Community News - Archive

Deaf-Parented Interpreters: We Want YOU!

August 1, 2014 in Community News, Interpreting & Transliterating

 

NCIEC

First of its kind, study of deaf-parented interpreters

If you meet these criteria, please participate in this 20-minute survey.

ASL version: http://youtu.be/0dTLQImr2iM.

  • You have one or more deaf parents
  • You used signed language in your home while growing up
  • You identify as Deaf, Hard of Hearing, hearing, and/or Coda
  • You work as an ASL/English interpreter now OR have ever worked as an ASL/English interpreter

YOU can be a part of a study that aims to contribute to the understanding of training and educational experiences of deaf-parented interpreters.

This survey link will be available for responses until August 30th, 2014.

Principal researcher, Amy Williamson, is the daughter of deaf parents, Mary Ella Scarboro Williamson and Barney Williamson of North Carolina. Amy has worked as an ASL/English interpreter since 1990 and is conducting this research as partial fulfillment for a Masters degree in Interpreting Studies at Western Oregon University under the supervision of Pamela Cancel.

Thank you!

Amy

 

“My hearing loss has never held me back in music.”
Meet Eloise Garland

August 1, 2014 in Community News, Hearing Loss & Deafness

 

 

The Limping Chicken, United Kingdom
Deaf news and deaf blogs from the UK! Lays eggs every weekday
Article Source

Tell us about yourself.
I’m nineteen years old, moderately deaf, and I’m currently studying in London for a music degree.

I like anything creative and arty, and enjoy going to cultural events and exhibitions where historical artifacts are shown (very easy to get to when you live in London!).

I am also highly involved with helping to raise self esteem amongst deaf young people.

Eloise Garland

How did you cope with being deaf and progressing in music?
My hearing loss has never really held me back with my music as it’s something I love doing, though I admit that I wouldn’t be able to it without my hearing aids.

Although I play violin and piano, voice is my primary study at university. By using hearing aids and working with my singing teacher to ‘feel’ where notes are placed, I can really make the most of my hearing.

It was partly determination and partly being told I was capable of doing things by my parents and teachers that got me to where I am now, and I hope to pass that attitude and level of encouragement on to other people.

It’s important to realise that music can be made accessible to anyone as long as they’re given the right opportunities and are encouraged to have an ‘I can’ outlook on life.

You use a device to help you. Tell us what difference it makes?
Yes, I use a new system made by Phonak (a supporter of this site) called Roger. The system consists of a Roger Pen (a transmitter with a microphone which literally looks like a pen), and receivers attached to my hearing aids.

In university, for instance, a lecturer can hang the pen around their neck, and their voice will be sent directly to my hearing aids.

I can also plug it into the computer, my iPod, the TV, or connect it to my iPhone via Bluetooth so that voices or media sources are also directly streamed from the transmitter to the receivers.

I also now use another mic with the system, which is a smaller and more basic clip-on mic.

Inspirational deaf dancer Macy Baez going for hip hop gold in US

August 1, 2014 in Community News, Hearing Loss & Deafness

 

 

Illawarra Mecury, Australia
By LISA WACHSMUTH

July 22, 2014
Article Source

Born profoundly deaf, Albion Park hip hop dancer Macy Baez doesn’t hear the beat of the music the same as the rest of her crew, rather she “feels the music”.

The 14-year-old is part of Crew Illagroovers, a young dance troupe that will jet off to the United States next week to represent Australia in an international hip hop competition.

Macy’s drive and talent has inspired many, including NSW Minister for Disability Services John Ajaka, who on Tuesday presented the crew from Street Beatz Hip Hop studio with a $5000 cheque to help them on their way.

“Macy is one determined little individual. It was my honour to meet her and help her get one step closer to the United States to dance,” he said. “… Macy is a great role model for all young people with disability.”

The Dapto High School student, who has bilateral Cochlear implants, said she was thrilled to be able to compete on a global stage.

The crew of seven, aged from 12 to 14, will compete in the varsity section of the World Hip Hop Championships in Las Vegas from August 4 to 10 and Macy is going for gold.

“I’m going there to win,” she said. “I’m very excited, and a bit nervous, but I love competing because it’s a lot of fun and it has a serious side too.”

Not only has Macy’s dancing improved since she started lessons six years ago, so has her hearing.

“I have to listen hard for the beat,” she said. “I feel it before I hear it.”

Popularity of Sign Language among Hearing Students

July 31, 2014 in Community News

 

 

360translations.com
Blog – Latest News
July 25, 2014
Article Source

Sign language is finding popularity among hearing students as a new way of communicating with each other and with their deaf friends. In some schools where it is offered as a foreign language, the demand is so heavy that they often have to turn down prospective students. According to a Modern Language Association Survey, American Sign Language ranks as the fourth most popular language almost displacing German from third place. In the past 10 years, students taking ASL has risen by more than 50 percent.

The popularity and increasing interest in sign language can be gauged from the fact that Silent Games, involving 200 colleges was held at Federal Way High School. It also involved school students and their parents, some hearing, some deaf. The participants who could not speak all evening except using sign language participated in many games and competitions.

In one school, for one day each semester, a teacher gives all her students including those who can hear a pair of earplugs to wear all day.

“The deaf have been learning the language of the hearing for the past 150 years,” says a teacher. “Now it’s time for the hearing to learn the language of the deaf.”

Ninety-one thousand students opted for an ASL class at 730 U.S. institutions during the Fall of 2009, according to the language association. This figure is expected to rise dramatically in the next survey in early 2014.

Some of the reasons for this popularity are mentioned here

  • Students see a practical use for ASL and as an education for getting  jobs of interpreting, teaching and counseling
  • Students have a difficult time sitting through entire classes all day without much movement. Sign language gives them an active and visual relief. Students are seen signing to one another outside the classroom and, in it, making sign conversations about weekends and boyfriends.

Read More

Deaf Oregonians cry foul in DHS contracting process

July 31, 2014 in Community News, Interpreting & Transliterating

 

 

Saerom Yoo,
Statesman Journal
Article Source

The Oregon Department of Human Services is in the process of hiring a company to coordinate and provide interpretive services for deaf and hard of hearing Oregonians, but the very people who are supposed to benefit from the services are saying they’ve been left out of the process.

The deaf and hard of hearing community is criticizing the state for not soliciting its input when writing the request for proposal and for choosing an out-of-state company. Signing Resources & Interpreters is negotiating a contract with state officials. Some have demanded that the state cease talks with the Vancouver, Wa., company and start over.

DOCUMENT: Signing Resources and Interpreters Redacted
DOCUMENT: Request for Proposal from DHS
DOCUMENT: RFP 3724 Scores – Redacted

For years, there was only one full-time state staffer coordinating and billing for interpretive services across the state, said Nathan Singer, deputy chief operating officer for aging and people with disabilities. But as the job became more demanding, Singer said, it became clear that a contractor was needed to help provide the services.

The program supports hearing impaired Oregonians’ ability to participate in public meetings and take advantage of state provided services. Other government agencies can also request the service from DHS.

According to the request for proposal, the Oregon Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services provides 700 to 1,100 hours of interpreter services statewide per month.

The RFP was issued in April. Seven proposals were submitted and six were scored by three DHS employees and one member of the Oregon Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Advisory Committee. DHS is now in negotiations with the top scoring proposer.

Members of Oregon’s deaf community and advocates packed a meeting room in the Oregon State Library on Wednesday afternoon for an open forum with DHS. With the help of interpreters, people asked questions and expressed their complaints.

Chad Ludwig, president of the Oregon Association of the Deaf, said through an interpreter that DHS did not seek out comments from the ODHHS advisory committee and that it invited members to help score the proposers late in the process. The state also refused to accept the committee’s input in editing the RFP, he said.

The OAD board also has concerns with Signing Resources & Interpreters, he said, because leaders of the local deaf community have never heard of the business.

Singer agreed that DHS could have done a better job engaging with the deaf community, but during the procurement process, the state takes a step back from speaking with stakeholders. The hands off approach is deliberate and used to avoid creating a perception of favoritism, he said.

Read More

Apple Develops Iphone, Ipad Hearing Aid

July 31, 2014 in Community News

 

Saturday, July 26, 2014
Article Source

Technology continues to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities, as earlier this year, Resound developed a hearing aid in collaboration with Apple’s products.

Users of compatible hearing aids can talk on the phone, make Facetime calls and listen to music in high quality stereo.

When Steve DeLuca was 28-years-old, he developed a brain tumor.

“It knocked out the hearing in my left ear, and then over the years, my right ear has gotten bad, and then I lost the hearing in my right ear also without the tumor,” DeLuca said.

DeLuca is a firefighter for Northbrook Fire Department and has been there 22 years.

“I drive the engine,” he said.

Hearing aids help him, but he learned from his audiologist about the made-for-iPhone hearing aid.

Laurel Christensen is head of audiology for GN Resound group, a Danish hearing aid manufacturer who partnered with Apple on this product.

“It’s a hearing aid, professionally fitted just like any other hearing aid,” Christensen said. “It’s a premium high-end hearing aid with high-end sound processing. In addition to that, it will connect to an iPhone so everything that’s audible from the iPhone will stream directly to the hearing aid.

“So that can be obviously a telephone call, it can be music, it van be videos, anything that is audible from the phone will go directly into the hearing aid,” she said. 

It is compatible with the iPhone 5 iPad Air and the iTouch.

“It’s priced like a premium hearing aid, so they can be $2,500 to $3,500 depending on where you go,” Christensen said.

“The Apple hearing aid is by far much better than the other hearing aid is, the technology that Apple uses and being able to sync with the phone just opens us to so many things that I’m able to do,” DeLuca said.

“There is a wow effect with the hearing aid alone, and when you connect it to the iPhone, people are able to hear things from an iPhone that they were never able to hear clearly before,” Christensen said. “We are getting a lot of positive feedback and it helps hearing-impaired people in more environments than they were able to hear before.”

For cochlear implants, there is no made-for-i-Phone product. But Christensen believes in the future and that they will have something like this.

For more information, visit Apple’s website.

 

 

Robert Panara | Professor and poet, dies at 94

July 29, 2014 in Advocacy & Access, Community News

 

 

philly.com
Article Source

Robert Panara, 94, a scholar in the field of deaf studies, a writer and poet, and a professor at institutions including Gallaudet University in Washington and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) in Rochester, N.Y., died Sunday at a nursing home in Rochester. He had heart ailments, said his son, John.

Growing up in Depression-era New York, Mr. Panara, who lost his hearing before he turned 10 – a casualty of spinal meningitis – received few of the services or accommodations available today for deaf or hard of hearing students. He was educated in mainstream public school classrooms.

He attended Gallaudet, focusing on literature, and taught there for nearly two decades before becoming the first deaf professor at NTID. Beginning in the 1970s, he wrote articles and books that helped establish deaf studies as a formal line of academic inquiry.

r_panara

Washington Post Article 
By Emily Langer

“Robert Panara, writer, poet, professor and pioneer of deaf studies, dies at 94″

Robert Panara could not hear the noise in Yankee Stadium the day in 1931 when Babe Ruth emerged from the dugout, strode toward him and extended his hand. Mr. Panara, then 10 years old, was deaf. He had lost his hearing several months earlier  . . .

Read Washington Post Article  Article URL

 

 

Fly-inspired tech could find use in better hearing aids

July 24, 2014 in Community News, Technology

 

Gizmag.com
By July 23, 2014
Article Source

When it comes to animals with good hearing, flies might not be the first one you’d think of. The Ormia ochracea fly, however, has a unique hearing mechanism that allows it to precisely determine the location of a cricket based on its chirps … it then deposits its larvae on the cricket, which ultimately consume the poor insect. Scientists at the University of Texas Austin have now duplicated that mechanism, with hopes that it could find use in applications such as next-generation hearing aids.

In the case of larger animals such as humans, the brain is able to ascertain the source of a sound based on the split-second delay between its being detected by the left and right ears. Insects, on the other hand, are so tiny that sounds register on both sides of their body almost simultaneously. Although they’re still able to “hear” by sensing vibrations made by sounds, they generally can’t tell where those sounds are coming from.

Ormia ochracea is different from other insects, however, in that it has a miniscule seesaw-like structure in the sub-2-mm space between its ears. Even in the four millionths of a second that it takes for a sound to pass through that space, it still causes the structure to vibrate, plus the sound undergoes a slight phase shift.

Like a full-size seesaw (or teeter-totter, if you prefer), any movements the structure makes are amplified by the fact that its two ends simultaneously move in opposite directions. This means that the phase shift will cause one side of the mechanism to dip noticeably lower than the other, thus letting the fly know the sound’s direction of travel. According to UT Austin’s assistant professor Neal Hall, it’s roughly equivalent to a person being able to locate the direction of the epicenter of an earthquake, by analyzing the delay between the tremors being felt by their left and right feet.

flyhearing

Hall and his team built a similar structure (seen above) that incorporates a flexible silicon beam suspended on two pivots. Integrated piezoelectric materials in four sensing ports convert mechanical strain in that beam into electrical pulses, allowing the device to simultaneously measure both the amount and direction of sound-induced flexing.

Additionally, at 2.5 mm, the device is only about one millimeter longer than its natural counterpart.

The scientists hope that once developed further, the technology could be used in compact low-power hearing aids that are are better able to discern conversations from background noise, along with possible military applications.

Read original article . . 

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Applied Physics Letters.

Sources: American Institute of PhysicsUniversity of Texas Austin

 

 

 

 

 

FCC Requires Closed Captioning Of IP-Delivered Video Clips

July 23, 2014 in Advocacy & Access, Captioning / Relay, Community News, Disability Law

 

FCC MOVES TO ENSURE ONLINE VIDEO CLIPS ARE ACCESSIBLE TO AMERICANS WHO ARE DEAF OR HARD OF HEARING

News Release – July 11, 2014
Proposed Ruling Released – July 14,2014

New Rules Will Require Captioning of Certain Online Video Clips Beginning in 2016

Washington, D.C. – The Federal Communications Commission today approved new rules that will require closed captioning of video clips that are posted online. The new rules further the purpose of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA) by helping to ensure equal access to all forms of programming by individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing when they watch video content online.
Specifically, the rules extend the Commission’s IP closed captioning rules adopted in 2012, which cover full-length videos online, to video clips if the original programming was shown on television in the United States with captions. The new rules apply to video programming distributors that air programming – including broadcasters and cable and satellite distributors— on television and then post clips of that programming on their own website or via their own mobile app. The new rules do not extend to third party websites or apps. Compliance deadlines vary based on the type of video clip. Specifically, a deadline of:

  • January 1, 2016, will apply to “straight lift” clips, which contain a single excerpt of a captioned
    television program with the same video and audio that was presented on television;
  • January 1, 2017, will apply to “montages,” which occur when a single file contains multiple straight lift clips; and
  • July 1, 2017, will apply to video clips of live and near-live television programming, such as news
    or sporting events. Distributors will have a grace period of 12 hours after the associated live
    video programming was shown on television and eight hours after the associated near-live video
    programming was shown on television before the clip must be captioned online in order to give
    distributors flexibility to post time-sensitive clips online without delay.

Finally, the requirements do not apply to video clips that are in the distributor’s online library before the
applicable compliance deadline because compliance for this category of video clips is considered to be
economically burdensome.

The Commission also issued a Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that asks for comment on
four related issues, including:

  • Application of the IP closed captioning rules to the provision of video clips by third party distributors not subject to today’s Order;
  • Whether to decrease or eliminate over time the grace periods that apply to video clips of live and near-live programming, as technological advancements facilitate the prompt online posting of such clips with captions;
  • Application of the IP closed captioning requirements to “mash-ups,” which are files that contain a combination of one or more video clips from captioned programming that has been shown on television along with other content (such as online-only content) that has not been shown on television with captions; and
  • Application of the IP closed captioning rules to “advance” video clips, which are those that are added to the distributor’s online library after the applicable compliance deadline but before the video programming is shown on television with captions, and which then remain online.

Action by the Commission July 11, 2014, by Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 14-97). Chairman Wheeler, Commissioners Clyburn and Rosenworcel issuing separate statements. Commissioner Pai concurring and issuing statement. Commissioner O’Rielly approving in part and concurring in part and issuing statement.

—–



 

List of related documents, background information and announcements:

FCC July 11, 2014 News Release (PDF) 

iDeafnews announcement from NAD (ASL video with captions)

Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT)  announcement

FCC Commission Document FCC 14-97 Released July 14, 2014
SECOND ORDER ON RECONSIDERATION AND SECOND FURTHER NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING

CEA Study Announcement - Arlington, VA – 06/05/2014 Change is in the Air: U.S. Households Viewing TV Programming only via the Internet are Poised to Surpass those Viewing only via Antenna

 

ASL Instructor needed, Lord Fairfax Community College, Warrenton, VA

July 22, 2014 in Community News

 

ASL Instructor to teach class for Career Studies Certificate in American Sign Language. Part time, ongoing position, two classes each semester. Minimum qualifications are a master’s degree and ASL certification.

Contact:
Edith M. Kennedy, D. A.
Associate Dean of Instruction-Fauquier

Lord Fairfax Community College
6480 College Street
Warrenton, VA 20187-8820
(540) 351-1516

Job Opening Captioned Telephone Outreach Coordinator – VA

July 22, 2014 in Captioning / Relay, Community News

 

Staffed in Richmond, VA

Hamilton Relay Services Division in Virginia currently has a full time position open for “Virginia Captioned Telephone Services Outreach Coordinator”.

We are an equal opportunity employer. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin or disability. 

Position summary:  This full-time position is responsible for coordinating and implementing outreach activities designed to promote Captioned Telephone Service (CapTel®) for Virginia Captioned Telephone Service (VACTS).

Education, Experience and Skills:

  • Bachelor’s degree and two or more years of experience in the design and implementation of public outreach, public relations or related marketing experience are required.
  • Experience in the telecommunication field, Traditional Relay Service or Captioned Telephone Service is a strong plus.
  • Excellent presentation skills
  • Ability to develop effective outreach and educational campaigns
  • Ability to confidently communicate (oral & written) with a wide variety of audiences
  • Ability to plan, schedule and execute multiple projects
  • Ability to understand and follow directions
  • Capacity to develop and maintain effective working relationships with Relay Administrator, organizations within the public, private and non-profit sectors
  • Knowledge of and ability to understand various communication modes used by current and potential relay users
  • Familiarity with the user communities that could benefit from relay services:
    o   Senior Community
    o   Hard of Hearing Community
  • Able to travel alone
  • Captioned Telephone users are encouraged to apply

For the full job description and application visit www.workforhamilton.com by August 4, 2014.

Hamilton Relay, Inc. is a division of Hamilton Telecommunications based in Aurora, NE. Hamilton offers a competitive wage and company paid benefits.  For questions in regards to this position please contact our corporate HR Dept. at: 800.821.1831 

Download PDF document of posting

 

Silent take on ‘Old Man and the Sea’ at Capital Fringe festival

July 21, 2014 in Community News

 

 

 July 11
Article Source

The 2014 Capital Fringe festival launched in earnest Thursday night with roughly 30 shows, one of them a wordless adaptation of “The Old

Hector J. Reynoso wrote, directs and stars in Capital Fringe festival's “The Old Man Never Let It Go.” (Johnny Shryock)

Hector J. Reynoso wrote, directs and stars in Capital Fringe festival’s “The Old Man Never Let It Go.” (Johnny Shryock)

Man and the Sea” directed and performed by deaf actor Hector J. Reynoso.

Hemingway without the language? In “The Old Man Never Let It Go,” Reynoso proves that it’s do-able, in the same way that D.C.’s acclaimed Synetic Theatre has franchised Shakespeare without the dialogue and speeches. (Reynoso has performed with Synetic a number of times.) You mine the story for action and keep the stage buzzing with vivid imagery and deeply moody music.

In the small Lab II theater of the Atlas Performing Arts Center, Reynoso plays the aged fisherman against a terrific video backdrop by projection designer Igor Dmitry. Vistas include sparkly beaches and scorching sun, but there is a lyrical, dreamy quality, too — although as Reynoso rows around the stage in a little boat against a glistening ocean to a lightly jazzy Spanish guitar tune, the performance drifts uncomfortably toward bland music video doldrums.

The constant musical underscoring and sound design is by Synetic’s Konstantine Lortkipanidze, and at its best it drives distinct, shifting rhythms in the saga of the fisherman’s battle with a marlin.

The book resists the stage a little, but then Reynoso’s 30-minute take is more a poetic distillation than a full-bodied adaptation. The bearded, bushy haired Reynoso himself is charismatic as the old man, padding about in baggy trousers and a rumpled hat. Comfortably enveloped by the compelling technical design, the actor pantomimes a simple life and then the epic, solitary struggle at sea. The brief show winds up as a limited but likable portrait of deep pride and passion.

“The Old Man Never Let It Go” will be performed four more times through July 26 in Lab II of the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. Visitcapitalfringe.org.

Article Source

Untreated Hearing Loss Linked to Depression, Social Isolation in Seniors

July 17, 2014 in Community News, Hearing Loss & Deafness

 

 

American Academy of Audiology
Originally published in Audiology Today, Vol. 11:4, 1999.
Article Source

Untreated hearing loss has serious emotional and social consequences for older persons, according to a major new study by The National Council on the Aging (NCOA). The study was conducted by the Seniors Research Group, an alliance between NCOA and Market Strategies, Inc. 

“This study debunks the myth that untreated hearing loss in older persons is a harmless condition,” said James Firman, EdD, president and CEO of The National Council on the Aging. The survey of 2,300 hearing impaired adults age 50 and older found that those with untreated hearing loss were more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia and were less likely to participate in organized social activities, compared to those who wear hearing aids. 

Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions in the United States, affecting more than nine million Americans over the age of 65 and 10 million Americans age 45 to 64. But about three out of five older Americans with hearing loss and six out of seven middle-aged Americans with hearing loss do not use hearing aids.

Consequences of Untreated Hearing Loss

The survey found that significantly more of the seniors with untreated hearing loss (those who do not wear hearing aids) reported feelings of sadness or depression that lasted two or more weeks during the previous years. Among respondents with more severe hearing loss, 30 percent of non-users of hearing aids reported these sad feelings, com-pared to 22 percent of hearing aid users. 

Another measure of emotional distress is the perception that “other people get angry at me for no reason,” which psychologists often identify as an indicator of paranoia. 

Older non-users were more likely to agree with the statement “people get angry with me usually for no reason” (14 percent of users vs. 23 percent of non-users). Among those with more severe hearing loss, the difference was even greater—14 percent for users vs. 36 percent for non-users. 

Because social isolation is a serious problem for some older people, the study also examined social behavior and found that people who don’t use hearing aids are considerably less likely to participate in social activities. Among respondents with more severe hearing loss, 42 percent of hearing aid users participate regularly in social activities com- pared to just 32 percent of non-users. –

Read more . . .

St. Peters, Missouri – Field of dreams for deaf players

July 17, 2014 in Community News, Hearing Loss & Deafness

 

 

KSDK.com
by Mike Bush

ST. PETERS, Mo. - It’s the time of year when the sounds of summer can be heard all over the country but not by the kids on these baseball fields in St. Peters, Missouri. This is the Mike Bush Fantasy Baseball Camp for the deaf and hard of hearing.

“We play baseball but it’s so much more than baseball,” explained Camp Director Cari Hampton.

Nine-year-old Harrison Beck is in his third year here.

“I’ve been hitting and catching. Practicing all my baseball skills,” he said by sign language.

Harrison discovered a love for sports when he was just a toddler about the same time doctors discovered that he was deaf. His dad says, the diagnosis was actually a blessing.

“Before we just knew we had a kid that wasn’t talking then we knew we had a deaf child,” said Dan Beck, Harrison’s dad.

Still, like most children his dad says he just wanted to fit in.

“It’s hard for a kid who can’t hear and talk like every other kid to join in a team sport,” he said.

That’s why, 25 years ago, this camp was started. For a week every summer, some 60 kids who often get singled out because of their disability get to standout because of their ability.

“I want them to feel, feel like they’re special and they’re important and they’re just as important as everyone else,” explained Hampton.

Read more . . .

Businesses welcome deaf as university turns 150

July 15, 2014 in Community News

 

 

USA Today
by Cogan Schneier July 12, 2014
Article Source

WASHINGTON — When Steve Walker was a student at Gallaudet University in the 1980s, he says, the school for the deaf and hard of hearing was a very different place than it is today.

When Walker studied at Gallaudet, students were advised not to venture outside the campus, because most people in the surrounding neighborhood didn’t speak sign language. Students didn’t feel welcome in the outside community, and struggled to communicate in restaurants where they couldn’t understand the servers. As the school celebrates its 150th anniversary, Walker says that has changed.

These days, the northeast Washington neighborhood around the school, including the upscale Union Market food hall next to the campus and the bars and restaurants of nearby H Street, accommodates the deaf community. Walker works at the school as a sign language interpreter for students who are both blind and deaf. He uses what’s called tactile interpreting, in which a student will hold his hands as he signs to understand him.

Walker says what is happening in the area around Gallaudet is a serious change in cultural sensitivity.

“Wow, there is a big shift in what I’ve seen,” Walker says, raising his eyebrows as he signs. “Back in the ’80s, when I was here, students basically did not feel welcome on H Street. But now, I see a lot of students, faculty and alumni going anywhere they want to go. And especially, it’s nice to see people on H Street using American Sign Language to be able to communicate with us, because that makes us feel even more welcome.”

Nearly 1,200 alumni registered for Gallaudet’s 150th anniversary celebration and reunion on campus this past week.

Gallaudet is a mecca for deaf students, says Wendy Martin, who graduated in 1980. Martin, who hails from Alberta, Canada, says she knows people from all over the world who came to Washington to study at Gallaudet. The university has about 1,000 undergraduate students and nearly 900 employees, half of whom are deaf or hard of hearing.

Fred Weiner, assistant vice president for administration at Gallaudet, says businesses have realized it makes much more sense, and money, to welcome the deaf community than to ignore it.

Read more . . .