Community News - Archive

NVRC Communication Access Fund provides captions at Arlington Expo

October 30, 2014 in Community News



On Sunday, October 26 at the  Beacon 50+ Expo, over 90 attendees had the opportunity to experience real-time captions for the Keynote Speech. This annual event is held at the Ballston Common Mall where the speech is presented in the atrium and the acoustics are extremely challenging.

Thanks to Verbatim Captioning and your donations to the NVRC Communication Access Fund, the feedback from the audience was overwhelmingly positive. Additionally, one frequent exhibitor to the expo responded, “This is the first time I have been able to follow along with the speech without leaving my exhibit booth!”

The topic of the Keynote Speech was “Biomedical engineering for humanity”. Dr. Robert Fishchell, physicist and inventor, spoke about some of his medical patents. If you would like a copy of the transcript, email

Marla Dougherty
Arlington and Alexandria Outreach
Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons
3951 Pender Drive, Suite 130, Fairfax, VA  22030
703-352-9055 x 102 (V)   703-352-9056 (TTY)  703-352-9058 (FAX)

Learn more about NVRC’s Communication Access Fund


Steve Jobs Pushed for Video Relay Services for the Hearing Impaired in 2010

October 30, 2014 in Community News, Technology



Thanks to an Email Request

By Lory | October 27, 2014

Original Article . . .

In 2010, when Apple first provided FaceTime to the world on the iPhone 4 one small company dedicated to bridging the communication gap for hearing people and the deaf and hard of hearing decided that they wanted that for their services.

CSDVRS, dubbed “Z” for short, was recently honored at this year’s Tampa Bay Business 100 awards ceremony. The event highlights the 100 largest private companies in Tampa Bay.

In his speech, CEO Sean Belanger detailed how he went about help from Apple for offering the video relay services (VRS) through Facetime. He was working with the program independently, but was struggling with how to merge the feature with the service.

“I sent an email to Steve Jobs, a very concise email about who I was, what I did and we needed help,” Belanger said. “In four days, I get a call from a guy who said ‘I’ve been told to help you, I don’t know why, I don’t know who you are, I work for Apple and I can’t tell you who told me to call you.’ ”

Shortly thereafter, Apple flew three engineers to the company’s headquarters and helped Z get VRS connected with Facetime so that, for the first time ever, a deaf person could communicate on a mobile phone call.

VRS is a service that connects deaf and hard of hearing persons with a hearing person using video calling. In 2010, video calls were not nearly as common as they are now. Many people did not even have that function on their smartphones. So, VRS would have a middleman, or a relay person, that would communicate with the hearing impaired person via video calling, and transmit the words through a regular phone to the recipient.

Facetime made that possible on mobile devices.

Now, video services like Facetime, Google video hangouts, and Skype are on every smartphone. Communication between the deaf and hard of hearing community and the hearing community is much better than ever before thanks to the work of software engineers who just wanted to bring the future to us.



MotionSavvy – tablet technology takes sign language into audio and spoken word

October 30, 2014 in Community News, Technology


Learn more about the development team on the MontionSavvy website

Watch video about the technology here

Watch video  blog

Read Articles about  MotionSavvy:

Washington Post –  October 27 2014

Arstechnica – by  Cyrus Farivar –  Oct 21 2014

Notice of Change: Interpreter Services for 12-Step Programs and Funerals

October 30, 2014 in Community News, Interpreting & Transliterating

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Center, Inc.

On October 15, 2014, Governor McAuliffe announced changes in the State budget for Fiscal Year 2015 (July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015).  The original budget, approved by the General Assembly and the Governor earlier in 2014, was based on estimates of how much money the state expected to collect (revenue projections) from taxes, fees, etc.  Cuts to the budget are necessary because such revenue collections have been down in the Commonwealth.  When he announced the cuts, the Governor said, “Making these budget reductions has been the most difficult experience of my term so far. In a government as lean and well-run as ours, there are few spending cuts you can make without impacting the lives of Virginians.”

When budget cuts have been made in the past, the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH) has been able to maintain a stable level of direct services.  Unfortunately, the cuts announced last week include a reduction in funding for the Interpreter Services Program (ISP) for Fiscal Year 2015.  Specifically, VDDHH will have to reduce the interpreter services provided for 12-step meetings and funerals through June 30, 2015.  We do not know if we will be able to restore these services for Fiscal Year 2016, which starts on July 1, 2015; it will depend upon the budget approved by the 2015 General Assembly. 

About Sign Language Interpreters for 12-Step Meetings (Alcoholics Anonymous/AA; Narcotics Anonymous/NA)
Effective November 1, 2014, VDDHH will not be able to pay for sign language interpreters for 12-Step (AA/NA) meetings.  We are working with Alcoholics Anonymous of Virginia Special Needs Committees to find out how local chapters can support the cost of interpreters for these meetings.

There are some other resources that can support Deaf people with substance abuse issues:

  • If you are a client of a Community Services Board (CSB), you should ask about communication access (and related funding) for your meetings.
  • There are online 12-step meetings available for Deaf people.
  • Deaf Off Drugs and Alcohol (DODA) has a website that includes information and access to online meetings, and a link to DODA’s schedule of meetings. Here is the link:


About Sign Language Interpreters for Funerals and Memorial Services
Effective November 1, 2014, VDDHH will not be able to pay for sign language interpreters for visitations, funerals or memorial services.  Families should ask the funeral home to provide an interpreter.   The funeral home can contact VDDHH at 804-662-9502 for help in locating an interpreter but VDDHH will not be able to pay for the interpreter.  VDDHH will be working to provide more information to funeral home directors about the need for interpreters. If you have a complaint about a funeral home because it does not provide effective communication, you may be able to file an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) complaint.  For more information, you may contact:


If you have any questions about these changes, please contact VDDHH at 804-662-9502.




Open House at Maryland School for the Deaf

October 30, 2014 in Community News



Maryland School for the Deaf welcomes families and professionals to upcoming Open Houses on each campus!

Columbia Campus Fall Open House
8169 Old Montgomery Road & Rt. 108
Ellicott City, MD 21043
Friday, November 14th from 10:00am – 2:00pm

Frederick Campus Fall Open House
101 Clarke Place
Frederick, MD 21701-6529

Friday, November 21st from 10:00am – 2:00pm

Please see the attached flyer for details and how to RSVP.

Erin Rae Buck Skees
Outreach Coordinator
Maryland School for the Deaf
V (301) 360-2054
VP (240) 575-3864

Stay connected with Maryland School for the Deaf!
*Join our Outreach email list by clicking here!
*Like us on Facebook!
*Visit our website!

Download – MSD – Fall Open House flyer

Captioned Events at the Kennedy Center & D.C. Metropolitan Area

October 30, 2014 in Community News


Kennedy Center Captioned Theater Alert

Click on following links to read more about captioned theater:


“Have You Got Your Thing In?” By Gael Hannan

October 27, 2014 in Community News



We know about the two most painful words in the hearing loss dictionary—never mind. But how about that SIX-word question that plagues every hearing aid or cochlear implant user: “Have you got your thing in?”  This can set off a bad-hearing moment faster than you can say dead battery.

Now, if you are a hearing person reading this, you might think how nice that someone cares enough to make sure we’re connected with our devices. And it would be nice, IF that was the reason for asking.  More often than not, they’re frustrated that we’re not getting it fast enough, in real time.  Clearly there must be some technical problem—perhaps our hearing aid or CI batteries have died?  Or maybe we deliberately aren’t using our things in order to irritate whoever we’re talking to?   The question is supposed to tell us maybe we should do something about the situation?  

It also shows a lack of understanding of what a hearing aid or cochlear implant can actually do.  People with stellar hearing can be forgiven for believing that, with our CI or hearing aid, we should be able to hear without problem.  I mean, technology fixes stuff, doesn’t it?

Hearing aid users quickly learn that devices don’t return us to perfect hearing—they neither completely correct nor cure hearing loss.  They are called aids for a reason:  they help us hear better through a system of technical processes.   They are assistive, not corrective, devices.  (What would we call devices that gave us 20/20 hearing, that reversed our hearing loss, restoring our missing frequencies and decibels so that we wouldn’t need to read lips and our brain could correctly locate sound and let us function in background noise?  What would we call this miracle?  Perhaps a hearing switch—you put it in, turn it on, and ta da!  You operate like a hearing person.  Or perhaps a hearing adaptor, like the piece that connects a phone to a power source.  While the hearing adaptor is in your ear, there is no trace of deafness. I can dream….)

Read on . . . .

Blue Ridge Speech and Hearing Center – Cinderella Tea – Sunday Oct 26th

October 24, 2014 in Community News



Blue Ridge Speech and Hearing Center will hold its Golden Anniversary “Cinderella Tea” at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday, October 26th, at the Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg.

During the past 50 years, Blue Ridge Speech and Hearing Center has provided comprehensive hearing evaluations, hearing devices and diagnostic and treatment therapy to more than 10,000 Loudoun County Public School (LCPS) students identified as having hearing, speech or language impairment.

Cinderella will welcome guests for a formal tea at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.on October 26th. (Guests of all ages are welcome to dress as their favorite princess, maiden, squire or knight.) Now in its 13th year, the Cinderella Tea includes a princess ballet performed by the Warrenton Ballet Company; an activities boutique; a commemorative tea cup; a horse-drawn carriage ride around Salamander Resort; and silent auction and raffle.

Blue Ridge Speech and Hearing Center will use the proceeds from this event to assist those in the community who face daily challenges communicating. For more information and to reserve your seats or table, go to

From Kansas to Giants, a Pioneer’s Trail of Wins and Wit; Deaf BB Player

October 24, 2014 in Community News, Hearing Loss & Deafness



New York Times

OLATHE, Kan. — A Giant is buried in Kansas.

Baldwin City, Kan., is a mere 50 miles from Kauffman Stadium, the home of the Kansas City Royals, this year’s American League champion. It is where Luther Taylor, who was known as Dummy Taylor, was buried in 1958, the year his former team, the Giants, began play in San Francisco, having moved from the Polo Grounds in Upper Manhattan.

Taylor was a pioneering pitcher, a colorful and charismatic character who could neither hear nor speak but who could throw a baseball with expertise. He helped the Giants win their first World Series of the modern baseball era, in 1905, and bridged a gap between hearing and nonhearing athletes, and he remains a unique link between Kansas City and the Giants.

During Taylor’s time with the Giants, from 1900 to 1908, many of his teammates learned to sign, and Taylor kept them laughing — and sometimes winning — for much of his career.

“He stands as an inspiration to many people,” said Sandra Kelly, a former teacher and principal at the Kansas School for the Deaf, where Taylor starred in baseball and later coached, in Olathe (pronounced oh-LAY-tha), a city 20 miles southwest of downtown Kansas City, Mo. “It’s pretty clear from the stories how much his teammates loved and respected him.”


Luther Taylor kept his teammates loose with his sense of humor and umpires on edge with his salty sign language.CreditGeorge Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress 

Kelly is now the executive director of the Deaf Cultural Center here, which sits directly across the street from the school. The center houses a museum with an exhibit dedicated to Taylor, one of the school’s most celebrated graduates, along with Paul Hubbard, who is said to be the inventor of the football huddle.

READ Entire Article

Interview with President of Korean Association of the Deaf

October 24, 2014 in Community News


Deaf Nation
Posted – Oct. 24, 2014

In this interview, we sit down with a man of many experiences and stories… Seungil Byun 변승일! We have the chance to learn about a country’s hardships and passion to gain equality in different aspects for their Deaf community in this video. Join in on the interview and get to know this individual on his accomplishments, and what he aims to accomplish! (captioned)

Click to watch Captioned Video

Have Fun and Give Back Alexander Graham Bell Association

October 23, 2014 in Community News


Have Fun and Give Back – Join a New Tradition of Generosity
RSVP Today and Help Us Advance Our Mission 

Come on November 8, 2014 for a
Pre-Theater Reception and Performance of

You are cordially invited to a pre-theater cocktail reception at the Volta Bureau – the Alexander Graham Bell Association’s beloved historic headquarters in Washington, D.C. – and then join us in busing over to the Kennedy Center to enjoy a comedy-whodunit, Shear Madness.

At the reception, we will unveil our upcoming campaign for #GivingTuesday.


The performance will be captioned and assistive listening devices will be available for patrons at the Kennedy Center. Round-trip bus transportation to and from the Kennedy Center will be provided from the Volta Bureau.

  • Reception begins at 4:00 p.m. at the Volta Bureau
  • Buses depart the Volta Bureau at 5:00 p.m.
  • Performance begins at 6:00 p.m. at the Kennedy Center
  • Limited Seats Available – $75 per person
  • Please click here to RSVP

The registration rate includes the reception, transportation and 
performance ticket!

If you are unable to attend, but wish to contribute to the success of#GivingTuesday,
please click here. Also, please forward this to anyone who might be interested and share with your social media networks.

We look forward to seeing you on November 8!  

Transportation Sponsored by  

Tate & Tryon

The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is a 
501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.



Scientists restore hearing in noise-deafened mice

October 23, 2014 in Community News, Hearing Loss & Deafness, Research



Medical Xpress
October 20, 2014

Scientists have restored the hearing of mice partly deafened by noise, using advanced tools to boost the production of a key protein in their ears.

By demonstrating the importance of the protein, called NT3, in maintaining communication between the ears and brain, these new findings pave the way for research in humans that could improve treatment of hearing loss caused by noise exposure and normal aging.

In a new paper in the online journal eLife, the team from the University of Michigan Medical School’s Kresge Hearing Research Institute and Harvard University report the results of their work to understand NT3’s role in the inner ear, and the impact of increased NT3 production on hearing after a noise exposure.

Their work also illustrates the key role of cells that have traditionally been seen as the “supporting actors” of the ear-brain connection. Called supporting cells, they form a physical base for the hearing system’s “stars”: the hair cells in the ear that interact directly with the nerves that carry sound signals to the brain. This new research identifies the critical role of these supporting cells along with the NT3 molecules that they produce.

NT3 is crucial to the body’s ability to form and maintain connections between hair cells and nerve cells, the researchers demonstrate. This special type of connection, called a ribbon synapse, allows extra-rapid communication of signals that travel back and forth across tiny gaps between the two types of cells.

“It has become apparent that hearing loss due to damaged ribbon synapses is a very common and challenging problem, whether it’s due to noise or normal aging,” says Gabriel Corfas, Ph.D., who led the team and directs the U-M institute. “We began this work 15 years ago to answer very basic questions about the inner ear, and now we have been able to restore hearing after partial deafening with noise, a common problem for people. It’s very exciting.”

Read More . . .

VSDB History Book, History of the Education of the Deaf in Virginia

October 23, 2014 in Community News



Order Your VSDB History Book

Only 250 copies will be printed and books will be sold for $60 each. There will be 219 pages in the first section (Bass’ Book) and 249 pages in the second part (for a total of 468 pages) with 313 photographs liberally interspersed throughout the book, 144 in the first part and 169 in the second part. Most of the book will be printed in color with some black/white photos on 8.5” x 11” pages, with hard covers (see the photo at the right).

There is a $7.00 additional charge for shipping.

Please contact Race Drake, or VP: 540-416-0017 if you have any questions about this book.

DOWNLOAD – VSDB History Book order form

Signed languages can do so many things spoken languages can’t

October 21, 2014 in Community News



Sarah Klenbort, AU
Sunday 19 October 2014

The deaf community is no utopia, but it does offer an alternative language, culture and social life to those who choose to be a part of it

When people notice my daughter and me signing in the street, they often stop and comment: “You know,” they say, “there’s this thing called the cochlear implant.” As if the mother of a deaf child could’ve missed that news.

Or they offer some hopeful anecdote: “I met this deaf woman with hearing aids from Queensland when I was on holiday in Fiji and she’s a really good plumber – I mean really good.”

Because this week is National Week of Deaf People, I feel it’s a good time to talk about the nature of Auslan (Australian Sign Language) and the deaf community. I’ve only been studying Auslan for four years, but I’ve come a long way from that first community course.

You see, I used to be one of you, one of those people who thought sign language followed English grammar. And I thought there was just one sign language – the same in every country – though if I’d thought that through for more than a minute I would’ve realised those two assumptions were mutually exclusive.

I also used to assume all deaf people would prefer to be hearing.

The deaf community is no utopia, but it does offer an alternative language, culture and social life to those who choose to be a part of it. In fact, signed languages can do many things spoken languages can’t. In fact, here’s a list of ways in which visual languages are superior to the spoken word:

Read More  . . .


Deaf and blind able to shop alone at non-profit grocery store

October 21, 2014 in Community News



Braille signs and audio scanner help visually impaired shop for groceries independently

By Jesara Sinclair, CBC News
Oct 16, 2014

A non-profit food store in Vancouver’s east end has introduced Braille signs and audio scanners to allow deaf-blind and other visually impaired customers to shop independently.

The grocery markets operated by the Quest Food Exchange aren’t open to the public.Instead low-income clients are referred through a social services agency.

The project started when Paralympic athlete Eddy Morten lost his job and became a customer at the food market. Morten is deaf and blind.

“When we started talking to him, Eddie was unable to go shopping on his own, and an interpreter would cost him $50 for one hour and he would need to book two hours,” marketing manager Pardeep Khrod told CBC Radio’s On The Coast.

Morten was brought on as the project coordinator. Khrod says he helped staff understand the challenges of navigating a grocery store when both deaf and blind.

Read More . . .