about an elderly deaf-blind man who played classical piano. Before he lost his sight and hearing to Usher Syndrome Bert Riedel was a dentist in Lombard, Illinois. I met him when he was eighty-six-years old when I was hired to be his teacher. I taught him how to read tactile sign language.

While the story illustrates psychosocial factors that complicate the disabilities of deafness and deaf-blindness, it carries an inspirational message as well. This book is a resource for educators, rehabilitation counselors, and other professionals who work or interact with the deaf, blind, elderly, or disabled. It is for families who deal with a member’s hearing loss, vision loss, or other disability. This book shows how miracles can happen where there are dedicated professionals and

Words in My Hands has received:

An award from The National League of American Pen Women

Praise from acclaimed author, Joanne Greenberg, from Patricia Clark, researcher of

ASL at Rochester Institute of Technology, and B.J. LeJeune, Director of

Deaf-Blind Programs at Mississippi State University.

Reviews by:

National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, Inside Gcm,

Winter 2007 /Spring 2008

British Journal of Occupational Therapy, December 2007

California Association of Resource Specialists and Special Educators

Oklahoma Speech-Language Hearing Association

Deaf-Blind Perspectives

Alvin Roberts, Bureau of Blind Services Quality Assurance Administrator,

Carbondale, Illinios

Dr. McCay Vernon, Chairman of the National Deaf Academy Advisory


Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education (fall of 2006)

The National League of American Pen Women

Article: “Reconnected by Sign,” American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A, Genetic Drift, published July 2007

I have included reviews and a book announcement in the email attachments. I hope you will share them with professionals and associates of children and adults with special needs.

For more information or to order books, please contact me or go to Books are also available through Barnes & Noble on-line, and at Harris Communications.

Diane Chambers, Author
Words in My Hands, A Teacher, A Deaf-Blind Man, An Unforgettable Journey
Hearing the Stream, A Survivor’s Journey into the Sisterhood of Breast Cancer
Ellexa Press LLC
[email protected]
303 591-1040

Brought to you by Deaf Paradise Http://

**** DISCLAIMER ****

The OCDAC Newsletter is designed to share information of interest to people with disabilities, their friends, associates, and relatives and promote advocacy in the disability community. Information circulated herein does not necessarily express the views of The Orange County Deaf Advocacy Center. The OCDAC Newsletter is non-partisan. OCDAC Newsletter does not sell advertising space.

The Orange County Deaf Advocacy Center is a community based organization that puts people with disabilities first in their advocacy for equal opportunities in safety, health, and productive living.

The Orange County Deaf Advocacy Center provides services for disabled individuals and their families in our community who need help in navigating the social services maze. Every day people go without proper food, shelter, and essential medical care every day due to a variety of factors including low wages, job loss, injuries, illness, age, domestic violence, or divorce. While all of us are susceptible to hard times, disabled individuals are at the most risk. With the generous support of people like you, we are able to help many of these families and individuals not only to meet essential daily needs, but to work toward a brighter future with programs in job training, education, counseling, elderly assistance, and temporary housing.

Feel free to forward this email message IN ITS ENTIRETY to anyone and any of your personal mailing lists so we can get the important messages out far and wide and encourage them to sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Our physical address is 2960 Main Street suite #100, Irvine California 92614 and this email is in compliance with CAN-SPAM Act of 2003.

To subscribe to this newsletter go to or send a blank email to [email protected]

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Open Letter To Ryan Commerson

Ryan Commerson,

Responding to

You're complaining about TRS companies exploiting the deaf community? The fact is you all asked for it, you all let it happen.

I'm the one that discovered that the AOL's AIM service can be used for a TRS protocol.

Go look at the birth date of AOL's OCDACRelay AIM name.

May 31, 2002 at 1:26 pm at Pacific time

That's when I discovered it. That's when I started experimenting with it as relay service for the deaf people.

Did the deaf community cherish it? No They pooh poohed it saying its 'not going to work', 'a crazy idea', and a bunch of other demeaning responses. Years later AIM relay companies started popping up. Hearing people got the credit because you all let them get it. If I was allowed to get the credit, I'd use the resources and revenue to protect deaf people's ideas from exploitation by the hearing people.

You all looked the other way instead.

You all set the ground for exploitation by hearing people.

Now the exploitation you're complaining about is all from you people because you all let it happen in the first place.

Richard Roehm

Update 2/18/2011
Editors Note: The old picture was lost the following we took on a Laptop running Windows 7 and Pidgin Instant Messaging client.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Area deaf community wants to share their diverse culture with others

Area deaf community wants to share their diverse culture with others

There is a large group (30,000-plus people, according to DeafLink) of friendly folks in northeast Indiana whose motto could well be, “Listen with your eyes and speak with your hands.”

The Northeast Indiana Deaf Awareness Council would like the area hearing community to hear the world through their silent ears and to get to know them better — a lot better — said longtime member Melissa Hunckler of Huntington.

“We'd like to share our diverse culture with people who are hearing and clear up any misconceptions they may have about us,” said Hunckler, a retired U.S. Postal Service worker whose husband, Frank, is also deaf.

“Hearing people are always welcome to come to our NIDAC meetings or special events, and even if they are not familiar with our visual American Sign Language (ASL), there is often an interpreter there to help out,” Hunckler said.

“We encourage sign-language beginners to come up and introduce themselves if they see deaf people signing in public,” she said. “We are patient and pleased if hearing people initiate the introduction and practice their signing on us.”
Other tips

♦How does one get the attention of a deaf person indoors? By flicking the lights off and on or by stamping one's feet on the floor so the vibrations can be felt.

♦Can deaf people vocalize? Some speak well, mostly those who were mainstreamed — enrolled in public schools rather than special schools for students with hearing impairment. But other deaf people who grew up learning sign language don't usually use their voices. Because they cannot hear their own volume, they may inadvertently vocalize loudly.

♦Do all deaf people use sign language and speech-read? The majority of them do not use sign language, especially when one considers that the term “deaf” includes those with mild loss to those who are completely deaf. Speech-reading is a difficult art to master and many deaf people can't depend on it, for not all sounds are visible on the lips — “b” and “p,” for example, look the same on the lips.

♦Must one talk loud to all deaf people? No, sometimes just the opposite. Each person's hearing loss is different. Some people will need volume. However, a few deaf people suffer from recruitment, which makes them very sensitive to loud voices, which cause them ear pain. If someone asks to be spoken to in a normal or below-normal voice without over-articulation, that request should be courteously honored.

— By Barb Sieminski

Some things to know

To foster better understanding of people who are deaf, the deaf community would like hearing people to know:

♦Many deaf people are thought to be snobbish if they do not respond to a pleasant “hello” from a hearing person.

Explained Hunckler, “You would need to be in our line of vision so we can speech-read you and thus respond to your greeting. Also, if we cannot understand you for whatever reason (mustache, chewing gum, don't move lips when speaking), we will offer you a pencil and pad to write it down.

“People are afraid of what they do not know, and deaf people are often an unknown entity that hearing people shy away from,” Hunckler said. “This is a mindset we have to try to change, so that we can all get along together.”

♦Some people who are deaf do not normally read newspapers or books, which makes it harder for them to be aware of any upcoming events, such as live programs or other events.

“We would much rather watch closed-captioned TV or depend on others for communication instead of reading the newspapers,” Hunckler said. “We get more out of exchanging information with each other so we know what is going on in the deaf community. Using the videophone is another preferred method of communication with our families and friends, so we don't have time to read the newspaper.”

♦The best way to reach the area deaf community is to contact Sara Dunten, editor of the deaf monthly newspaper online and hard copy) “What's Up” at, and she will immediately enter the information online.

According to Butch Newcomer, a Fort Wayne resident who is deaf, if a performer with a disability is scheduled for a performance locally, it would ideally be announced to the deaf community first before the public. This would give the deaf community time to spread the word among themselves, make arrangements to attend the event, and get there early and get seats where they can best enjoy the performance, Newcomer said.

♦People who are deaf or hearing-impaired depend upon closed- captioning when watching TV. A source of frustration is that some programs (especially live local news shows) either do not have closed captioning or they have it inconsistently and inaccurately.

For hearing people to get an idea of what it is like for a deaf person to watch a show without closed-captioning, imagine your favorite show spoken in Japanese.

♦Deaf people love live entertainment, especially when it involves a deaf celebrity, such as Marlee Matlin, who appeared in September as part of the Omnibus Lecture Series at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. However, many in the deaf community were unhappy because they were not aware of the occasion and because they were not allowed to sit together in the front and center rows, where they could have an unrestricted view of the celebrity and her interpreter.

“Even though there was a big overhead screen showing the stage dialogue, it was too far away to see from our balcony seats, which were the only seats left, and it would have helped for the lights to have been out for better screen contrast,” said Shelbi Stratton, community outreach director of Interpreter Associates and a Kendallville resident.

Jaye Johnston, DeafLink case coordinator, clarified by saying, “Hearing people can always hear what is going on onstage, but deaf people cannot. Therefore, we need to be up close to the action since we totally rely on our eyes to let us know what is going on. Marlee and her interpreter should have been onscreen at all times; however, because they sometimes inadvertently moved off-screen, we lost the entire thread of the dialogue.”

♦Because deaf people cannot use a voice telephone, they use a TT (text telephone) or VRS (Video Relay Service) to communicate. If one VRS user calls another user, both parties are projected upon a TV screen at either end where they can see each other and communicate by using sign language.

If one person is hearing and does not have a VRS, she or he can still call a deaf person via the relay service, and the relay agent will appear on the VRS monitor and sign to the deaf person, relaying the hearing person's messages. Other deaf people make their calls to hearing people via their computers using Internet Relay, which uses a computer and an Internet connection through a modem, cable or DSL, giving relay services at no cost, including long distance.

However, when calling businesses, doctors' offices, groceries or strangers, relay users often get hung up on as the unaware call recipient believes relay calls to be scams, telemarketing calls or harassment calls.

The deaf community would like to express gratitude to businesses and individuals who do not hang up on them without first giving them a chance to identify themselves and explain why they are calling.

According to Hunckler, in the past if she called a restaurant to place a carryout order, she would get hung up on because the worker would not accept a relay call.

“Both Frank and I immediately drove to one restaurant, where I told the manager I was deaf and asked why he kept hanging up on me,” said Hunckler. “He was very apologetic, and, from then on, I had no trouble with future carryout phone calls.”

♦Technology in recent years has been a real boon for people who are deaf, for they can now communicate via e-mail, texting, relay services and more.

Before the TT was invented, said Hunckler, “If we had something to say, we just drove to friends' homes, got the info we needed and left. If we had more to add later, we would go back out and repeat the process. If our friends were not home, it was a wasted trip.”

♦Sign language, which is used globally, is often used with infants, hearing or not, to teach them to communicate before they can speak. Scuba divers use sign language, and deaf people can communicate by sign language at great distances. Also, several area colleges and universities offer ASL courses for credit or continuing education.

Finally, when hearing people accept a deaf community's cordial invitation to learn more about the latter, they realize, “The greatest accomplishment of insight is seeing through the eyes of another.”

It's a fact - vuvuzelas can make you deaf

It's a fact - vuvuzelas can make you deaf

Tens of thousands of blaring vuvuzelas in packed stadiums during the World Cup could leave soccer fans deaf.

Research by the University of Pretoria's communication pathology department has found they pose a significant recreational risk for noise-induced hearing loss and far exceed permissible occupational noise exposure levels in South Africa.

A team measured the noise level of vuvuzelas at a premier league soccer match attended by 30 000 spectators and found it peaked at 140dB (decibels).

Professor De Wet Swanepoel said he would not recommend that anyone be exposed to noise levels above 137dB, even if they were wearing earplugs.

The team measured the average noise level over the two-hour match and found it to be above 100dB.

Subjects wore a sound exposure meter to analyse the intensity and frequency spectrum of the vuvuzela.

Bafana Bafana take on Mexico for the opening World Cup match at the 90 000-seater Soccer City in June, and coach Carlos Alberto Parreira has urged soccer fans to "blow your vuvuzelas as loud as possible".

According to a recent article in the SA Medical Journal, no one within a two-metre radius of a vuvuzela, including the person blowing it, should be exposed to the sound continually for more than a minute.

At an intensity of 100dB, a person should be exposed to less than 15 minutes of such noise a day. The duration safely permissible is halved with every 3dB increase in intensity.

At the lowest recorded intensity in the stadium of 113dB, subjects should not be exposed to more than one minute without protection for their hearing, according to South African occupational noise exposure legislation.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act stipulates that employees, and other people, affected by noise in a company can be exposed to 85 decibels (dB) for eight hours before they must be given hearing protection or steps taken to reduce noise levels

"The vuvuzela has iconic status and should be kept as part of South Africa's soccer culture, but measures to protect spectators' hearing should be paramount," Swanepoel said.

It was also crucial that fans be made aware of the risk before they took their seats at any of the country's stadiums.

"The peak exposure during the research was over 140dB," Swanepoel said. "The intensity far exceeds the noise levels on a construction site or in the mines, which is 85dB."

Local organising committee chief executive Danny Jordaan announced last month that vuvuzelas would be allowed into stadiums for the World Cup matches.

After complaints received during the Confederations Cup in June, Fifa said it was unsure whether the trumpet-like instrument would be allowed into stadiums. But Jordaan gave fans the go-ahead to blow their vuvuzelas.

Deaf teenagers nominated for best comedy film award

Deaf teenagers nominated for best comedy film award

A comedy film written and directed by 13 deaf teenagers from Northern Ireland, including one from Holywood, has been nominated in the Best Comedy category at the First Light Awards 2010, a competition which recognises the UK’s young filmmakers.

Holywood teenager, Kevin English, 19, was among those behind the film, titled Flukey Finn, that will be reviewed by a panel of celebrity judges, including Alan Parker, Joseph Fiennes and Sam Mendes. On Tuesday, March 2, winners in each category will be announced at a star-studded awards gala which will be hosted by BBC’s Dick and Dom at London’s Odeon, Leicester Square.

Flukey Finn also received an award at last year’s Deaffest, the UK’s only deaf-led film festival, coming third in the Young Deaffest Award category. The film was made through the NDCS Summer Film Project which has been running for five years, bringing together deaf teenagers from across Northern Ireland to develop their filmmaking skills and enhance their confidence.

Read more:

Monday, January 25, 2010

Deaf community reaches out to police

Deaf community reaches out to police

BARRIE - What starts as a routine traffic stop, can quickly go awry if a police officer asks a question and the driver turns away to reach for something unseen, says Louise Gagne, executive director of Deaf Access Simcoe Muskoka (DASM).

“Misunderstandings can occur if the officer isn’t anticipating a Deaf person,” said Gagne, whose team had the opportunity recently to provide awareness training to Barrie Police officers. “Our goal was to provide information and opportunities to problem-solve communication challenges.”

Deaf people all being able to read lips is only one popular myth that can cause miscommunications.

Most of the verbal English language is constructed inside the mouth, which makes it especially difficult to figure out by someone who has never had the opportunity to speak it.

“Often times, the literacy level of a Deaf person in their second language of English is Grade 3,” Gagne explains. “Hearing people expect Deaf people to be able to read and write at the same level as they do, but once they understand that a Deaf person does not use this second language in their daily business, they can appreciate the Deaf person would not be fluent at a higher level.”

American Sign Language (ASL) is a three-dimensional visual language that is not written, she continues. And it is actually more similar in grammatical structure to French than English.

“Oftentimes people think that signing is a short form for English, and it’s not,” she says. Instead, it’s a fully-formed grammatical construct that stands alone.

The training, provided to approximately 80 officers, included some scenario-base examples led by DASM board member Jeff Flindall, who is also an RCMP officer.

Barrie Police were also told about the availability of interpreters and how to access them, especially important since the right to the assistance of a professional interpreter has been guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms since 1985.

The information, however, did not flow only one way.

While officers learned how flashing a light into a car at night can make it impossible for someone who does read lips to understand what is being said, the trainers were able to take back to the Deaf community an understanding of some of the protocols that can’t be changed and how such instances can best be handled.

The Barrie Police Training Unit is interested in passing on any information valuable to officers on the road, says Sgt. Dave Berriault, who heads up the unit.

“Obviously, if they’re Deaf, there could be some communication issues,” he says of the relevancy of the DASM training sessions. “Clearly with so many variables out there, we try to help the officers.”

His team has also facilitated training related to diabetes, he cites as an example, because individuals with the disease can suffer from “excited delirium,” he says, which could be misdiagnosed by officers – perhaps as a mental illness.

“Officers need to know on the road, because they need to immediately seek medical attention,” he explains. “It could cause fatal consequences.”

This training goes hand-in-hand with a regular police-officer training regime that includes certification in the use of force and firearms, suspect-apprehension pursuit and first-aid.

“These are all actual tools needed to function on a daily basis out there on the road,” says Berriault. “We always try to bring the new techniques in anytime we have the opportunity.”

His office, for example, also provides train-the-trainer sessions on the use of the TASER, so instructors can deliver the annual training to supervisors and tactical teams. The use of the technology is fully legislated, he says, “to eliminate potential injury” during an arrest.

In its mission, the unit is also happy to respond to requests to provide training and awareness at community groups.

For more information about training options, call Berriault at 725-7025, ext. 2954.

Shortfall in care for deaf-blind people in Somerset

Shortfall in care for deaf-blind people in Somerset

An investigation by BBC Somerset has shown the needs of thousands of deaf-blind people are not being met.

Figures from the charity Sense show more than 4,000 people in Somerset have got visual and aural impairments.

However fewer than 300 of them have registered with their relevant councils across the county.

The government has issued statutory guidance stating that councils should be identifying and keeping a record of deaf and blind people in their area.

Lack of practical help

Local authority / Sense figures of deaf-blind people in Somerset
Somerset County Council: 220 / 2,400
North Somerset Council: fewer than 12 / 940
Bath and North East Somerset Council: 24 / 770

The investigation covered three local authorities in the county: Somerset County Council, North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset.

Marcelle Holden, a widow in her 80s whose daughter Linda lives and looks after her in West Buckland, is blind and partially deaf.

"We haven't met any people who've come up with anything practical," said Linda.

"You do get a sense that they [social services] don't have any support for themselves in terms of things that they can suggest that can be offered to people who are in mum's situation, so there either isn't the funding or there aren't people in place who have the training."

Both representatives from Somerset County Council and North Somerset Council admitted not enough was in place to help people like Marcelle.

They said the reason why people were not registered was down to a number of reasons, ranging from people not wanting to register, or feeling it was necessary.

Barrie Fitzpatrick, group manager for Adult Social Care with Somerset County Council also said many did not contact the council because they felt sight and hearing loss were ''part of the natural ageing process''.

Pledge to improve services

However, there are now plans to address this gap in services.

"Somerset is about to undertake a review of sensory loss services across the board and we will certainly be focussing and thinking about in terms of how we reach out and engage with people who have both hearing and sensory loss impairments," said Barrie.

The same is also happening at North Somerset Council.

Alan Davis, policy and planning manager at North Somerset Council's Adult Social Care, said a recent review found more work was needed to identify and such people.

"This year we're going to be working with our local organisations for blind people and ones for deaf people to see how we can improve those services," he added.

A statement for Bath and North East Somerset Council said the council had different support services in place to help deaf-blind people live as independently as possible, and that the council's Sensory Services team carried out assessments using a fully trained staff.

The spokesperson added that although only 24 people were on the register, "this does not reflect the contact this authority has with people with dual sensory loss who often have physical impairments that mean their main contact is with our community teams".

Voters may decide (deaf) school future

Voters may decide school future

Lawmakers led by Sen. Al Novstrup want to clear the legal path for possible closure of the state School for the Deaf.

Novstrup, R-Aberdeen, has filed a resolution that would put the issue to a statewide vote this November.

Specifically, the resolution proposes changing the South Dakota Constitution by removing the reference to the School for the Deaf from the section outlining the responsibilities of the state Board of Regents.

The regents govern the six state universities as well as the deaf school in Sioux Falls and the School for the Blind and Visually Handicapped in Aberdeen.

Last year, Gov. Mike Rounds proposed closing the deaf school and restructuring the delivery of services. He estimated the changes would have produced a savings of $2 million.

But a combination of opposition and federal stimulus funding put the issue on the back burner. In the background was the legal question of whether the school could be closed when it is still in the constitution.

The constitutional amendment proposed by Novstrup wouldn’t actually close the deaf school. It would remove the constitutional requirement and clearly open the way for the regents and the Legislature to do as they choose.

The resolution, SJR 1, is cosponsored by a broad crosssection of Republican and Democratic legislators. They include five of the seven Senate members and five of the nine House members on the Joint Committee Appropriations, which oversees state government’s budget.

Rep. Manny Steele, R-Sioux Falls, is the lead sponsor in the House.

Senators who signed onto the resolution as co-sponsors are Dan Ahlers, D-Dell Rapids; Julie Bartling, DBurke; Corey Brown, RGettysburg; and Jim Hundstad, D-Bath.

House co-sponsors are representatives Thomas Deadrick, R-Platte; Paul Dennert, D-Columbia; Charles Hoffman, R-Eureka; David Lust, R-Rapid City; Nick Moser, R-Yankton; Deb Peters, R-Hartford; Roger Solum, R-Watertown; Bill Van Gerpen, R-Tyndall; Dean Wink, R-Howes; and Susan Wismer, D-Britton.

A resolution doesn’t require the governor’s approval.

Govt considering issuing driving licences to deaf

Govt considering issuing driving licences to deaf

New Delhi: Around 5 crore people in India with impaired hearing may soon be permitted to drive. The Central Government is considering issuing driving licences to the hearing impaired and is consulting health specialists on the issue.

The government's move was informed by counsel Jyoti Singh earlier this week to the Delhi High Court.

Informing about the move to a division bench of Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw, Singh said: "We are consulting health specialists and a study is being carried out as to how hearing impaired disorder can affect driving. Earlier studies show that impaired hearing lessens the sense of judgement while driving."

"Though technical specialists did not agree with us on our move of giving licences to the deaf, we are still trying to consult the health specialists," Singh added.

The Union Road Transport Ministry and Department of Health are presently reviewing the case.

"It's a positive approach. At least the whole thing is now being re-looked at," the bench said.

At present, the Motor Vehicles Act prohibits the deaf from obtaining a driver's licence on the ground that they could be a source of danger to the public.

The court has directed the government to give its final report by February 17.

The court was hearing a public interest petition by the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), seeking a direction to quash the requirement of having no hearing impairment for the issuance of a driving licence.

The deaf are allowed to drive all over the world except in 26 countries, including India, NAD said.

Medical experts say those who can hear up to 60 decibels with the use of a hearing aid can be permitted to hold a driving licence for private vehicles, while those with a hearing level of up to 40 decibels with hearing aid can be allowed to drive commercial vehicles.

SWCID to Rename Administration Building After First Leader

SWCID to Rename Administration Building After First Leader

As part of its 30th anniversary celebration, the SouthWest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf will rename it's administration building after the college's first leader.

Dr. Douglas Burke was not only the first leader of SWCID, he was the first deaf individual to lead an institution of higher education.

The building will now be known as the The Douglas Burke Education and Administration Building.

Burke's early work in the establishment of a community college for the deaf was a huge milestone in the world of higher education as it created new opportunities for the deaf not only in the State of Texas but on the national and world-wide scene as well.

A second building naming took place as the residence hall - the Burke / Mehan Residence Hall - now serves as a special honor to Douglas's wife Beatrice.

She played a significant role as a deaf leader in the early envisioning of SWCID and has provided ongoing leadership in the advocacy of deaf education.

A ceremony to unveil the new building names honoring the Burkes will be held this summer.

American Savings Foundation Awards $15,000 Grant To American School For The Deaf

American Savings Foundation Awards $15,000 Grant To American School For The Deaf

The American School for the Deaf (ASD) has received a $15,000 grant from the American Savings Foundation for the Early Childhood Intervention Program.

The American School for the Deaf's Early Childhood Intervention Program provides the foundation for young deaf and hard of hearing children, from birth to 3, throughout Connecticut to acquire language, develop cognition, and prepare for successful formal schooling. The program also assists parents in fulfilling their role as primary caregivers of a child with special needs. Services are primarily home-based and include physical, occupational, speech and language therapy; audiological services; cochlear implant services; and loaner hearing aids.

"The American Savings Foundation has helped fund the Early Intervention Program since 1999 and we've seen first-hand the tremendous impact that these programs can make in the lives of deaf children and their families," said David Davison, President and CEO of American Savings Foundation. "Our board is strongly committed to supporting high-quality programs that serve a critical need and demonstrate that they are making a difference."

American Savings Foundation is a permanent independent charitable endowment dedicated to strengthening the community by supporting education, human services, and the arts, with a special emphasis on the needs of children, youth, and families.

Since its inception in 1995, the foundation has contributed over $28.7 million in grants to local nonprofit organizations and scholarships to area students in the 64 central Connecticut towns it serves. For more information, call 860-827-2556 or visit the foundation's website at

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Deaf, legally blind owner of Fuzzy Wuzzy Design in Morris thrives on spirit

Deaf, legally blind owner of Fuzzy Wuzzy Design in Morris thrives on spirit

MORRIS TOWNSHIP -- Christian Markovic lost his hearing at age 2 and began losing his eyesight when he was 13.

By the time he was 20, he was legally blind and a mysterious neurological disorder began stealing his ability to walk. By age 23, he could no longer run.

Today, at 38, he has cochlear implants but remains profoundly hearing impaired. He can barely see and can only walk with crutches.

His physical limitations haven’t limited his spirit or his ability to succeed in the marketplace. Markovic is an award-winning artist who runs his own successful business, Fuzzy Wuzzy Design, which features his own artistic creations on greeting cards and clothing.

Spirit, as well as peace and love, are the themes of his artwork. A ‘spirit sign’ is not only one of his logos, but also is tattooed on his left bicep.

"I’ve always been spiritual for years," Markovic said. "I’ve always liked to be around people who are spiritual and believe in peace."

For such a gentle soul, Markovic has had a life that has been anything but easy, but has managed to persevere, said his father Bob Markovic.

A graduate of Morristown High School, Markovic became the first deaf graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts.

His artwork has been shown at the Credit Suisse Gallery in New York City and the Pierro Gallery in South Orange, and he has been one of the primary artists at Arts Unbound in Orange, a gallery/studio for disabled persons. One of his posters titled "All Races Are Equal" won a ‘Best in Show’ award at the 2007 Morris County Seniors and Persons with Disabilities Art Show.

However, landing a job has been virtually impossible due to his disabilities, the elder Markovic said.

"He’s got a lot of talent, possibly an IQ of 150, and nobody will give him a job," his father said. "Nobody will deal with you when you’ve got those kinds of disabilities."

So, Christian Markovic went into business for himself, and Fuzzy Wuzzy Design was born eight years ago as a greeting-card company featuring his own computer-generated artwork based on sign language. A few years later, he began selling clothing items adorned with his artwork.

Markovic uses a Macintosh computer with a 52-inch monitor and a zoom program that magnifies his work 10 times larger than life so he can see it. The Fuzzy Wuzzy moniker stems both from having had his hair shorn in college and how he describes his eyesight.

"I got that nickname from a teacher. I had long hair and cut it short. That’s my nickname, but it’s a true nickname, because my eyesight is fuzzy," he said.

But he can see colors well.

"I have a good feeling of picking the colors," Markovic said. "With my vision, maybe it makes the colors more real. It’s hard to explain how it works."

"He has the most amazing sense of color, beyond any artist I’ve seen," said his friend, Melanie Drucker of South Orange. "That’s all he sees, is flashes of color."

Bald with brown eyes and a billy-goat’s-gruff goatee, Markovic has a broad smile.

Drucker met him five years ago at an American Sign Language conference in Garden City. She went to learn about sign language but never imagined that someone both deaf and blind would be there. Because his vision is impaired, Markovic cannot see people signing and instead communicates by feeling the hands of someone signing.

"He was the only deaf-blind person there, and I had never seen a deaf-blind person in action," Drucker recalled. "I saw him in a class, with an interpreter feeling his hands, and I was blown away. Instead of going to classes that I was signed up for, I was following him."

She learned they were kindred spirits; she was a painter, he had painted, sculpted and was running his own artwork business based on sign language,

His greeting cards, which can be found in The Health Shoppe, C’est Cheese and International Pottery, all in Morristown, retail for two packs of five cards for $14.80. He also sells his wares at craft shows and online and estimates that he has sold at least 20,000 cards over the years.

While sales are good, Markovic said that is besides the point.

"This was about doing something he owns, that belongs to him. It gives him a sense of self worth, that he’s got something other people want," Drucker said. "This was about a man who had so much, had all the knowledge and didn’t want to give it up. This is about surviving."

At times, Markovic does get frustrated with, and angry about, his disabilities, though he tries to never let it show, Drucker said.

His neurological disorder may be either a form of the rare Guillain-Barre Syndrome, in which the immune system attacks part of the nervous system, or Hereditary Motor and Sensory Neuropathy — but doctors aren’t sure, his father said. Either way, neither disorder is curable.

Markovic, who lives alone in an apartment, is independent. A home-health-aide visits twice a week to assist him.

"I just want to make sure people with disabilities can be independent," he said. "There’s nothing I can’t do. If you’re disabled, you have to live with it. You have to be happy with what you can do. I’m happy with myself. I have no problem with my disabilities because there’s nothing I can do about it."

Markovic’s next project is to author a book using animal artwork to teach sign-language.

"I hope to teach children, schools and hospitals to learn sign language," he said.

For more information, see

Virtually invisible device helps hearing impaired

Virtually invisible device helps hearing impaired

January 21, 2010 (LAKE FOREST, Ill.) (WLS) -- Since the 1940s, a hidden device called the Hearing Loop has been giving people who wear hearing aids direct access to sounds.

Because the hearing loop system is invisible, many people are not aware of them or understand how it works. A Lake County audiologist is not only trying to increase awareness about this system, she wants all houses of worship to install them.

The First Presbyterian Church in Lake Forest has signs posted to let members know they have a hearing loop system.

"You hit a button on your hearing aid, your hearing aid serves as an antenna and links right into the sound system. You hear better than normal hearing people," said Dr. Linda Remensnyder.

Remensnyder is an audiologist and advocate for the hearing loop system. She is also a person who has a hearing loss and is a member of the First Presbyterian Church.

"The loop is a figurative term because it loops around the room," said Remensnyder. "There's a copper wire that goes around the periphery of the place that will be looped and the copper wire is inexpensive. The driver is a box that goes behind the altar in this case and it just drives the electric-magnetic field to put out a signal. The actual box costs around $1,000 and the wire is nothing, but the installation can be expensive depending upon how large the area is and more importantly what the contraction of the area is."

Parish member Jim Kellock started wearing a hearing aid 10 years ago.

"I have tinnitus, ringing in the ears since the military when I was in my early 20s," said Kellock. "Very difficult to hear in a crowded restaurant, any public area, and you miss a lot of the conversation."

But with the Hearing Loop system...

"I can adjust the level of the sound, and I hear every word," Remensnyder said. "Previously, it was very difficult to hear who was speaking, and it depended on where you sat at church the row, the number of people in the church, and now it' s seemingly effortless."

Pastor Christine Chakoian also wears a hearing aid.

"If someone's speaking quickly or softly at the back podium, as long as they have a microphone I can put a little button on my ear and suddenly I can hear them perfectly," said Chakoian.

"They are much more popular in England and in Europe, and in America, just like it's behind on green products, it's very behind on the technology for the hearing impaired, but they have been around for a long time and they work, they do," said Remensnyder.

If you want to learn more about the hearing loop system, go to or

Hearing impaired fireman awarded $50,000 in settlement

Hearing impaired fireman awarded $50,000 in settlement

Ft Lauderdale city commissioners voted on Wednesday night to settle a lawsuit filed by a recently retired firefighter from Broward County, Florida, who claimed that years of work for the city damaged his hearing.

Bruce Wade, who spent 27 years as a Ft Lauderdale fireman, claims that almost three decades of exposure to loud sirens significantly impaired his ability to hear, the Associated Press reports.

The man first mentioned that his hearing was damaged shortly before he retired last spring. In a worker's compensation claim, which referenced the impairment and another undisclosed condition, Wade sought $136,500, according to city records.

Wednesday's vote approved a payment of $50,000 to the firefighter, though the city had previously paid $43,000 on the claims.

According to, about one fourth of Americans suffering from hearing impairments can attribute the condition to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).

NIHL can be caused by a single exposure to a loud sound or repeated exposure over a long period of time.

Sounds measuring 85 decibels or higher are considered dangerous. Fire truck sirens can measure up to 135 decibels.

Visual Sound Is A Phone Concept For The Deaf With Transparent Touchscreen

Visual Sound Is A Phone Concept For The Deaf With Transparent Touchscreen

We don't give much thought to deaf users of phones, but Pratt Institute student Suhyun Kim has worked hard on this stunning Visual Sound concept, which converts voice to text and vice versa.

The scroll-like device has a touchscreen for text to be typed in, which then gets converted to voice for the other person on the line, whose audio then turns into text for the deaf user of the phone to read. If the Visual Sound concept ever got put into production, I'll be one of the first to snag one—not only does it look great, but it might help when phoning from noisy locations, as I'm prone to do.

Sounds of change for deaf students

Sounds of change for deaf students

When Elle Hessey starts kindergarten this week, few of her classmates will realise that she is profoundly deaf.

Her mum Carly said Elle chats away happily and has no trouble communicating, thanks to her cochlear implants.

"She never stops talking," she said.

"Most people don't even notice because she doesn't think there's anything different about her, (so) nobody else notices it."

When Elle was a baby, Ms Hessey thought her daughter would not be able to go to the same mainstream public school her other children attended.

"(The Shepherd Centre) assured us she would go to a mainstream school, which was hard to believe at the time," she said.

But this week, five-year-old Elle will start school at Thirlmere Public School, after years of therapy at The Shepherd Centre at Wollongong.

New research released by the centre, which helps deaf and hearing impaired children, shows Elle's case is not unique.

According to the data, most hearing impaired children can expect to perform just as well at language development in a mainstream school as their non-hearing impaired peers.

"Her speech is really good," Ms Hessey said of her daughter.

"She's very excited to go to school, all she does is talk about her teacher."

Preliminary data from The Shepherd Centre showed that 80 per cent of hearing impaired children who graduated from the centre to a mainstream school would score in the normal range for vocabulary.

And 69 per cent would score in the normal range for language as they entered school.

About 84 per cent of the general population of children would be in the normal range for language and vocabulary skills.

The study came from a sample of 41 students from the centre who were diagnosed with a hearing impairment at birth and started kindy in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Acting director of the clinical program at The Shepherd Centre, Aleisha Davis, said the similarity between the scores for hearing impaired children and mainstream kids would have been unheard of 10 years ago.

Just integrating a hearing impaired child into a mainstream school was seen as a major achievement at that time.

In many cases, hearing impaired children over a decade ago would have had very poor communication skills, she said.

Deaf infants getting cochlear implants younger than ever

Deaf infants getting cochlear implants younger than ever

DALLAS - Surgically implanted electronic devices called cochlear implants help some 200,000 people hear every year.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the implants for children as young as 12 months old. However, some doctors are now going outside FDA recommendations, saying earlier can be even better. Doctors are also implanting cochlear implants in both ears at the same instead of doing them one at a time.

"Then the brain is better able to learn to use both ears together for added benefits such as sound localization, better hearing and background noise, things of that nature." said Dr. Bob Peters, an otolaryngologist at Forest Park Medical Center in Dallas.

While implanting a nine-month old with cochlear implants is still rare in the United States, in Europe infants as young as six months old have received the implants. That knowledge helped Kemper and Helen Johnson decide to get bilateral cochlear implants for their profoundly deaf son, who is just nine months old.

"I'm sure he could live a happy life as a deaf person," Mr. Johnson said. "But, any advantage we can give him to hear and to go to normal schools, we wanted to take that opportunity.

Kemper Johnson Jr. was the youngest child to be implanted with a cochlear implant at Forest Park Medical Center.

His parents hope their son will grow up never knowing anything except the gifts of sound.

Benefit To Help Deaf Girl Hear Again

Benefit To Help Deaf Girl Hear Again

A Des Moines woman is raising money for a deaf girl in hopes that she will one day hear music again.

Katanya Yingyoth had a cochlear implant to help her hear sounds. In August, she lost the small device that must be attached to the implant in order for it to work and now must use an older, barely functional one.

"She wants back the new one, the good one. She wants a new one," said Paeng Yingyoth. "But I don't have the money to buy it for her."

Katanya's first device was covered by Medicaid and insurance, but when Gov. Chet Culver cut the state's budget late last year, he cut her chance to buy a replacement.

"The state would possibly help a family like this, at least with a portion or maybe the whole thing, but there was a budget cut and they're left to pay for it themselves," said Trina Ives.

Ives has a son who is deaf and goes to Katanya's school. When she heard about the family's struggle to get a new device, she said she wanted to help.

"They're left to buy it themselves. It's $9,000 and they don't have it laying around. None of us do," Ives said. "With a brand new one, she would hear everything. She lives in complete silence right now."

Trina has enlisted help from businesses across to metro to help raise money for the Yingyoth family.

"What better way to help her than have a concert to raise the money so she can hear," Ives said. She said she hopes to raise $9,000 to cover the device and the warranty.

Four local bands will perform at the benefit on Sunday at Miss Kitty's in Clive. The doors open at 1 p.m. and the concert is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 and all the proceeds with go to the Katanya Yingyoth Fund.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Abuse alleged at schools for deaf

Abuse alleged at schools for deaf

A plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit against the Nova Scotia government claims he was beaten and sexually abused repeatedly by staff and students during the nine years he spent at schools for the deaf in Halifax and Amherst from the late 1950s to the mid-1960s.

Another former student, who lived at the Amherst school for four years in the early 1960s, claims he was psychologically and physically abused by staff and students, and once received a severe beating after he was caught using sign language to communicate with another student.

The lawsuit has been filed in Nova Scotia Supreme Court by Walter Wilfred Wile of Calgary, Alta., and Myles Murphy of St. John's, N.L., on behalf of all individuals who attended schools for the deaf in Halifax or Amherst.

So far, eight former students who attended the schools have joined the suit which is seeking general, specific, aggravated, and punitive damages from the government.

"They were perfect victims, isolated in schools, away from their families . . . and not allowed to communicate in the language with which they were comfortable," said Tony Merchant, of Merchant Law Group, a Saskatchewan law firm that is handling the case.

The lawsuit, launched Sept 21, is one of several class-action lawsuits filed against provincial governments across the country alleging rampant abuse of deaf students at residential schools. Class actions have been launched in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and Newfoundland.

The school for the deaf operated in Halifax from 1856 to 1961. It then moved to a larger building in Amherst in order to accommodate deaf children from the four Atlantic provinces, says the statement of claim. The Amherst school closed in 1995.

The school for the deaf in St. John's, N.L., opened in 1964. So far 14 claimants have joined a class-action lawsuit against that school.

The Nova Scotia case is particularly significant because many deaf children from the Atlantic region were shipped a long way from their home to the school in Nova Scotia, Mr. Merchant said in a recent interview.

"The employees and agents, and through them the government, acted in bad faith with careless disregard for the safety of the non-hearing and communication-restricted children in their care," the Nova Scotia statement of claim says.

"The failure to protect constituted an abuse of the power and authority which the circumstances required be exercised with special care."

None of the allegations have been proven.

The Nova Scotia government has not filed a defence in the case.

"(Our legal counsel) are not currently aware of any details (of the lawsuit) and have not been served," Megan Tonet, a Nova Scotia Department of Justice spokeswoman, said Thursday.

The plaintiffs have a year from the date of filing to serve the government with the claim, Mr. Merchant said. He plans on waiting to see if class actions launched in the three Prairie provinces are certified before serving the Nova Scotia government.

Class actions must be certified or approved by the courts in order to proceed.

Unlike many other provinces, Nova Scotia's class-action legislation allows the courts to award costs to defendants in cases where plaintiffs lose, Mr. Merchant said.

"We are for certain pursuing the case (in Nova Scotia) but we are gun-shy about the costs potential," he said.

His firm is about to apply to the courts in Alberta and Saskatchewan to have the class action certified in those provinces.

According to the statement of claim filed here, Mr. Wile, 61, attended the school in Halifax from 1957 to 1960 and the school in Amherst from 1961 to 1966.

Mr. Wile alleges that he was hit about 40 times during his time at both schools, and when he was 10 a staff member struck him repeatedly on both the hands and upper arms with a wooden stick. He alleges he was sexually abused numerous times by other students and claims that on one occasion he suffered extreme pain when attacked by six other students who pinned him down on the bed and roughly masturbated him for a long period.

He also alleges a male teacher would go into the dorm with a flashlight and take boys back into his room to sexually molest them. He claims it happened to him on one occasion. He also claims a female employee would take young boys back to her sleeping quarters.

"As a result of the ongoing physical, psychological and sexual abuse while attending (the Nova Scotia school for the deaf) Wile did not receive a proper education. He attained only a Grade 8 education," the statement of claim says.

"As a further result, Wile has been emotionally scarred and has been living with depression for years."

Myles Murphy, 59, was a student at the school for the deaf from 1961 to 1965.

In the statement of claim, he alleges he was beaten on numerous occasions by staff and other students, and was once severely beaten after a supervisor found him with comic books and two Jehovah's Witness booklets. He alleges he was prohibited from using sign language which was essential for him to communicate.

"The supervisors teased Murphy because he was overweight and because he was from Newfoundland. The students from Newfoundland were constantly told they were all dirty and stank," the statement of claim says.

Both claimants say they received an inadequate education at the school and were ill-prepared to function in the working world.

'The failure to protect constituted an abuse of the power and authority which the circumstances required be exercised with special care.'

Animals help doctors fix humans

Has the infamous "So our hope is that we can actually end deafness" statement thats causing an uproar in the deaf community.

Animals help doctors fix humans

BOSTON, MA -- One in 20 people will need some kind of tissue transplant in their lifetime, and increasingly surgeons are turning to animals for help.

The animals in Doctor Joseph Vacanti's lab are on the cutting edge of regenerative medicine. He says, "We actually used human cartilage cells in a human ear shape and then on the back of this mouse, the human cartilage cells grew into a human ear."

Within a year he plans to re-grow an ear on a human in a similar way. "We can give somebody back their own face, that's been either ravaged by cancer or destroyed by a terrible accident or injured by war."

Pigs are huge helpers when it comes to healing. Samer Mattar is a Bariatric Surgeon in Indianapolis. "Believe it or not, their genetic makeup is pretty close to humans."

Surgeons use material made from the pig's small intestines to repair torn muscles caused by hernias. Pig powder is re-growing severed fingers at the University of Pittsburgh.

Steve Badvlak is the Director of McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Pittsburgh. "The simplest applications involve just being able to spread a powder or a particular form of the powder on the wound site so it can affect the wound
healing process."

From land to the sea, fish are helping scientists fix hearing disorders. If zebra fish lose hearing, they naturally re-grow new auditory cells. Scientists are studying the genetic process to restore hearing in humans.

A. James Hudspeth is an Investigator for Howard Hughes Medical Institute
in Chevy Chase, Maryland. "So our hope is that we can actually end deafness."

According to research found in the journal Transplantation, transplants from pigs might actually be safer than transplants from humans in the long run.

For more information, please contact:
Valerie Wencis
Public affairs
Massachusetts General Hospital
[email protected]

Idaho governor plans to cut agencies that help disabled and deaf among others

Idaho governor plans to cut agencies that help disabled and deaf among others

Things are tough all over, but in Idaho, things seems to be a bit tougher ... at least if you work for one of five state funded agencies that are on a not-to-popular list.

Gov. Butch Otter is proposing cutting back funding to those groups help balance the Gem state's budget. The five are the Human Rights Commission, the Hispanic Commission, the Council on Developmental Disabilities, the Independent Living Council and the Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

The plan is obviously controversial. And it was especially frustrating to some who see those agencies as some of the most important in the state, as detailed in a story in the Idaho Statesman by Anna Webb and Cynthia Sewell:

"I can't decide whether I'm furious or heartbroken," Herzfeld (Amy Herzfeld, executive director of the Idaho Human Rights Education Center) said. "These agencies are our watchdogs."

Herzfeld, as well as lawmakers including Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, have said the savings from the governor's proposed cuts - which would eventually amount to $1 million a year, or about 0.04 percent of the state's annual budget - are not significant enough to justify the losses for vulnerable people.

The governor's proposals are ideological, they say, and a passive way to eliminate agencies.

Program to Teach Deaf Children to Speak New To Wichita

Program to Teach Deaf Children to Speak New To Wichita

For toddlers, new words are a milestone.

But to Annabelle Ivy's parents, they're more like a miracle.

"There's just work all the time. It's a daily 24/7 working with her," says Steve Ivy.

Born deaf, 19-month-old Annabelle learns to speak at weekly therapy sessions after receiving a cochlear implant last year.

But until a few months ago, this kind of therapy wasn't available in Wichita.

"We've talked about it and you might have to move to another city," says Steve Ivy.

Auditory-Verbal Therapy is new to Via Christi and the Ivy's.

It works with children hard of hearing or deaf who depend on hearing aids or cochlear implants.

"We just have to provide different therapy to these kids who are dependent on technology," says Molly Lyon.

The sessions teach Annabelle not only to speak but listen without depending on sign language.

Beginning with syllables then moving to words and sentences.

"Hopefully if we're successful, the kids are conversing over the telephone," says Lyon.

Parents are taught the skills and teach their own children.

"We do not want to work from a remedial point of view anymore, we don't want to play catch up. we're taking these babies and trying to maintain them at their skill level," says Lyon.

Annabelle is still ten months behind toddlers her age, but her parents already see changes.

"I feel like she's taken off by leaps and bounds," says Kristen Ivy.

"We're just hopeful that it will keep rolling and she'll exceed her age expectations," says Kristen Ivy.

Just as important, the Ivy's don't have to leave to get Annabelle help.

"Now we have a home for her," says Kristen Ivy.

A physicians order and insurance referral is required for third-party reimbursement.

Parents may call Via Christi One Call Center at 316-268-8100.

The program is located at Via Christi Hospital-St. Francis.

For additional information call Molly Lyon at 316-268-8243.

Friday, January 01, 2010

OCDAC's 2010 Resolutions

2010 will be a banner year for Orange County Deaf Advocacy Center as we have been expanding our services utilizing our collaborations with numerous disability related organizations to advance our zeal. We have 5 key goals to accomplish in 2010. Most of these goals are similar to our 2009 resolutions. The key goals all fit within our mission and vision statements.

1) Solidifying our leadership direction by adding "armor" to our ship.
a) Increasing the community evaluations of irresponsible deaf leadership ( exceeded in 2009 )
b) Promoting responsible deaf leadership ( achieved in 2009 )
c) Increasing funding and resources for the Deaf WAI (War Against Indiscipline) program ( exceeded in 2009 )
d) Expanding our resilience to casualty events such as loss of membership to popular deaf video blogging/vlogging websites.

2) Focus on deaf evolution
a) Resurrecting confrontational advocacy.
b) Application of "Purpose Driven Advocacy".
c) Increasing the use of technology-based social service concept ( exceeded in 2009 )
d) Expanding our fiscal independence concept ( exceeded in 2009 )

3) Office resources
a) Continue to reduce facilities costs by acquiring additional real estate for the use as office resources ( exceeded in 2009 )
b) Consolidating our expenses to avoid repetition of costs (exceeded in 2009)

4) Outreach
a) Participate in deaf events that promote responsible deaf leadership
b) Focus on events that need exposure to hearing loss outreach ( achieved in 2009 )
c) Develop outreach videos and use the video sharing websites ( exceeded in 2009 )
d) Simplify outreach materials for easier transporting, setup, takedown ( achieved in 2009 )
e) Provide leadership in non-deaf causes (AIDS, Paganism, Medical Innovations, Environmental, etc...) ( achieved in 2009 )

5) Social services
a) Development of web-based social service automation for global access
b) Development and proliferation of "Purpose Driven Advocacy" applications in deaf/hard of hearing social services.

In the past 11 years and continuing beyond 2010, the Orange County Deaf Advocacy Center will do what we do better than anything else in the world, PROTECT AND ENTERTAIN our stakeholders, with our special brand of deaf advocacy.

We will be using this video clip below throughout 2010 as our driving force to develop and proliferate purpose driven advocacy in deaf/hard of hearing social services.

We wish everyone a safe, healthy, and productive 2010!