Friday, May 28, 2010

The Orange County Deaf Advocacy Center Newsletter - May 29, 2010


This is being sent out today because we all have an exciting weekend coming up. Have a great and safe memorial day weekend.

The top story this week is a case being heard in San Francisco; State of Arizona vs. Harkins Amusement Enterprises Inc. that will have wide reaching impacts. It could slam the entire entertainment sector with the requirements that all theaters must be accessible to hearing and visual impaired patrons using additional special equipment for captioning, listening aids, and descriptive aids.

Our ebay store has some of the equipment for public entertainment centers that could prevent lawsuits like this.

Secondly we have started the Orange Deafie Newswirer a weekly listing of recent news items pertaining to hearing loss and the community. This is the lite version of the newsletter which brings the news to our readers.

Brought to you by the Orange County Deaf Advocacy Center



We have lots of new items and our webstore count stands at over 800 items. We
have fresh donations. We hope to have over 900 items by the end of this season!

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

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

Stop by today to start
your shopping.



Sorenson VRS Debt is what fueled their misleading campaigns in the recent weeks.
They're basically asking for a bailout to pay off the loans used to pay their
investors dividends.

Read about it at

Brought to you by The Orange Deafie Blog



Research through Modern Deaf Communications show that deaf people with TTY's
have more jobs than people with videophones. See the research at the Modern
Deaf Communication website.

Brought to you by Modern Deaf Communication



Get yourself an OCDAC credit card through a special program at

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



Los Angeles Department on Disability has the annual DEAFestival in Van Nuys on
September 25, 2010. See the flyer at for more

Brought to you by ASL News


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



Has the deaf blogging and vlogging websites helped or hurt the deaf community?
You be the judge after seeing the 5 posting on these types of sites.

Brought to you by the other Orange Deafie Blog at



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

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.



Support Ca bill AB2072 to inform parents of ALL options for deaf and hard of
hearing babies\

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



Tinnitus affects people with or without hearing loss.

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

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

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

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

Kit is assembled by people with disabilities.

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

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

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

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

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



Successful Senate Hearing on ADA & Technology: Markey says Industry Exaggerates
Costs of Accessibility. See the captioned video of the hearing.

Advance the video to 18 minutes and 45 seconds to see and/or hear the actual
start of the hearing.\

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


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

Donation form :\

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



Really enjoyed the movie done in BSL mentioned in the newsletter. Sort of
reminded when I was in Egypt and was attempting to communicate with deaf

Looking forward to more of these movies. Thanks for mentioning it.

Tom Orr


I went to see my doc yesterday and she asked me if I got my guide dog. in which
I told her not yet but I feel closer to getting one. When I told her a few
years ago that I am thinking of a guide dog. she thinks its a great idea and the
dog could help me as well. With Rex's help I should find a pre breed husky. I
haven'temailed the breeder yet. Just want to get some things out of the way
first. I hope that my brother who is a shop manager in NC could set up a
donationbox at his shop where they could raise money. He will ask if it is
possible they can work with me. But he wants to know how much it is gonna cost
and so forth.. I have been taking care of Jamba which I call it a warm up with
what I will soon expect. So as soon as things short out I will be happy to have
a dog. I hope I can train it to use the rest room in one spot so it is easier
to look rather than all over the field.. I have never took France for a walk
with the harness on. I have with Jamba and it kinda feels like riding on the
horse. Sometimes I trip over the step even if I don't tap my stick on the
ground. I know with the dog if I feel the dog went down i would watch my step.

I read the article about a couple who were booted from a restaurant because she
had a guide dog. The manager didn't know first hand about the ADA laws. He
does not but I think he should have learn this before he became a manager. If
someone were to tell me to leave cuz of my dog, I would be confused and will try
to get on top of what is going on. We don't have a problem here in CA as far as
I know about guide dogs when Rex and I go somewhere. The only one I am aware of
is how the driver from food for less mistreated France. They no longer have
that ride program.. At least we could borrow their carts, but I have my own
cart to begin with. I remember when I lived in HB I always made an effort to
return the cart.


Brought to you by Deaf Paradise Http://

**** DISCLAIMER ****

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 27, 2010

School Helps Children Open Their Ears

School Helps Children Open Their Ears


Memphis, Tn - Just days away from her pre-school graduation Autumn Hankins is beside herself with excitement. She's on the verge of tears, "Momma's gonna cry too." Happy tears as Autumn calls them.

The Hankins have been on an emotional journey. Doctor's say the newborn suffered profound hearing loss at birth. "She failed the hearing screening in the hospital three times," says her mom, Crystal. She goes on to say, "I caught the flu while I was actually in labor with her. That is the medical reason they have as to why she is hearing impaired."

The diagnosis was overwhelming and intimidating. Autumn spent the first six months of her life undergoing tests while the family adapted.

"We did take some sign language classes because originally that's how we did start language with her. She was a little bitty baby doing baby signs, so that's how she would communicate with her," says Crystal.

Doctors worked hard to help her hear. The first attempt was hearing aids, but the devices didn't make much of a difference. Surgery at LeBonheur Children's Hospital would prove to give her the sound she never had. She received her first cochlear implants when she was a year old.

From there, the family was referred to the Memphis Oral School for the Deaf, a place that prides itself on empowering deaf children to listen, learn and talk.

Executive Director Teresa Schwartz explains the technology, "The cochlear device consists of two main components, a sound processor and transmitter worn around the ear, and a receiver implanted underneath the skin with cords attached to nerves in the inner ear. A magnet connects the external components with the implant. The receiver sends currents to the ear, creating a sense of sound."

Autumn has perhaps the best explanation, "Like you have them in now, when you take them off, what's the difference? Like I can't hear, watch. So when I'm talking now, you can't hear what I'm saying? What?"

Autumn says she takes "her ears", as mom and dad call them, off at bath time and bedtime. E

Early on, autumn wondered why. Crystal explains, "She wants to know why she has cochlear implants and everybody else doesn't. That's probably more of her bigger question, so we just explain to her, God made you special."

Schwartz says one in every three hundred and thirty three children are born with some level of hearing loss. Recent studies show kids who have the implants before they are two, learn faster and better. This Germantown based school helps with both of those, developing listening skills and language skills so they can communicate without having to rely on sign language.

Before graduating, every student here will be able to talk. To make that a reality, every day, each student has 30 minutes of speech therapy, and 30 minutes of aural habilitation, which is listening therapy. For autumn, it's made a world of difference in the 4 years she's been in the program.

Her mom is overjoyed, "They've changed her life in the sense that now she can just move on, and go to a public school, and not be in a special education program."

Not only is she talking, she also plays the violin. Her success story is more than the Hankins family ever imagined. Now she's days away from completing the program at the oral school.

A milestone that's miraculous, in a way. Getting to graduation has been a long road, and now it's bittersweet for this 6 year old, bubbling over with personality.

on Friday, after 4 years of highs and lows, Autumn will end one chapter in her life, and begin anew, never forgetting the school that helped her hear, talk, and develop in ways her mother never imagined.

Student with Cochlear Implant Overcomes Challenges

Student with Cochlear Implant Overcomes Challenges


DALLAS - Chirping birds is a sound that Michael Noble doesn't take for granted. Michael was born deaf and at the age of two became the first child in north Texas to have cochlear implant surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

"Well I think it's really a true blessing to be one of the first people and really thankful that my parents took that risk," Michael said.

Risky because the procedure had been approved by the Food and Drug Administration only two weeks before. Michael went through years of intense speech therapy and decided in the 7th grade he wanted to go Southern Methodist University where he breezed through in just three years and graduated last weekend.

Michael credits his family, doctors, therapists and the cochlear implant for his success.

"I know that if I didn't have the implant I wouldn't be where I am today and I'm really glad that I have it because I really enjoy listening to music and talking on the phone and just being in the mainstream," Michael said.

Recent studies show that kids who have implants before they're two learn faster and better.

UT Southwestern assistant professor Dr. Walter Kutz implants about four kids a month. He said the plasticity of a childs brain is key.

"The earlier a child can get an implant the better they are going to do," Dr. Kutz said.

And Michael is living proof. His success is more than his parents could have imagined.

"To us, even if he was able to just hear environmental sounds was the best that was going to happen with the implant, we thought well--that's got to make his life safer and better," Kerry said.

Cochlear implant critics say children born with hearing loss should embrace their lifestyle and learn sign language. Michael is hearing none of that.

"I really don't understand why there is so much controversy," Michael said. "The way I see it -- if you're born with ears, you were meant to hear."

Hearing loss: not just affecting seniors anymore

Hearing loss: not just affecting seniors anymore

More than 10 million people in America use hearing aids, and that number is growing every day. Even more surprising is that approximately 20 percent of these people are younger than 50.

Long considered a dilemma only for senior citizens, hearing loss is becoming more and more common, particularly in young adults. This may be due in large part to the onslaught of noisy products and situations brought on by modern day life. The constant barrage of decibels we encounter in today's busy landscape, from street noise to mp3 players, is taking a toll on our hearing at a younger age.

While some children use hearing aids to correct childhood or life-long health issues, many of the hearing problems audiologists are seeing today are largely preventable. Do you fit the profile for someone susceptible to early hearing loss?

Urbanites - People who live or work in urban areas are far more likely to be exposed to high-decibel sounds on a regular basis. Studies have found that anything over 85 decibels can permanently damage hearing. A functioning jackhammer can produce up to 115 decibels of sound while a car horn can produce up to 110 decibels, putting those living near these nuisances at increased risk.

Music fans - Adults as young as 20 are being treated for non-illness related hearing loss, much of which audiologists attribute to increased headphone use and loud concerts. The powerful speakers and mp3 players on the market today can produce up to 150 decibels of sound, enough to permanently damage delicate ear tissues. Take caution when using ear bud headphones and be sure to wear earplugs if you plan to be exposed to loud music for an extended period of time.

SCUBA divers - This "extreme" sport, growing rapidly in popularity among people of all ages, is responsible for some occurrences of torn or ruptured ear canals in adults. The pressure build-up experienced during a dive can easily wreak havoc on fragile ear muscles and membranes, causing irreparable damage. This damage frequently results in hearing loss, so be sure to use correct pressure-relieving methods and specially designed SCUBA earplugs when diving.

Medication - Certain medications, including some antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs, have been linked to increased risk of hearing loss. As children are particularly vulnerable to diseases requiring treatment using these types of medications, they are more prone to these ototoxic reactions. Be sure to speak to your doctor about what side effects the medicines you or your children are taking may potentially have, as this is a rare but preventable cause of premature hearing loss.

Despite the statistics, some people find it hard to believe that children as young as 5 years of age may need a hearing device or hearing-related surgery. While there are several different options for the hearing impaired, including cochlear implants or hearing therapy, many find relief through the use of hearing aid. Digital technology advancements in the past decades have made hearing aids far more reliable and undetectable than ever before, and many people find that their health insurance covers some or all of the cost. If you or your child is showing symptoms of early hearing loss, speak with an audiologist immediately to determine what steps you can take now to minimize the dangers.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Hearing-impaired Gillies driven by determination

Hearing-impaired Gillies driven by determination

It's not unusual to see Tyson Gillies tossing a football around with one of his Reading Phillies teammates before batting practice.

It's not a training technique for the Reading center fielder, but rather a reminder: Don't let anything stand in the way of your dreams.

Gillies faced adversity growing up with a severe hearing impairment. The other kids teased him so badly about his hearing aids that he grew embarrassed and frustrated and refused to wear them. Even flushed them down the toilet once.

It wasn't until eighth grade that his disability really stung him. He tried out for football at Valley View Secondary School, in Kamloops, British Columbia, and shined at quarterback during offseason workouts.

When it came time to put on the helmet and pads he found he found the headgear interfered with his hearing aids. He couldn't play with them, and he couldn't play quarterback without them.

His life changed that very moment.

"I've felt different all my life (because of my hearing disability)," said the 21-year-old Gillies, "but I've never had somebody take me away from something because of it.

"The toughest thing was someone was taking my hearing disability and telling me, 'You can't do that.' "

The prospect shook him.

"I thought, 'Whoa, maybe this is where it starts,' " Gillies said. " 'What's the next thing they're not going to let me do?' After that, I never let somebody tell me that I couldn't do something."

Gillies ended up being the placekicker on the team.

He eventually was OK with not being able to play quarterback. At 5-4, he knew he wasn't destined to play quarterback in the CFL, much less the NFL.

He was also too small to pursue his greatest love, hockey.

"I didn't see myself, with that body, having a very long career in hockey," he said. "I didn't think I'd be strong enough or big enough."

Gillies turned to baseball. The game quickly grew on him, and he grew into it. But it forced him into another stark realization: His chances to advance in the game were limited growing up in western Canada, where there are no high school baseball programs and the long winters shorten the outdoor season.

Kamloops, a city slightly larger than Reading, had no shortage of ice rinks but zero indoor hitting facilities.

Gillies left home at age 15 and moved 200 miles away to Vancouver in order to play play with the Langley Blaze, one of the premier club teams in Canada. He lived with a host family for two years.

"It definitely takes a sacrifice to come down here," said Blaze coach Doug Mathieson, a scout with the Minnesota Twins and the father of former Reading pitcher Scott Mathieson. "You sacrifice a lot of things that (high school) kids don't normally do (to play for us)."

Gillies' athleticism and desire caught Mathieson's eye at the tryout.

"He was full of enthusiasm, full of energy," Mathieson said. "He was raw as could be, but he had tremendous skills. He really wanted it badly."

After two seasons with the Blaze Gillies signed to play at Iowa Western junior college. The Seattle Mariners saw him there and selected him in the 25th round of the June 2006 amateur draft.

Gillies, who has grown to a strapping 6-2, 195 pounds, distinguished himself quickly in the Mariners organization. After batting .313 with short-season Everett of the Northwest League in 2008 he skipped a level and went right to high Class A High Desert last season.

He led the league with 44 stolen bases and batted .341, third-highest in all the minors. His 104 runs scored and .431 on-base percentage were both among the top five in all the minors.

He was part of the three-player package, along with Reading pitcher Phillippe Aumont and Clearwater pitcher J.C. Ramirez, the Philadelphia Phillies accepted for Cliff Lee in December.

The Phillies fell in love with the energy Gillies displays on a diamond, whether he's roaming center field or flying around the bases.

Charlie Manuel jokingly compared him to Pete Rose when he saw Gillies sprint around the bases after a spring training home run off Toronto's David Purcey.

"Even on a walk, I'll get to first base real quick," Gillies said. "It's just something that comes natural to me. It's routine for me. I don't even notice."

"He knows one speed," said Reading manager Steve Roadcap, "and that's 100 percent all the time."

"People say I'm hyper," Gillies said. "Everything I do, I want to give it 110 percent. That's the way I want everything to be done all the time. It's who I am, it's what I'm used to, and it's what I'm about."

One thing Gillies didn't do was start quickly with his new organization. He was batting just .185 in late April but turned it around with a recent surge that saw him go 20-for-51.

However, his first Double-A season was slowed again last week by a hamstring injury that sent him to the disabled list.

That will set him back only briefly. Then he'll be off and running again, undeterred by anything.

He refuses to let his disability - he was born with a 50 percent hearing loss in one ear, and 30 percent in the other - stand in his way.

Other than not being able to hear the crack of the ball off the bat while he's stationed in the outfield, he says his hearing loss doesn't affect his game. He makes no concessions to it.

"I want people to see how hard I work, to think about that and not about my hearing loss," he said. "There's always talk about a hearing-impaired athlete. I didn't want that. I want (people to say): 'Here's Tyson Gillies, he's working hard, he wants to get somewhere.'"

Challenge doesn't deter Field from competing

Challenge doesn't deter Field from competing

ADVOCATE - Don’t ever tell MacKenzie Field he can’t do something.

The 18-year-old, Grade 11 student at Advocate District School recently competed in the shot put for his school in the Cumberland district NSSAF track and field championships in Oxford.

Field is like other athletes his age in that he loves sports, where he differs is in the fact he’s visually impaired and needs two hearing aids. Despite these challenges, Field loves to compete.

“All my friends were doing it and some of my teachers said I should try it,” said Field. “I started to go to practice and went to tryouts for regionals. It was a lot of fun.”

Field practiced with his Advocate teammates doing pushups and sit-ups and warmed up by jogging on a modified track near the school. He also learned the techniques involved in throwing the shot put including the stance and the throw.

On the day of the district meet at the Northumberland facility in Oxford, Field went into the shot put ring early with coach Katie Spicer and using his cane measured out the diameter of the circle, felt for the location of the toe board and how much room he had to throw the shot.

When the competition began he listened closely to the official and used his voice as a guide in preparing to throw.

“He would go out to where I was to throw the shot and ask me if I could hear his voice,” Field said. “That’s how I knew what direction to throw.”

While he didn’t qualify for this weekend’s Northumberland regional meet in Oxford, Field is already preparing for next year’s even when he will be a senior.

“I thought about doing the discus too, but it’s a little harder. I’m definitely going to do the shotput again,” he said. “I’m going to train pretty hard.”

Field said he loves the thrill and intensity of sports as well as the action of competing and he doesn’t really see himself as being unable to do something because of his physical limitations.

“When I was starting out I sort of thought how I’m going to do this, but I don’t let that get in my way,” said Field, who hopes to study technology at the Nova Scotia Community College in Truro when he graduates next year. “I love it that much.”

Track coach Pat Spice said Field is proof that everyone can have an active healthy lifestyle.

“He does all the training everyone else has to do and he knew the odds were against him going into this. Still, learned the basic calisthenics involved because before he couldn’t do a simple pushup,” she said. “He managed to get from not being able to do any to doing 15 in a row.”

While he didn’t qualify for the regional meet, he has continued to practice with the team because of the improvement it has made to his physical fitness.

9-year-old lobbyist gets hearing aid bill approved ‎

9-year-old lobbyist gets hearing aid bill approved

RALEIGH – A 9-year-old boy helped lobby a bill through the General Assembly.

On Wednesday, lawmakers gave the hearing aid insurance coverage bill unanimous approval. With a shake of the hand by Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, Collin Tastet, of Greensboro, saw all of his hard work pay off.

“Now the children that need hearing aids can get them, because the insurance wasn't going to pay for them,” Tastet said. "But now that this bill passed, those kids are going to get their hearing aids.”

Even though he is not yet a teenager, Collin walked the halls of the General Assembly as a lobbyist. His goal was to get hearing aids covered under the State Health Plan.

“I just wanted to help other kids because I have hearing aids too,” he said. “And I know how important they are and how they help you hear.”

After months of work, and with his proud parents by his side, the General Assembly gave their stamp of approval to the proposal on Wednesday.

“He said, 'I want to come back and talk to my friends here,' as he calls it,” says Collin's dad, Arthur Tasset. “And I kept asking, 'Do you want to go back?' And he said, 'Yep, I want to see it through.'"

The bill says under all health plans, including the state's health benefit plan, people under the age of 22 will be covered for one hearing aid per hearing impaired ear. This includes new hearing aids every 36 months, or a new hearing aid when alterations to the current one won't fix it, and coverage for the initial hearing evaluation, fitting and adjustments.

Collin's dad says he watched this bill very closely to make sure it made it through.

“Then when we were on vacation, we had a vacation planned, he listened over the Internet for the first house vote,” says Arthur. “And we've come for every major House vote when we could.”

Drive to help deaf children in schools

Drive to help deaf children in schools

SCHOOL counsellors across Wales will be given new guidance to ensure services are accessible to deaf pupils.

Funded by the Welsh Assembly Government, the action is a response to recent research suggesting deaf young people are 60% more likely to experience mental health problems than those who can hear.

The resource, written by the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) and RNID Cymru, highlights the view that growing up deaf can be challenging and that promoting positive emotional well-being in deaf pupils is essential.

It also offers school counsellors practical pointers on how to meet varying communication needs and ensure that services are accessible to deaf pupils. The guidance will form part of the Welsh Assembly Government and British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) School-based Counselling Operating Toolkit, distributed last year.

Jayne Dulson, director of NDCS Cymru, said: “We are delighted to have worked with the Welsh Assembly Government, BACP and RNID Cymru to produce this invaluable guidance. Living in a hearing-orientated society can present particular emotional challenges for deaf children and young people, and a general lack of deaf awareness can leave young deaf people feeling isolated.

“With the appropriate support, deaf children can grow up to be confident and independent individuals. And this guidance, which seeks to ensure that school-based counselling services are accessible to deaf pupils, will help them to do so.”

Education Minister Leighton Andrews said: “By 2011, we want every secondary school in Wales to have high standard counselling services available so pupils can have someone to turn to if they need help or support. This new guidance written by NDCS and RNID Cymru will help ensure that independent, safe, confidential counselling will be available.”

Lawsuit says few state services available for mentally ill who are deaf

Lawsuit says few state services available for mentally ill who are deaf

Gail Belton thought she had found a solution to caring for her 26-year-old daughter -- a deaf, mentally ill woman.

A lawsuit on behalf of Renita Belton, 25, says Georgia is not providing her the same services given to 177,000 other people with mental illness, development disabilities or addictions.

Brant Sanderlin A lawsuit on behalf of Renita Belton, 25, says Georgia is not providing her the same services given to 177,000 other people with mental illness, development disabilities or addictions.

Renita Belton, who is deaf, has been diagnosed with developmental disabilities and mitochondrial cell disorder. She needs to be watched all the time.

Brant Sanderlin Renita Belton, who is deaf, has been diagnosed with developmental disabilities and mitochondrial cell disorder.

The Snellville woman had hired a company to provide around-the-clock staff for Renita Belton, but that firm lost its state certification earlier this month. Now there is a patchwork system in place while Gail Belton looks for a more permanent fix.

Gail Belton's daughter is one of two deaf, mentally ill people who filed a class-action lawsuit in March against Georgia for not providing them the same services given to 177,000 other people with mental illness, development disabilities or addictions. The federal lawsuit comes as the state is negotiating to settle another one filed by the U.S. Justice Department, which had said Georgia's mental health system was rife with abuse and neglect.

But even though that suit is being settled, Gail Benton told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Georgia isn't helping 350 mentally ill adults who also are deaf.

“The state’s not really taking care of my daughter. They aren’t providing a mental health service they provide others,” Gail Belton said. “There are supports for people who are hearing. Why aren’t there supports for people who are deaf?”

Renita Belton's federal lawsuit against Georgia asks for equal services.

"There are no services in Georgia," Gail Belton said.

Tom Wilson, spokesman for the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, said the state was already working on a plan to resolve the Beltons' issues when the suit was filed. He said the agency also is working with the Beltons on a stop-gap option until a new provider is found to replace Atlanta-based Bj&w Personal Care Home Inc., which lost its certification because the state said it had flawed record-keeping and other service deficiencies.

Wilson denies the state is indifferent to the problems Renita Belton and others with similar disabilities have.

"We have regional offices and the regional offices have worked with consumers to find other services," Wilson said.

Georgia did pay for Renita Belton to attend a Florida program, the National Deaf Academy near Orlando, as a youth. But when she reached 22, Renita Belton was no longer eligible for state funding to pay for services at specialized facilities.

“In Florida, I saw the services. I saw how they were working,” Gail Belton said. "I saw how the deaf people were working."

The options back in Georgia were limited.

Gail Belton initially built her daughter an apartment in her basement so she could have some degree of independence.

But Renita Belton often would stay awake at night. She roamed the streets night and day, while her mother was sleeping or working as a human resources director for a government agency.

“It created a very dangerous situation,” Gail Belton said. “To keep her from wandering, she had to be locked in the basement. I did not like leaving her in the basement, locked up. But the only way to keep her safe was to keep her confined."

But on those occasions, Renita would break bottles. She would cut herself. Gail Belton would come home from work to find "blood on the clothes, blood on the floor..."

Gail Belton said her daughter needed government services. But while the suit is pending, Gail Belton has had to patch together another option -- one that falls short of what she said her daughter needs.

The state would cover the cost of someone to watch Renita Belton for eight hours a day if she lived with her mother.

"I was trying to get her accustomed to being independent and I was trying to work," Gail Belton said.

The state allowance increased to $150 a day -- the cost of staff for two eight-hour shifts -- if she lived independently. A special waiver was needed to get 24-hour care.

So Gail Belton bought a second home -- this one in Snellville -- and made state-mandated changes to it so it would qualify as a "host" or "group" home.

The house has room for three more mentally ill, deaf women, but so far, the state has not referred any.

There are emergency exit instructions in virtually every room. Renita and her caregiver have fire drills. Modifications were made to the house so that it’s accessible to those with physical disabilities.

Also, Gail Belton had to find a provider willing to secure a special waiver, a process that is laborious. She could find only one company -- the since de-certified Bj&w -- that was willing to do it.

“I didn’t want this," Gail Benton said. "I just want to be a mom.”

In her case, that's not been easy.

Renita Belton has been diagnosed with developmental disabilities and mitochondrial cell disorder. She needs to be watched all the time, her mother said. In addition to breaking things and cutting herself, she also is suicidal and prone to wandering the streets and getting into cars with strangers if someone doesn’t watch her.

Renita Belton's destructiveness increases especially after gatherings where she is the only nonhearing person, both daughter and mother say.

“I just miss everything and I blow up,” Renita Belton told the AJC through an sign-language interpreter.

Renita Belton is a spunky woman who teases her mother and her caregiver -- one of three who reported to duty that day even though the firm that placed her was de-certified. Through sign language, Renita Belton engages them in playful conversations much like those a teenager would have with adults.

Her playfulness evaporates at the suggestion that a hearing person look after her. She is adamant about having caregivers who also are deaf and fluent in American Sign Language.

“Renita made it very clear I needed to provide people she can talk to,” Belton said. “My child is social. She likes being included. For her not to be aware of what’s going on around her, not being able to talk to people, creates isolation for her.”

Renita Belton was diagnosed as deaf when she was 3. Initially, she was sent to the Atlanta School for the Deaf but later enrolled in mainstream schools. By the time she was in the eighth grade, behavioral problems had developed.

“As a parent, I recognized there were some things occurring in her education,” Gail Belton said. “I first took it to the school system and got a letter saying … there were no problems ... But I was at the school nearly every day saying, ‘What is up?’”

Renita Belton was 16 when her mental illnesses were identified.

It was then that she was enrolled in specialized schools, first in Washington, D.C., and then the one in Orlando. Renita Belton caught up on some of the education she missed before her illnesses were identified and she learned some life skills.

"Every state that touches us [Georgia] has some services for deaf people," Gail Belton said. “... My daughter needs to be independent. She just needs help.”

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Stanford lab create inner-ear hair cells in a dish

Stanford lab create inner-ear hair cells in a dish

Deep inside the ear, specialized cells called hair cells detect vibrations in the air and translate them into sound. Ten years ago, Stefan Heller, PhD, professor of otolaryngology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, came up with the idea that if you could create these cells in the laboratory from stem cells, it would go a long way toward helping scientists understand the molecular basis of hearing in order to develop better treatments for deafness.

After years of lab work, researchers in Heller’s lab report in the May 14 issue of Cell that they have found a way to develop mouse cells that look and act just like the animal’s inner-ear hair cells — the linchpin to our sense of hearing and balance — in a petri dish.

If they can further perfect the recipe to generate hair cells in the millions, it could lead to significant scientific and clinical advances along the path to curing deafness in the future, they said.

“This gives us real hope that there might be some kind of therapy for regenerating hair cells,” said David Corey, PhD, professor of neurobiology at Harvard University who was not involved in the study. “It could take a decade or more, but it’s a possibility.”

Using both embryonic stem cells from mice as well as reprogrammed mouse fibroblasts (a type of relatively undifferentiated cell found in many parts of the body), the researchers present a step-by-step guide on how to coax these cells into the sensory cells that normally reside in the inner ear.

“We knew it was really working when we saw them in the electron microscope,” Heller said. “They really looked like they were more or less taken out of the ear.”

Humans are born with 30,000 cochlear and vestibular hair cells per ear. (By contrast, one retina harbors about 120 million photoreceptors.) When a significant number of these cells are lost or damaged, hearing loss occurs. The major reason for hearing loss and certain balance disorders is that — unlike other species such as birds — humans and other mammals are unable to spontaneously regenerate these hearing cells.

Read the full article at the Stanford School of Medicine website.

‘I’m deaf from customers’ yelling. Now pay me comp!’

‘I’m deaf from customers’ yelling. Now pay me comp!’

Can an employee, who lost her hearing, get workers’ comp because she was yelled at by customers?

If the employee can prove the yelling caused her hearing loss, a court said.

What happened?

For 18 years a female employee of National Fuel spent parts of a typical workday on the phone with customers who were angry.

Two years after she retired she filed a workers’ comp claim that said she’d suffered occupational hearing loss from long-term exposure to noise (yelling customers).

Who won?

The ex-employee won in front of a Workers’ Compensation Board — but that ruling was later overturned on appeal from the employer.

The appeals court said she hadn’t spent all eight hours of her day on the phone exposed to 80 to 90 decibels of noise.

And her description of the actual noise level was too vague and imprecise to establish that it caused her hearing loss, the court said.

Result: She was not awarded comp benefits — but would’ve been if she could’ve proven her hearing loss was a direct result of her job duties.

Cite: Zahm v. National Fuel.

3D imaging could help improve hearing aids

3D imaging could help improve hearing aids

If you're one of the 17 percent of American adults who reportedly suffer from some type of hearing loss, listen up: hearing aids--and earphones--may be about to enter a new generation of superior fit and functionality, thanks to molds based on a 3D imaging technique instead of plaster.

Time was, getting fitted for a hearing aid took an hour in a chair with an audiologist, who would fill a patient's ear canals with a silicone substance that hardened into a mold from which the aid would be constructed. The molds are only so detailed, which means the fits are only so tight.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have taken a new approach with a stretchy, balloon-like membrane inserted into the ear canal and then inflated to take on the canal's detailed shape. They then fill that membrane with a fluorescent dye that a tiny fiber-optic camera inside the balloon can scan in a matter of seconds.

Because the camera captures 3D images so fast, it is also able to measure how the contours of the ear canal change with pressure, or with motion such as chewing and talking, measurements that could even further improve the fit of hearing aids, as well as earphones used with MP3 players and earplugs for, say, military personnel.

"A lot of people with hearing aids are likely walking around with hearing aids that don't fit, because they don't know what they're supposed to feel like," says Douglas Hart, a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT who patented the system in January and has founded a company to bring it to market.

The team is now building a handheld version of the device that they plan to study, comparing the fit of hearing aids built with the new scanner to that of traditional aids.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Deaf news wire service

As you know, a new system is being tried for handling our newsletters. its a
much more sophisticated system.

And if your'e seeking deafness related news, feel free to go to these two
websites that handles the newswires.


and both sites are capable of bringing the freshest news relating to deafness,
deaf community, hearing loss, hearing impairment, sign language, cochlear
implants, and audiology.


Religious class for deaf Muslims tests limits of American Sign Language

Religious class for deaf Muslims tests limits of American Sign Language

The teacher is late for class, but none of the students seem to mind. Instead, they are scattered around the main floor of Masjid Toronto, a mosque in the city’s downtown core, seemingly lost in their own conversations.

Hands move frantically and eyes indicate comprehension. For many of the 20-or-so students in the room here to attend the city’s only Islamic class for deaf Muslims, being able to socialize with others from the community is as rare as the chance to learn about their faith.

“Deaf Muslims don’t have many opportunities to meet others from that community, so the chance to have those social connections is very fulfilling,” said Amina Daimee, among the first Muslim ASL/English interpreters who graduated from the George Brown College program this year.

“And because of this class, many of them feel it’s finally their time to access their faith and Islam, because they have never had that before,” said Daimee, who attends the class with her parents who are both deaf.

The teacher, Sheikh Abdool Hamid, arrives and everyone gathers on the floor around him. He begins with the customary prayer, usually done in Arabic. But for this bimonthly class he has promised to keep his lessons strictly in English so that Daimee can use American Sign Language to communicate.

“It’s a new learning experience for me. I have never had to speak before without using Arabic terms,” said Hamid.

But in a class as diverse as this, even English has its limitations. Many here began speaking Pakistani Sign Language, Arabic Sign Language and Turkish Sign Language long before they knew ASL existed — and are only now learning the nuances of the second language.

Moreover, ASL doesn’t really take diversity into consideration, said Daimee. Words like ‘Mecca’ and ‘Mohammed’ simply don’t exist. So the class has agreed for now to simply spell such words out.

Some English words have to be adapted for the Islamic context.

“The sign for ‘prayer’ is different for Muslims, and you can’t make the sign for ‘blessing’ like Catholics do, in the shape of a cross. It would be something else,” said David Kolenda, an ASL/English interpreter who has been helping the group out.

But the challenge of communicating with people from a dozen countries is further complicated by what they already know.

“There are signs that are very unique — even in Pakistan they might have a sign for Mecca, but if you go to Kuwait, they might have a different sign for Mecca,” said Daimee.

Which is why most of the first class in April began with an extensive discussion on the most basic aspect of any religion class: a common sign for God.

“Almost everyone in the class had a different sign for Allah,” said Daimee. “They all pointed upwards, but the biggest difference is the shape of the hand,” she explained.

“Then people had different signs for ‘imam’, for ‘Quran’, even for ‘Islam’ . . . so those are the things we had to discuss to set what we would use for this class.”

“So in a way, with every class, we are kind of making up a new language on the spot,” she said. And perhaps the beginning of what some may see as a distinct Canadian-Muslim sign language.

“Language is always evolving, so who knows what will happen?” said Daimee.

This is the first time, in over 15 years, that there has been an official Islamic class for deaf Muslims, said Rabia Khedr, executive director of the Canadian Association of Muslims with Disabilities, the group organizing the classes. The community, made up of dozens of individuals, has largely been isolated from each other since then.

“Some of these people have come to a mosque after a long time,” said Khedr. “For many of the teenagers, this is their first time being involved in anything religious,” she said.

“And what they all really want is a class where they can learn the basics of their faith — who was Adam, the stories of the prophets, and learn what prayer really is — basically an Islam 101,” she said.

Deaf Student Pursues Dream of Becoming a Doctor

Deaf Student Pursues Dream of Becoming a Doctor

The commencement ceremony at University of Virginia held a special meaning for one student who graduated with a degree in chemistry despite being deaf. Now that her undergraduate career has come to a close, Jasmine Saleh continues to over come her disability with plans to attend medical school.

"My four years here at UVA have been so wonderful," said Saleh.

Despite being deaf, Saleh focuses on her capabilities rather than her challenges.

"My parents cried when they found out I was deaf. They thought I would never get into college," said Saleh.

Defying all odds, she graduated from UVA this weekend and will start medical school at the University of Illinois in the fall. She plans on becoming a radiologist.

"With my hard work, determination, I got in and everything is going great," said Saleh.

But it was a long road to get here. At 17 months of age Saleh's parents discovered she couldn't hear. When she was five, she received a cochlear implant and then went through rigorous speech therapy to be able to communicate outside the sign language world. Today, she can hear background noises but has difficulty understanding what people say. During classes she relied on an interpreter but the biggest challenge she said was changing how others viewed her.

"They thought that deaf people can't do anything, so I had to prove them wrong," said Saleh.

Greg Propp is an American Sign Language professor at UVA and taught Saleh.

"Jasmine is great, very hard working student, very dedicated," said Propp.

Propp said it's rare for a deaf person to get into college and even medical school.

"Deaf students usually, English is their second language so similar to other second language students, their verbal scores are usually lower," said Propp.

Although hearing is a challenge, Saleh listened to her heart and followed her dream of becoming a doctor, like the one's that made a difference in her life.

"It can change someone's life and broaden more opportunities for that person," said Saleh.

Saleh said being in and out of hospitals as a child was the reason she wanted to go into medicine. She wants to help others and make a difference in their life.

Rainbow Alliance for Deaf Seeks to Overcome Barriers

Rainbow Alliance for Deaf Seeks to Overcome Barriers

South Florida Rainbow Alliance for the Deaf, SFRAD is dedicated to the “social, cultural and educational welfare” of the hearing impaired community. Its president, Jordan Isea is only twentyeight years old but carries himself and the organization with a seasoned commitment beyond his years.

The group began one year ago when Isea got together with a few other deaf LGBT friends in Broward County. An earlier organization, Coconut City Society of the Deaf (CCSD), was the first Rainbow Alliance for the Deaf (RAD) in the country. They were in existence from the 1970s but due to internal conflicts closed shortly after Isea’s move to South Florida in 2006.

“I saw the benefits of a similar RAD organization in Houston,” Isea said from his home in Miami. “After seeing nothing happen for three years, I decided to work with some people in reestablishing a prominent deaf LGBT organization in the area. I wanted the new name to be easily identifiable for those who are deaf and hard of hearing in the region.”

Isea, whose family moved from Caracas, Venezuela to Houston when he was three years old, did so to guarantee him an education. In Caracas, at the time, education for the deaf stopped in the fourth grade. Given that Isea recently completed a Master of Science in Mass Communications the move proves that the hearing impaired can certainly earn an education, and in his case, foster the needs of what he feels is an “invisible community.”

“It’s hard to spot a deaf person anywhere unless you notice either a hearing aid or someone communicating using sign language. The communication problem is a major concern. Especially when I noticed some deaf people don’t even bother being proactive in mainstream society because many do not even want to deal with the communication barriers that exists between the deaf and hearing communities,” he added.

At the core of SFRAD’s mission – and the mission of any organization for the deaf – is bridging the communication barrier. Many deaf people do not feel comfortable communicating with hearing individuals, which contributes to their needs not being met.

“It is for this [communication barrier] that for many deaf LGBT individuals identify as deaf first, gay second. That is,” Isea added on a more positive note, “until they’re able to overcome the communication issue.”

The barrier goes beyond social isolation, and often extends to health issues. HIV and AIDS among the deaf LGBT community is problematic. Due to privacy concerns, many HIV-positive deaf do not seek out the aid of an interpreter, to avoid gossip about the person’s status. As a result the deaf and positive individual mat not be correctly informed on what to do to address their health.

Bridging the barrier of communication is at the core of SFRAD’s mission. In addition to social events, including a Gay Tea Cruise on June 6 and an upcoming car wash at Equality Park, the group will teach hearing individuals American Sign Language.

“There has been a lot of interest in the classes primarily because it’s new, fun and affordable,” Isea told SFGN. “Classes are $15 for the whole year, which is pretty much the cost of becoming a member for most people.”

The group currently has 22 members, with 2/3 in Broward and 1/3 in Miami-Dade. Isea wants to expand the group to at least 50 members by the end of the year, and hopes to develop a Palm Beach County branch.

For more information please visit

Lawsuit: Calif fails to accommodate deaf workers

Lawsuit: Calif fails to accommodate deaf workers

Deaf and hard-of-hearing state employees in California are regularly denied sign language interpreters for meetings and have been left behind during emergency evacuations because of a failure to accommodate their disability, according to a lawsuit filed Friday.

"Our investigation reveals a systemic breakdown," said Joshua Konecky, a lawyer for the plaintiffs. "Deaf employees describe a haphazard and patchwork environment for requesting and securing accommodations, if they get them at all."

The problems have resulted in workplace "isolation, exclusion, prejudice and overall pervasive discrimination," the suit says.

The lawsuit filed in San Francisco Superior Court cites problems at the Department of Rehabilitation, Department of Justice, California Public Employees Retirement System and Department of Social Services.

It seeks class action status and includes seven named plaintiffs, including a woman who works in the Office of Deaf Access for the Department of Social Services.

There are about 1,500 state workers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

Requests for comment from the governor's office and state attorney general's office were not immediately answered.

The lawsuit alleges the state has violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

It claims deaf employees are often denied sign language interpreters for work-related events, including staff meetings, job training, performance reviews and meetings with the public and clients.

It also says the state frequently substitutes insufficient or ineffective forms of communication — lip reading, e-mail, videophones and interpretations by co-workers unskilled in sign language — rather than provide qualified interpreters.

The state often fails to caption videos shown to employees and cites budget limitations as a reason for denying interpreter requests, the lawsuit states.

"On paper, the state recognizes the need for sign language interpreters and other forms of reasonable accommodations, but in practice, the state has no reliable systems in place to ensure that its deaf employees have effective communication with their clients, co-workers and management," said Laurence Paradis, executive director of Disability Rights Advocates and a lawyer for the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit seeks improvements to state procedures and attorney fees.

Paradis said inadequate emergency procedures are the most disturbing example of the state's failure to accommodate deaf employees.

"We have had numerous reports of employees being left behind in buildings during evacuation drills and actual emergencies," he said.

State employee Melanie Thao Nguyen said her ability to serve the deaf community is hampered by the state's failure to provide her with sufficient interpreters in her position as associate governmental program analyst at the Office of Deaf Access.

The lawsuit claims the interpreting position at her workplace has been vacant for more than three years, and no one is due to be hired because funds had dried up.

Wadsworth exhibition celebrates co-founder of American School for the Deaf

Wadsworth exhibition celebrates co-founder of American School for the Deaf

The American School for the Deaf and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art collaborated to create an installation celebrating Laurent Clerc titled “Connections Gallery: American School for the Deaf,” which will be on view through June 6.

Clerc is a prominent figure in the history of deaf culture and Hartford. Clerc came to America from France in 1816 to help co-found the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, the oldest school for the deaf in the United States. The founding of the school began in Hartford in 1814 when Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, a recent Yale graduate and clergyman, met the Dr. Mason Fitch Cogswell family and their deaf daughter, Alice. Cogswell and 10 prominent citizens, including the Wadsworth’s founder Daniel Wadsworth, decided there was a great need for an American school for the deaf. In a short time, sufficient funds were raised to send Gallaudet to Europe to study the methods of teaching the deaf.

Embarking on a voyage to Europe to learn the art of educating deaf children, Gallaudet encountered the work of l’Institut National de Jeunes Sourds de Paris, the world’s first free school for the deaf. He then enlisted Clerc to join him in an historic journey to establish the first permanent school for the deaf in the United States. On April 15, 1817, The Connecticut Asylum for the Education and Instruction of Deaf and Dumb Persons opened with seven students in Bennett’s City Hotel at Main and Gold Streets in Hartford.

The portraits of Laurent and Eliza Boardman Clerc by Charles Willson Peale are the inspiration for this exhibition and the video “Portrait of a Community: American School for the Deaf.”

“The Peale portraits are important to the deaf community,” said Gary E. Wait, American School for the Deaf archivist, “because they are one of the first examples of a deaf person signing. In the portrait of Eliza, she is signing the letter ‘E’ for the first initial of her name.”

This Connections Gallery is presented in conjunction with the Wadsworth Atheneum’s exhibition “Reunited Masterpieces: From Adam and Eve to George and Martha.”

Guests can visit the museum Thursday, May 27, at noon for free, and can join a docent for a closer look at portraits of Clerc.

Living in a silent world

Living in a silent world

avid Sanderson, and his wife, Barbara, live on the shores of Silver Lake in Fenton and enjoy an active lifestyle on the water — but they’ve never heard the soothing sounds of the lake or the early morning bird calls signaling the beginning of a new day.

Both of the Sandersons have been deaf since birth, but it hasn’t stopped them from doing anything in life they’ve wanted to achieve — including raising three successful daughters blessed with acute hearing, who are just as comfortable in the deaf world as they are in the hearing world.

As residents of Fenton since 1989, the Sandersons love and appreciate small-town living, compared to California where David was born and raised.

“We chose to live in Fenton because of the recreational opportunities here and its family orientation. We know everyone here — everyone at The Home Depot knows me by name,” said Sanderson, with the help of American Sign Language and interpreter Carie Sarver at the Michigan School of Deaf, where he is in his fifth year as superintendent.

“We do everything that the hearing population does. We just speak a different language,” said Sanderson. His expressive movements and quick fingers bring a new appreciation of the importance of visual cues in the life of a deaf person. “Our language comes from our eyes. It’s acquired visually, not auditorially. That’s the only difference.”

This common language and life experience is often what brings deaf people together, both in marriage and in friendships. “About 95 percent of deaf people marry other deaf people,” said Sanderson, who met Barbara when they were both attending Gallaudet University in Washington D.C., the nation’s only deaf, liberal arts college.

Linden residents David and Debby Dietch met in college, too, when both were attending the National Technical Institute for the Deaf on the Rochester ITT campus in Rochester, N.Y.

Debby, 53, was a “rubella baby,” whose deafness wasn’t diagnosed until she was 2 years old. She was sent to an oral deaf school, before, sign language was taught in the classroom. “I learned sign language while riding the bus with Michigan School for the Deaf students,” recalled Debby. She was mainstreamed into regular school in seventh grade, but was the only deaf student in her high school class.

“I’ve always been a part of both the deaf community and the hearing population, because I came home every day to a family who could hear,” said Debby. “My mom encouraged speech therapy for years when I was a child, so I learned to speak.” In fact, Debby is so well spoken, people in work or social situations often forget that she is deaf. “I still miss a lot in meetings if I don’t have an interpreter,” she said.

After being downsized from her work at the Communication Access Center on the Michigan School for the Deaf campus and a career at The State Bank in Fenton, she’s attending college to complete her bachelor’s degree in business administration. She’s hoping to work in disability services at the college level.

David, 52, was born deaf from a congenital defect. He spent all of his childhood attending schools for the deaf. He has been a professional tool and die maker for more than 30 years, the last 19 at Century Tool in Fenton.

He is also able to speak, but can best be understood face-to-face, at a close range. He finds it easiest to communicate if someone looks right at him so he can read lips, unless they know sign language. The couple has three hearing daughters, Jennifer, 28, Ashley, 24 and Stacy, 23, all of whom work with their dad to help him with grammar and writing. Both of these skills are weak.

Because communication tends to be easier among those who are deaf or “hard of hearing” (the preferred expression, as opposed to “hearing impaired”), those in the deaf community tend to socialize together. The Flint Area Deaf Club provides a social outlet, and many couples like to socialize on Friday night at restaurants with friends.

Just as the hearing community has a wide range of ability in verbal and written skills, there is a vast range of levels in deafness, which determine how people choose to communicate. Some people are totally deaf, and cannot hear any sound at all and are not helped by a hearing instrument. Others, like the Dietchs, are able to speak and hear slightly, with the help of a hearing aid.

What those in the deaf community appreciate most of all is patience. “A deaf person will do his or her best to let a hearing person know how to communicate — whether by writing a note, lip reading, gesturing, etc.,” said Sanderson. “We know how to communicate. It’s just a different language than yours.”

Park to lead South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind

Park to lead South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind

Maggie Park's interim position as president of the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind was made permanent Tuesday by the school's board of commissioners.

Park, who has worked at the school for nearly 10 years, was selected in August to temporarily lead the organization until a permanent replacement could be found. She said her time already spent in the top position has allowed her a better overall view of the school and prepared her to take on the job permanently.

"I'm thrilled to be able to serve SCSDB in this way," Park said. "It has been a great opportunity to get a feel for the job in the last 10 months. With all the budget cuts, we are still going to be working on moving forward with our programs and serving our students here and across the state, but doing it as economically as we possibly can."

Until August, Park served as the school's director of curriculum and instruction. She has nearly 20 years of experience in curriculum, special education and administrative duties through work with SCSDB, the Willie Ross School for the Deaf in Longmeadow, Mass., the First Baptist Cooperative Preschool in Bethlehem, Pa., and Pateros Preschool in Pateros, Wash.

After earning degrees in educational administration, deaf education and early childhood education, Park is pursuing a doctorate in educational administration. She expects to complete the degree in 2011.

Park has earned numerous educational awards and is affiliated with the Convention of American Instructors of the Deaf, the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development, the Council for Exceptional Children, the Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf and the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired.

SCSDB board chairwoman Cynthia Holland said the decision to appoint Park was unanimous.

"We feel that Maggie's outstanding credentials and years of experience at SCSDB qualify her to take on the leadership of this state agency," Holland said. "She has certainly demonstrated over the last year that she possesses the ability to lead SCSDB, as she has worked diligently to maintain student programs and services in spite of dire economic times. We are thrilled that Maggie will accept the position and look forward to working with her as SCSDB continues to grow here on campus and through outreach services statewide."

The SCSDB board conducted a formal candidate search last year, a few months after the replacement of former president Pamela Shaw in August 2008, then selected Park as an interim leader for the school.

Park's permanent appointment is pending approval by the South Carolina Agency Head Salary Commission and the Budget and Control Board in June 2010. The state Agency Head Salary Commission will set Park's salary this summer. She currently earns $103,000 per year as interim president.

"I am just thrilled the board has allowed me to have the position on a permanent basis," Park said. "I am really looking forward to serving this campus."

Deaf man sells home after being conned out of thousands on Facebook

Deaf man sells home after being conned out of thousands on Facebook

A British DEAF man is being forced to sell his home after internet scammers tricked him into believing he won a special lottery.

Kenneth Newman, 50, was born deaf and communicates using sign language.

However, thanks to the internet, he can easily communicate with friends across the globe using social networking sites.

In January, he was befriended by a woman on Facebook who called herself Sandra Owen.

She claimed she was deaf and had won £750,000 on the “United Nations Deaf Lottery”, but after paying £5,000 as a fee to receive the money, her prize money went up to £1.2million.

She forwarded the e-mail address of the supposed lottery organiser, Harry Thomas, to Mr Newman.

After contacting him, Mr Newman was told — having passed on his bank account details — that he had won £600,000.

Mr Newman was told to forward £300 via Western Union to an address in Lagos, Nigeria.

However, Mr Newman, a technical officer at Derriford Hospital, was then told he needed to find about £30,000 for “government fees” before he could receive his full winnings.

He took out a number of loans, secured against his Estover flat, but “Harry” would text him each time explaining he needed more, concocting various stories to encourage Mr Newman’s efforts.

Only after a meeting with his bank regarding life assurance was the con spotted — and Mr Newman was urged to contact police.

By this time, the crooks had hacked into Mr Newman’s Facebook site, so it appeared as if he was telling all his friends — particularly his deaf friends — that he had won £600,000 on a lottery for the deaf.

Investigators are trying to track down the crooks, but admit there is little hope of retrieving the money.

PC Michael Loveys said: “He has been sucked in by these people and they went on to try and target friends of his.

“There’s no such thing as a deaf and disabled person’s lottery. There are a number of scams like this out there. Lots and lots of people have been scammed, but if you haven’t entered a lottery, then you haven’t won.

“What is most appalling is that these criminals are specifically targeting vulnerable people.”

Mr Newman, speaking with assistance from his friend, British Sign Language interpreter Helen Doyle, said: “About £26,000 is gone from six loans. My flat’s been remortgaged and I now have to sell my flat. I hope I will be able to find another place.

“I want to warn other people, both deaf and hearing people, not to be taken in by these lottery scams. Say no to them, don’t contact them and remove them from your Facebook page.

“For the last three months, it was hell. I’m doing better now, thanks to the support of my friends, but it will take me years to pay off these debts.”

Ms Doyle said: “We keep telling Kenneth to stay positive. If I wasn’t here, I think he would be gone by now. Kenneth wants to warn others, to save them the same fate. He hopes he can save others by revealing what happened to him.”

Anyone with information about the scam should call police on 08452 777444 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 quoting crime reference number EL/10/1320.

For more information on scams, visit or call Consumer Direct on 08454 040506 for advice.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Couple Denied Service Due to Service Dog

Couple Denied Service Due to Service Dog

MCLEAN, Va. - A McLean couple says they were denied service at a Virginia restaurant because of their service dog. Even after the police were called the couple says they were turned away.

Forty-seven-year-old Christine Calabrese is legally blind, hearing impaired and suffers from severe balance problems. She needs her service dog for help walking in addition to seeing and hearing. But on a trip through southern Virginia the Calabreses were told the dog was not welcome at an area restaurant.

In a letter that John and Christine Calabrese are sending to the Justice Department, they claim that Napolis Italian Restaurant in Altavista, Virginia violated Christine's human rights.

Last Saturday, the Calabreses say they sat down in the restaurant along with Christine's service dog, Koji.

"They took our order for drinks. So I thought everything was fine," said Christine Calabrese.

But they were soon asked to leave by the managers, Ahmed Ahmed and Fathy Morse. John Calabrese says he repeatedly explained the Americans with Disabilities Act, but without success.

"He leaned over and said to me 'I know my business. That dog is not allowed,'" said Calabrese.

The Calabreses went outside and called police, who also called the Health Department to confirm that service dogs are allowed under state and federal law.

"And advised them what the consequences would be and they still refused to allow the lady with the dog into the restaurant," said Deputy Chief Kenneth Walsh with the Altavista Police Department.

The couple and their dog were still turned away.

Manager Fathy Morsy says he didn't know about the Americans with Disabilities Act and he says the Calabreses were being rude.

"I say 'just leave it outside,' because the people were complaining...they tell me 'no,'" said Fathy Morsy. "And he was talking with me, you know, it was not in a good way, you know."

Rude or not, Christine says hopes no other people with disabilities are treated the same way.

"I would like to prevent this from happening again, that's my ultimate goal," said Christine Calabrese. "I always try to make things better for the next disabled person to come along."

The Calabreses say they don't plan to sue the restaurant. They will let the Justice Department decide whether to prosecute.

The restaurant manager says he is sorry about what happened, knows the rules now, and the Calabreses are welcome back anytime.

Implants changing life for Modesto girl born deaf

Implants changing life for Modesto girl born deaf

Brinley Reiswig is 15 months old, but only last month did she start hearing her mother's voice and the other sounds in her world.

The Modesto girl, who was born deaf, is experiencing sound with the help of cochlear implants, which should allow her to learn to speak and enjoy the same opportunities as other children.

These surgically implanted electronic devices were first made in the 1980s for adults who were not getting results from hearing aids.

Today, children of Brinley's age or younger are receiving the implants because of evidence their brains have a better chance of adapting to sound and learning language.

"We felt it was in her best interest to have the implants," said Shandra Reiswig, her mother. "The studies show the sooner she gets started with the implants, there is a much higher success rate for getting the full capabilities of her implants."

Soon after Brinley was born in the hospital, she failed a newborn hearing test in one ear. But nurses told her parents that the tests are not very reliable.

By the time Brinley was 7 months old, it was obvious she was not hearing. Loud noises never startled her. She would not respond to her name or turn around in her crib when her parents greeted her in the morning.

Reiswig and her husband, Rod, persuaded doctors to refer Brinley to Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland, where in December she was put to sleep for two hours for a brain study. The test showed Brinley did not respond to any sound, her mother said.

Reiswig used an iPhone application to learn sign language and started teaching it to her daughter. Her mother-in-law then saw a television news segment about cochlear implants for young children.

In late March, Brinley received implants for each ear during a six-hour operation at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Palo Alto.

The cochlear device consists of two main components: a sound processor and transmitter worn around the ear; and a receiver and electrode system implanted under the skin with cords attached to nerves in the inner ear.

A magnet connects the external components to the implants, and when the system is activated with a remote, signals from the sound processor are transmitted to the receiver under the skin. The receiver sends electric currents to the inner ear, creating a sense of sound.

When her implants were switched on in April at the Palo Alto center, Brinley was frightened by her first experience with sound, her mother said. She screamed, tried to pull the processors off and then pointed to the door -- her sign that she wanted out.

She soon became accustomed to sound, however, when the implants were activated at home. Her purple sound processors, sporting cheetahs and zebras, would not stay on her ears at first, so Reiswig fashioned headbands to keep them in place.

New things to learn

Now that Brinley has the implants, she must learn to understand this new dimension in her life.

A speech therapist and two other teachers from the Stanislaus County Office of Education come to the Reiswig home every week to work with Brinley.

They are trying to get her to associate sounds with the things that make them. As she progresses, she will learn that a cow moos and a duck quacks and that other sounds are associated with words.

It could take Brinley from four months to a year to start speaking, but she is making progress and vocalizing a lot more, her mother said.

"If the phone rings, we make sure to take her to the phone so she knows where the ring is coming from," Reiswig said.

Brinley often plays with a toy kitchen stove that makes a variety of noises. Exercises teach her to associate actions with words.

For example, her parents let out an exaggerated "whoosh" when their daughter goes down a slide.

One of her teachers gives Brinley a toy fishing pole, and as she reels in a fish, the teacher repeats "up, up, up."

Brinley has more fun with her 3-year-old sister, Danica, who no longer is frustrated when trying to get her to play.

"She is more engaged with her surroundings now," said Pam Martinez, a teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing for SCOE.

Martinez said most of SCOE's young charges with cochlear implants have learned language and are in regular education classes at school. Some require the help of a sign language teacher; others don't need assistance.

Martinez said her 7-year-old son received the implants after he was diagnosed with severe hearing loss. "He talks nonstop and he is fully mainstreamed in school," she said.

Reiswig wants to send Brinley to the Jean Weingarten Peninsula Oral School for the Deaf in Redwood City for intensive speech and language therapy. She will ask Mo- desto City Schools, which is responsible for providing special-needs education, to cover the tuition.

Portia Miller of Modesto said the district pays half of the annual $60,000 tuition for her son to attend the Children's Choice for Hearing and Talking center near Sacramento. The other half is covered by the school's fund raising, she said.

Her 3-year-old son, Bryson, got his first cochlear implant because of nerve damage in the inner ear and a second implant in March.

Some parents opt for two implants because of evidence the patient hears more clearly.

"He now hears equally well on both sides, so he understands a lot more," Miller said. "He loves to hear sounds and figure out what they mean."

Brinley's surgery to implant the internal device was not flawless. A spinal fluid leak is a complication in a small percentage of cases, and her doctors had to stop leaks on both sides.

There is some risk of infection with the implants, so patients are vaccinated for bacterial meningitis before the surgery.

Reiswig said the risks were outweighed by the opportunity to give her daughter the gift of hearing.

The Modesto City Schools secretary doesn't seem fazed by a layoff notice she just received. She said it will allow her to devote full attention to her daughter.

On a recent walk in their neighborhood, Brinley turned to watch birds rustling in the eaves of a home and flipped her head around to look at a passing truck.

"We have come a long way in the past few weeks," Reiswig said. "It is definitely getting better with time."

Shandra Reiswig keeps a blog about her daughter's experience at

Woman 'not deaf enough' for a Freedom Pass

Woman 'not deaf enough' for a Freedom Pass

A FREEDOM Pass holder of 28 years from Brentford has had it taken away because she is not deaf enough.

Christina Williams, of Hazel Close, told The Chronicle of her anger at Hounslow Council for withdrawing the ticket for free travel.

The 44-year-old teaching assistant at Woodbridge Park Education Centre said: "I have had problems with my hearing since I was six, it's a damaged nerve and it's never going to go away.

"This will affect my independence, it means I don't have to rely on people. Why give it to me in the first place, it's the principle of this that has annoyed me."

The mother of two has hearing problems in both ears and has to use a hearing aid. She says she has submitted three audiograms to Hounslow Council as well as appealing the decision three times but has had no success in overturning the decision.

After receiving correspondence from the council, Miss Williams claims to be only 2dBHL off being entitled to a pass under the new criteria.

She said: "They have told me I have only mild to moderate hearing loss, if this was the case as they say then why do I need a hearing aid and a loop installed in my home? Why after 28 years have they decided to take it now and why wait this long to change their policies?"

She is not the first reader to get in contact with The Chronicle, Yvonne Chappell, 39, of Bath Road in Hounslow was told her IQ was not low enough to be given a pass when she reapplied.

A spokesman from Hounslow Council said: “The Government sets clear criteria for those with hearing difficulties applying for a Freedom Pass. Unfortunately for Mrs Williams, she does not meet these. Her disappointment is understandable, but we hope she appreciates that these criteria are there to make sure the system helps those who need it most.”

Two shot, one fatally, on St. Paul Street

Two shot, one fatally, on St. Paul Street

wo men were shot, one fatally, in an apparent home invasion today at an apartment on St. Paul Street across from the Rochester School for the Deaf.

Police said the two men — both of whom were 28 and from the northeast part of the city — were in an apartment at 1580 St. Paul St. just before 3:20 p.m. when several people arrived at the door. An altercation occurred and the two men were shot, one in the shoulder and the other multiple times in the upper torso, said Rochester police spokesman Officer LaRon Singletary.

Neither the victims nor the suspects lived in the apartment, said Singletary, and it’s unclear who does live there or if anyone else was in the apartment at the time.

The suspects fled and the two injured men ran from the apartment and collapsed in the street — one on the east side of the street in front of the apartment, the other across the street in front of the School for the Deaf.

They were taken by ambulance to local hospitals and one man was pronounced dead at Rochester General Hospital at 4:05 p.m. The other, who was shot in the shoulder, was taken to Strong Memorial Hospital.

Several people in the area at the time of the shooting saw the men collapse in the street and tried to help them

“I was driving home. I saw him lying in the road and I called 911,” said Nicole Gonzalez of Norton Street. Gonzalez said the man was bleeding from the chest and mouth and was asking for help.

“I just held his hand and tried to console him,” Gonzalez said. A woman who she believes to be the dying man’s mother arrived at the scene and kept saying, “My baby, my baby,” Gonzalez said.

“It was very difficult to watch that,” she said.

By the time police arrived, the man was unresponsive, she said.

The school’s director of public relations, Frank Kruppenbacher, said some students and faculty were outside on athletic fields at the time of the shooting but were quickly brought inside and the school was placed in lockdown for about 20 minutes.

Research paves the way for cure for deafness

Research paves the way for cure for deafness

The research, which involves regenerating the sensitive hair cells that turn sound vibrations into nerve signals, was described as "really exciting" and could benefit millions of people.

Humans are born with 30,000 hair cells in each ear.

When the cells are lost or damaged – possibly due to exposure to excessive loud noise or injury – it can lead to permanent hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

Damage to hair cells may also affect balance, causing symptoms of vertigo and dizziness.

Regenerating the sensory hair cells of the inner ear has been the holy grail of deafness research.

The new breakthrough is the culmination of 10 years' work by scientists in California.

A team led by Professor Stefan Heller, from Stanford University School of Medicine, succeeded in programming mouse stem cells to develop into immature hair cells.

Viewed under an electron microscope, they were seen to have bundled structures reminiscent of the hairlike tufts of "stereocilia" that give the cells their name.

"They really looked like they were more or less taken out of the ear," said Prof Heller.

Most importantly, tests showed that the cells responded to being moved the way hair cells do, by converting mechanical signals into electrical ones.

Experts hope the cells, which could be made in large numbers from multiplying stem cells, will provide an invaluable research tool for studying the molecular basis of hearing and deafness.

Further down the line, they may also help scientists find a way of coaxing a patient's hair cells to renew themselves.

The research is already being taken forward by scientists supported by the Royal National Institute for Deaf people (RNID).

Dr Ralph Holme, head of biomedical research at the charity, said: "The possibility that stem cells could one day be used to restore hearing is really exciting and could benefit millions.

"RNID-funded research has shown that human stem cells can also give rise to hairlike cells, an important step forward in developing a clinically relevant therapy.

"We are now supporting research to investigate whether hearing can be restored using these cells in preclinical models of deafness and to find ways of scaling up the production of safe, clinical-grade cells."

David Corey, Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard University in Boston, said: "This gives us real hope that there might be some kind of therapy for regenerating hair cells. It could take a decade or more, but it's a possibility."

The Stanford research, the first to create functional inner-ear cells, is reported in the journal Cell.

Prof Heller's team used both mouse embryonic stem cells and artificially "induced" stem cells made by reprogramming ordinary skin cells.

Embryonic stem cells, removed from early-stage embryos, are "mother" cells with the ability to transform into virtually any kind of tissue in the body. Induced stem cells have similar "pluripotent" properties.

In both cases, the cells were exposed to special cocktails of chemicals that caused them to pass through a range of development phases normally seen in the womb.

"We looked at how the ear develops in an embryo, at the developmental steps, and mimicked these steps in a culture dish," said Prof Heller.

"These cells have a very intriguing structure. They look like they have hair tufts of stereocilia."

Inside the fluid-filled inner ear, hair cells respond to currents set up by the vibrating ear drum via a set of tiny bones.

The movements trigger electrical nerve impulses from the cells that are transmitted to the brain.

A similar property was observed in the lab-manufactured cells.

Deaf couple files complaints against Derby

Deaf couple files complaints against Derby

DERBY — A deaf couple has filed complaints with the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, claiming Derby police should have provided them with a sign language interpreter after they got into a car accident last year.

Wendell Hunte of 10 Boston Ave., Bridgeport, and Emori Tompkins of 57 Smith St., Derby, each filed a complaint against the city, the Police Department and police commission, claiming police violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and state law.

According to the complaints, Hunte and Tompkins are both deaf, their preferred method of communication is American sign language, and they have limitations in understanding written and spoken English.

The complainants claim the police officer who responded to the scene of the crash, Holly Whitman, asked them what happened. They used gestures to indicate they were deaf and needed to write a note to request a sign language interpreter, according to their complaints. They claim Whitman didn’t provide them with pen and paper, and instead asked their 5-year-old son, who can hear, questions.

The complaints claim Whitman didn’t take their statements at the scene, and later, after they were treated at a hospital and released, had a 16-year-old relative who can hear interpret for them.

“At no time did respondents provide ... an ASL interpreter or any other appropriate auxiliary aids necessary for effective communication,” the complaints allege.

The couple claims they were unable to communicate effectively about the accident without an ASL interpreter.

Attorney Paulette Annon of the Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities filed the complaints on the pair’s behalf. Jim O’Neill, a spokesman for the CHRO, said this week both cases remain open and pending. O’Neill declined further comment.

Derby police Lt. Salvatore Frosceno said police have no comment, and the matter has been forwarded to city Corporation Counsel Joseph Coppola.

Coppola said Friday the department denies some of the allegations.

“At no time did they ask for an interpreter,” Coppola said. “This was a car accident, and the officer needed an answer if they were hurt. It isn’t a situation where you can wait for an interpreter.”

One of the complaints says an ambulance attendant gave Tompkins a pen and paper at the accident scene, and she wrote down her 16-year-old daughter’s name and phone number on it for Whitman.

“There is an apparent contradiction — first the complaint says they weren’t given a pen and paper, and later says they were, but that wasn’t good enough,” Coppola said.

The accident happened on Aug. 16, 2009, on Smith Street near West Ninth Street. According to the accident report, written by Whitman, Hunte was driving, and Tompkins and their 5-year-old child were his two passengers.

The officer reported asking them if they were injured, and the report says Tompkins said her neck hurt, and Hunte said his knees were scraped, so Whitman called for an ambulance. The report indicates that Hunte and Tompkins are hearing-impaired, and says Tompkins wrote on paper “black man hit us, he ran away, he drove wrong way.”

A witness reported seeing a black male hit Hunte’s vehicle head-on. The man got out, inspected the damage, but then got back in his vehicle and fled the scene. Hunte grabbed onto the driver’s side window and was dragged a short distance, according to the witness, the report shows. Police deemed the unidentified hit-and-run driver to be at fault for the crash.