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E-Michigan Deaf and Hard of Hearing People.

News 2008

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Secretary Land Announces Pilot to Assist Customers Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing

- Excerpted from Maro Update 11/21/08

Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land has announced that a pilot program under way at select branch offices will provide customers who use sign language with greater flexibility and freedom when conducting business with the department.

The program uses a monitor with a built-in camera and audio system to connect the customer and branch office clerk to a sign language interpreter at a special communication relay center. The system provides a means of communication that is more natural and faster than using a pencil and paper or lip-reading, especially for people who exclusively use sign language. It also presents customers who are deaf and hard of hearing with the option of accessing interpreter services on the spot.

“We’re always looking for innovative ways to improve customer service,” Land said. “By providing video remote interpreter services, we not only make the communication process timely but also ensure that information is being conveyed and understood correctly. It’s a win-win situation for the customer and the department.”

The pilot was unveiled at the Flint Area SUPER!Center, 5512 Fenton Road. It is now also available at the following locations:

  • Clinton Township SUPER!Center, 37015 S. Gratiot Ave.
  • Detroit New Center SUPER!Center, Cadillac Place, 3046 W. Grand Blvd.
  • Grand Rapids Area SUPER!Center, Centerpointe Mall, 3665 28th St. S.E.
  • Grand Traverse County PLUS Office, 1759 Barlow St., Traverse City
  • Lansing Area PLUS Office, 5827 W. Saginaw
  • Livonia Area SUPER!Center, 17176 Farmington Road
  • Muskegon Secretary of State office, 1485 E. Apple Ave.
  • Northwest Berrien County PLUS Office, 1960 Mall Drive, Benton Harbor
  • Oakland County SUPER!Center, 1608 N. Perry St., Pontiac

Accessing the service is easy. A customer-service specialist at the branch office directs interested customers to a clerk and video relay monitor. The customer signs as the interpreter on screen voices the comments, which the clerk hears through a headset. The clerk’s responses are picked up by a microphone, and the interpreter translates the speech into signs for the customer. There is no cost to the customer.

The Department of State contracted with the private, nonprofit Communication Access Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Flint to provide the video remote interpreter services. The CAC offers a variety of community-based programs in addition to interpreter services, including sign language classes, deaf awareness and advocacy programs, information and referrals as well as a vocational program.

For more information about the CAC and the services it offers, visit its Web site at www.cacdhh.org.


History-making major leaguer Curtis Pride to coach at Gallaudet

Curtis Pride

Curtis Pride

Curtis Pride, the first full-season deaf player in the modern era of Major League Baseball, announced on November 3 that he would retire from professional baseball and take up the position of head baseball coach at Gallaudet.

Pride will bring a commitment to community along with his skill in the game. Along with his wife, Lisa, he runs the Together With Pride Foundation. The foundation supports or plans to support several programs, including a scholarship, a literacy initiative, and mentoring.

To learn more, click here to read the article.


Book about man with Usher's Syndrome

It’s never too late to learn. Ask Diane Chambers whose eighty-six- year old deaf-blind student learned sign language and consequently thrived in the last years of life.

Blind and deaf from Usher’s Syndrome since age forty-two, Bert Riedel loses his lifelong mate at age eighty-six. Without his “eyes and ears” to the world, Bert moves to Colorado to live with his son and daughter-in-law, to live out the remaining years of his life in silence and darkness. But his children are not willing to watch their father endure a painful decline. They have ideas. Bert had a profound spirit and desire for life. The combination lays the groundwork for a remarkable and uplifting story.

Click here to read more...


NAD Partners with DeafNation to Host Deaf Viewpoints: 2008 U.S. Presidential Election

Posted October 17, 2008

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) partnered with DeafNation to host the first-ever “Deaf Viewpoints: 2008 U.S. Presidential Election” debate, taped at the NAD headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Nancy J. Bloch, NAD chief executive officer, was asked by DeafNation to serve as neutral, nonpartisan moderator for the debate, which featured four individuals who gave their viewpoints about U.S. presidential candidates Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama. The NAD, as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, does not endorse, support, or oppose any candidate for public office. Bloch presented questions and responses were provided by Robert Traina and Michael Clegg in favor of McCain, and by Jeff Rosen and Liz Stone in favor of Obama.

To learn more about Deaf Viewpoints, click here.


Redskins Case Could Impact All Stadiums

In an opinion issued on September 30, 2008, a federal district court in Maryland held that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires the Washington Redskins “to provide deaf and hard of hearing fans equal access to the aural information broadcast over the stadium bowl public address system at FedExField, which includes music with lyrics, play information, advertisements, referee calls, safety/emergency information, and other announcements.”

“This is a tremendous breakthrough for deaf and hard of hearing sport fans. This decision, supporting equal access, will benefit the entire deaf and hard of hearing community, especially those who bleed burgundy and gold,” said Mr. Feldman, referring to the colors of the Washington Redskins team. “This outcome would not have been possible without the valiant efforts of the NAD and Mr. Espo.”

“We expect that stadiums, arenas and other sports venues will take heed and begin to follow the law on providing equal access to individuals with disabilities, including providing equal access to aural information for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing,” said Mr. Espo.

To read more about this groundbreaking case, see the NAD web site:
http://www.nad.org/site/pp.asp?c=foINKQMBF&b=4594519


Rights Under ADA Protected

Congress approves landmark protections for disabled workers.
Monday, September 22, 2008

It went largely unnoticed in a week of economic upheaval, but Congress approved one of the more momentous pieces of civil rights legislation in recent years. The bill, passed overwhelmingly in the House and by unanimous consent in the Senate, will significantly broaden protections for the disabled. It instructs the Supreme Court to act "in favor of broad coverage," a distinction that should make it easier for disabled workers to claim discrimination. By explicitly arguing for a less constrictive interpretation, lawmakers sought to restore the intent of the original Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990; the Supreme Court has imposed a consistently narrow interpretation of the ADA. President Bush has said that he will sign the bill into law despite previous concerns that the legislation would spur excess litigation.

The legislation is the result of two years of remarkable cooperation between business groups and disability rights organizations. The compromise strikes a balance as it guarantees rights for workers with "actual or perceived impairments." For example, airlines can no longer discriminate against prospective pilots if the applicants employ "mitigating measures," such as corrective eyewear. At the same time, the bill limits unwarranted claims by requiring that workers prove they have a disability that "would substantially limit a major life activity when active." The bill will also provide protection, for the first time, to workers with serious ailments such as diabetes, epilepsy and cancer.

Business and disability groups are pleased with the final version of the bill and said that collaborating on the legislation should reduce the number of lawsuits over its implementation. The direct language of the bill, and the laudable cooperation that forged it, should also improve employment levels for the disabled. Two out of three people with significant disabilities are unemployed, a disturbing statistic that disability organizations say is unchanged from when the original ADA became law. This time, Congress's intent is clear, and we hope the courts follow it.

From NRCA Mailing list

National Rehabilitation Counseling Association

http://www.nrca-net.org


Deaf/HH Customers Use Order Assist in the Drive Thru

The following information comes from Inclusions of Chicago. They are trying to grow the number of drive thru windows that are accessible for people who are deaf and hard of hearing in the US. Special ordering systems have been installed in 30 Culver's restaurant locations. People need to use them to encourage Culver's to place them at their other 370 locations.

Please go to www.deafdrivethru.com to see the locations that have the system installed in their drive thru. You can also watch a captioned video on that web site.

The following are Michigan locations with the new drive thru system.

Culver's
7262 S Westnedge
Portage, MI

Culver's
5143 S 9th St
Kalamazoo, MI

Culver's
5369 Bay Rd
Saginaw, MI<

Culver's
8551 Main St
Birch Run, MI


In Memory: Dr. Jerald M. Jordan

Dr. Jordan was an influential leader and advocate who passed away March 26, 2008. Born in Roseville, Michigan, Dr. Jordan (J.J.) became deaf when he was 7 years old. After attending Gallaudet College (now University) he worked for two Washington D.C. newspapers, and then served in various capacities at Gallaudet University.

For more information about Dr. Jordan's life and work, see the TDI-L eNotes for March 31, 2008.


Hallmark Film Explores Deafness and Cochlear Implants

"Sweet Nothing in My Ear", starring Jeff Daniels and Marlee Matlin, will air on Sunday April 20 at 9:00 pm on CBS. According to the Hallmark web site, the film considers the struggles of a family with a deaf child considering a cochlear implant. Marlee Matlin plays the deaf mother of the boy, who feels deafness is not a disability that needs to be fixed with surgery. Her hearing husband, played by Jeff Daniels, feels differently.

But that's not all, Michigan's Janet Jurus, State Interpreter with the Michigan Division on Deaf and Hard of Hearing, consulted on the film and tutored Jeff Daniels in sign language.

Learn more at: http://www.hallmark.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/article%7C10001%7C10051%7C/HallmarkSite/HallmarkHallOfFame/HHOF_TOP


NAD Partners with the IRS to Share Important Information

Silver Spring, MD – The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) announced that it has partnered with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to make sure important information reaches the deaf community. The IRS produced three pilot videos, “Economic Stimulus Payment Basics”, in American Sign Language (ASL) along with an English transcript of the content. These pilot videos are available on the NAD website.

“This is the first time that the IRS has produced Public Service Announcement (PSA) videos in ASL with an English transcript," said Nancy J. Bloch, NAD Chief Executive Officer. “We are delighted to bring you these video clips.”

View the Video Clips
Economic Stimulus Payment Basics (three 30 sec clips) American Sign Language with English transcripts.

Information about the Economic Stimulus Package can be found at:
http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=177937,00.html


SPRINT’S HARD OF HEARING CUSTOMERS BENEFIT FROM NEW AND FREE WEB-BASED SOLUTION

Sprint WebCapTel® Solution Shows Captions over the Internet During Phone Calls; Facilitating Easier Conversations

OVERLAND PARK, Kan.– March 5, 2008 – Sprint (NYSE:S) today released Sprint WebCapTel®, a new free web-based service that allows a person who can speak but has challenges hearing over the phone, to read word-for-word captions of their calls on a web browser. This new service is expected to help an estimated 23 million Americans with hearing loss, who may face challenges hearing over the telephone.

“We are always looking for ways to offer unique and easy user experiences for our customers. This new solution from Sprint will offer the hard-of-hearing community with the ability to enjoy the benefits of a natural phone conversation by accessing real-time web-based captions,” says Mike Ligas, director of Sprint Relay.

With Sprint WebCapTel®, users can make and receive calls on their own telephone, cell phone, land-line, or even an amplified phone. During the call, if they have difficulty hearing what is being said, they can log into www.sprintcaptel.com and read written captions of everything their caller speaks. Captions appear virtually at the same time as the person speaks, allowing users to enjoy a natural telephone conversation.

With this new service, CapTel® is available almost anywhere with a phone and internet access on a computer. Using any phone, even amplified phones, Sprint WebCapTel® will capture the audio of the person speaking to the user and change the spoken sounds into words to read. When displayed on a web browser, the user can change the font size, color, and even background. When a call is completed, the user can save the captioned conversation for later review, allowing the user to concentrate on being involved in the conversation.

“WebCapTel puts people with hearing loss back in control of their own telephone conversations - any time, anywhere - by capitalizing on the convenience and prevalence of the Internet,” states Robert Engelke, president of Ultratec, Inc., the company that developed CapTel technology. “It gives people with hearing loss the confidence to rely on the telephone again, leveling the playing field for professional opportunities, in social situations, and in matters of personal safety.”

This free service is available for Sprint customers anywhere in the United States and within US Territories. However, calls to or from international locations, such asCanada or Mexico, are not available. To learn more about this free service, visit www.sprintcaptel.com

Sprint has 17 years of experience in providing relay services to persons who are deaf, hard of hearing or deaf-blind or have a speech disability to communicate with hearing persons on the phone. Sprint’s experience in the field assures users of Sprint Relay receive quality service no matter what type of Relay service they are using. Relay service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with no restrictions on the number of calls placed or call length. For more information, visit www.sprintrelay.com.

Sprint WebCapTel is an extension of Sprint’s existing CapTel® service, which also provides captions during phone calls, but requires a specialized telephone to display the captions.

CapTel and WebCapTel are registered trademarks of Ultratec, Inc.

ABOUT SPRINT NEXTEL
Sprint Nextel offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. Sprint Nextel is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including two robust wireless networks serving approximately 54 million customers at the end of 2007; industry-leading mobile data services; instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. For more information, visit www.sprint.com

ABOUT ULTRATEC INC.
Ultratec, Inc. is the world’s leading developer of text telecommunications equipment for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Since 1978, the company has been responsible for numerous advancements in telecommunications technology, including a full range of text telephones, public telephones, amplified telephones, and signaling systems for people with hearing loss. Ultratec works extensively with government agencies, emergency services, and local and national advocacy groups to ensure equal telecommunications access for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.


Web Captioned Telephone Service Available Nationwide

AURORA, NE – Hamilton Relay today announced the availability of Hamilton Web CapTel®. CapTel is a service designed for individuals who have difficulty hearing on the telephone, where captions, similar to the closed captioning provided on most television programs, are offered to support the understanding of telephone conversations. Previously available only through State Relay programs and with a specialized CapTel phone, individuals nationwide can now make CapTel calls via the Web. Web CapTel works with any type of telephone and any type of Internet access device. Hamilton Web CapTel is available at www.hamiltoncaptel.com.

Hamilton Web CapTel requires no special equipment. Along with a standard telephone or mobile phone, individuals can see every word a caller says on a computer screen. All that is required is an Internet connection and a computer or laptop with a standard web browser — no special equipment or special software is needed. Individuals can listen to the caller and read the written captions of everything the caller says.

Hamilton Web CapTel works by providing two telephone numbers, your telephone number and the telephone number you wish to call. When you place a call, the Web CapTel Service calls your number first, then the number of the person you wish to call. You will be able to see the captioning page from the computer monitor and once you answer your telephone, captions will begin and the system is calling out to the person you wish to call. When you are waiting to receive a call, a person dialsHamilton Web CapTel Service at 1-800-933-7219. Web CapTel Service checks to see if you are logged on and waiting for calls, then places a call to your telephone number where you are waiting.

“Hamilton is thrilled to introduce Hamilton Web CapTel,” says Dixie Ziegler, Vice President of Hamilton Relay. ”This exciting web-based service expands Hamilton’s CapTel offering by bringing the flexibility and mobility of the Internet to the CapTel experience that so many people have come to enjoy. Individuals who have missed out on what was being said during a telephone conversation no longer need to. Hamilton Web CapTel allows individuals with hearing loss to ‘see what they say.'"

Individuals will view telephone conversations word by word, phrase by phrase, on-screen as the conversation takes place. There is no charge for using Hamilton Web CapTel.

Individuals and organizations who would like more information are encouraged to contact a Hamilton Relay Representative at 800-618-4781 (Voice/TTY) or via Email at help@hamiltoncaptel.com.


U.S. HOUSE PASS CAPTIONER TRAINING BILL
Need for more CART Providers Recognized

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007 (H.R. 4137), otherwise known as the Higher Education Reauthorization bill. This bill, championed by Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), includes a grant program to train realtime writers to meet the demands of providing communication access to 30 million deaf and hard-of-hearing Americans.

National Court Reporter Association (NCRA) Executive Director and CEO Mark J. Golden, CAE, states, "Passing this language demonstrates that Congress truly understands that people with hearing loss deserve full and effective communication access which can only be provided by qualified stenographic realtime writers. This funding will go a long way in helping to bring more realtime writers into the workforce and meet the growing demand for this necessary service. We are honored that people who are deaf and hard-of-hearing and the providers who serve them have a champion like Ron Kind on Capitol Hill. NCRA has been working side-by-side with Congressman Kind since 2001 on this issue and congratulates him on this step toward success."

"Court reporters are the guardians of the public record, and closed captioners help our hard-of-hearing residents stay informed," Rep. Kind said. "Right now we are educating only half the realtime writers we need, and I am pleased that this new grant program will increase awareness and interest in this vital profession."

NCRA will now diligently work toward ensuring that the same language is included in the final conference bill that is presented to President Bush for his signature and approval, as the Senate has already passed its version of the Higher Education Reauthorization bill. The Senate has included similar language in its previous attempts to pass a similar bill.

The supply of court reporters still seriously lags behind demand for their services in courtrooms and law offices, in television studios to caption newscasts, and in schools and other settings to provide interpretive services for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. According to NCRA estimates, the number of court reporters in the United States has dropped to approximately 35,000, down from 43,000 in ten years. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that employment of realtime court reporters may experience substantial growth between now and 2016. For more information, go to www.ncraonline.org.


Don't Be Scammed by Deaf Lottery

If you get a message saying "Deaf Lottery" just DELETE. There are many scams that try to fool you into giving money and personal information. This is against the law. The following is information about a scam you need to know about.

If you see this:

Subject: Deaf Lottery Association

DELETE. This is a fraud. They will say that you won money. But then they want you to send them money and they want you to give them personal information. This is called Identity Theft.

DO NOT give anyone your personal information unless you know for SURE it is safe. SAFE means it is YOUR bank and you placed the call. If a bank sends you a message, DO NOT REPLY. It is probably not your bank and it is probably a scam. Your bank will never ask you for your personal information by e-mail or text message. They already know who you are!

If you want to learn more about the Deaf Lottery scam visit this web site:
http://www.deafadvocacy.org/blog/2007/09/deaf-lottery-association-scam.html


Lions and Rexton Launch Affordable Hearing Aid Project

OAK BROOK, Illinois, USA, February 5, 2008 —Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) and Rexton, Inc. today announces the launch of the Affordable Hearing Aid Project (Lions AHAP) to answer the need for affordable hearing aids for low-income individuals. Ninety-five percent of individuals with hearing loss can be successfully treated with hearing aids yet 30 percent of those individuals are unable to afford hearing aids.

Thanks to a new partnership with Rexton, Inc. of Plymouth, Minnesota, Lions AHAP is now offering two digital hearing aids for low-income individuals through Lions hearing programs and Lions clubs. The program is currently a pilot program available only in the United States. The project enables Lions to provide high-quality, low-cost hearing aids for distribution to individuals who would otherwise never be able to afford hearing aids.

Click here to learn more about this program.


NAD Salutes PepsiCo for its Super Bowl Ad in ASL

See the Bob's House ad at: http://www.pepsiusa.com/bobshouse/

Silver Spring, MD – Much excitement among deaf people worldwide has been generated by the forthcoming PepsiCo commercial, “Bob’s House,” to be aired during the pre-game portion of Super Bowl Sunday. The 60-second ad, based on a long-standing joke in the American deaf community, is presented in American Sign Language (ASL) without sound – to catch the attention of millions of viewers in an otherwise boisterous pre-game environment. The ad also displays captions so the dialogue can be understood by viewers who do not sign.

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) applauds PepsiCo’s employee network, EnAble, for its efforts in “creating an inclusive environment for people of different abilities.” This ad, created by and featuring PepsiCo employees, showcases people who know and use American Sign Language. The NAD salutes PepsiCo for giving this “performance with a purpose” the biggest stage possible – Super Bowl Sunday.

Numerous news outlets have carried stories about the forthcoming PepsiCo ad, in addition to preliminary ad and behind-the-scenes footage featured on the company website, also picked up on by individual blogsites within the deaf community. With response to the ad being overwhelmingly positive, the NAD anticipates an outpouring of affirmative feedback once the ad is broadcast.

“Commercials that are broadcast on Super Bowl Sunday are among the most widely viewed spots of the year,” notes NAD President Bobbie Beth Scoggins. “We are enthusiastic about this ad, and know that it will raise the bar with regard to enhanced public awareness about the American deaf community, its rich culture, and American Sign Language.”

She adds, “I encourage everyone who sees the ad to contact PepsiCo at this link and thank them for this clever and entertaining commercial. This is one way to show our appreciation for the tremendous step taken by PepsiCo and EnAble to increase awareness about inclusion and diversity by showcasing its ad entirely in American Sign Language.” Messages of appreciation may be sent to PepsiCo by e-mail at the link above or by mail to 700 Anderson Hill Road Purchase, NY 10577.


NAD Board of Directors Approves New ASL Position Statement

Silver Spring, MD – The Board of Directors of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) approved a new position statement on American Sign Language (ASL) at its January 2008 meeting in Santa Fe, NM.

The NAD reaffirmed its stance that acquisition of language from birth is a human right for every person, and that deaf infants and children should be given the opportunity to acquire and develop proficiency in ASL as early as possible. ASL is recognized as the sign language of the American deaf community.

"This ASL position statement now brings us full circle and draws upon the original values of our founders,” said Bobbie Beth Scoggins, NAD President. “Since 1880, the NAD has worked tirelessly to preserve, protect, and promote ASL as human right. The NAD also strongly believes in the right of deaf children to achieve linguistic fluency in both ASL and English so that they can become fully participating, contributing, and productive members of American society.”

To view the full position statement in ASL and English, visit www.nad.org/ASLposition.


NAD Works With PepsiCo on Super Bowl Ad in American Sign Language

Silver Spring, MD – The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) was asked by PepsiCo to provide advice, feedback, and comments on a 60-second commercial filmed entirely in American Sign Language (ASL), with open captions for hearing viewers. The PepsiCo ad, featuring PepsiCo employees, will be aired on February 3, 2008 during the Super Bowl pre-game program.

Slated to air on the FOX network, the PepsiCo ad is designed to bring greater awareness of the American deaf community to a wide audience. PepsiCo will also sponsor captioning of the entire Super Bowl broadcast.

"The NAD applauds PepsiCo for its strong commitment to diversity and empowerment through the creation of this exciting ad in ASL with its employees,” said Bobbie Beth Scoggins, president of the NAD. “This ground-breaking ad creatively uses humor to provide a glimpse of deaf culture and heightened awareness to millions of Super Bowl Sunday viewers.”

President Scoggins and others at the NAD provided consultation on the story boards, pre-production plans, and post production editing. She was also interviewed by PepsiCo and quoted in their press release. In addition, a description of the NAD and link to the NAD website will be included on the PepsiCo website.

This all started in the summer of 2006 when a group of PepsiCo employees, each with their own personal connection to the American deaf community, set off on their own to create a commercial with a deaf focus and broad appeal. None of the employees are performers or marketing specialists - they came up with the concept, wrote the script, and then acted it out, sharing a demo tape with their colleagues. The ad eventually gained support from senior management, which decided that the commercial needed a big stage. Naturally, they chose the biggest - Super Bowl Sunday. The title of the ad is “Bob’s House” and it is based on a popular joke within the deaf community.


Michigan State University provides Living/Learning option for American Sign Language Communicators & Learners

Jan. 17, 2008
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Starting with the fall 2008 semester, Michigan State University will offer students an opportunity to live in a residence hall environment where American Sign Language is the primary mode of communication.

This new housing option will be located in Snyder-Phillips Hall, which also will become a hub for many academic and cultural events focused on deafness – bringing together students who are deaf or hard of hearing and others who use or study the language from across campus and the Lansing area. Students must have at least a basic ability and commitment to communicate in ASL to live in the dedicated dormitory space.

American Sign Language is the third most commonly used language in the United States, following English and Spanish. However, hearing students who study ASL – as an asset or requirement of their future careers – don’t have readily available opportunities to immerse themselves in the language and culture of the Deaf community.

MSU’s ASL Living/Learning option will be the only such environment among Michigan’s public universities and one of the most unique in the nation, said Harold Johnson, professor of special education and a widely known Deaf education expert.

“This gives us a cultural and linguistic setting that will welcome individuals who sign and allow students to develop their ASL skills above and beyond what can be done through coursework,” Johnson said. “We’re moving ASL out of the classroom and into living.”

Although students from all class levels and majors may apply, students pursuing related MSU degrees in communicative sciences and disorders, Deaf education or social work will be encouraged to consider the chance to gain awareness of each other’s disciplines and better understand the life experiences of individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Faculty from the colleges of Communication Arts and Sciences, Education and Social Science proposed the ASL residential option as a partnership that will enhance their individual programs and the university’s efforts to support an inclusive, diverse student body.

“Evidence-based outcomes show that living-learning programs enhance the student experience in significant ways,” said MSU Provost Kim Wilcox. “We are pleased that the collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to establishing the ASL residential option has resulted in Michigan State’s ability to provide this unique educational opportunity.”

Jill Elfenbein, associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders, said many parties familiar with the needs and goals of students were consulted to make the new housing option viable.

“As we developed our proposal, we were fortunate to have advice from our alumni, from our current students and from colleagues from a variety of agencies and organizations, including the Michigan School for the Deaf, the Michigan Department of Human Services - Division on Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and Michigan Rehabilitation Services,” she said.

Snyder-Phillips was selected because it was recently renovated and re-focused as an on-campus community that values language arts and culture, housing the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities.

The building’s newly renovated and constructed spaces, including a theater and three-story cafeteria, offer ideal surroundings for students to comfortably communicate with, see and appreciate American Sign Language.

A limited number of reserved rooms, which will be available in both men’s and women’s sections, will be equipped with visual alerting systems and other accommodations upon request. A coordinator will plan activities such as guest speakers, social gatherings and captioned movies; Snyder-Phillips also could eventually serve as a convenient location for some ASL courses.

The best way to learn any language is through continued use in a fun and relaxed environment,” said Kyle Callahan, an MSU junior who plans to apply for the program as he pursues a major in Deaf education. “This will give both hearing and Deaf students alike a place where they can live or go to where ASL isn’t considered strange, but rather celebrated and encouraged.”

New and returning students interested in this housing option should contact coordinator Marta Belsky at belsky@msu.edu. Current on-campus residents who would like to apply should contact Belsky no later than Jan. 30.

Contact: Nicole Geary, College of Education: (517) 355-1826; ngeary@msu.edu;
Marta Belsky, American Sign Language coordinator, Deaf Education Program: belsky@msu.edu


Wireless Videophone Unveiled

ROCKVILLE, MD - January 3, 2008 - Viable Inc., a provider of video relay services (VRS) for deaf and hard of hearing, unveiled its videophone this Saturday, January 5, at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

"Our videophone will inaugurate the wireless age for VRS users," said Viable CEO and founder John T.C. Yeh. "We are literally introducing to our customers to an exciting, new technology standard that blows away every other videophone currently available."

Although the CES opens to the public January 7-10, Viable will announce its videophone at CES Unveiled, an exclusive media event attended by the international press community occurring before the CES opening. Viable will also have an exhibition booth throughout the CES.

"The CES is internationally recognized as the top electronics tradeshow, and Viable aspires to lead the VRS industry into the next generation of communication technologies," said Anthony Mowl, who will manage the nationwide rollout of the videophone. "It is fitting that we celebrate the tradition of innovation CES has by launching the most revolutionary videophone ever."

About Viable, Inc.
Viable provides next-generation video relay services for deaf and hard of hearing persons that can be accessed wherever there is Internet or wireless connectivity, opening them to a world of communication possibilities. Founded in 2006, Viable is a private, deaf-owned company, and the majority of its employees are deaf and hard of hearing and are personally vested in the innovation and development of the company's products and services.

Please visit www.viable.net for further information.

info@michdhh.org

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