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E-Michigan Deaf and Hard of Hearing People.

News 2005

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MSD Students Suspended for Protest

According to the Flint Journal, about 30 Michigan School for the Deaf students were suspended for joining a protest at the school yesterday. Reminiscent of the Deaf President Now protests that occurred at Gallaudet University in 1988, students are calling for a change in leadership. Students at Gallaudet, a liberal arts college for the deaf, demanded that a deaf president be chosen to lead the university. That historic action resulted in the hiring of I. King Jordan. (Learn more at: In a similar vein, students at the Michigan school are demanding a deaf principal for the state run high school program.

Read the full article from the Flint news at:

Community Protests Deaf Education

The education of deaf children has been controversial for centuries. In recent months, Michigan citizens are raising concerns that all the debate has done nothing to improve outcomes. According to the National Deaf Education Project, deaf students are still lagging far behind in reading and other academic skills (

Recently, two protests were held at Detroit Day School for the Deaf. According to the Detroit Free Press (October 27, 2005), "Dozens of parents and staff protested in front of the school after getting what they called unsatisfactory answers from Detroit Public Schools officials at the school board meeting."

Today, one man is holding a hunger strike outside Michigan School for the Deaf in Flint, demanding a number of measures be implemented. To learn more see his blog at:

The MIchigan Deaf Association, the leading state-wide organization for the Deaf community in MIchigan, discussed the issues at a recent board meeting (11/20/05). They are in support of improving educational services at deaf schools in Michigan.

In the past, the debate raged around oral vs. sign language approaches to communication in the school setting. Proponents of the oral method recommend the exclusive use of speech reading and oral language, possibly with visual cues (cued speech). Sign language supporters defended the visual language of the Deaf community. Recent debates rage around bicultural/ bilingual education. To learn more about these different philosophies see the E-Michigan Parent section on Communication Approaches.

National Deaf Education Reform Now on the Web

The debate over deaf education has continued for decades and yet one thing remains unchanged--the average deaf or hard of hearing student continues to leave school with a third to fourth grading reading level and deficient in most academic subjects. Even with the advent of newborn hearing screening, early identification of hearing loss, and new technologies, our children may continue to face a limited future. Communication and language are the foundations for all learning, and yet American law and educational policy do not recognize this fundamental truth, and, indeed, often work against it.

The goal of the National Deaf Education Project (NDEP) is to see the development of a communication and language-driven educational delivery system for deaf and hard of hearing students in the United States. A new website has been created to provide information to parents, educators, consumers, professionals, and others involved in trying to improve the education of deaf and hard of hearing children. The website includes state initiatives on deaf education reform.

The Board of the NDEP is comprised of representatives of Gallaudet University , the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, the National Association of the Deaf, the American Society for Deaf Children, the Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools for the Deaf, and the Convention of the American Instructors of the Deaf.

To learn more, read the complete Press Release.

Or visit the NDEP web site at

Are You Ready?

If there is a bad storm or other emergency, will you be ready? Learn how to prepare with this newsletter by the CEPIN Project.

To read the newsletter Click Here.

To subscribe to this newsletter click here:

NBC’s Three Wishes Television Show Has a Local Connection

Portage based HARC Mercantile, Ltd. performed a significant role in an upcoming episode of the Three Wishes television program, scheduled to air November 11th at 9:00 PM.

HARC, a division of the Hearing Center of Kalamazoo, is a nationally recognized company which specializes in the design, manufacture and distribution of assistive listening and alerting systems for the hard of hearing.

While the details of the company’s involvement can’t be fully discussed until after the show airs, company CEO, Ron Slager, says “We were approached by the show’s producers who explained the segment scenario. They then asked if we would be interested in designing and specifying the requirements for the project as well as doing the necessary on-site installation. We accepted the challenge and, in addition to our products, we specified products made by another West Michigan company, Zeeland based Gentex Corporation.

Participation in the show was interesting and a great honor for us, but the greatest reward was witnessing, first hand, the life changing impact for the recipients as they experienced, for the first time, the benefits of the integrated technologies we designed into their project.

If you are at all like me, watching the “revealing” or wish granting parts of the show usually brings moisture to my eyes. I can tell you it does more than that when you are there to see it unfold in person, and I thank God for “granting” me the opportunity to be there and to have been a part of it.”

The Three Wishes show, hosted by Amy Grant, airs Fridays at 9PM on NBC, and the episode involving the Hearing Center of Kalamazoo/ HARC is scheduled for this coming Friday, November 11th.

HARC is on the web at:

Classroom Acoustics Standard now Free

The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) announced that its popular classroom acoustics standard is now available online at no cost to the user. Because cost is no impediment, every school official in the country can have this useful resource at hand.

Officially known as ANSI S12.60-2002 American National Standard Acoustical Performance Criteria, Design Requirements, and Guidelines for Schools, this standard provides helpful guidance to design professionals, educational facilities planners, and the general public, as well. The Standard, which brings the US into agreement with the requirements of the World Health Organization as well as many countries around the world, will assist school districts, architects, and building planners in designing classrooms to optimize the ability of children to learn and prosper.

To read the full Press Release, CLICK HERE.
To obtain a free copy of the Standards, CLICK HERE.

New Rules to Improve VRS Services

MANHASSET, N.Y. — The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted rules moving the Video Relay Service (VRS) closer to the goal of providing deaf and hard of hearing persons equal access to the telephone. VRS uses Internet video and in interpreter/operator, allowing deaf people to use sign language when making a phone call.

To learn more about the recent FCC ruling Click HERE

To learn more about the statements of recent FCC ruling Click HERE

To learn more about VRS see E-Michigan: Video Relay Services

Free Credit Reports Now Available in Michigan

Would you like to get a free credit report? If you live in a Midwestern state (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota or Wisconsin) or a Western states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington or Wyoming) you can now request free credit reports by calling TTY 1-877-730-4104 or Voice 1-877-322-8228.

Recent amendments to the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act give every American the right to free annual credit reports from each of the nationwide consumer reporting bureaus—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can get your free annual report(s) by calling 1-877-730-4104 TTY or Voice 1-877-322-8228. This is a toll-free number.

Bernadette Cohen of Las Vegas, Nevada, planned to buy a new condo just outside the city. She decided to call and request a copy of her credit report in order to see for herself what mortgage lenders would see when they checked her credit reports. “I was surprised to find that some of my sister’s charge accounts were listed on my report,” she said. “That could have made my financial status less desirable to the banks. I’m glad that I got the copy of my report. I was able to let the credit reporting bureau know they needed to correct their records.”

Credit experts recommend that you check your credit reports each year. It is also recommended that you request reports from different bureaus at different times of the year so that you always have a good idea what your credit report looks like. It’s important to check your credit report each year and make sure that all of the information in it is accurate. Your credit reports are checked when you buy a home, rent an apartment, apply for a job, apply for a credit card, or apply for insurance.

Currently, only residents of the Western and Midwestern states can request reports at no charge. Other regions will follow in 2005.

To request a copy of your report from any or all of the three credit reporting bureaus, call 1-877-730-4104 TTY or Voice 1-877-322-8228. The law allows you to order one free copy each from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion every year.

Hearing Aid Assistance Tax Credit Introduced

A Federal bill has been introduced that would allow a tax credit for the purchase of hearing aids. H. R. 414 was introduced on January 26, 2005 and referred to the Federal House Ways and Means Committee. This act is to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow a credit against income tax for the purchase of hearing aids.

For more information: and do a search on House Bill 414.

Deaf Pitcher Heading for Major Leagues

Ryan Ketchner is a star rising toward major league baseball. He is also deaf. Read more about this outstanding pitcher by clicking the links below.

LA Times:,1,6401817.story?ctrack=1&cset=true"" mlb/y2005/m02/d23/c949209.jsp"

FCC Fines Stations for Lack of Visual Emergency Notification

According to an article on, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is proposing to fine three San Diego television stations for failing to provide closed captioning or other visual information for people with hearing loss during the October 2003 wildfires. This is the first time the FCC has proposed enforcement of the rule, in effect since 2000, requiring emergency information broadcast on television to be provided in visual as well as audible format. Read the full article at: news/metro/20050223-2154-fcc-staff.html

State Budget Crisis May Impact Hearing Services

Article by Jody Vanderveen, Lobbyist for the Michigan Academy of Audiologists

On February 10, 2005 Budget Director Mary Lannoye presented the Executive budget recommendations for the fiscal year 2005-2006 (10/1/05 to 9/30/06). At the same time, Executive Order 2005-3 was presented to correct the anticipated $375 million shortfall for the remainder of the current fiscal year.

The House & Senate Appropriations Committees have ten days in which to accept or reject the Governor’s Executive Order 2005-3. If one or both of the committees rejects the order, the Governor has thirty days to present a new plan for balancing the current fiscal year’s budget.

It is widely anticipated that the Republican controlled Appropriations Committee members will not approve the Executive Order. However, negotiations have already begun to come up with a new plan. The Executive Order calls for a reduction of $677,000 to local public health operations eliminating, among other programs, vision and hearing screening in the public schools (pre-school and K-12).

MDCH is not releasing information at this time regarding the number of students screened and the percentage of those referred. However, I have been able to obtain numbers from 2001-2001, which should be a good indicator. During the 200-2001 school year, 696,569 students participated in hearing screening. Of those 24,542 (approximately) 3.5% were referred for follow-up. 839,974 students participated in vision screening. Of those 76,600 (approximately 9%) were referred for follow-up.

The Executive Budget recommendations for the 2005-2006 fiscal year eliminate $5.2 million from local public health operations including 100% of the funds to support hearing screening and vision services. In addition, the Governor is also recommending the elimination of hearing health care benefits (as well as vision, chiropractic and dental) for adult Medicaid clients that were just reinstated for the current fiscal year. The budget, of course, must be passed by the Legislature. The Executive Budget recommendations are just that-recommendations. Providers, educators, consumers and advocates for the deaf and hard of hearing must continue to educate legislators on the importance of hearing health care.

At this point, I would like to write "and now for the good news", but fiscally speaking, there is none. Michigan remains in a budget crisis and indications are that the crisis will continue for some time. The Michigan Association for Local Public Health has already begun to look for funding dollars elsewhere. Education (K-12) faired better than some other budgets and, perhaps, there are funds from that budget rather than the Community Health budget that can be used for screening.

To express your concerns FAX:

Representative Scott Hummel, Chair
House Appropriations Committee
FAX 517.373.5780

Senator Shirley Johnson, Chair
Senate Appropriations Committee
FAX 517.373.5669

Online Interpreting Service Launched

Click here to read the full article.

For additional information:

Or contact CSD at:

Revised IDEA Impacts on Deaf/HH Students

The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Alliance has written an article about the changes in IDEA that impact students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Click here to read the full article.

President Signs IDEA Reauthorization

On December 3, 2004, President George W. Bush signed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act into law. This bipartisan act is a revision and reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). According to a Congressional press release, “This new law is a bright light that demonstrates both parties can work together and achieve real change to improve the lives of Americans. Today we are making sure children with disabilities are given access to an education that maximizes their unique abilities and provides them with the tools to be successful, productive members of our communities.” (Chairman Mike Castle (R–DE)).

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act is intended to:

  • Ensure school safety and reasonable discipline;

  • Give local schools more flexibility and greater control;

  • Reduce burdensome regulations and costly litigation, and reduce the paperwork burden on teachers; and

  • Expand choices and give parents more control over their children’s education.

It will be some time before the full impact of this new legislation is clear. Additional information is available at the links below.

To read the full Press Release referred to above Click Here.

To read the President’s comments on the law Click Here.

To read summaries of the law by a number of interested organizations Click Here.

To read the text of the law and information provided by the committee responsible for the bill Click Here.

To see a comparison of key provisions of IDEA and the new law Click Here
or see the NCSET web site at: related/ideatransition.asp.

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