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E-Michigan Deaf and Hard of Hearing People.

News 2006

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INTERNET PROTOCOL CAPTIONED TELEPHONE SERVICE ELIGIBLE FOR INTERSTATE TRS FUND

Service represents important step towards functional equivalency

Washington, D.C. - Recently, the FCC adopted a ruling that Internet Protocol (IP) captioned telephone service (IP CTS) is eligible for compensation from the Interstate TRS Fund (Fund). The Commission acted in response to a petition by Ultratec, Inc., that was widely supported by the disability community.

An IP captioned telephone will allow a consumer to both hear (to the extent possible) what the called party is saying over the standard voice telephone headset, and read the text of what the called party said on the computer or similar device. The can be set up similar to a two-line captioned telephone (CapTel) call. However, the line from the user to the provider is via the Internet, not a second phone line. The consumer can make a voice-to-voice call to the other party on a standard telephone and the phone line; at the same time, the voice of the called party is directed from the consumer's telephone to a personal computer (or similar device) that routes it to the provider via the Internet. The provider, in turn, sends back to the consumer the text of what was spoken. IP CTS will benefit consumers by giving them the flexibility of using a computer, PDA, or wireless device to make such a call, without having to purchase special telephone equipment.

In addition, captions provided on a computer screen can accommodate a much wider group of individuals, including persons with low vision, because they can take advantage of the large text, variable fonts, and variable colors that are available.

Click here to read the Hearing Loss Association of America response to this action.


SLEEPING BEAR DUNES NATIONAL LAKESHORE/ NATIONAL PARK SERVICE:
Leader of the "Pack" When the Topic is "HEARING ACCESS"

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Empire, Michigan hosted "Saturday at the Lakeshore" on October 21, 2006. Nearly the entire local chapter of Hearing Loss Association of America descended on the Phillip Hart Visitor Center and made use of the FM technology that the park has been publicizing for 6 six years.

Deaf/HH Day at the General Store

Deaf/Hard of Hearing Day at the General Store

While the hearing technology is always available, this particular ranger-led "Saturday at the Lakeshore" involved a collaboration with the park service, the Grand Traverse chapter of Hearing Loss Association of America and Northern MI Alliance for Independent Living (now called "Disability Network of N. Michigan") -- in order to promote both the park and the technology through advanced and extensive publicity. Ranger Marie Scott provided outstanding historic background information while simultaneously maintaning a high level of awareness and sensitivity to the needs of those in the audience with hearing loss. The event was open to the public at large including a group of young adults from southeastern Michigan.

Real-time CART and FM sytem.

Real-time CART & FM systems in use.

A local high school student, herself a user of wireless FM technology in school and beyond, added style and flair to the occasion volunteering by assisting with the distribution of materials -- equipment and handouts.

Realtime captioning provided by Screenline captionist Sue Deer Hall in southeastern Michigan via the internet was an added attraction--for the indoors component of the presentation, on a one-time basis supported by Disability Network of N. Michigan.

Photos of the event are courtesy of Gloria Ellis.


CEPIN PROJECT UNVEILS NEW WEBSITE

Silver Spring, Md. – The Community Emergency Preparedness Information Network (CEPIN) launched its new website at http://www.cepintdi.org. The goal for the website is to promote the objectives of the CEPIN project. It seeks to encourage awareness and networking among emergency responders and deaf and hard of hearing people. “This reflects TDI and CEPIN’s commitment to making emergency preparedness information accessible at all times,” said Neil McDevitt, CEPIN National Coordinator. “Consumers and emergency responders can find a wealth of information to help them prepare and respond to emergencies in an effective manner.”

The new website includes information on disability laws and emergency response, programs that have been created in local communities that strengthen communication between deaf and hard of hearing people and emergency responders, details about the CEPIN course and much more. A text version can also be found on the website.

The CEPIN project began in 2004 when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) awarded Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. a grant to create a emergency preparedness course for emergency responders and deaf and hard of hearing individuals. As a result the Emergency Responders and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community: Taking the First Steps to Emergency Preparedness course made its debut.

“TDI is proud to have worked with HandSplash on developing the new CEPIN website as an essential resource for emergency responders and deaf and hard of hearing consumers,” said Claude Stout, TDI Executive Director. “This is just one of the many building blocks that make our push for an accessible community a successful one.”

HandSplash Creative Group contributed their expertise to the design of the website. “In emergency situations, deaf or hard of hearing people should be afforded quick access to critical information,” said Tony Nitko, HandSplash creative director. “Our focus on the new CEPIN website was to keep that ideal in mind, creating a site that is simple, modern, yet easily navigable and accessible, while also giving CEPIN a content management system that allows their staff to update crucial information quickly without depending on outside sources.”


RID TESTING SUPERSITE NOW IN MICHIGAN!

SIGN LANGUAGE SERVICES OF MICHIGAN, LLC, has been approved by the National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. as Michigan’s first and only testing supersite! Sign Language Services of Michigan will begin to offer testing as of January 1, 2007.

Sign Language Services of Michigan has been providing Professional Sign Language Interpreters for over 10 years. The agency has over 50 State and Nationally Certified Interpreters and the most successful Emergency Interpreting Services Division in the state. In addition, they provide training and workshops for Interpreters and Interpreter students, ASL Community Education classes and communication survival for hearing and hard of hearing people, and advocacy and workshops for the Deaf Community.

The Learning Center and Store is open to SLS Team Interpreters and the general community Monday through Thursday 10am to 2pm, Monday and Wednesday evenings 6pm to 8pm and Saturdays 10am to 12pm. The Store is open other times by appointment.

The SLS Learning Center and Store has a videophone for the community to use, an Information Center sponsored by ASL Helping Hands, LLC, where you can find information about many organizations and associations, in and out of Michigan. Additionally, they have a Resource Room that houses hundreds of books, videos, DVD’s, CD’s, articles and periodicals on deafness, interpreter issues, sign language, Deaf culture, deaf blind and hard of hearing issues. These resources can be used in the center free of charge.


Gallaudet Terminates Fernandes

According to Inside Gallaudet, the Board of Trustees has voted to terminate the appointment of Dr. Jane Fernandes amidst an ongoing protest. Dr. Fernandes was to succeed I. King Jordan as the head of the Gallaudet University.

To learn more about the decision see the following links:

Board of Trustees statement:
http://news.gallaudet.edu/?ID=9633

Statement from Dr. Hernandes
http://news.gallaudet.edu/?ID=9635

Article on CNN.com
http://www.cnn.com/2006/ EDUCATION/10/30/gallaudet.president.ap/index.html


Court says UPS discriminated against deaf drivers

Associated Press
AZCentral.com
October 10, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO - A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a lower court ruling that UPS Inc. violated anti-discrimination laws by automatically barring the deaf and hearing-impaired from driving parcel delivery trucks.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson's 2004 ruling that the Atlanta-based company's practices breach the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Henderson, in a class-action case representing as many as 1,000 would-be drivers, ruled that the hearing impaired should "be given the same opportunities that a hearing applicant would be given to show that they can perform the job of package-car driver safely and effectively." The San Francisco federal court order was stayed pending appeal. advertisement

On appeal, UPS maintained its hiring practice was a safety issue and it was not discriminating.

"UPS strongly disagrees with the court's ruling and we are evaluating our options, including an appeal," company spokesman Norman Black said. "We believe this case is about safety. It has nothing to do with disability or discrimination."

The appeals court, however, said UPS had no right to automatically disqualify deaf or hearing impaired drivers.

"While UPS offered anecdotal testimony involving situations where a driver avoided an accident because he or she heard a warning sound, the company ... failed to show that those accidents would not also have been avoided by a deaf driver who was compensated for his or her loss of hearing by, for example, adapting modified driving techniques or using compensatory devices such as backing cameras or additional mirrors," Judge Marsha Berzon wrote for a three-judge panel of the appeals court.

The case was litigated by Disability Rights Advocates who represented current and former employees who were passed over for driving positions, and other potential employees who consented to what the group dubbed UPS's "deaf-need-not-apply" policy.

"We are obviously ecstatic over the ruling," said attorney Todd Schneider, who worked with the Berkeley-based plaintiffs' group on the case.

"Each deaf person has to be assessed individually to make a determination, just like a hearing person, as to whether they can safely drive a UPS truck," he added. "That's all we ever asked."

The dispute centered on UPS's custom of denying hearing-impaired workers jobs operating delivery trucks weighing under 10,000 pounds.

Federal rules demand that trucks exceeding 10,000 pounds be staffed by those meeting certain vision and hearing requirements. But the government leaves it up to companies to decide who is qualified to operate lighter vehicles.

The U.S. Postal Service and FedEx Corp. allow some deaf drivers to operate delivery vehicles under 10,000 pounds.

In 2003, under a $10 million settlement, UPS agreed to track promotions and ensure that hearing-impaired employees and job applicants have access to certified interpreters. The company also agreed to provide text telephones and vibrating pagers to alert poor-hearing employees to emergency evacuations.

That settlement resolved all issues in the case except the truck driving dispute.

The case is Bates v. UPS Inc., 04-17295

Source:
http://www.azcentral.com/business/ articles/1010UPS-Lawsuit-ON.html


Progress on Hearing Aid Assistance Tax Credit
Bill to Petition the United States Congress Passes Michigan House Committee

by Ann Liming

In May of this year, hard of hearing and deaf advocates from across Michigan, held an event at the state capitol which provided the opportunity to present issues concerning hearing loss to their respective legislators. Representative Kooiman, sponsor of the event, a Day at the State Capitol, followed up on the concerns of advocates by introducing House Resolution No. 266 (H.R. 266) - a resolution to memorialize (petition) the Congress of the United States to enact H.R. 414, the Hearing Aid Assistance Tax Credit Act. H.R. 414 provides a tax credit of up to $500 per hearing aid, available once every five years, towards the purchase of such aid, available to: 1) individuals age 55 and over, 2) those purchasing a hearing aid for dependents, including families with children.

The Michigan bill, H.R. 266, was brought before the House Tax Policy Committee on Wednesday, September 20, 2006. Vic Krause, former legislator and chair of the Advocacy Committee for the Hearing Loss Association of Michigan, gave testimony for the bill. The House Tax Policy Committee voted unanimously to send HR 266 to the full House for consideration where it will be voted on in November of this year. Once the bill passes the Michigan House, it will be sent to the President of the United States Senate, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and to members of the Michigan congressional delegation. For detailed information about H.R. 266 and H.R. 414 see the following Web sites: www.mi-shhh.org and www.hearingloss.org.


Michigan Chapters Selected for Hear from Start, Talk for Lifetime Campaign

Seven AG Bell chapters were officially selected in September 2006 to kick off the community-based awareness and education initiative of the Hear from the Start, Talk for a Lifetime campaign. The seven chapters - Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina and Texas each completed a comprehensive assessment of early intervention services in their state to become one of the first chapters to launch the campaign at the community level over the next year.

The early intervention assessment, which covered areas such as government, healthcare, parent/consumer groups and access to information about communication options, including spoken language, will serve as the foundation for chapter planning and implementation of campaign activities. In addition to completion of the assessment, the selection committee of chapter members and AG Bell staff evaluated interested chapters based on geographic diversity, membership size and the strength of their volunteer infrastructure, including co-chairs and a committee able to secure volunteer support from across the state and implement the state plan.

For more information contact A.G. Bell. The web address is: http://www.agbell.org/


Employment Rights Of People With Hearing Loss- New EEOC Publication

Read the full press release at: http://www.eeoc.gov/press/7-26-06.html

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced a new question-and-answer (Q&A) fact sheet about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and job applicants and employees who are deaf or who have a hearing loss. The new publication is available online at www.eeoc.gov/facts/deafness.html.

“One goal of this fact sheet is to counter the myth that individuals with some level of hearing loss are generally less competent, less productive, or would require more attention and supervision than their peers who do not have hearing loss,” said Chair Dominguez, who announced the issuance of the new document at a town hall meeting sponsored by the National Council on Disability in observance of the 16th anniversary of the ADA.

The new Q&A publication includes many real-life examples that illustrate the kinds of jobs that people with hearing loss successfully perform and the wide range of accommodations available.

EEOC enforces Title I of the ADA, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments, and the Rehabilitation Act's prohibitions against disability discrimination in the federal government. In addition, the EEOC enforces other federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, and age. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.


Bill Introduced in Michigan to Require Use of Qualified Interpreters

Rep. John Gleason has finally introduced a long-promised bill that would require the courts, police, schools, colleges, hospitals, doctor offices, banks, credit unions, employer and lawyers required to provide accommodations to employ qualified sign language interpreters under rules promulgated by the Division on Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The Michigan House bill number, HB 6087, introduced on May 18, 2006, may be the most important bill DODHH has been asking for years. It will have a very positive impact on the interpreters providing effective communication resulting equal access for Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deafblind adults and children who use interpreter services as well as the general public.

Click here to read more.


No-Confidence Vote for New Gallaudet President

According to M-Live, the Gallaudet University faculty has voted against the instatement of Jane K. Fernandes as the next president of the university. Read the full story at M-Live:

http://www.mlive.com/newsflash/national/ index.ssf?/base/national-64/ 1147136064273720.xml&storylist=national


Hearing Loss Association of Michigan names Legislator of the Year

Rep. Jerry Kooiman was given an award this weekend for his efforts in the Legislature on behalf of those who are deaf or hard of hearing.  The Hearing Loss Association of Michigan presented Kooiman with its 2006 Legislator of the Year award at a banquet in Grand Rapids last Friday.

Kooiman said he was grateful for the award and hoped that people would remember that May is Hearing Loss Awareness Month.  The Grand Rapids lawmaker has introduced House Resolution 191 to draw attention to the difficulty of those who have trouble hearing or cannot hear at all.

“Hearing loss can happen for many reasons, but for those that are experiencing loss, there are solutions to help cope,” said Kooiman, R-Grand Rapids.  “I have introduced this resolution and am pleased to announce that Wednesday May 17 will be Hearing Loss Awareness Day at the Capitol so that deaf and hard of hearing people may come to Lansing to better understand the problem and learn what can be done about it.”

Kooiman’s resolution highlights an education program for both the public and professionals so that they may learn about new technology in assistive listening devices and to promote advocacy on behalf of the hearing impaired.  It also focuses on the needs of the deaf to have access to interpreters who use sign language and the need for special education.


Gallaudet Names University’s Second Deaf President

From http://pr.gallaudet.edu/presidentialsearch/

Washington, D.C. – Dr. Jane K. Fernandes, Gallaudet University Provost since 2000, was introduced today as Gallaudet’s 9th president. She will take office in January 2007. Celia May Baldwin, Interim Chair of the university’s Board of Trustees made the announcement at a campus convocation this afternoon after the full board elected Dr. Fernandes president over the weekend.

Fernandes will replace long-time Gallaudet president, Dr. I. King Jordan, who made history in 1988 becoming the first deaf person selected to lead a university when he was named Gallaudet’s 8th president. Dr. Jordan announced his retirement in the summer of 2005 after more than 18 years as president. Dr. Jordan will retain the title “President Emeritus” and will continue to assist the new president and the university.

“Gallaudet is extremely fortunate to have Dr. Jane Fernandes as our next president,” said Celia May Baldwin, Chair of the University’s Board of Trustees. “Jane has a deep understanding of how this university works, having served in senior leadership positions here for more than a decade. It would be difficult, if not impossible, for the Board to find anyone with greater breadth or depth of experience. The executive positions she has held at both the K-12 and University levels – and the notable accomplishments she has made in these positions - make her uniquely qualified to lead Gallaudet.

“Jane has proven her leadership skills time and time again, often having to make very difficult decisions, and we believe that this has prepared her well for the presidency. We are thrilled to have someone of her caliber succeed King Jordan and believe that she will be an outstanding president of Gallaudet”

As Provost, Dr. Fernandes is the chief academic officer of the University, responsible for all of the academic programs and academic support components at Gallaudet. The Academic Affairs division for which she is responsible has 670 faculty and staff and a budget of more than $83 million. She has been one of the key leaders in the development of the University’s vision and strategic plan, and recently co-authored “Towards an Inclusive Deaf University: Achieving Equitable Outcomes for All Students” which specifically addressed two of the key goals of the university’s plan.

A native of Worcester, Massachusetts, Dr. Fernandes attended public schools. She is a graduate of Trinity College (Connecticut), earning a B.A. degree in French and comparative literature, and the University of Iowa, where she earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in comparative literature. After graduating from Iowa, she worked for Northeastern University before coming to Gallaudet as Chair of the Department of Sign Communication. She later moved to Hawaii where she established the Interpreter Education Program at Kapi’olani Community College and served for five years as the director of the Hawaii Center for the Deaf and Blind.

In 1995 she returned to Gallaudet to become the Vice President for the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center where she and her team developed innovative curriculum, materials, and teaching strategies for schools serving deaf and hard-of-hearing students throughout the nation. Last year, more than 450 schools had adopted the Clerc Center’s methods.

Dr. Fernandes has authored and co-authored numerous scholarly publications, and will soon be sending her new book, Signs of Eloquence: a Study of Deaf American Public Address (with James Fernandes) to press. She has been an invited speaker at conferences all over the country and will travel this May to Bangkok, Thailand where she will give the keynote address at the First World Congress on The Power of Language: Theory, Practice, and Performance.

“I am humbled and honored by the decision of the Board,” said Dr. Fernandes at the ceremony announcing her appointment. “I give you my word that I will make every decision and lead this university based on what is in the university’s best interest…I am grateful that the Board has entrusted me with this wonderful opportunity to serve this university that I love.”

Dr. Fernandes is married to Dr. James J. Fernandes, a former professor in Gallaudet’s Department of Communication Studies. They have two children, Sean (15) and Erin (13).

Gallaudet University is the world leader in liberal education and career development for deaf and hard-of-hearing undergraduate students. The University enjoys an international reputation for its outstanding graduate programs as well as for the quality of the research it conducts on the history, language, culture, and other topics related to deaf people. The University’s Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center serves deaf and hard-of-hearing children at its two demonstration schools and throughout the nation by developing, implementing, and disseminating innovative educational strategies. Gallaudet is located in Washington, DC where it was founded in 1864 by an act of Congress, and its charter was signed by President Abraham Lincoln.


Deaf Attorney Fights for Court Access

Brian Sheridan, a practicing attorney who is deaf and uses a cochlear implant, received an award from the State Bar of Michigan for his work in improving court access in Michigan. He recently had an article on court access published by the Michigan Bar Journal. His story is interesting because while he needed accommodations to do his own job, by successfully advocating for assistive listening devices, he made the court more accessible to others with hearing loss.

Click to read Brian Sheridan's article about advocating for listening access in court:
http://www.michbar.org/journal/pdf/pdf4article918.pdf

Request for Accommodations in Court:
http://courts.michigan.gov/scao/courtforms/general/mc70.pdf

Michigan Court of Appeals Accommodation Policy:
http://courtofappeals.mijud.net/pdf/ADAPolicy.pdf

Report on Access to the Legal System in Michigan for Persons with Disabilities:
http://www.michbar.org/programs/ATJ/pdfs/disabilities.pdf

E-Michigan section on Civil Rights


Sign Language Services of Michigan, LLC Opens Learning Center and Store

St. Clair Shores, Michigan: Sign Language Services of Michigan, LLC, started in 1996, has expanded and opened a Learning Center and Store at 31507 Harper Ave., St. Clair Shores, MI 48082.

This Learning Center is unique in that it caters to every age group. It has classes, workshops and social events for d/Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Deaf Blind and Sign Language users. Classes include: Sign Language, for every age group, Baby Sign Language, Simple Signs classes for parents and families of babies and children with Down syndrome. Workshops include: Deaf Culture perspectives for community members, hearing people and interpreters, Sign Language Interpreter workshops designed to enhance and improve their skills. Information workshops designed for the Hard of Hearing and d/Deaf communities. Social Events include: Activities for families with deaf children, Senior Citizens and signers from all walks of life.

To read the full announcement click here.
See SLS on the web at: www.SignLanguageServicesofMichigan.com


Michigan SHHH Changes its Name to the Hearing Loss Association of Michigan

Troy, Michigan: The Board of Trustees of Michigan Self Help for Hard of Hearing People (Michigan SHHH) voted to change the name of the organization to the Hearing Loss Association of Michigan (HLA-MI) on January 15, 2006 during their winter meeting. This change reflects the change of the National organization’s name to Hearing Loss Association of America in November of 2005.

Terry D. Portis, Ed.D., executive director of SHHH states, “SHHH needs to position itself to meet the needs of a new generation of people with hearing loss while continuing to serve the constituents who rely on us today. I believe that by updating our name and image we will be better able to communicate our message and fulfill our mission.”

According to recent research conducted by Sergei Kochkin, Ph.D., the population of people in the United States with hearing loss has grown from an estimated 28 million in 1989 to over 31 million in 2004, and is anticipated to grow by a third in less than a generation, to 40 million people.

Michigan SHHH’s mission is to open the world of communication to people with hearing loss through information, education, advocacy and support. Michigan SHHH expects to continue it’s mission while transitioning to the new name over the next year.

The Hearing Loss Association of Michigan (formerly Michigan Self Help for Hard of Hearing People (Michigan SHHH)) is a state organization of The Hearing Loss Association of America, the nations’ largest membership and advocacy organization for people with hearing loss.

Web site: www.mi-shhh.org

info@michdhh.org

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