Friday, February 26, 2010

The Orange County Deaf Advocacy Center Newsletter - February 27, 2010

THE TOP STORIES OF THE WEEK

See our entry to the $15,000 Green Heroes Grant competition. Facebook membership is required to vote for us.

http://apps.facebook.com/greenheroes/heroes/204

Through our TOP-RATE program we accomplish a few things. First, we get a lot of re-useable electronics away from the landfills. Secondly, we make access equipment much more accessible to those who are otherwise reluctant to use to make their businesses accessible to the deaf. Thirdly, we make the equipment accessible to those who need to use them to participate in all aspects of our society. Finally we teach people to reduce waste to landfills and re-use access equipment.

Our program is very worthy of your vote and the vote could help us win from $5,000 to $15,000 for our program.

Right now, our entry is being judged to see if we are worthy to be one of the finalists you'll be voting on. And we will learn of the results soon from the judging phase.

The voting begins on March 18 and you'll vote on the program every day until April 17.

Please join us at facebook and sign onto our cause http://apps.facebook.com/causes/11660?m=fe434a8d

Please see our video of the TOP-RATE program http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8sDFF-bOZw

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National Federation of the Blind
Braille Reading Pals Club

Registration is now open for the New Year beginning April 1, 2010.

The Braille Reading Pals Club is an early literacy program that encourages parents to read daily with their blind or low-vision child (ages infant to seven).
Participating club members will receive:
* A print-Braille book and a plush reading pal
* Monthly parent e-newsletter promoting tips for early Braille literacy
* Quarterly Braille activity sheets for young children
* Braille birthday cards for child participants
* Access to a network of resources devoted to serving parents of blind children
Mission of the Program
* Introduce young children and their families to Braille
* Provide parents literacy strategies to use with their children
* Direct parents to essential resources for promoting success for their young blind children
* Help parents promote early literacy skills, a love of reading, and a positive attitude about Braille through daily reading with their blind children

To learn more about this exciting program, or to register, please visit www.nfb.org/readingpals, or call (410) 659-9314, ext. 2295.

Cosponsored by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC)

Brought to you by the Orange County Deaf Advocacy Center Http://www.deafadvocacy.org

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DO YOUR SHOPPING AT OUR WEBSTORE.

We have lots of new items and our webstore count stands at over 680 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 http://stores.ebay.com/OCDAC-Adaptive-Equipment-and-More today to start your shopping.

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THE GRAPEVINES

Ah, the hopes raised by a new HUD administration. Early last year, Congress provided funds for 4,000 Mainstream Vouchers for Non-Elderly People with Disabilities. New Secretary of HUD, Shaun. L. Donovan, met with ADAPT and agreed with ADAPT that 1,000 of these vouchers should be used to help disabled people move out of nursing homes.

On June 22, 2009, HUD issued a "Proposed Notice" in the Federal Register. Comments were due by July 14, 2009. A number of you responded with comments.

Before any of these 4,000 vouchers can be used, HUD must publish in the Federal Register a Notice of Financial Availability (NOFA) so that Public Housing Authorities and others can submit competitive bids for these vouchers. Yes, another Federal Register publication. After that occurs, HUD must review the bids and then allocate the vouchers.

How many people will die before one voucher is used? How many people with disabilities will develop bed sores in nursing facilities? Urinary tract and other infections in these institutions? How many people in what President Obama called "the year of community living" exist in nursing homes waiting for these vouchers?

Hmm. Why has it taken more than SEVEN months and still NO NOFA? Doesn't HUD understand that there are people unnecessarily institutionalized solely because they cannot afford to rent an apartment without the rental assistance of a voucher? Doesn't HUD and the White House realize there are actual cost savings from using the vouchers and having people live in the community? Doesn't anyone in the White House or HUD have a relative in a nursing facility who wants to get out? Don't they understand how dangerous nursing facilities are?

Here is one excuse we've heard - approval of the NOFA is "in process at OMB." Well, tell Secretary Donovan to at least pretend that these vouchers and ending discrimination against people with disabilities is a HUD priority. Tell him to get his butt down to OMB and tell them he's not leaving until these vouchers get out of OMB! If he needs company at OMB, let us know!

Send HUD an email - Shaun.L.Donovan@hud.gov to "Free Our People."

Steve Gold, The Disability Odyssey continues

Brought to you by The Orange Deafie Blog Http://www.deafadvocacy.org/blog/blog.html

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FACE TO FACE TIMES

Positive Behavior Support Training Curriculum (Second edition)

Dennis H. Reid and Marsha B. Parsons

The PBSTC is the only competency-based training Curriculum that teaches supervisors and direct support staff how to implement the progressive principles of positive behavior support while providing services and care to people with developmental disabilities in agencies. Written in simple, plain language by award-winning authors, PBSTC requires trainees to demonstrate mastery of skills taught at the end of the training program.

"The PBSTC and the Positive Behavior Support philosophy help our staff to use a common language and it is another tool for improving the quality of care within our programs. Staff members have found the on-the-job training checks as part of the PBSTC training to be most helpful." Christie Ducklow, Training Director, Oconomowoc Developmental Training Center, Wisconsin

What PBSTC delivers:

* A tested, stable, and successful source of positive behavior support strategies to reduce challenging behavior

* Knowledge and skills to foster a culture of respect within disability service settings

* Performance and competency-based Curriculum requiring in-class activities, role plays, and on-the-job demonstration of skills

* Training for supervisors on managerial duties, including staff observations, performance analysis, and evaluating PBS plans

* "Right out of the box" trainer curriculum with activity sheets, skills checks, and PowerPoint slides on CD-ROM

* Ample opportunities for student and teacher interaction with enjoyable team activities

The PBSTC contains 25 training modules total, 9 of which are designed for supervisors only. Each module addresses a key set of skills in positive behavior support, and the supervisors' modules train professionals to be effective managers.

The second edition of PBSTC is simpler and shorter, with a wider selection of activities to make learning easier. It also includes a completely redesigned and ready-to-use PowerPoint slides on CD-ROM. One efficient Curriculum trains both supervisors and direct support professionals.

Now available! AAIDD Training Program on PBSTC
AAIDD has worked with authors Dennis Reid and Marsha Parsons to conduct several successful training programs on PBSTC in North America. For more information on scheduling a PBSTC training workshop, please send an email to books@aaidd.org.

Who can buy PBSTC
Past buyers of PBSTC include ARC offices; community colleges; state departments of aging and disability services; developmental centers; family support services; libraries; private clinics; public schools; rehabilitation centers; residential services; respite care services; service providers; consulting practices; and universities.

"The PBSTC Curriculum provides a wonderful base of understanding for staff with no previous training or experience and enhances the skills of well-seasoned staff. The Curriculum is very well designed and is both teacher and student friendly. It is a succinct program that allows ample student interaction and participation." Donna Boyd, Tri-Developmental Center of Aiken County, South Carolina

Read more reviews and view a Table of Contents and a chapter excerpt.

Questions on PBSTC or how you can benefit from PBSTC training? Email books@aaidd.org.

2007 | Price: $395 | Curriculum (420 pages) | Guide (156 pages) | Item 380

Each order consists of a 3-ring binder, shrink-wrapped Curriculum, 8.5X11 Resource Guide, and Trainer PowerPoint on CD-ROM. Additional Trainee Resource Guides can be purchased for $10.95.
Founded in 1876, AAIDD promotes progressive policies, sound research, effective practices and universal human rights for people with intellectual disabilities. Learn more at www.aaidd.org.

Brought to you by Modern Deaf Communication http://www.moderndeafcommunication.org

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MAXED OUT ON YOUR CREDIT CARDS?

Get yourself an OCDAC credit card through a special program at http://www.cardpartner.com/enduser.aspx?AEID=D0974

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

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THE FINGER BOWS

Don't Miss Your Opportunity to Hear Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Tom Perez, Former Congressman Tony Coelho, and Other Leading Disabilities Rights Advocates

at the

2010 Jacobus tenBroek Disability Law Symposium

Equality, Difference, and the Right to Live in the World

April 15-16, 2010

at the

National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute

Baltimore, Maryland

Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Tom Perez and former
Congressman Tony Coelho head the list of distinguished law professors,
practitioners, and advocates who will discuss the concepts of equality
and difference as they relate to the disabled in employment, education,
medical treatment, and access to technology. With an expanded format to
incorporate workshops, the 2010 symposium will provide more time for
discussion, collaboration, and networking.

2010 plenary session presenters:

* Adrienne Asch, Director, Center for Ethics, Yeshiva University
* Dan Brock, Director, Division of Medical Ethics, Harvard Medical
School
* Richard Brown, Chief Judge, Wisconsin Court of Appeals
* David Ferleger, Esquire, Law Office of David Ferleger
* Dan Goldstein, Partner, Brown, Goldstein & Levy, LLP
* Andrew Imparato, President and CEO, American Association of
People with Disabilities
* Leslie Seid Margolis, Managing Attorney, Education Unit,
Maryland Disability Law Center
* Mark Weber, Vincent dePaul Professor of Law, DePaul University
College of Law

2010 workshop facilitators:

* Charles Brown, Director, Volunteer Lawyers for the Blind,
American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults
* Ira Burnim, Legal Director, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
* Claudia Center, Senior Staff Attorney, The Legal Aid Society
Employment Law Center
* Marc Charmatz, Senior Attorney, National Association of the Deaf
* Robert Dinerstein, Professor of Law and Director of Clinical
Programs, American University Washington College of Law
* Eve Hill, Senior Vice President, Burton Blatt Institute
* Sharon Krevor-Weisbaum, Partner, Brown, Goldstein & Levy, LLP
* Christopher Kuczynski, Esquire, Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission
* Jennifer Mathis, Deputy Legal Director, Bazelon Center for
Mental Health Law
* Ruby Moore, Executive Director, Georgia Advocacy Office, Inc.
* Ari Ne'eman, President, Autistic Self-Advocacy Network
* Steven Schwartz, Executive Director, Center for Public
Representation

Documentation for CLE credits will be provided.

Registration fee: $175

Student registration fee: $25

A limited number of scholarships to cover the registration fee will be
available to individuals with demonstrated financial need.

To learn more about the symposium and symposium sponsorship
opportunities, view the agenda, and register online, please visit
http://www.nfb.org/nfb/Law_Symposium.asp
. You may also download from
this Web site a registration form to mail or fax. Hotel information is
also available on the symposium Web site.

For additional information, contact:

Lou Ann Blake, JD

Law Symposium Coordinator

Jacobus tenBroek Library

Jernigan Institute

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND

200 East Wells Street

at Jernigan Place

Baltimore, Maryland 21230

Telephone: 410-659-9314, ext. 2221

E-mail: lblake@nfb.org

Brought to you by ASL News http://www.aslnews.com

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

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THE SOUR ORCHIDS

Hearing CEO of NAD - Acceptable?
from About Deafness/Hard of Hearing

Would you accept a hearing person as the Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of the Deaf IF that person had all the qualifications except for a hearing loss?

What if someone applied for the job who had a strong culturally deaf background, was an adult child of deaf parents (a CODA), and who had a strong work history of working in the deaf and hard of hearing community? Someone who had the financial and management skills and social networking skills to guide the NAD through challenging times?

Should that person be hired if the other candidates are deaf, but less qualified than the hearing, culturally deaf person? The job description (deadline March 1) does not state that the candidate has to be deaf. We got our deaf presidents of Gallaudet University, and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. Are we ready for the opposite - a hearing CEO of the National Association of the Deaf?

http://deafness.about.com/b/2010/02/20/hearing-ceo-of-nad-acceptable.htm

Brought to you by the other Orange Deafie Blog at http://ocdac.wordpress.com/

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COME TO OUR MEETUPS!

The Orange County American Sign Language Meetup Group - http://asl.meetup.com/37/ - and the Orange County Deaf & Hearing
Impaired Meetup Group http://deaf.meetup.com/38/ 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.

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FROM THE BLOGSPHERE

Disability Blog Carnival #63 is up NOW!
[Visual description: Carnival logo featuring a black-and-white photograph of an old hospital, turrets and such, with the words "Disability Blog Carnival" and "Can't shut us up now" in yellow scrawly print across it.]

And it's a WOW of a carnival, at the disability community on dreamwidth.org, on the theme "relationships." There are lots of links, lots of different blogs, and even if you only read the choice quotes avendya selected to represent each submission, you'll leave the table with plenty to think on. But don't do that, go read the full posts too, and comment to thank the submitters for their strong work.

According to my schedule, the next carnival should be hosted by Athena, Ivan, and the Integral at their blog. The stated theme I was given is "If you had a chance to strike down a single stereotype, which one would it be and why?" Stay tuned at their blog for more on this. Meanwhile you can send submissions to me or put them in comments here, I'll be sure they get to the hosts for consideration before the March carnival posts.
Posted by Penny L. Richards at 1:05 PM
Labels: disability blog carnival

http://disstud.blogspot.com/2010/02/disability-blog-carnival-63-is-up-now.html

Brought to you by the Hearing For Life Foundation Http://www.hear-for-life.org


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DO YOU HAVE TINNITUS? ARE YOUR EARS RINGING ALOUD BY ITSELF? DO YOU WANT THAT TO STOP?

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! https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=8502596

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.

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FROM THE VLOGSPHERE (VIDEO BLOGGING)

Google Earth for Android

Explore the world from the palm of your hand with Google Earth for Android. Fly around the planet with the swipe of a finger, as you view the same 3D imagery available in the desktop version. Search by voice for cities, places, and businesses. Browse layers of geographic information including roads, borders, places, photos and more. Visit Android Market and search for Google Earth to download it for free.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyeJyctGhSc

Brought to you by the Eye Fire Vlogs Http://eyefirevlogs.com

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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 : http://partners.guidestar.org/controller/searchResults.gs?action_donateReport=1&partner=networkforgood&ein=33-0806007

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

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FROM THE NEWSLETTER READERS

Hi Richard

They are complaint that James Saracay talked to be stab back against Marc on FaceBook. He said,"Marc is bad and other interpreters on phones for arresting by the agents." James sent to many deaf people's Facebook against Marc. He wrote www.justice.gov. Someone informed me.

Sincerly Yours,
Dixie

Editors Note: It's good to see people using Facebook. Just remember Facebook has heavier moderation rules than www.eyefirevlogs.com 's no slander policy.

Brought to you by Deaf Paradise Http://deafparadise.ning.com/

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**** DISCLAIMER ****
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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 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ocdacnewsletter/ or send a blank email to ocdacnewsletter-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

OCDAC Green Heroes Grant Competition Entry - We Are A Green Non-Profit!

See our entry to the $15,000 Green Heroes Grant competition. Facebook membership is required to vote for us.

http://apps.facebook.com/greenheroes/heroes/204

Through our TOP-RATE program we accomplish a few things. First, we get a lot of re-useable electronics away from the landfills. Secondly, we make access equipment much more accessible to those who are otherwise reluctant to use to make their busiensses accessible to the deaf. Thirdly, we make the equipment accessible to those who need to use them to participate in all aspects of our society. Finally we teach people to reduce waste to landfills and re-use access equipment.

Our program is very worthy of your vote and the vote could help us win from $5,000 to $15,000 for our program.

Right now, our entry is being judged to see if we are worthy to be one of the finalists you'll be voting on. And we will learn of the results soon from the judging phase.

The voting begins on March 18 and you'll vote on the program every day until April 17.

Please join us at facebook and sign onto our cause http://apps.facebook.com/causes/11660?m=fe434a8d

Please see our video of the TOP-RATE program http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8sDFF-bOZw

Mother Battling for Deaf Daughter's Safety

Mother Battling for Deaf Daughter's Safety

One look at Maggie Wittland and her little girl Hannah show the two play and laugh together like a lot of moms and daughters.

But mom says it hasn't always been easy. When she and her husband found out Hannah was partially deaf and suffering from significant hearing loss, Maggie says it came as a shock.

"I have to admit that when we found out, it was probably our darkest day," she says.

But since the realization, the couple says they've grown even closer to their youngest daughter. They say they've tried to make her life as normal as possible, while also realizing Hannah's limited hearing means they have to be extra cautious. It's one reason Maggie wants to see a Deaf Child sign placed on her Council Bluffs street.

"All I'm asking for is a sign to have drivers be aware that there is a child with limited hearing," she says.

But Council Bluffs hasn't traditionally allowed such signs.

"Historically, we have not done those," says Greg Reeder, the city's director of public works.

Reeder says the city usually follows the State of Iowa's Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Device guidelines. The manual does caution against overusing warning signs, saying they can do more harm than good as drivers become immune.

"We have sign overload. Folks tune then out over time," says Reeder.

He also says such signs can provide families with deaf children a false sense of security.

But Maggie says she realizes Hannah's safety is her responsibility. She claims to have gotten the run around from city officials when she recently approached them about putting up a sign, which says she'll pay for out of pocket.

"The thing that is so frustrating is I'm getting all of these reasons why. No one can say it's because of this," says Maggie.

She says some Iowa towns and certainly plenty in Nebraska do allow such signs.

"Des Moines does. Omaha does. All of the surrounding communities," says Maggie.

The MUTCD guidelines Council Bluffs follows does have a section outlining how some local governments have developed guidelines for erecting Deaf Children signs.

Maggie says she'll keep fighting.

"I can fight this fight all day long. I will fight this until I've exhausted every resource."

It looks like Maggie's plea for her daughter hasn't entirely fallen on deaf ears. Council Bluffs Public Works tells FOX 42 they've started discussions on how to best set up firm, city guidelines when it comes to such requests.

It could mean a sign for little Hannah isn't far away, which is just the sort of news her caring mother wants to hear.

"I wouldn't change her for the world," she says.

Deaf Services Commission of Iowa Celebrates 35 Years with New Web site and Videophone

Deaf Services Commission of Iowa Celebrates 35 Years with New Web site and Videophone

Deaf Services Commission of Iowa (DSCI) of the Iowa Department of Human Rights is proud to announce an enhanced, newly designed Web site featuring information in American Sign Language (ASL) and access to Commission services through new videophone technology.

Access to language is a basic human right, and providing critical information to deaf persons in their native language greatly enhances understanding. Tax law changes, timely information about medical issues like H1N1, becoming familiar with the U.S. Census and what it means are all examples of information that most citizens take for granted. DSCI is committed to providing information in ASL, allowing Deaf citizens to access news that most people learn about incidentally. Our newly designed Web site features embedded videos which are closed captioned and/or signed in ASL Deaf Services Commission of Iowa.

Deaf Services Commission of Iowa is also pleased to announce new videophone technology in our offices. Videophones produce a video image on screen that allows people to make "phone" calls by signing to each other. This technology allows Deaf and hard of hearing people to communicate more efficiently and more naturally. Citizens have commented that videophone access is extremely helpful, less stressful to use, and provides equal access to services and information. Staff videophone numbers are listed on the agency's Web site Deaf Services Commission of Iowa.

About 10% of Iowa's population experiences some range of hearing loss. Deaf Services Commission of Iowa strives for more effective ways to serve Iowa's citizens. Providing services and information in someone's native language is a giant step forward. Videophones and informational videos in ASL support equal access for Deaf and hard of hearing citizens with diverse perspectives, experiences, and abilities.

About the Deaf Services Commission of Iowa (DSCI) Deaf Services Commission of Iowa was established in 1975 under the Department of Public Health to plan, coordinate, and establish service projects to meet the needs of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Iowans. In 1986 it was reorganized to become a Commission in the Iowa Department of Human Rights. The Commission is proud to be celebrating 35 years of serving the citizens in the state of Iowa. The new site was designed and built in partnership with Iowa Interactive, LLC, under contract with the State of Iowa.

Joke bomb leaves British toddler deaf

Joke bomb leaves British toddler deaf

A TWO-year-old girl was left deaf in one ear after a toy bomb pushed through her mailbox exploded in her face.

Mother Louise Fleetham said "all hell broke loose" when her daughter Keira picked up the Bomb Bag, a small silver sachet sold as a toy in Britain.

"It was just expanding and then it went off and exploded straight in her face," Fleetham told local newspaper the Sunderland Echo.

"My ears are still ringing. I had no idea what it was. The thing which makes me sick is it's something that is being advertised as a children's joke toy.

"The fact is, somebody is buying these for a few pence and they can put this through a letterbox and cause a whole world of chaos."

Police evacuated Fleetham's home in Seaham, northern England, and sealed off the street following the explosion Tuesday.

"We don't exactly know what substance was inside," said police officer Gemma Royal, who was investigating reports that three boys were responsible for mailing the bag.

"We've not had it tested, but it's some sort of reactant which caused it to explode."

Keira was treated at a local hospital after the incident.

Her mother called for the toy to be banned.

140 Years: Landmark Anniversary For Deaf, Blind School

140 Years: Landmark Anniversary For Deaf, Blind School

With the 140th anniversary of the creation of the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind just a week away, one instructor says it's mind-boggling to think about the changes she's seen on campus just in her lifetime.
Mary Ennis Kesler, 30, said she sometimes tries to explain to her students just how much cell phone text-messaging, the Internet and other technology have changed life for people with hearing impairments.

"We have access to the whole world now," said Kesler, a Lewis County native who enrolled at the Romney school in 1984 when she was 4. "Technology has made it so that not being able to hear doesn't keep a person from doing anything they want to do. There are all these ways to communicate, all these ways to learn. We're not isolated like before."

Situated on the same campus, the state's School for the Blind also is experiencing a revolution in technology with a plethora of devices such as Braille PDAs and laptops equipped with the latest in voice-recognition software.

Despite the tech revolution, the Romney school in many ways approaches its mission in the same way it did in its earliest days, said Patsy Shank, the school's superintendent.

"It's about our students and what they need as individuals," said Shank, a Keyser native who began teaching here in 1981 and became superintendent in mid-2007.

"Technology allows our teachers to teach more effectively and more creatively, there's no doubt. But what we're doing now is what we've always done -- put to use the most cutting-edge tools we have available so that our students can access information and achieve their highest potentials."

Priscilla Bohrer, the school's technology coordinator, said she tries diligently to stretch the technology budget by securing grants wherever possible and also by making careful buying decisions -- typically taking new products on loan and asking students to test them before the school makes a purchase.

"We like the students to give something a try for 30 days and see if it really fits their needs," she said. "They're very honest. If something works, they tell me so. If something doesn't work, typically you'll see them just not using it."

Some students ride a bus to school from within Hampshire County or neighboring communities, but most of the school's 161 students live on campus, so the recent installation of wireless Internet access throughout the dorms was widely cheered, Bohrer said.

The school also purchased 30 mini laptops for juniors and seniors. They come with software that blocks all shopping sites, social networking outlets such as Facebook and other destinations deemed inappropriate.

Classroom Changes

Kesler, who studied anthropology and sociology at West Virginia University and earned her master's degree at Fairmont State University, remembers her parents, both hearing-impaired, embracing new technology as it became available, notably the Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD), an electronic apparatus that beginning in the 1960s allowed for text conversations via a telephone line.

"That was a big deal because it allowed them to function so much better," she said.

But to her students, the TDD -- a much smaller machine these days with a computer screen to display text rather than the words printing out on paper -- hardly qualifies as technology, Kesler continued. "Now our students stay in touch with their parents back home by using video phones."

The technology allows deaf students to hold phone conversations not only with others with hearing impairments but also allows for conversations between the deaf and the hearing. After picking up the videophone connected to a TV, a deaf student sees a trained sign language interpreter appear on screen. The student signs to the interpreter, who then talks to the hearing user via a regular phone line.

There are three such units on campus, Bohrer said, and parents with hearing impairments are provided equipment for their homes.

"We know it's very important for our students to be able to stay in touch with the people they love back home," she said.

Kesler remembers in the years before TDDs were widely used when face-to-face offered the sole means for communication to most deaf people.

"You'd have to drive to someone's house, see if they were even home, just to ask a simple question," she said.

By allowing people with hearing impairments greater access to every aspect of modern life, technology has opened doors to a range of occupations and aspirations, Kesler said.

"Before, if you were deaf, you went into a vocation such as printing or clerical work," she said. "Now with so much work being done on computers, there are so many different businesses you can choose from. You can work from home or invent your own business. Before, the number of options was limited, like a pinpoint. Now it's wide, wide open."

In the classroom, technology gets students excited about what they're studying in class, boosts their understanding and allows more give and take as opposed to her giving a lecture and the students sitting and listening, Kesler said.

Kesler, who teaches at the elementary level, is devoted to her "smart board," which allows her to use her laptop to quickly project photos, drawings and text onto a display board and then manipulate the images with a pen, finger or other device.

Because students with hearing impairments depend more on their sense of vision, it's a huge learning boost to be able to quickly offer an image to help a student understand a new concept, Kesler said.

Mike Coleman, principal for the elementary School for the Deaf, said Kesler and other teachers make the latest technology an everyday part of the classroom.

"Years ago, if you were reading about Texas and the text mentioned an armadillo, a student would naturally want to know what an armadillo looks like," he said. "So the teacher would have to go to an encyclopedia, flip through to find the entry and maybe there'd be one small, black and white illustration. Now you can find photos, multiple photos of armadillos. You can video showing armadillos actually digging. You have that instant visual and all the other information you could possibly want, literally right there at the teacher's fingertips."

A Crisis in Braille?

For Braille users, the technology tsunami of recent years has spawned unease that old-school Braille will become a forgotten way for the blind to read and create written communication.

"It's a huge concern," said Romney teacher Donna Brown, who learned to read Braille from kindergarten as a student at Overbrook School for the Blind in Philadelphia.

"Like so many things, there's a good side to what technology can do, and there are aspects that can be a bit troubling," said Brown, who is 50 and joined the faculty at the School for the Blind 27 years ago.

As voice recognition software has become more sophisticated and less expensive, many people with visual impairments rely on such programs to read e-mail, complete paperwork and handle other day-to-day tasks that require reading and writing.

"When I talk with someone who says he or she doesn't see the need to learn Braille, I ask what they'd do if their technology breaks down," Brown explained. "How would you even write a note? You've got to be able to use the low-tech method, too."

Learning Braille also requires mastery of spelling, grammar and punctuation rules, Brown said.

"If you've written something on your computer through voice, you may not catch an extra space between a period or realize how you should organize sentences into a paragraph," she said.

A recent report from the National Federation of the Blind called the decline in Braille use a crisis, saying just 10 percent of blind school-age children use it as their primary means of reading and writing.

It's been nearly two centuries since Louis Braille, a blind Frenchman, created the method of communication that organizes raised dots into distinct characters.

But in recent decades, Braille instruction has faltered, according to officials with the National Federation of the Blind, because of a shortage of Braille instructors and a belief by some that Braille instruction is no longer a must.

Brown said Braille instruction remains a strict requirement at her school. It can take a couple of years for students to become fluent. Patience and practice are essential, she said.

"You have to develop that sensitivity in your fingertips," Brown said. "Motivation is another big part of the equation. Sometimes students who still have some vision feel like they don't need to learn Braille. Or sometimes a person with deteriorating vision is just beginning to learn Braille when they're older, and that can be more difficult."

Brown herself uses both Braille and the voice-to-text readers.

"When the first programs came out, I'll admit I wasn't used to listening and felt pretty reluctant to use them," Brown said.

But following staff development classes in technology, Brown said she began to recognize the new methods' value.

"When I could create my own IEPs (Individualized Education Programs) and didn't have to dictate them to anyone, that's when I knew. I love being able to handle my own paperwork."

Brown still uses Braille for all kinds of undertakings, including exploring Web sites. Her go-to device is a refreshable Braille display machine with wireless Internet access.

"It's kind of like a laptop," she said. "The Braille translation of what's on the Web site pops up on my display, I read over it and it refreshes to the next line. The only downside is that it's expensive."

The reader that Brown uses cost $6,000, she said, and a refreshable Braille display stand-alone unit that can be used with any computer runs about $2,000, she said.

The cost of Braille devices and books is often cited as one of the reasons its use has declined. Braille translations also can be cumbersome. When the final edition of J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series was published in 2007, the Braille edition of the 1,100-page "Deathly Hallows" took up 10 volumes and weighed 12 pounds.

Whatever its drawbacks, Brown said she believes Braille must not be shoved to the side in favor of just listening to text and delivering dictation.

"This is a topic that's very near and dear to me, and I try to have conversations anytime I can about how important Braille is," she said. "Being able to read and write is as essential to the visually impaired as it is to anyone else."

Serving Smaller Numbers

When J.D. Corbin began his career teaching high school at the School for the Deaf in 1979, enrollment still was large enough to allow the school to field a football team.

"I have the distinction of serving as coach of the school's last football team," said Corbin, who has been the school's principal for 12 years. "That was in 1983. We just didn't have enough kids."

In the past five years, the school's enrollment has ranged from a low of 150 to a high of 175, while in the 1960s and early 1970s, the school typically had between 350 and 400 students, Shank said.

The school's enrollment has been in decline since the mid-1970s following federal legislation that called for students with visual, auditory or other disabilities to be taught in their neighborhood schools if they so chose.

Another part of the decline in the school's student numbers: Advances in technology -- cochlear implants, for example, and realizing the detrimental effects of supplemental oxygen on premature infants -- mean fewer children are dealing with vision and hearing losses, Shank pointed out.

Medical breakthroughs coupled with more children with vision and hearing disabilities being mainstreamed in their home school districts likely means the school's numbers will continue to decline, Corbin said.

He said everyone at the school works hard to ensure students are nurtured and challenged.

"One thing that sets our school apart, that I think is a real advantage to our students, would be all the opportunities for involvement -- and to not only be involved but to be the leaders running the show," he said.

The school maintains wrestling and basketball teams, a cheerleading squad, clubs such as Future Farmers of America, newsletter and yearbook staffs and many other extracurricular offerings, he said.

"We have a lot of very devoted alumni, too," Corbin said. "They sponsor students in various activities and just find ways to stay close to the school. When we have homecoming events or induct athletes in our hall of fame, we always have a lot of our former students come back."

Doug Godfrey, chairman of the West Virginia Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and a 1986 graduate of the School for the Deaf, continues to be involved at the school.

Godfrey, who was appointed to the commission by Gov. Bob Wise in 2002, said he looks forward to his weekly visits to Romney, where he has volunteered for a decade in the elementary school's Shared Reading program.

"I love reading with these kids," said Godfrey, who works with Unisys computer systems for the IRS. "These children need to develop strong reading and literacy skills because most of them are likely to miss out on language development that come primarily through listening."

Godfrey, whose roots are in Northfork in McDowell County, attended the school in Romney from age 6. He said he inevitably forms connections with students as he spends time with them.

"Since I am a graduate of the school, young students often asked me what it was like when I was in their situation -- living in the dorm instead of with families, eating cafeteria food, etc.," Godfrey explained in an e-mail exchange.

He pointed out that nationally, more than 90 percent of deaf children come from hearing families.

"When I get to know students at the school, there is a sense of bond between us that not many of them have with other adults," he said.

Godfrey said he's excited to his see the school reaching this landmark anniversary.

"I think it is a big deal to celebrate 140 years," he said. "Deaf and blind schools in other states have either closed or threatened to close or trim services due to budgetary cuts. I think this is one of the reasons the existence of the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind should be celebrated.

"It's the only school specifically geared toward the education of deaf, hard hearing and visually impaired youth in West Virginia."

The fact that West Virginia has such a school and that it continues to be supported by elected leaders of both political parties, Godfrey said, is something to be "deeply appreciated."

Scouting reborn at Kansas School for the Deaf

Scouting reborn at Kansas School for the Deaf

KSD’s Boy Scout Troop 87 produced hundreds of scouts and more than a dozen Eagle Scouts from when it formed in 1911.

But as America’s culture changed in the 1970s, so did boys’ interests. By the mid-1980s, the KSD troop had disbanded. Yet, it was not forgotten.

“We’re hoping that we can reform the troop,” said Kester Horn-Marsh, who leads Cub Scout Pack 3487 at KSD.

Kester and others in the deaf community got their first glimmer of hope Monday as four Webelos walked over a ceremonial bridge on their way to becoming Boy Scouts.

Noah Fahncke, Cameron Synansky, Aryzona Horn-Marsh and Trevor Johnson will join Travis Waddell and move up into Boy Scouts. They won’t join Troop 87 – there’s not enough boys yet – but they will participate with Troop 86, another Olathe troop with a rich history.

Kester Horn-Marsh hopes these boys will encourage others at KSD to continue from Cub Scouts into Boys Scouts, and one day, they’ll have enough boys to reform Troop 87, he said.

“If not, if we don’t get the numbers, we’ll remain with 86,” Horn-Marsh said. “Either way, it’s a winning situation for the boys.”

The KSD ceremony seemed fitting given that Boy Scouts of America is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Dozens of KSD boys have done their part to perpetuate the organization.

An old photo in the Deaf Cultural Center and William J. Marra Museum in Olathe shows scouts meeting in a “Boy Scout Clubhouse” in 1911. Sometime during the early years, the Sertoma Club—a civic volunteer organization in Olathe—built the Scout Cabin in the middle of the KSD campus.

Mementos from years past hang on the cabin’s walls and its basement contains artifacts and old camping gear. One such item is a photo of Uel Hurd, who was the most influential scout master in Troop 87’s history.

“He taught woodshop at the school for years and was a very well-liked and respected person,” said Sandra Kelly, executive director of the Deaf Cultural Center and William J. Marra Museum.

Hurd came to the school after he participated in Scouts in Kansas City, Kan. The Cultural Center has a 1937 leather “ditty-bag” filled with items Hurd and other scouts used and made.

Hurd took every aspect of scouting to heart, even when it came to the troop’s annual trip to Camp Naish in Bonner Springs.

“They would hike the entire way, pushing these carts filled with camping equipment,” Horn-Marsh said.

Hurd retired from KSD in 1985, about the time the troop disbanded. But the school and community never forgot its scouting history.

The Deaf Cultural Center has incorporated a workshop for Girl and Boy Scout troops that teach scouts about deaf culture and the participation in scouting of deaf and hard of hearing youth. The hour-long workshop includes segments on American Sign Language, deaf story telling, art and history.

A short video teaches scouts how to sign the Pledge of Allegiance and the Girl Scout and Boy Scout mottos. Each segment is done by KSD students.

Scouts can earn a patch for the workshop that also specializes in teaching Native American sign language, which was a universal language Native Americans used to communicate among different tribes.

And an actor dressed in a period Major League Baseball uniform teaches scouts about Luther “Dummy” Taylor, a deaf player who pitched for the New York Giants from 1901-1908 and helped develop the signs that coaches still use in games.

“We have had 500 to 600 hundred Girl Scouts go through the workshop and we’re now getting more Boy Scout troops involved,” Kelly said. “It gives them hands-on opportunity to learn and exposes them to the deaf and hard of hearing culture and community.”

A community that’s proud of its scouting heritage.

The Arrow of Light Ceremony on Monday was attended by parents and friends, and former scouts of Troop 87.

“These are the first boys to move up since the troop disbanded and we hope we’ll have more in the coming years,” Horn-Marsh said.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Deaf children 'being failed by local authorities'

Deaf children 'being failed by local authorities'

Almost two-thirds of local authorities in England are failing deaf children and their families, research suggests.

The University of Manchester study of 57 authorities found 60% did not view deaf children as "children in need", despite being defined as such in law.

The report, for the National Deaf Children's Society, said deaf children were 3.4 times more likely to be abused and 40% had mental health problems.

It raised major concern over deaf children's protection, the NDCS said.

Expertise

The research found that only about a third of local authorities had specialist teams or arrangements with designated responsibility for deaf children and their families.


This research shows widespread lack of awareness among social care services of deaf children's needs
Brian Gale, National Deaf Children's Society

Where there were "children's disability teams", they were unlikely to have any specialist expertise in this area.

"The lack of specialist knowledge and expertise was significant because it demonstrably hampered teams from being able appropriately to recognise the seriousness of a presenting problem when it concerned a deaf child," the report said.

Four authorities were found to have no designated services arrangements at all for deaf children and their families.

And in 46% of the authorities assessed, there were no qualified social workers who worked with deaf children and their families either as part or whole of their job remit.

'Optimum outcomes'

More than 50% said they had no formal referral arrangements between social work and education professionals, and nearly 45% said they had no formal referral arrangements between social work and health professionals.

Only 37% of local authorities surveyed showed evidence of co-working arrangements between child protection teams and specialist social workers, and 18% described a situation in which there was no co-working at all.

"There is clear evidence, on a widespread basis, of poor integrated children's services arrangements in respect of deaf children and their families," the report said.

The report said the findings were of concern because deaf children were at "particular risk of a range of less than optimum outcomes".

"They are 3.4 times more likely than hearing children to experience abuse; 40% will experience mental health problems in childhood; educational attainments lag significantly behind national averages.

"Deaf children, whether using spoken or signed language, face significant challenges in achieving normative linguistic, cognitive and psychosocial development."

Child protection

NDCS policy and campaigns director Brian Gale said the findings raised serious concerns about the protection of deaf children.

"This research shows widespread lack of awareness among social care services of deaf children's needs. In addition to the increased risk of abuse, 40% of deaf children will experience mental health problems.

"It is vital that local safeguarding children boards take heed of this research and improve their child protection arrangements for deaf children before it is too late."

Children's Minister Delyth Morgan said: "We are committed to transforming and improving services and support available to disabled children and their families, and are investing over three-quarters of a billion pounds from 2008 to 2011 through the Aiming High for Disabled Children programme.

"We know that disabled children are more vulnerable and need more specialist care which is why last year we published new guidance to help safeguard disabled children.

"This recommends that all those working with deaf children, including social workers should be trained in deaf awareness and disability equality."

Ann Baxter, a spokeswoman for the Association of Directors of Children's Services said: "Every child, whether they have a disability or not, who may require significant support over and above the services provided to all children, should receive an assessment of their needs and receive a package of services that meets those needs.

"Universal services, such as schools, will also strive to be flexible enough to accommodate particular requirements of their pupils, whatever their needs, where necessary referring the child to the specialist support of local authorities or other partners."

The University of Manchester research is published in Every Child Journal.

Deaf diving coach in Carrollton teaches success

Deaf diving coach in Carrollton teaches success

"But listen. Diving boards are snapping from the weight of bounding teenagers, and water is ripping from their dismounts into the pool on this end of the natatorium. A whistle is blowing, and kids are screaming as they shoot a basketball toward a hoop on the other end."

So begins an inspiring feature today on Carrollton diving coach Eric Ognibene, who once held a spot on the U.S. national team.

Hospital Worker Allegedly Raped Deaf Mute Psych Patient

Hospital Worker Allegedly Raped Deaf Mute Psych Patient

A hospital employee is being investigated for allegedly raping a male patient a the shower in the psychiatric unit of Kings County Hospital Center—where a 49-year-old woman died in a waiting room after being repeatedly ignored by staffers. The victim, described in the Daily News as "developmentally disabled, deaf and mute," reported the attack to relatives two weeks ago. After scanning surveillance footage and conducting forensic tests, police are reportedly nearing an arrest.

Last year, the Justice Department released the findings of a year-long investigation of the East Flatbush medical center's psychiatric unit [PDF], which revealed a lengthy record of violence and sexual assault. That study included reports of forced sex acts, brawls that left patients needing surgery, and staffers administering simultaneous injections of medications despite the possibility of overdoses.

The city recently spent $153 million to open a new psychiatric unit to "replace the notorious G Building where deplorable conditions were documented in a federal suit," according to the tabloid. Following the lawsuit, city officials agreed to court-supervised monitoring of the medical center. "This is the most serious incident in the new facility," a source told the paper.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Scans Show The Brain Treats Sign Language Like Speech

Scans Show The Brain Treats Sign Language Like Speech

AN DIEGO — A San Diego State University linguist says spoken language and sign language use the brain in very much the same way.

Professor Karen Emmorey used PET scans to see how the brains of deaf people functioned during the use of sign language. She found that the "speech production" part of the brain was as active in people signing as in people speaking. She said this was true even when deaf people used signs that appeared to be pantomime, like the sign for the verb "drink."

"So even signs may look like panomimes, those signs are treated by the brain just the same as signs that don't have the pantomimic quality," said Emmorey.

Tests showed that a different part of the brain was activated by gestures or by pantomime in both the deaf and the hearing. Emmorey said the simple message of her research is that sign language is a language, not a series of gestures. She presented her research at the conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science at the San Diego Convention Center.

Murder accusation dropped in Happy Valley death

Murder accusation dropped in Happy Valley death

The Clackamas County sheriff's office announced Sunday that the death of Deborah Sue Wallace, 44, "was not the result of homicidal violence."

David Ross Updike, 42, taken into custody Saturday on an accusation of murder, has been released from jail, said acting spokesman Lt. Jeff Davis.

An autopsy was done Sunday on Wallace and results are pending, Davis said.

He said investigators went back to the home where her body was found and now "the death of Deborah Sue Wallace remains under investigation with the cooperation of the Oregon State Police Forensic Laboratory and the office of the State Medical Examiner."

Deputies were sent to the home at 8525 S.E. Orchard Lane, No. 27 late Saturday morning and called out homicide detectives.

Police said Updike has a lengthy criminal record of assault, menacing and harassment related to domestic violence.

Neighbor Beverely Taylor, said Wallace came over a week ago with a black eye. The couple had lived in their home for about six years and neighbors often witnessed arguments.

"I think he just went.. pop and punched her," Taylor said. " I don't think he meant to hit her quite that hard but we kept her that night and put ice on it, and let her sleep on our couch."

The couple lived in a small community that included several deaf residents.

Vena Adkins said she often felt helpless watching the couple.

"I have tried to help her," she said, "they're both deaf, and I'm an interpreter for the deaf . . . she was just a sweet wonderful lady."

Dispatchers first sent deputies there shortly before noon, said Sheriff's Office spokesman Det. Jim Strovink. After their arrival, the detectives were called, he said.

Further information was not available.

Deaf learn to vote and sign

Deaf learn to vote and sign

Training for deaf people and their families in voting and international sign language began on 22 February in Juba, Central Equatoria State.

The training aimed to boost awareness of the electoral process among the state's deaf population, so that they could participate in upcoming April elections and communicate through sign language.

Organized by Southern Sudan Deaf Development Concern (SSDDC) and sponsored by UNMIS, the 10-day workshop's initial session at Juba Christian Centre was attended by 25 of 150 targeted participants.

Although Sudanese are set to vote in the country's first inclusive elections for 24 years, many of both the deaf and hearing population are ignorant of the voting process as well as electoral candidates.

"We are privileged today that we are going to learn and understand how to vote," said SSDC Chairperson Peter Kachinga, thanking UNMIS for its support.

Alfred Lodiong, deputy director of the Government of Southern Sudan Ministry of Education, noted that voter education had been challenging for the special needs department of his ministry.

Stressing the need for all Sudanese to exercise their political rights regardless of status, he added, "Some are unfortunate … (and) may not be able to benefit from this training. I therefore urge you to pass on this knowledge to others."

Mathew Dominic, team leader for UNMIS Electoral Assistance Division in Southern Sudan, emphasized that every single vote counted. "It is important for us to recognize this fact and ensure that PWD (Persons with Disabilities) have equal opportunities for voter education."

He added that PWD had the same rights as others to participate in elections as voters, members of a political party or candidates.

"The fact that your association SSDDC has made an effort to reach out … and make sure you understand the provisions of the law and receive its benefits … like equal citizens of this country, is a commendable effort," Mr. Dominic said.

Participants would also be taught international sign language, allowing them to communicate with each other in addressing issues related to human rights, health, and basic management.

Social club makes deaf happy

Social club makes deaf happy

LIVING in a quiet world can be hard, but one social group in Rockhampton is determined to bring together the hearing impaired to break down those barriers.

Jason Roberts from Mount Morgan admits he doesn’t get out much, but doesn’t miss the Social Deaf Club’s monthly meetings.

“It makes me really happy,” Jason said, through an interpreter.

The hearing impaired 28-year-old doesn’t have friends in his hometown he can communicate with through sign-language so he mostly chats with friends online through MSN or by text message.

He admits it is good to get out of the house and chat with others like him, face to face, using sign language at the monthly group meetings.

“It’s is really good to come together to talk.”

And the members of the group talk about anything from fishing to current events, as well as the day-to-day issues they struggle with.

Since joining the group Jason has learnt a new sign language – the more commonly used Auslan, rather than the English signing he learnt at school.

“It helps a lot.”

People travel from all over Central Queensland to attend the meetings held at Rockhampton Community Health, as there are limited services around the region.

Carol and Barry Keech travel from Gladstone and find the lack of services available to them frustrating.

Carol said whether it was to phone the doctor or face a court appearance, they needed interpreters as well as ways to communicate to make appointments in the first place.

Barry said having to pay for an interpreter cost money.

With only two interpreters available in the Rockhampton region, Barry said if they were unavailable he had to arrange interpreters to come from Brisbane.

In doing this, Barry said he not only pays for their time but also the cost of flights, car hire and accommodation.

Through D-link, a Rockhampton based drop-in centre, deaf and hearing impaired people have access to informal support to assist them with getting in touch with interpreters, making appointments and putting them on the various support agencies, government departments and other services.

However D-link operates in Rockhampton only one day a week and with funding running out in April, even that is in question.

D-link operators are now seeking local sponsorship, not only to allow them to continue the service but hopefully to even increase to two days a week.

Karon Robertson, who grew up in Biloela, said there was a big demand for more services for the deaf in our region.

“We need volunteers, interpreters, and a future for our young deaf.”

She said the social group was hugely beneficial for the whole deaf community.

“We never stop talking; we can go for hours.”

The next meeting of the Social Deaf Club is March 13.

To contact the Social Deaf Club, text mobile 0447 014 973 or contact D-link on 4938 6000 on Wednesdays.

Purple(TM) Introduces Nation's First IP-Relay App for iPhone(TM) and iPod Touch(TM)

Purple(TM) Introduces Nation's First IP-Relay App for iPhone(TM) and iPod Touch(TM)

Deaf And Hard Of Hearing Consumers Gain A New Communication Option On The iPhone

ROCKLIN, Calif., Feb. 23 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Purple Communications™, Inc. (Pink Sheets: PRPL), a leading provider of text and video relay and on-site interpreting services, today announced IP-Relay for iPhone™ and iPod Touch™, the country's first relay application for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch. The new IP-Relay app (www.purple.us/iphone) lets users make direct IP-Relay calls right from their phones, or dial anyone in their iPhone address book with just a few taps.

Enabling a direct connection between a deaf iPhone user and a hearing person, IP-Relay for iPhone and iPod Touch is the first app in Apple's App Store designed specifically to meet the communication needs of the deaf community.

"Purple introduced IP-Relay to the nation more than 15 years ago in response to customers who wanted a service that freed them from the need for a TTY," said Ronald E. Obray, Purple's vice chairman. "Expanding this freedom continues to be a passion of ours. It feels great to offer our customers another way to connect, particularly on the iPhone which more and more in the Deaf Community are choosing for mobile text communication."

IP-Relay Your Way on the Phone You Love

Available for free in the App Store, IP-Relay for iPhone and iPod Touch features an elegant design that makes relay calls simple. Users can dial directly from the App's dial pad, or choose a contact from their iPhone's address book and dial that person directly. The new app also features:

* Trusted Relay. All calls are handled by Purple IP-Relay, the nation's first and most popular text relay service.

* Easy to Read Call Window. Once begun, an IP-Relay call opens a window on the user's iPhone, with the user's side of the conversation highlighted, while the operator's side is black text on a white background.

* Custom Calling. Users can customize their calls, changing font size or background highlights to meet individual preferences. Callers can even choose to automatically send "GA" and "SK" after typing or at the end of calls, respectively, or omit these instructions entirely.

* One-Tap Redial™. IP-Relay for iPhone's exclusive One-Tap Redial feature makes redialing a snap. Users just tap the "Recent" button to display the calls they've made recently, and redial anyone in the list with one tap.

Pricing, Availability, and System Requirements

IP-Relay for iPhone and iPod Touch is free to use and available as a free download in Apple's App Store by tapping the App Store icon on an iPhone or Internet-connected iPod Touch.

Alternately, users can download the app from the computer on which they run iTunes by visiting the iTunes Store, navigating to the Apps section of the store, and choosing and downloading "IP-Relay". The application will be added to their iPhone or iPod Touch the next time the user syncs their device.

IP-Relay for iPhone and iPod Touch is compatible with any Apple iPhone or iPod Touch running iPhone OS 2.2.1 or greater. To use IP-Relay, the FCC requires users to have a registered, local 10-digit number. Registration and assignment of the 10-digit number are free. Visit www.purple.us/localnumber for more information.

About IP-Relay

IP-Relay enables a deaf or hard of hearing person to use a Web-connected computer or wireless device to call a hearing person. To start a call, the deaf user types a phone number -- or chooses an address book contact -- and clicks "Dial." IP-Relay connects the call and passes the voice number to a relay operator. The operator calls the voice number. As the deaf person types, her words are spoken aloud by the operator for the hearing person. As the hearing person speaks, the operator types the conversation to be viewed by the deaf person. The deaf person views the entire conversation in text, while the hearing person hears the entire conversation, including the deaf person's typed words spoken audibly by the operator.

About Purple

Purple Communications is a leading provider of onsite interpreting services, video relay and text relay services, and video remote interpreting, offering a wide array of options designed to meet the varied communication needs of its customers. The Company's vision is to enable free-flowing communication between people, inclusive of differences in abilities, languages, or locations. For more information on the Company or its services, visit www.purple.us or contact Purple Communications directly by voice at (415) 408-2300, by Internet relay by visiting www.i711.com or www.ip-relay.com, or by video phone by connecting to hovrs.tv.

"i711", "Purple", and the Purple logo are registered trademarks of Purple Communications, Inc. "Purple Mail", "Powered by Purple", "i711.com", "My IP-Relay," "IP-Relay.com", "One-Tap Redial", and "P3" are either registered trademarks, trademarks, or service marks of Purple Communications, Inc. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

iPhone and iPod Touch are registered trademarks of Apple, Inc.

CONTACT:


Purple Communications
Laura Kowalcyk
CJP Communications
lkowalcyk@cjpcom.com
212-279-3115 x209
SOURCE Purple Communications(TM), Inc.

England deaf cricketers gear up for new season

England deaf cricketers gear up for new season

The England deaf cricket team are in the middle of some intense pre-season training ahead of what promises to be an exciting year.

They have with two domestic tours, a game against the Marylebone Cricket Club at Lord's and December's World Cup in New Zealand.

See Hear recently joined the players at one of their training camps where Stefan Pichowski, chairman of the England Cricket Association for the Deaf (ECAD), explained some of the fundamental differences between deaf and hearing cricket.

An obvious difference is the qualification criteria: players have to provide an audiogram proving their hearing loss and remove all hearing instruments during matches to create a level playing field.

Running between the wickets also represents a challenge.

There are enough incidents in the Test arena to show how tough it can be to get calling right even in hearing cricket - but in deaf cricket players look for anything as subtle as a shrug of the shoulder or the raising of an eyebrow from their partner.

According to Pichowski, though, when playing hearing sides this can actually be advantage, catching many a dozing fielder off guard.

When asked about sledging, Pichowski's face lights up.

"There's plenty of that," he says with a grin, before recalling how hearing umpires often compliment them on playing the game in a "quiet, gentlemanly manner", oblivious to the gamesmanship that has passed under the radar through glares and glowers, as well as the odd choice bit of British Sign Language.

For Mike O'Mahoney deaf cricket is about relaxing. In hearing teams there can be a sense of isolation, whether in the changing room, on the pitch, or in the bar.

As O'Mahoney says, in deaf cricket he can sign or lip-read without worrying he is missing out on anything. In short, he can just enjoy the cricket; surely the point of any sport.

Yes, the squad has the honour of representing England but, equally importantly, they are doing something they love in an environment in which they feel comfortable.

Amateurs they might be, but there is certainly no shortage of professionalism and the squad are, understandably, confident of bringing the World Cup home.

As Pichowski said: "It'd be nice to do something the hearing men's team haven't managed yet."

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ind. House passes bill setting standards for sign language interpreters for deaf students

Ind. House passes bill setting standards for sign language interpreters for deaf students

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana House has unanimously passed a bill aimed in part at helping deaf students by setting state standards for sign language interpreters.

The bill passed the House on a 94-0 vote Monday, and now advances to Gov. Mitch Daniels for his consideration.

The measure requires the state Department of Education to set standards for sign language interpreters who provide services in educational settings. It would void existing state rules.

Bill sponsor state Rep. Gregory Porter notes that non-specialized teachers have certain standards that they must meet in order to teach Hoosier children.

The Indianapolis Democrat says Indiana's deaf students deserve the same considerations offered to the rest of the state's children.

Bars Strive To Keep Patrons Drunk And Deaf

Bars Strive To Keep Patrons Drunk And Deaf

Everyone knows one or two bars that are designed to make conversation impossible. The combination of that blaring music and a lighting scheme that can only be described as cave-vogue make the possibility of actually connecting to a fellow human being slim to nil. What is left to do in a place like that but drink until the sun comes up? New research suggests that the relationship between the volume and tempo of music and the amount of alcohol one will consume.

We have previously reported that science proved that binge drinkers are also health nuts, but this is truly a breakthrough in the spirit-related sciences. A

new study “discovered that the louder and more up tempo the music being played at a watering hole, the more alcohol barflies are likely to consume.” Yet unknown are the results on the tests to determine the increased possibility of a questionable sexual encounter in relation to the relative dank-ness of a particular establishment. We will save the scientific community the legwork required and just tell them, based on many nights of our own “research” that the answer to that question is a big, sad yes.

SC Deaf & Blind School Students to Perform in Columbia

SC Deaf & Blind School Students to Perform in Columbia

SPARTANBURG, S.C. --

Fine arts students from the SC School for the Deaf and the Blind (SCSDB) have been invited to perform before the SC House of Representatives on February 25th.

The students will be introduced by Rep. Mike Forrester at 10 a.m. and will perform two songs, “Shout and Feel It” and “We Are the World.” The students will represent SCSDB’s Divisions for the Blind, Deaf and Multihandicapped.

SCSDB students have been granted the annual honor of performing in the State House for more than 20 years. Upstate students selected for this year’s performance include: Kelli Jane Barnes, Ta’Nayia Moates, Lee Miller, Katie Roche and Sydney Simons of Spartanburg; Devon Carter of Clarks Hill; Deven Frazier of Cordova; Elijah Gregory of Union; Sierra Hardy of Greenville; and Kate Williams of Lyman.

SCSDB parents, alumni and representatives of the SCSDB Board of Commissioners will be in attendance to enjoy the students’ performance.

SCSDB serves children who are deaf, blind or sensory multidisabled through its main campus in Spartanburg, public school districts in counties throughout the state, early intervention programs in the homes of infants and toddlers, and an array of additional services for individuals who are deaf or blind. The school holds two national accreditations, has been selected by the state as a Palmetto Gold School, and has been named a Red Carpet School for excellent customer service.

Unique Collection from Deaf Artists Exhibited in Washington

Unique Collection from Deaf Artists Exhibited in Washington

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Deaf Access Solutions, a division of BayFirst Solutions LLC, is honored to announce the loan of 37 paintings, sculptures and mixed-media works from the permanent collection of the Joseph F. and Helen C. Dyer Arts Center at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), a college of Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in New York.

This groundbreaking exhibition showcases works of varying aesthetic and form created by Deaf artists from the 1930's through present day. The collection will be on display at the offices of BayFirst Solutions in Washington, D.C. through September 2010.

Exhibited artists include Morris Broderson, Chuck Baird, Guy Wonder, Rita Staubhaar and Jean Hanau, among others, and many of the pieces within the collection are examples of De'VIA - representing Deaf artists and perceptions based on their Deaf experiences. De'VIA is produced when a Deaf artist intends to express their Deaf experience through the medium of visual art and can be identified by formal artistic elements such as contrasting and intense colors, values and textures, the exaggeration of specific features and a centralized focus.

De'VIA is meant to express innate cultural and physical Deaf experiences, including metaphors, perspectives and insight in relation to the environment (both the natural world and the Deaf cultural environment) and spiritual and everyday life.

In conveying powerful messages regarding the Deaf experience, the achievement of this exhibition lies in the ability of the artists to bring forth their unique perspectives and meanings. Through a direct visual communication of these artist's perceptions, viewers are able to enjoy the beauty and creativity of each work while expanding their own visceral and cultural horizons.

"We take pride in our permanent collection of our art from Deaf artists - getting it out for the public to view rather than keeping it in Rochester exclusively," says Robert Baker, the collection's curator at NTID. "We're making part of our collection a little more accessible to the public."

"We are committed to serving and recognizing the achievements of those in the Deaf community," says Robert Rice, President of BayFirst Solutions and a graduate of RIT. "We're thrilled to have the opportunity to share this important collection with our staff and with the external community."

The collection is available to the general public for viewing by appointment, Monday through Friday, during regular business hours. The offices of BayFirst Solutions are located at 6856 Eastern Ave., NW, Suite 100, Washington, DC 20012 near the Takoma Metrorail station on the Red Line. Please call Ben Eiserike at (202) 541-1010 ext. 417 or email ben.eiserike@bayfirst.com for more information and to schedule viewing appointments.

Deaf Access Solutions (DAS) is the professional services division of BayFirst Solutions LLC that is exclusively focused on the delivery of communication accessibility services to deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. DAS provides professional sign language interpreting, captioning, and assistive technology training and support. DAS and BayFirst Solutions are both Deaf-owned.

Ranbir turns deaf and dumb for a film!

Ranbir turns deaf and dumb for a film!

Ranbir Kapoor won’t have to learn sign language from scratch for his role as a deaf and mute character in Anurag Basu’s film. The actor, who assisted Sanjay Leela Bhansali on Black, spent ample time with Ayesha Kapoor and Rani Mukerji when they were being trained on the sets by a teacher for the physically disabled. He had also visited several institutions for the hearing and speech impaired to research on ‘Black’.

The real challenge now lies in creating a musical score that would amply express the simmering discontent behind Ranbir’s silence in the film. Quite like what Laxmikant-Pyarelal did for Jaya Prada in the 1970s in Sargam, which coincidentally starred Ranbir’s father Rishi Kapoor. While filmmakers Bhansali and Gulzar have made songless films like Black and respectively about deaf and mute protagonists, Anurag Basu is going the other way with a full-on musical to bring out his deaf and mute hero’s emotions and feelings.

Consequently, music director Pritam Chakraborty is a worried man as he now faces the biggest challenge of his career in friend Anurag Basu’s new film starring Ranbir. Incidentally, the director and composer live in the same building.
Pritam says, “In ordinary circumstances, songs are just a supplement to the hero’s dialogue. In Anurag’s film, Ranbir’s inner world and emotions will have to be expressed through songs. The words and music will let the audience know what he is thinking. So my songs will have to mirror Ranbir’s exact thoughts.” And to think that Pritam thought he would have it easy this time.
“I thought composing a full-fledged musical for Ranbir in Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani was hard enough. But this is much harder,” adds Pritam.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Nominate a hero who has helped deaf communication

Nominate a hero who has helped deaf communication

THE search is on for heroes who have helped significantly improve communication between deaf people.

The Signature Awards 2010 are looking for people who have helped make everyday life for deaf and deafblind people that little bit easier.

There are seven categories to enter, ranging from communication professional of the year to young learner of the year.

The first ever Signature Awards were held in London in November and recognised contributions both regionally and nationally.

Signature is a registered charity and helps hundreds of people gain qualifications in sign language and other forms of communicating for deafblind people.

Closing dates for nominations depend on which category you are entering, to put someone forward or for more information go to signature.org.uk/awards.

Word Learning Better in Deaf Children Who Receive Cochlear Implants by Age 13 Months

Word Learning Better in Deaf Children Who Receive Cochlear Implants by Age 13 Months

Learning words may be facilitated by early exposure to auditory input, according to research presented by the Indiana University School of Medicine at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting in San Diego, Feb. 18-22.

A growing body of evidence points to the importance of early auditory input for developing language skills. Indiana University Department of Otolaryngology researchers have contributed to that evidence with several projects, including their study involving 20 deaf children (22- to 40-months-old and 12 to 18 months after cochlear implantation) and 20 normal hearing children (12- to 40-months of age) that was presented Feb. 21 at the AAAS meeting.

The study's principal author, Derek Houston, Ph.D., associate professor and Philip F. Holton Scholar at the IU School of Medicine, said the study found that deaf children's word-learning skills were strongly affected by their early auditory experience.

"This research is significant because surgery at very young ages requires more expertise," said Dr. Houston. "It is important to know if the increased benefit of early auditory input warrants surgery at younger ages."

Currently, the Food and Drug Administration guidelines approve cochlear implantation at one year of age, although many children are implanted as young as 6 months of age.

Dr. Houston said the research showed that deaf children's word-learning skill was strongly affected by their early auditory experience, whether that experience was through normal means or with a cochlear implant. Children who received the implant by the age of 13 months performed similarly to their normal-hearing counterparts while children who received a cochlear implant later performed, on average, more poorly than their normal-hearing peers.

Adding to the evidence that early auditory input is important was the finding that children who had some level of normal hearing early in life, before cochlear implantation, exhibited word-learning skills similar to the early implanted children, Dr. Houston said.

"Taken together, the findings suggest that early access to auditory input, even if the access to sound is quite impoverished, plays an important role in acquiring the ability to rapidly learn associations between spoken words and their meanings," summarized Dr. Houston.

The team used the Intermodal Preferential Looking (IPL) paradigm to investigate the language ability of the children. The IPL paradigm requires the child to listen to a repetitive noun while looking at an object. The child continues to look at the screen that displays the original object and a second object while the speaker repeats the word associated with the object. A hidden camera records the movement of the child's eyes to see if he identifies the correct picture with the object's correct name.

Dr. Houston and his colleagues are collaborating with other cochlear implant centers to launch a study with more children to continue the investigation into the effects of early auditory experience on word learning.

Other researchers involved in this study include Jessica Stewart, Aaron Moberly, and Richard T. Miyamoto, MD, of the Department of Otolaryngology -- Head & Neck Surgery, Indiana University; George Hollich, Department of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University.

The research was funded through grants from the National Institute for Deafness and Other Communication Disorders and the Deafness Research Foundation.

Deaf Performance Entices the Senses

Deaf Performance Entices the Senses

Peter Cook stood on the center of the stage, the audience circled around him. He pointed to the left side of the room and twenty pairs of arms immediately went up in the air. He pointed to the right side of the room and twenty other pairs of arms flew up. While it might not be obvious to the casual passerby, the audience members were tossing an invisible beach ball across the room under Cook’s direction.

This one exercise in channeling a person’s imagination, however, was just the beginning. Cook proceeded to entertain the audience for the next hour and a half with animated personal stories about his first kiss, his time at school, and his American Sign Language students, among other anecdotes—all without saying a single word.

Cook, a prominent deaf storyteller-poet, performed at the Agassiz Theatre on February 12 to close out Harvard College’s “Deaf Awareness Week.” Coordinated by the Committee on Deaf Awareness (CODA), the event aimed at “promoting and understanding the deaf community.”

”It is a really important life lesson to meet people from different backgrounds,” said West A. Resendes ’12, the director of CODA. “The deaf community is relatively unknown. But the unique experiences of deaf people should be shared with everyone.”

The various events, which took place February 8-12, included a lecture by deaf politician Kevin Nolan, a panel discussion entitled “Growing Up Deaf,” and a social “Snack n’ Sign” event in Ticknor lounge. According to Resendes, Cook’s performance, was the “anchor” to these string of programs.

“People will come for Peter Cook,” Resendes said. “In the deaf community, he is the man.”

Cook’s act did provide a unique glimpse into the deaf community and culture. His stories, such as one about learning how to dance, provided interesting insight into the lives of deaf people.

“People don’t know that deaf people can dance,” Cook signed during his performance.

Using a mixture of facial expressions, gestures, and ASL, which was interpreted for non-ASL speakers, he amused the audience with descriptions of his gym teacher pounding a large stick on the ground so he and the other deaf students could feel the beats of the music. As his story showed, deaf people can dance; they just have to do it in different ways, whether it involves using their pulse to detect the rhythm of the music or feeling the pounding beat with the aid of an overly enthusiastic gym teacher.

For non-ASL speakers, the performance itself was interesting in its own right. For once the tables had turned, as they were now the ones who depended on the interpreter to understand what was being said. At times, this was difficult. When the room would shake with laughter and applause, the punch line of the joke would often disappear in the wake of the noise, leaving non ASL speakers at a loss.

While at one point in the show Cook assured his audience that his act would be “a very visual story,” some audience members still found it difficult to follow along with the action. For example, one little boy sitting in the back row would repeatedly ask his mother in a loud whisper to explain what was going on.

“You have to use your eyes,” she said. “Use your eyes to see the story.”

Cook touched upon this idea of adjustment with his last anecdote, a sad story about his second kiss. He explained how a girl he liked as a kid turned him down because, as she said, they “couldn’t communicate.”

But what Cook successfully points out is that there are many ways to communicate, and the problem only arises when a person is not willing to make the necessary effort to adapt.

“It takes two to tango,” he signed.

After all, Cook himself has adapted the art of storytelling for deaf audiences. The stories he tells does not become imbued with life through the way he speaks but with the way he moves.

“The beauty of Peter Cook is his ability to capture emotions… [he is] able to express them in a way that is unspoken, but is still accessible to everyone,” Resendes said.

Daredevil deaf blind girl from Redruth

Daredevil deaf blind girl from Redruth

A dare-devil deaf and blind Redruth teenager will reaching new heights to help her school.

Susie-Jo, aged 16 plans to abseil 140ft down the front of the old Debenhams building in Exeter to raise money for the West of England School and College for young people with little or no sight.

Today the 16 year old said: “I’m really excited and happy to do the abseil. I will shout weeeeeeeeee when I come down on the rope.

She added that she would like her school to use the money to buy chocolate cake and white chocolate buttons.”

Susie-Jo will be joining around 60 others taking part in the abseil challenge on Saturday, March 6.

Susie-Jo is already counting the pounds she’s been promised in sponsorship - £455 to date and going up all the time!

Martin Halse, general manager of the Exeter Golf and Country Club, which is supporting the event said: “We are thrilled to be supporting the school and college through this event. Lots of our members are talking about it and hope to take part. We are all looking forward to it.”

People wishing to sponsor Susie-Jo can do so at Susie Jo Walker is fundraising for West Of England School For Children With Little Or No Sight - JustGiving.

Pingalwara to start free cochlear implant surgery

Pingalwara to start free cochlear implant surgery

The All India Charitable Society Pingalwara Charitable Society here will conduct free cochlear implant surgery for its deaf children and the needy at its Manawala centre. The surgery, which costs Rs 7 lakh (Rs 5 lakh for the implant and Rs 2 lakh for the operation), will be done free. “Our children at the deaf school will be the priority followed by the needy,” Pingalwara chaiperson Dr Inderjit Kaur said. She said the organisation will raise dona- tions for conducting the oper- ations. It has already bought machinery for audiology and speech therapy.

Noida-based ENT specialist Dr J.M. Hans will conduct the surgeries along with Dr Jagdeepak Singh, an ENT specialist from the local Government Medical College. “Dr Hans has spoken to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s wife Gursharan Kaur, who has asked him to go ahead with the project,” the chairperson said.

A cochlear implant (CI) is a surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a deaf person. While the Pingalwara has initiated hearing tests for newborns at its Manawala centre, they are making space for an operation theatre. “At present, there are vacant classrooms in our school complex, which will be converted into the operation theatre and will be functional with- in three months,” Dr Inderjit Kaur said. Pingalwara chief administrator Col Darshan Singh Bawa (retd) said the charity home will also rehabilitate children who undergo the surgery. “Since the deaf are not familiar with speaking, they have to be reha- bilitated for speech. We have procured machinery for audiology and speech therapy, which will help children learn speaking skills,” he added.

'Please get your child's hearing tested at birth'

'Please get your child's hearing tested at birth'

Mumbai: Even though hearing impairment is the most common defect affecting millions of newborns every year, what most parents don’t know is that it can be detected and remedied at birth itself. Doctors
say that waiting until the child is 3-4 years old before getting him/her tested is too late.

If ignored, such children even lose their ability to speak over a period of time. To prevent this, the Education Audiology and Research (EAR) Society is trying to create awareness at hospitals to detect as many cases at infancy.

The EAR society uses the auditory verbal method, and not the lip-reading technique, to teach hearing impaired children.
They have recently started working with hospitals to detect cases among newborns. Pervin Mehta, the director of the society, who has been working on the project, feels that early intervention can help hearing impaired children speak normally.

EAR is currently working with paediatric departments of Bombay Hospital, Cama Hospital and St George’s Hospital.

Mehta said, “Many parents come to us when their children are three or four years old. Though it is not impossible, it becomes difficult for us to help them retain normal speech. If their disability is detected at infancy, then with the help of hearing aids, we ensure that they lead a normal life.”

EAR conducts newborn hearing screening at all public hospitals. In case of a defect, parents are asked to visit the centre for further tests.

However, parents don’t turn up for a follow-up due to lack of awareness. “They refuse to believe that their child could be suffering any disability.

“We are now planning to bridge that gap by approaching parents in slums as well,” Mehta said. EAR is planning to take the help of social workers.

According to Ashok Rathod, the head of paediatrics, JJ Hospital, early intervention can definitely help such children. “Hearing aids at an early age can ensure normal speech for such children,” said Rathod,” he said.

Word learning in deaf children with cochlear implants

Word learning in deaf children with cochlear implants

INDIANAPOLIS – Learning words may be facilitated by early exposure to auditory input, according to research presented by the Indiana University School of Medicine at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting in San Diego, Feb. 18-22.

A growing body of evidence points to the importance of early auditory input for developing language skills. Indiana University Department of Otolaryngology researchers have contributed to that evidence with several projects, including their study involving 20 deaf children (22- to 40-months-old and 12 to 18 months after cochlear implantation) and 20 normal hearing children (12- to 40-months of age) that was presented Feb. 21 at the AAAS meeting.

The study's principal author, Derek Houston, Ph.D., associate professor and Philip F. Holton Scholar at the IU School of Medicine, said the study found that deaf children's word-learning skills were strongly affected by their early auditory experience.

"This research is significant because surgery at very young ages requires more expertise," said Dr. Houston. "It is important to know if the increased benefit of early auditory input warrants surgery at younger ages."

Currently, the Food and Drug Administration guidelines approve cochlear implantation at one year of age, although many children are implanted as young as 6 months of age.

Dr. Houston said the research showed that deaf children's word-learning skill was strongly affected by their early auditory experience, whether that experience was through normal means or with a cochlear implant. Children who received the implant by the age of 13 months performed similarly to their normal-hearing counterparts while children who received a cochlear implant later performed, on average, more poorly than their normal-hearing peers.

Adding to the evidence that early auditory input is important was the finding that children who had some level of normal hearing early in life, before cochlear implantation, exhibited word-learning skills similar to the early implanted children, Dr. Houston said.

"Taken together, the findings suggest that early access to auditory input, even if the access to sound is quite impoverished, plays an important role in acquiring the ability to rapidly learn associations between spoken words and their meanings," summarized Dr. Houston.

The team used the Intermodal Preferential Looking (IPL) paradigm to investigate the language ability of the children. The IPL paradigm requires the child to listen to a repetitive noun while looking at an object. The child continues to look at the screen that displays the original object and a second object while the speaker repeats the word associated with the object. A hidden camera records the movement of the child's eyes to see if he identifies the correct picture with the object's correct name.

Dr. Houston and his colleagues are collaborating with other cochlear implant centers to launch a study with more children to continue the investigation into the effects of early auditory experience on word learning.

###

Other researchers involved in this study include Jessica Stewart, Aaron Moberly, and Richard T. Miyamoto, MD, of the Department of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery, Indiana University; George Hollich, Department of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University.

The research was funded through grants from the National Institute for Deafness and Other Communication Disorders and the Deafness Research Foundation.