AnotherBoomerBlog’s Quiz for Hearies

I’ve been meaning to reblog this for some time. It’s humorous and educational at the same time – and that’s a rare combination.

D.  If I come to your restaurant and mention I am HoH do you:

  1. Quickly get me a braille menu?
  2. Get me a wheelchair?
  3. Get me a pen and paper?
  4. Get me a menu, then face me when you talk to me and speak distinctly?

Here’s the link to Marsha’s Page.

I’ll add the obligatory essay question.

1) In 500 words – Do Deaf schizophrenics hear their voices in ASL?


We Spend More on Prisons than Schools – From AlterNet

Image courtesy of via AlterNet.

You might find this article a bit partisan, but there is some very interesting information buried in it. It’s a reblog from AlterNet. Please let me know what you think.

Why do people steal in order to buy drugs? For starters, most are poor and will stay that way because as a society we have failed to create an inclusive full-employment economy. Instead we genuflect to Social Darwinism, hoping that the jobs for all will miraculously appear from the private sector, and if they don’t, then it must be your fault if you don’t have a job. Second, drug prices are vastly inflated due to price subsidies disguised as drug enforcement. Every dollar spent on the vast apparatus that attempts to enforce prohibition drives up the price of drugs and the amount of crime related to drug use.

The writers pose the question why does the U.S. spend more money on prisons than on higher education, and answers with the author’s top 6 reasons.

English: Graph demonstrating the incarcerated ...

English: Graph demonstrating the incarcerated population relative to the general population. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Innocent deaf woman spends 60 hours in jail without interpreter – From Prisonmovent’s Weblog


Prisonmovement’s Weblog

This story is reblogged from Prisonmovement’s Weblog. It is more on the story of Lashonn White, a story we covered on August 8th.


“I mean imagine—all I did was come running, wave my hands and come running out, and the next thing I know I’m on the ground,” White explained to Halsne through a certified American Sign Language interpreter.

Here’s the link to Prisonmovement’s coverage.


She was attacked in her home, and called Tacoma, WA. police via video interpreting service. The service – as they always do – identified her to police as a Deaf individual. When police arrived at her home, she ran out of the house seeking their protection. They yelled “Stop,” which she, of course, couldn’t hear – so they tasered her.


Halsne discovered that when someone who doesn’t speak English is booked into the Pierce County Jail, staff calls interpreters on the phone so they can explain basic information to the new inmate like charges, medical needs and the time of their initial court date.

Deaf inmates don’t get that same courtesy because the jail does not have a video phone which allows for sign language communications.

Now, unfortunate though it may be, I do understand their actions. Police are faced with life and death situations every day. They often don’t have the luxury of being able to use judgement beyond survival instinct. What I don’t get however, is how they can then lock her up, without an interpreter, for 3 full days.


Prisonmovement’s Weblog is – as most of you already know – one of our favorite sites, and they did an excellent job with this post. Please click on the above link and learn more.


English: A Video Relay Service session, where ...

English: A Video Relay Service session, where a Deaf, Hard-Of-Hearing or Speech-Impaired individual can communicate with a hearing person via a Video Interpreter (a Sign Language interpreter), using a videophone or similar video telecommunication unit. The hearing person with whom the Video Interpreter is also communicating can not be seen in the photo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Two Al Jazeera TV Videos from Pat Bliss

The first, from June of 2010 concerns itself with the elderly in prison.

The second addresses the mentally ill in America’s prisons. It was originally posted in December of 2009.

BitcoDavid has asked me to convey his apologies, but due to the fact that these videos are the intellectual property of Al Jazeera TV, and are delivered via YouTube, he was unable to caption them. He said that he knows he promised to caption all videos, but in some cases it is just not possible.

Deaf Culture Behind Bars – the Book

Here’s the cover photo courtesy of, where you can also go to order it.

Well, since I spent all weekend fixing server disasters, only to discover that they weren’t fixed, I thought I’d talk about two archaic medieval commodities that you may remember – if you search the darkest recesses of your mind.

The U.S. Mail, and books. You remember books, right? They were like really long tweets only made out of paper.

So, today I received via the U.S. mail, a book. That’s right. The Pony Express rider brought a dead tree – right to my front door. After Jack scared him off, I was able to open the package and enjoy its contents.

The book is called Deaf Culture Behind Bars: Signs and Stories of a Texas Population. It is written by someone with whom we are quite familiar – thanks in no small part to our contributor Jean F. AndrewsKatrina R. Miller. The forward is by our own McCay Vernon. It was sent to me via this antiquated method, by Joanne Greenberg – our site’s owner and publisher.

You can order it from

Now, having just received it today, I’m not really in a position to offer you a qualitative review, but having flipped through it, I find it to be informative, interactive and even somewhat humorous.

There’s a section where Dr. Andrews shows you all the signs you’d need to know, should you find yourself a guest of the state. For example, I now know the proper sign for Ad-seg.

I also found a section dealing with substance abuse amongst the Deaf. There are even a few first hand accounts of life behind bars as experienced by Deaf offenders.

Beautiful Daguerreotype of an old Pony Express rider. Image:

All in all, I can’t wait to start devouring this book. I think it will help me as I write for you on this site, and it will contribute to my overall understanding of this complex and difficult subject.

Poor Kim C*****

Yesterday, we posted a reblog from LipreadingMom about a Deaf child whose school refused to let him sign. That led to a conversation about mainstreaming, and I was reminded of a piece I did for school.


Hydrocephalus (historic image from Hess, 1922)
This is a defect of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flow, leading to enlarged ventricles and head, separated skull cranial sutures and fontanelles. Obstruction of CSF flow can occur at any time (prenatally or postnatally) and leads to accumulation within the ventricles. The time of onset will have different effects and should be compared to the equivalent neurological events that are occurring.
Ventricular obstruction usually occurs at the level of the cerebral aqueduct (narrowest site), but can occur elsewhere, and can be caused by viral infection.
Image by

Poor Kim C*****, her curse was not her dim brain, struggling to crank out a 60 IQ. Her curse was to be born into a cultural system that prizes beauty above all else, a place where mediocre normalcy is inviolate, and difference despised.

In 1967, the state of Colorado decided to enter into a program for public education, known as Mainstreaming. Kim C***** was taken from the security of her special school, and thrown, unceremoniously into a den of wolves.

Kim was born with a congenital condition – Hydrocephalus, water on the brain.

A pall of silence fell over the school bus, on that first day, as we all watched this drooling creature with a head like a space alien, waddle on, and try in vain to find someone who would allow her the common decency of a seat. The murmurs and whispers were only occasionally punctuated with a cry of “cooties.”

She bounced from bench to bench, like the steel ball in an arcade game – eventually lighting on an empty place at the back. This seat would come to be hers, ever after. The object of stares and ridicule, she’d sit there and drool, her vacuous head wobbling back and forth, alone and friendless.

In my mind, her days must have been the agonies of Sisyphus. Hers was a daily struggle to find some of the milk of Human kindness that the rest of us take, so much for granted. Nevertheless, I would be wrong in that assessment. Kim C*****’s curse was also a blessing. Within her fog shrouded brain, where the synapses moved like motor oil, she was happy.

In our gale force drive to find only beauty in our world, we inadvertently brought out our own inner ugliness. In the end, Kim C***** was the beautiful one.


I can address mainstreaming from a unique perspective. That of being a normal kid. There are few things in life of which I am as ashamed, as the way I – and my friends – treated the mainstreamed kids that were brought into our school.

We called them speds and retards. We would dare each other to touch them. We would get up and move when they came to sit with us. We would trick them into doing things that would get them in trouble. Some of us would even beat them up.

One fears that which one doesn’t understand – and the reaction to fear is intolerance and violence. If I could find Kim C***** now, I’d try and apologize to her for the inhumanity with which I treated her, but that is not possible.

In short, I wouldn’t wish mainstreaming on any kid. School is hateful, bitter and painful enough for those kids who don’t have the added challenge of being different.

But, perhaps things have changed in the 40 odd years since then.

I would only hope that today’s kids are a little smarter, raised a little better, educated and prepared a little better. I would hope that I never again, see a normal kid torturing or teasing a kid like Kim C*****.

Originally posted on Lipreading Mom:

I was shocked to read that a 3-year-old boy in Nebraska has been denied the right to use his sign language name at school.

Below is the entire article by Steve Ross with It is Lipreading Mom’s conviction that children with deafness or hearing loss should be allowed to use the communication method that works best for them in school. In this young boy’s situation, his first language is See Exact English (SEE). Yet the right to communicate his name with sign has been denied him.

What are your thoughts?

Grand Island Preschooler Forbidden Sign Language for His Own Name

Hunter Spanjer says his name with a certain special hand gesture, but at just three and a half years old, he may have to change it.

“He’s deaf, and his name sign, they say, is a violation of their weapons policy,” explained Hunter’s father, Brian Spanjer.

Grand Island’s “Weapons…

View original 242 more words

♫ I Don’ Wan’ No Sugar in Mah Co-offee…♪

“What we have here, is a failure to communicate.” The iconic words spoken by Strother Martin in the classic film Cool Hand Luke. The image comes to us from

This was brought to my attention by Marsha Graham, AKA AnotherBoomerBlog, from a story that originally appeared in Yahoo News.

Apparently, Finbar McGarry was being held in a county jail, awaiting trial. He had not yet been found guilty, but merely was unable to afford bail.  So, like so many in his tax bracket, he found himself a guest at the Graybar Hilton. When he refused to do labor, he was threatened with solitary confinement.

Eventually, he made it to court where he was found innocent. However, he is now suing the state of Vermont for 11 million bucks.

Here’s some of what Attorney Graham has to say on the matter.

The reality is that we DID outlaw slavery in the Constitution.  The reality is also that we frequently force inmates to work (chain gangs and the like).  However, this guy was in pre-trial and forced to work.  That’s the difference here.  He was not sentenced yet – innocent until proven guilty, etc.  I am happy to see the Court ruling for him, but it has certainly not reached the highest appellate level, so this is still not the end of the story.

I would also point out that this man was not convicted AND that the consequences for failing to work for 25¢ an hour were INSANELY DRACONIAN  –  getting put in “the hole.”  While guards have to be careful of everyone in jail, you don’t put a prisoner awaiting trial in the hole for refusing to take a job.

Even more, the article points out we have thousands of individuals sitting in jail on the public’s tax dollar who are really no threat to the community but they can’t make bail.  If that doesn’t make people unhappy, I don’t know what will. They should release these people to save the taxpayers a lot of money.
The title of this piece comes from a Mississippi chain gang song recorded in the 1930s by Alan Lomax. Although I have a ton of this stuff, Jet Black Woman has long been one of my favorites. Sugar in the coffee refers to the use of potassium nitrate (salt peter) as a toxic and ineffectual method of suppressing the male drives that can prove so problematic in prison environments.

Progress in California

Beautiful aerial of California’s infamous Folsom Prison. Image courtesy of

I got this in my e-mail a few days ago:

Dear David,

We have exciting news that you helped make happen!  Two important victories today in California -
 Senate Bill 9 and Assembly Bill 1270 took major steps forward in the legislature.

First, Senate Bill 9 just passed the state Assembly 41-34!

After six years of hard work by many organizations and dedicated activists like you, we are closer than ever to reforming life without the possibility of parole sentences for juveniles. 

What’s next?  The bill  – which passed the state Senate in June 2011 – goes back to the Senate to get agreement on new amendments made in the Assembly since the Senate’s vote. Then it’s on to the governor!

We will need your help again – stay tuned and we’ll let you know when to take action to let Gov. Brown know you want him to sign SB 9.

More good news: Assembly Bill 1270 – a bill to restore media access to prisons that allows journalists to interview specific prisoners – today moved out of the Senate Appropriations committee. It was approved by a vote of 5-2.  Now it moves to the full Senate for a vote. Once it passes the full Senate, it’s on to the governor!

There’s still time to sign and spread the word about our petition  .  We’ll be taking your signatures directly to Gov. Brown when the time is right.

Last week, we printed out your 2,500 signatures and personally hand-delivered them to every member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.  Your petition signature is also sent directly to your personal Assembly member and Senator via email, and they are taking notice.  Thank you for your support.

Kevan Insko

P.S. Our all new website and online Action Center is finally here!

This is exceptionally good news – if it goes through. First, it will stop the barbaric practice of doling out life sentences to children. Secondly and moreover to my mind, is that it will restore the rights of the Press to interview prisoners. This is critical. As citizens, it is our right, privilege and responsibility to oversee our judicial system – and we can’t do that without a vibrant and unrestrained free Press.

The infamous lime green gas chamber at San Quentin, where all of California’s death sentences are carried out. Today the room is used for lethal injections; California abolished execution by poison gas in 1995.
Image courtesy of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. but I got it from

Solitary Confinement is Used as Torture – From AlterNet

As pertains to the Deaf, even incarceration within a general population environment can be likened to solitary confinement. In many cases, the inmate may be the sole Deaf occupant of the facility. In such cases, he will have no one to communicate with, and will in essence be in solitary confinement. However, this article refers to so called control unitsSupermax prisons and the other more traditional definitions of solitary confinement.

Perhaps the most notorious case of all is that of the  Angola 3 , three Black Panthers who have been held in solitary confinement in Louisiana for more than 100 years between the three of them. While Robert King was released after 29 years in solitary, his comrades – Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace – recently began their 40th years in solitary confinement, despite an ongoing lawsuit challenging their isolation and a growing international movement for their freedom that has been supported by Amnesty International.

This story came from AlterNet. It discusses not only the horrors of unending solitary confinement, but also the inequity with which it is meted out.

But while broad patterns can be discerned, these are the numbers that are missing: How many of those in solitary confinement are Black? How many are self-taught lawyers, educators or political activists? How many initiated hunger strikes, which have long been anathema to the prison administration? How many were caught up in the FBI-organized dragnet that hauled thousands of community leaders, activists and thinkers into the maws of the U.S. “justice” system during the Black liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s?

Human Rights Watch estimated that there were approximately 20,000 prisoners being held in Supermax prisons, which are entire facilities dedicated to solitary confinement or near-solitary. It is estimated that at least 80,000 men, women and even children are being held in solitary confinement on any given day in U.S. jails and prisons.

Reading this article, I was stunned by the time spans they discuss. The thought of being completely alone, in the dark, and deprived of any form of aesthesis for even a period of a few days is terrifying. Imagine being locked up like that for 40 years.

The following links are already embedded in both the original AlterNet article, and in this post, but I felt the need to add them anyway.

Leni Riefenstahl Would Be Proud

Not too bad looking for a Nazi butcher, eh? Image courtesy of

Leni Riefenstahl has long been one of my favorite directors. I know, you’re warming up the tar and plucking the feathers. Hold up a minute though. Let me explain myself. I enjoy propaganda – as an art form. I think if you look at it, knowing what it is, and just try to appreciate its imagery and its camera magic, you can find beauty in it. Take for example some of the poster art from the Soviet Revolution. Square jawed men and voluptuous women carrying rakes and hoes – looking skyward – the beauteous proletariat.

Early on, in the development of the Concentration Camp System that eventually became Operation Reinhard – the Final Solution, Ms. Riefenstahl was asked to make a film which would show the world how well the Third Reich treated its inmates. Some of the most horrific places the world has ever known, were made up to look like playgrounds and vacation resorts. Starving people were fed, clothed and ordered to look happy. Gardens were planted and playgrounds full of happy children were erected. The rest is simply Leni’s genius with a 16mm.

I’ve seen this film, and knowing what I know about the Camps, I find the thing hilarious.

Well, I just saw CCA’s version of Ms. Riefenstahl’s masterpiece, and I thought it would be entertaining for you to see, as well. CCA – Corrections Corporation of America, a company that believes that Dickens’ London was a pretty cool place – has a version on their Web site, which I’ve stolen. Now, I will give you the site as a credit for the intellectual property, and I really don’t condone the stealing of same, but we are talking about America’s largest private prison conglomerate. If the worst thing that ever happens to these Sus scrofa domestici (look it up.) is that somebody steals their videos, then there’s truly no justice in the world.

Video courtesy of

Oh, by the way. The captions are mine. I promised you I’d caption every video and CCA never would bother to caption this because, well – they just don’t care.

The Man Behind the Curtain Explains the Dials and Buzzers

I’m working on the transcript for #5 in the Felix Garcia series, and at the same time, working on the video for #6. For today’s post however, I thought I’d give you some insight into the tech work behind these videos. Bringing you this interview is really a pretty big job.

The files came to me originally on 2 DVDs, each one-hour in length. I extract them from the DVDs in the MP4 format. They are about 4Gb in size, 1280 by 720 frame size, at 30FPS. They are progressive interlaced. The audio track is 16 bit stereo – 44.1 sample rate.

I convert them into WMVs with no compression or changes in frame size or rate. I then cut them into 4-15 minute segments. The uncompressed segments are rendered and copied over onto a private file server, where the interpreter can download them. She watches them in real time, while recording a separate audio file, which she then uploads back onto the file server.

Her audio file is mono, and contains her translation voice-over, + all the audio information from the original. Using Adobe Audition on my audio editing machine, I copy her entire file and make a duplicate track, so the file will be in stereo. I then do some post-production mastering on the new stereo file, including audio compression and equalization. Finally, I normalize the two-track mix to –6Db.

Still on the audio editor, I extract the original audio tracks from the segment and master them as well, including the –6Db normalization.

Now, I switch over to my video-editing machine. This is my most powerful computer. Core 2 duo, with 8 gigs of DDR-3. I use 3 video editing programs on this machine – Adobe Premier, Video Edit Magic, and my personal favorite, Serif Movie Plus. Premier is the most professional, and it can do more heavy lifting, but it’s insanely priced and cumbersome to use. Video Edit magic is cheap but limited. Movie Plus is fast, easy to use, does almost everything I want – and doesn’t require a second on the house.

I now have 3 independent files to work with – the video track, and two separate audio tracks. I sync the original audio track back to the video track as a reference. I pan this track all the way to one side. I then insert the voice-over track and pan it all the way to the other side. I turn both tracks up full, and using the stereo separation, manually sync the voice-over track to the reference track. Once I have them synced up with no perceivable doubling or echo, I re-pan them back to center and reset the mix volume to –14dB.

Almost done. After readjusting the aspect ratio to allow for the captions, I have to insert yet another video track for them. This is actually a separate video file that gets created in real time and synched to the other 3 files. I have to listen to the audio tracks, and manually type in the individual captions. This gets separately rendered into a file and re-synched back into the mix.

Finally, the file must be compressed for uploading to the site. This is tricky, because I need to make it much smaller, but if I make it too small, the quality suffers. It can become choppy, garbled and hard to watch. After some experimentation in both what I would accept for quality, and what WordPress will accept for size, I ended up with a file that is 50Mb, down from 5 gig – 512 by 288, still at 30FPS. The audio is still 16 bit, 44-1 and other than loss due to the algorithm most of the trimming is in frame size.

I re-render it to this spec, and upload onto the site. All together, it takes a little over a week to make each segment.

I hope you enjoyed this little foray into my sick, sick world.

Tomorrow’s the Day

Release Daniel Larsen, Ruled Innocent

This guy isn’t Deaf, but he is wrongly imprisoned. Here’s the link to his fiancee’s petition page – a petition she hopes to deliver tomorrow.

Just Visiting

The grounds are beautiful at the facilities I visit at the State Prison, Department Of Correction. I walk past careful beds of flowers, not a weed in sight. There are no trees or shrubs, though, nothing to interfere with the line of sight. We, the visiting group, go through the main door and into a small reception area with armed officers, two women, one man. Others come and go. They check my name and take my driver’s license, which they say they will return when we leave. They pat us down. No homemade treats are allowed. The other members of the party are checked out and we are sent through a door that clangs behind us. There is another steel door ahead of us, not yet open, so we stand between the doors, crowded into the space, maybe ten feet square, holding what we have brought. This is the moment when the unique experience of prison is made plain to me. The officers are unsmiling and show no emotion – their faces are blank and there is none of the anxiety-easing small talk of normal interchange. As visitors, we are potential sources of trouble. The door ahead of us is opened and clangs shut behind us. Ahead is a corridor whose walls have lists of rules and announcements: There will be a class beginning in Bible study on Thursday in room etc. GED classes will begin again next week. The prison newsletter is open for submissions.

We walk to a room led by a guard who opens the doors for us. The prisoners, in green scrubs are already there. The halls have a smell of disinfectant. This room is slightly better.

We are here to conduct Jewish services in the week between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the two stellar holidays of the Jewish year. We are bringing sealed supermarket items for a holiday meal. There can be nothing special, nothing handmade. We sit with the prisoners, one and one at the table, chatting for a few minutes. The prayer service begins. We take turns reading.

The room is square and large enough for the 12 of us to sit comfortably on the not very comfortable chairs. It is lit with florescent tubes and faint light from barred windows so dirty that the light comes through them filtered and muzzy.

In the middle of the service, two guards come in. Immediately, the prisoners stand and go to one end of the room, facing the center. A list is read. Each man responds to the number with his own number. The prisoners show no expressions of annoyance or impatience that this rare time with us has been interrupted. The speed with which they respond lets us know that no expressions of irritation or words of impatience are tolerated, even though the guards knew we were here and could have put off the count until we left.

The count completed, the guards leave and we go back to our service and then give out the paper plates and plastic spoons, which will later be collected. We unwrap the less than appetizing food and begin to eat. We have been chatting all the while. Have they been able to light candles for Sabbath prayers? No. What have they watched or read that they have liked lately? Sometimes we laugh together. Newspapers and entertainment programs are scanned here, and edited to weed out acts of violence. We answer questions if we can. Partisan political news is expunged. What is or is not allowed the prisoners changes from day to day and no complaints about this are tolerated. Little planning can be counted on, few plans made. This keeps the escape rate low, but it also infantilizes the inmates.

There is, at all times, a low-key but constant tension in the prison. No one is at ease. Our meal over, we embrace the prisoners and knock on the door – we have been locked in – and the guard opens it an escorts us back the way we have come and to the office. We get our driver’s licenses back and anything that was taken from us as being potentially dangerous or forbidden. Three hours have passed. It feels like all day.

As I think of what a deaf prisoner might experience, especially if no other Deaf are in the facility, I realize how easily misinterpretations can occur. Deaf people use lots of physical actions, signs and expressions. Even when they are not using Sign for speaking, they tend to gesture, to give and reflect facial and body movements, their only ways of understanding emotion and motivation. No one lip-reads that well. The deadpan prison expression in guards and inmates gives them no clues as to what is being requested or implied. There is every kind of room for misinterpretation and misunderstanding. The physicality – gestures, facial expressiveness and simple inability to hear are all, contrary to prison culture. Deaf people depend on cues not given in the prison subculture. No wonder their behavior write-ups and bad reports are double those of ordinary inmates. No wonder their sentences are ramped up due to bad behavior.






An Amp Guru – Music Synthesist’s Perspective on Deafness

Let me give you what I know about the science of sound. The term sound refers to the compression and rarefaction of an elastic medium in a contained space. This compression and rarefaction takes place within the range of 20Hz to 20KHz and moves at a rate of 340.29 meters per second. An individual sound is known as an event. Syllables of words are separate events. Each event consists of a fundamental frequency and harmonics of that frequency.

The fundamental frequency is filtered by its delivery system. In other words, the sound of a violin is generated by the strings, but filtered by the body of the violin. That’s why a violin sounds different from a guitar. The filtering is broken down into two components – the cutoff frequency, and the resonance. The former is the frequency above or below which sound will not pass. The latter is the addition of harmonic information relative to the cutoff frequency.

Finally, every sound event consists of 2 envelopes – amplitude and frequency. Both envelopes have four portions. They are attack, decay, sustain and release. Take for example the sound of a bass drum, vs. the sound of a pipe organ. The bass drum has a short attack. The sound is at its greatest amplitude immediately after being hit. There is a very short decay period, followed by very little sustain, and the reverberation at the end of the event is the release time. The organ, on the other hand, climbs to its loudest point, has no noticeable decay, sustains almost indefinitely and slowly fades out in its release. Many instruments also experience pitch changes during their events, and the frequency envelope governs those.

What does this have to do with the Deaf?

Well, I’ve spent years synthesizing sound and hand building the machines that create or amplify it. Now, I’m on a different mission – the inverse. I’m trying to understand what exactly goes wrong with those ears that don’t work right.

Today I had a wonderful and informative meeting with Marsha Graham of – among others – AnotherBoomerBlog. Some of the many things we discussed were hearing aids, and a few of the different symptoms suffered by the Hard of Hearing. It was an enlightening experience for me. When a hearing person thinks of deafness, he tends to think in all or nothing terms. You just plain can’t hear – or you can hear, but the volume’s really low.

That’s not the case. Many Deaf and Hard of Hearing can hear, but only at certain frequencies. Often they hear, but their brains scramble the sounds. In other cases, they are unable to tune out certain noises while tuning in others. When the hearing speak in a crowded room, or on a city street, our ears – and our brains – filter out the unnecessary background noise. Many Hard of Hearing don’t have that filtering capability.

Therefore, hearing aids must employ much more sophistication than one might think. A hearing aid must be much more than simply a tiny microphone connected to a tiny amplifier. It needs to be capable of shifting frequencies, adding or removing filtering and altering envelope shapes. As I become more involved with the Deaf community, I find myself relying more and more on what I learned in its antithesis – music.

D for Deaf

As bloggers, what do we do? Well, we write. Now me – writing, fighting and fixing machines – that’s about all there is. Kissing Jack and performing honey-dos for my wife are squeezed into the mix, somewhere.

In this era of Internet access – where anybody with a keyboard can be another Steinbeck – things like spelling, grammar and usage tend to be given a pass. I often see language that would make an English teacher cringe. In fact, I’m often guilty of it myself. Nevertheless, convention dictates that we give grammar and spelling our best effort.

An example would be the following sentence:

He was born Deaf, and his deafness has proven an asset rather than a liability.

Apparently, there are some rules regarding the capitalization of the word deaf. The upper case is used when referring to the Deaf as a culture, and the lower case is attached to the condition itself. This was a lesson for me, because when most hearing think of deafness, we think of it solely as a disability, similar to paraplegia or cleft palate. Deafness is both a condition and a culture.

When referring to the Deaf, sociologists use the upper case to classify the ethno-linguistic group, similar to American, Black or Jew. Someone afflicted with the inability to hear, but who became so later in life would not receive the big D.

Sign plays an important role in all this. As we’ve pointed out often, Sign – ASL and its many international counterparts – is a unique and identifiable language. As such, it not only commands linguistic classification, but sociological classification as well. For example, to be Italian means a lot more than simply speaking that particular language. Well, the same holds true for the Deaf.

And since we ‘B’loggers (a culture as well as a calling) – as a group – strive for excellence in our writing, we need to pay attention to when to use that big D.

This dish is Italian. Hungry yet? The image is courtesy of–2



The Auburn System

In the 19th century, a craze swept across the American Penal System. It was called the Auburn System, also known as the New York System. The idea was an outgrowth of the Quaker idea that solitary confinement gave prisoners much needed time for introspection and atonement.

Under the Auburn System, prisoners had to work at some marketable labor from sunup to sunset. When moved from place to place, they had to march in lockstep. Each man was bade to keep one arm on the shoulder of the man in front of him. At no time – even during meals – were prisoners allowed to talk. In fact, another common name for this penal system was the Silent System. The thinking being, that prisoners learned criminal behaviors from one another.

Punishments for even the most minor violation of these rules were vicious and excessive – with flogging being the most common. Many prisoners died under the lash, with others dying from infection days or even weeks later.

Here’s the Wiki page on this archaic form of incarceration which was predominant throughout the U.S. from 1820 through 1933.

Deafinitely Theatre

Image from Deafinitely Theatre

Deafinitely Theatre is a British theater group that utilizes Deaf actors and crews to put on plays in Sign. Here’s what they say about themselves on their own Web site.

Deafinitely Theatre was set up in 2002 by Artistic Director Paula Garfield with Kate Furby and Steven Webb.

We are an independent, professional Deaf-led company.
Our productions
are made from a Deaf perspective and aim to empower Deaf culture, identity and pride locally, nationally and internationally.

We create productions in British Sign Language (BSL) and English, which can be understood by everyone and yet retain BSL as the leading language throughout, on and off stage.

With a great lack of Deaf Theatre and millions of Deaf people worldwide, we aim to provide a stage for untold Deaf stories, reflecting and exploring Deaf culture by bringing it front stage.

Image from Deafinitely Theatre

Deafinitely Theatre aims to build a bridge between Deaf and hearing worlds by showing plays to both groups as one audience. Our plays set out to correct the misconceptions about the Deaf world – as well as correcting Deaf peoples’ misconception of the hearing world.

Here’s the Contact information:

Deafinitely Theatre
Unit 20
Deane House Studios
27 Greenwood Place
London NW5 1LB

Tel: 020 7424 7360.

(Images courtesy of Deafinitely Theatre.)


Lyric Hearing Aids

OK. I don’t really know much about hearing aids. But I do know about sound, microphones and transducers. I recently saw an ad for a new type of hearing aid called Lyric. It is unique in that it’s placed inside the ear canal, essentially right up against the ear drum.

It’s manufacturers claim that it is invisible, comfortable and highly effective. They also claim that since it requires significantly less power, it can go for months between battery changes.

Now, a lot of this makes sense to me. Microphones have a characteristic called proximity effect. This is an increase in output level and low frequency response as the sound source is moved closer. In a concert environment, for example, the microphones that are used for low frequency instruments are placed closer to their sources than are those used for higher frequency instruments.

My natural mistrust kicks up however, when I think about the possibility for ear infection, irritation and inflammation. As a hearing person, the thought of embedding something in my ear is pretty scary.

Furthermore, wouldn’t you need two of these devices? Do they only work for the Hard of Hearing, or can they offer any benefit for the profoundly Deaf.

If you’re familiar with the Lyric, I would be interested in any feedback you can provide. Feel free to comment and enlighten.

After a Break; Felix Part Five

Here’s part 5 – the beginning of disc 2 – in the interview of Felix Garcia in prison, as conducted by Jim Ridgeway and Pat Bliss. Felix is much calmer in this section, and he talks frankly about communication issues, language barriers and lip-reading. He is – by the way – an excellent lip-reader, and he provides some marvelous insight into this difficult and complex method of communication.

Again, as before stated. This is the property of Jim Ridgeway, who owns the copyright. The captions and tech work were done by me, and our wonderful and talented interpreter – without whom none of this would be possible – chooses to remain uncredited. The video cannot be copied or downloaded, but by all means, please feel free to link back to it.

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