Tag Archives: Deaf

Signing Santa on CNN.com Today

It’s a video and not captioned but still it is neat to see that this made it to the “front page”! And there is signing!

“Different Sign of the Season”



“You shall not insult the deaf” is in the third book of the Torah and third book of the Old Testament – otherwise known as Leviticus.

Just don’t do it… it’s not permissible by God. I don’t want to hear any more about some guy banging a deaf person on the head because the deaf person didn’t hear him. I don’t want to hear any more about the deaf person who gets denied a job even though he’s the most qualified individual for it, simply because he’s deaf. Please and thank you.

This article brought up one of many perspectives on Cochlear Implants – how some deaf people feel like there is nothing that is “broken” and thus no reason for something to be fixed. It also argues the other side – i.e. why it would be permissible. Keep in mind that it’s in accordance with Jewish learnings.

Emergency? Just Text the Police (UK)

I love the idea of text messaging most any service or business such as the police, or even a pizza place. Talk about so much less stress for both parties. The hearing folks don’t have to put up with relay and the deaf folks don’t have to worry about being hung up on (or worse!). Plus it’s completely versatile. Need to order pizza but don’t want to wait until you get home before you do so? Text message! Armed burglar in the house and don’t want to make noise to alert him/her to your presence? Text message the police. *hint**hint* This would be useful for hearing people as well.

*Sigh* Why does the UK seem so much further along in this than we are?

The West Midlands Police said the new service will let the hard-of-hearing and speech impaired use short-message services (SMS) on wireless phones to call the police in an emergency.

We’re trying to figure out how to attach a TTY to a wireless phone to call a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). While I think this would make it a lot more versatile than we are now (where we have to wait until we get home to call the police), it’s still not even close to where it should be.

Up until now, TTYs in the U.S. have typically used the “wired” telephone network. Now, though, TTY customers can use the machines on many wireless phones. The Federal Communications Commission mandated that all digital-wireless service providers be capable of transmitting 911 calls via TTY by June 30.

Perhaps it would be better to skip this step all together and go straight to text messages.

Why I Might be More Libertarian Than I Originally Thought!

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill [HL] 2007-08 was introduced to the House of Lords on August 11, 2007. From what I see, it has passed through the House of Lords and has undergone its first reading in the House of Commons. It has not undergone its second reading and there is no date listed as to when that will be. It must pass both houses to become law and if the House of Commons passes the bill, it is returned to the House of Lords for them to review any changes made. It can go back and forth between the houses before being ratified. It then needs a Royal Assent which is done by the Queen which is more than likely automatic.

The reason why I am talking about this bill is that it prevents any deaf babies from being born through IVF (In Vitro Fertisation). It really means all “serious physical or mental disability, a serious illness or any other serious medical condition” babies in general, but specifically targets deaf babies in its Explanatory Notes (see second indentation below). The bill itself states(clause Clause 14/4/9):

“Persons or embryos that are known to have a gene, chromosome or mitochondrion abnormality involving a significant risk that a person with the abnormality will have or develop a serious physical or mental disability, a serious illness or any other serious medical condition must not be preferred to those that are not known to have such an abnormality.” (emphasis added)

I kind of understand why the British government might be doing this. Most of England (if not all of England) uses the National Health Services or NHS. There is private insurance but is usually used to “top up” or as an addition to the NHS. Only about eight percent have private insurance. If a deaf baby is born, then the question is does the NHS have to pay for services such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, deaf education, speech therapy, etc.? The government might be seeing this as a way to cut insurance costs. I do wonder if these deaf services can be paid for by private insurances. However, if this were the case, would it be financially penalizing deaf children for their parents’ decisions?

This is in the Explanatory Notes:

“110. Clause 14(4) contains a provision that relates to the provisions on embryo testing (see note on clause 11). New sections 13(8) to (11) amend the 1990 Act to make it a condition of a treatment licence that embryos that are known to have an abnormality (including a gender-related abnormality) are not to be preferred to embryos not known to have such an abnormality. The same restriction is also applied to the selection of persons as gamete or embryo donors. Outside the UK, the positive selection of deaf donors in order deliberately to result in a deaf child has been reported. This provision would prevent selection for a similar purpose.” (emphasis added)

I said “target deaf babies” above because it sounds like the whole reason for this bill is because someone heard about this intent to go about IVF with the result of a deaf baby.

Conveniently enough, they are excusing the Catholic representatives from the vote.

“The issues vex scientists. To date, however, the government has refused to back down, further inflaming debate. How the bill will finally emerge from the ensuing negotiations is difficult to determine. One option being discussed is for chief whip Geoff Hoon to impose a ‘soft whip’, meaning Catholic cabinet ministers such as Ruth Kelly and Paul Murphy can be conveniently absent from the vote over issues concerning abortion, rather than having to choose between their government and their consciences.”

I believe that this decision should be left to the people rather than to the government. Because then it gets into: Well, where do you draw the line? What exactly is a “serious physical or mental disability, a serious illness or any other serious medical condition”?

I believe that deaf people can lead meaningful and valuable lives, and it is sad that the British Parliament is sending a message to the deaf community that it doesn’t believe that (whether it actually intends to or not).

It would be interesting to see if the United States picks up on this and what the government decides to do (if anything). I have some concern with the idea of installing a national health care system in the United States because of what’s happening in England.

Note: I am not an attorney, nor am I a British citizen for that matter. This is what I know and understand and have thought about for the last few months that this has been in the news. For more information about what is going on, I suggest going to Grumpy Old Deafies, which is a UK Deaf blog. They have been diligently following this matter for quite some time.

Important Edit: It now sounds like references to deafness are being removed from the bill.

“Now, however, the Department of Health has agreed to cut from the Bill any reference to deafness as a serious medical condition.”

Rest in Peace Cassie Haynes

I remember the day I first met Cassie Haynes. It was at the very first Deaf Professional Happy Hour that she hosted in Austin, Texas. She stood up after she was introduced and made a speech. We chatted some after that. Cassie and I weren’t close, but I respected her as a person. She seemed down-to-earth, happy and intelligent.

She died April 4 in her sleep. She was only 25. She left behind a five-month-old daughter and a husband-to-be. They were to get married on my and my husband’s anniversary. I thought about her a lot this week, about the family that grieves for her, about her friends at Rochester Institute of Technology and about the Austin Deaf Community.

Interestingly enough, she died on the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s death. It seems fitting in a way, she was a leader and a role model in the deaf community. Her funeral was on April 8. I wasn’t able to attend the funeral, but I’m sure that the church was packed with family and friends wearing the attire recommended: Hawaiian flowery shirts.

I will miss her. Even though I didn’t know her well, it will always feel like there’s something missing in the deaf community: her presence.