Reading and Deaf Researchers

By Jean F. Andrews

Portrait of John Bulwer

John Bulwer, 17th c linguist who proposed a manual alphabet for the Deaf

Since I’ve been in higher education, I’ve seen an increase in numbers of graduate students who are deaf apply to deaf education programs. I have also seen the increase in the hiring of professors who are deaf in different institutions where I have worked. The topics of their research papers are typically related to Deaf culture, and to the use of ASL and fingerspelling in the teaching of reading. If literacy is to improve, it will take deaf researchers to provide us with insights on how to use ASL and fingerspelling to teach English reading.

Jean F. Andrews is a Reading Specialist and Professor of Deaf Studies/Deaf Education at Lamar University.

I Flunk My Hearing Test

By Joanne Greenberg

Hearing exam

Hearing exam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was sure that I would pass because I hear so much better than my husband, and while some people were difficult for me to hear unless I was facing them, most of them speak clearly enough for me to follow. I did the bit in the soundproof box and when the audiologist showed me the results on the graph, I asked if I could cram for the next one and make a better showing. Yes, I was better than my husband, but my hearing was worse than a normal person’s would be.

I am comfortable with the hearing aids I got, but I have to find someone I couldn’t hear before to see if the difference is as great as my audiologist things it will be.

Joanne Greenberg was born in 1932, in Brooklyn, NY. She was educated at American University and received and honorary Doctorate from Gallaudet University – the world’s only college for the Deaf. She has written 2 books on the subject and has spent decades working with state mental hospitals for appropriate care for the mentally ill Deaf.

The Role of Deaf Professors In Higher Education

By Jean F. Andrews

As more and more deaf individuals earn degrees in higher education at the doctorate level, they are entering high education as professors and administrators. Oftentimes, they experience both physical and attitudinal barriers. Professors who are deaf provide role modeling for deaf undergraduate and graduate students. But working in an environment where majority of faculty and administrators are hearing, non-signers poses subtle and not so subtle challenges. Dr. Damara Paris shares her experiences in this article published by Lamar University Press.
Here is the link. Deaf Is Just an Adjective

Jean F. Andrews is a Reading Specialist and Professor of Deaf Studies/Deaf Education at Lamar University.

Conversation at the Supermarket

By Joanne Greenberg

I was standing near the onions trying to figure out which kind I wanted, when I spotted a neighbor who greeted me. During our chat, she mentioned that her husband had new hearing aids. “They cost a mint, but he never wears them. I’m exhausted by his saying. ‘What?’ all the time and having to repeat myself 3 or 4 times before he gets what I’m asking him, and I’m almost howling. All our incidental conversation has been lost, the little back-and-forth that’s half the fun of being with someone.”

I nodded. “Same here,” I said. I was aware of movement behind me. I turned and there were 4 women, all nodding, and then they all broke out with similar stories about hearing loss and the fact that the person isolated by it isn’t the only one suffering.

Joanne Greenberg was born in 1932, in Brooklyn, NY. She was educated at American University and received and honorary Doctorate from Gallaudet University – the world’s only college for the Deaf. She has written 2 books on the subject and has spent decades working with state mental hospitals for appropriate care for the mentally ill Deaf.

This Video Will Rock Your World

By BitcoDavid

Jeffrey Swartz posted a link to his latest blog story on the ASL Learner’s group. He makes numerous valid points on his own, but at the bottom of the post he embedded this video. After watching it, I knew I had to post it as well. This video is utterly amazing, and it will change your whole perspective on Sign, Deafness and even Cochlear Implant technology. It is a long video – just over an hour, but once you start watching, you won’t be able to stop. Rachel Coleman is an amazing woman, and her story is both moving and inspiring. Trust me, if you don’t absolutely love this video, I’ll… well, you’ll just love it.

Also worth noting, the video has flawless embedded captioning. You will not need to turn on the YouTube automated captioning thing, which is known for its 30% accuracy.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

In A Prison Times Three

By Jean F. Andrews

While some children learn to read effortlessly and on their own, I had to wait until the first grade. After my teacher taught me the 26 letters of the alphabet with the sounds they make, and taught me 20 to 30 sight words, she handed me a primer, my first book. Before my very eyes, the magic of story unfolded. I lurched forward through the talk to print connections, put it all together, until it made sense, I was on my way. Reading took me to worlds far and wide, real and imagined. And I have not put a book down since.

My ease in learning to read is not so with most deaf and hard of hearing children.

Book Club for Youth in Federal Prison - Global Giving

Book Club for Youth in Federal Prison – Global Giving

For them it is a lifelong struggle to access visual language–both signed and written. The struggle begins at home in a sound-base environment and continues to school, another sound-based setting and if they have scrapes with the law, it continues into still another sound- based setting, the prison.

My colleague, who organized a book club for hearing inmates in our town’s prison, says his book club is transforming minds. Inmates read books and get together with him to discuss ideas from the novels and share their own experiences about situations and characters they read about. Not a bad way to spend their time while they are doing time.

But if you are deaf, it’s a different story.

The 3 Weird Sisters from Macbeth.

The 3 Weird Sisters from Macbeth.

Most deaf inmates can’t read beyond the second grade level. It would be impossible for deaf inmates who are illiterate to get into the biography of Malcolm X or To Kill A Mockingbird or Macbeth or read Robert Frost’s poetry. My colleague’s prison book club has created a shared humanity, an oxymoron in such an incapacitating and punitive setting as the prison.

While deaf inmates reading levels are lower than the average reading level of most deaf high school leavers which is 3rd to 4th grade, still deaf non-offenders have information sources around them through the Internet, YouTube, VRS, their signing deaf and hearing friends, signing hearing friends, Deaf sports, and Deaf associations and ASL/English bilingual e-books.

Alex Dixon - Flickr

Alex Dixon – Flickr

Not so, for deaf inmates.

Deaf inmates live in cells without books or signing companions. Not only are they locked up physically; they are locked within the prison of illiteracy and within the prison without signers. It is prison times three.

What a terrible, excruciating lonely and cruel existence.

Jean F. Andrews is a Reading Specialist and Professor of Deaf Studies/Deaf Education at Lamar University.

“Kissface” the Horse

By BitcoDavid

Years ago, I lived in Boston‘s West Fens – a corner of the ghetto area, Roxbury. In those days, Boston police had one of the few mounted police divisions. These cops loved their horses, and saw the posting as a position of honor and dignity. The cops would be assigned to different beats throughout the city, and would become intrinsic parts of their neighborhoods. Our particular horse-cop was a Black woman of about 40, and her horse was a brown and white Appaloosa.  Every morning like clockwork, a certain elderly woman from the community would apply her fire engine- red lipstick, and kiss the horse in the middle of the white patch on his face. After a while, the lipstick began to stain the horse’s fur, and he developed a tattoo of red lips – right smack on his kisser (sorry, couldn’t resist). We nicknamed him, “Kissface.”

Kissface and his mounted partner did more to prevent crime than we’ll ever know. This cop knew everybody in the neighborhood, and usually referred to us by our first names. She’d break up fights, get brown baggers to find some shelter for their imbibing, help abused spouses to find protection – and above all – counsel us. Sitting atop Kissface, this woman would gently remind you that what you were doing was illegal, and it would probably be a good idea for you to knock it off. In all the years I lived there, I saw her intervene in hundreds of situations, but I don’t think I ever saw her make an arrest.  She relied on the peer pressure only a neighborhood is capable of – and an understanding of the inherent decency buried within all people.

But those days are gone.

And something has changed in the makeup of police. Marsha Graham of AnotherBoomerBlog reports today, on 2 separate cases of police, beating Deaf offenders during traffic stops. In Settlement reached in police abuse of deaf motorist and in Hard of Hearing, Mentally Impaired Woman allegedly Battered by Police Officer, Ms. Graham restates the need for training of police in dealing with the Deaf and HoH, and for interpreters to be present at arrests and other police interactions with the Deaf community. I couldn’t agree more with this essential point, but I think the problem goes much deeper.

While it’s easy for cops to say they don’t know how to deal with the Deaf, and that training would help prevent these tragedies from occurring, I find that to be an overused and overly convenient excuse for simple bullying and bad behavior. I’m not a cop, but you can’t tell me that the woman above did anything to warrant the kind of beating she endured. We’re all capable of telling when we’re dealing with someone who’s confused or at a mental disadvantage – Deaf or not. And truthfully, it wouldn’t have mattered if she was a Rhodes scholar with perfect hearing and 20/20 vision. It wouldn’t even matter if she were Bonnie Parker. There is absolutely no excuse for beating someone like this. I don’t care how tough your job is. If you can justify this kind of behavior – then it’s time to switch careers.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

Probation Forms and the Deaf Offender: A Complex Matter With a Simple Solution

By Jean F. Andrews


Re-Offender (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Probation is a court order that allows a person convicted of a crime to remain out of jail. An individual on probation must follow certain court-ordered procedures and keep from getting into trouble with the law. Probation violations both occur when an individual either breaks the rules or fails to keep the terms of their probation, including getting arrested for another offense. Probation violations have significant consequences and penalties. When a probation violation occurs, it may result in the person returning back to jail.
For obvious reasons, offenders must understand the conditions of their probation and work with their probation officer to make sure these conditions are met on time. For instance, a court may mandate drug treatment or an anger management class, depending on the charges. For deaf offenders who are illiterate, understanding the conditions of probation, particularly reading the probation forms can be a nightmare. More often than not, deaf offenders are not provided with qualified interpreters consistently throughout their probation meetings. Further, the deaf offender may not be able to read the probation forms he or she must sign detailing the conditions for probation because they read below the 3rd grade reading level. And when the deaf offender takes the forms home, she or he cannot refer to them as a memory aid because forms are written at the 9th grade reading level or above as I found with one readability analysis of one probation form. That means you would need at least a high school reading level to comprehend this form.

Look. Even on a demo form, the perp is a Black male No comedy like reality. -- BitcoDavid. Photo courtesy of Quick-Court

Look. Even on a demo form, the perp is a Black male No comedy like reality. — BitcoDavid. Photo courtesy of Quick-Court.

To illustrate the linguistic complexity of probation forms, here is a sample sentence with a feared consequence.
Failure to answer all questions honestly or failing to fill out the forms by due date could result in a warrant for your arrest.
How can a deaf offender fill out the form honestly? How can he fill it out at all if he does not understand what he is reading? Such scenarios as this one are common. In one case, a deaf offender on probation was not aware of the fee schedule change as his probation officer failed to explain it to him and the deaf individual could not read the form he was given with the fee schedule changes listed on it. In another instance, an offender on probation was required to go to Anger Management classes but she could not get an interpreter nor could she read the class textbook which was written at the 9th grade reading level.

Probation forms are filled with difficult vocabulary such as termination, requirements, receipt, written confirmation, brackets, regarding, issued, self-addressed stamped envelope, cashiers check, that a deaf offender with a low reading level would have difficulty understanding. The probation forms are also filled with complex sentence structures, if-then cause and effect clauses, time clauses, sequencing, structures which low level reading deaf offenders stumble through. As such, both the linguistic complexity and the content of the forms with its sequencing of events and ideas on what the deaf offender should do, should not do, and the when and where the forms must be filled out and what conditions need to be made are complex and confusing for the deaf offender. Hearing offenders who are illiterate can simply ask a family member or the probation officer to explain the rules because they have a shared spoken language. However, deaf offenders are “up the creek without a paddle,” when such probation forms are placed in front of them and they are not provided with a qualified sign language interpreter. They are left to flounder and fail and oftentimes they end up back in jail because they did not understand the conditions for probation.

The solution is simple: Provide qualified sign language interpreters in all interactions with signing deaf offenders and probation officers.

Jean F. Andrews is a Reading Specialist and Professor of Deaf Studies/Deaf Education at Lamar University.

[Editor's note: Jean has touched on many important issues with this piece, but another probation / parole issue that needs mentioning is the use of urinalysis for drug testing. These tests are known to be wildly inaccurate - all the more so when administered by a non-professional such as a probation officer or cop. Something as mundane as a poppy-seed bagel can be enough to get an offender violated and sent back to jail. People should know that they have the right to refuse a urinalysis test, and instead to opt for a blood test administered by a medical professional. --BitcoDavid]


Shanna Groves Stops By for Cyber-Tour

By BitcoDavid

The Lipreading Mom, Shanna Groves

The Lipreading Mom, Shanna Groves

Shanna Groves, prolific author, hearing loss activist, Internet personality and Show Me Your Ears diva, has graciously offered to provide this Supporter Contribution in the form of a cyber-book tour. She and I collaborated laboriously and came up with the following for your edification and delight.

Shanna Groves was diagnosed with progressive hearing loss after the birth of her first child. She was 27. In the years since, she and her husband added two more children who provide creative fodder for writing. Her books include Lip Reader and the just-released Confessions of a Lip Reading Mom. The philosophy, “One person can make a difference; it takes many people to make the difference permanent,” inspired a blog,, that advocates for hearing loss awareness through projects such as the Lipreading Mom Captions Campaign, Show Me Your Ears, and Stop Hearing Loss Bullying. She speaks and teaches classes on hearing health, lip reading, and creative writing to people of all ages. Learn more at

BD: Tell us a little about your background and how you became interested in writing.

SG: My first foray into writing was in middle school when I joined the yearbook staff. One day while laying out a yearbook page, I learned that I had won the Outstanding English Student Award for my school. A gigantic trophy and tons of writing confidence followed. I grew up in Oklahoma and Texas and developed quite a memory for people I had met and places seen. All those memories came in handy years later when I put a magazine editing career on hold to become an aspiring novelist. It was a good thing I knew how to write because it helped channel my feelings about living with progressive hearing loss into words for others to read.

What lead you to write Confessions of a Lip Reading Mom?

Biographies and memoirs are my favorite genre of books, and I wanted to write one for years. A writing instructor once asked what was so special about my life that it warranted a book. It took eight years for my life story to materialize into Confessions of a Lip Reading Mom. I had to live life, not just write about it, in order to have a story worth telling. My book is about living with hearing loss while taking care of children, living with depression, and trying to make sense out of a progressive health issue. Writing this book was my therapy. Each chapter invites the reader on roller-coaster experiences that may surprise, educate, and inspire them.

Tell us about getting your mind in a creative mode. How do you begin your writing process?

The library is my writing muse. I go there once a week to browse the shelves for new and old books, and I check out a stack of them to read almost simultaneously until one grabs my interest—then I read that one to completion. That is how I discovered Maya Angelou’s work and the life-changing power of her creative nonfiction and memoirs. I journal and blog about what I’ve read, and other writers’ stories inspire my own words to flow onto the page. My goal when writing a book is to park myself in front of the computer to write a minimum of 20 minutes a day, five days a week. I don’t edit what I write, nor do I read the previous day’s writing, until the entire book is complete.

Many writers utilize a writing group. Where do you get constructive critiques and feedback?

When writing my first book, Lip Reader, I posted each chapter to a private blog read by a small group of writers who offered feedback and helpful suggestions. For Confessions of a Lip Reading Mom, I worked with another writer, who helped me polish each chapter before submitting to the publisher. Mostly, I’ve found writing a book to be a solitary experience.

What is Confessions of a Lip Reading Mom about?
In 2001, I became a new mom to a healthy seven-pound boy. While on maternity leave, I noticed a persistent ringing sound inside my ears and went to a doctor. The diagnosis: progressive hearing loss in both ears; cause unknown. My book spans the first six years of my life as a hard of hearing mom. How could I take care of my babies if I couldn’t hear their cries from the other room? Would I become completely deaf and, if so, how would I communicate with my children? The doorbell’s chime, the phone ringing, and my toddler’s first words were silent to my ears. After two years of denial, I began wearing hearing aids—but I didn’t like them at first. They magnified the sounds I didn’t want to hear—temper tantrums! Eventually, I learned to navigate the uncertain waters of hearing loss with my sanity and humor barely intact. I became an online hearing loss community advocate, known as Lipreading Mom. This wasn’t my lifelong plan in the beginning, but it is something I have come to embrace now. Besides being a wife and mom, I believe my purpose on earth is to tell this story.

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

While writing, I had to make sure that the book didn’t take up too much of my time or concentration. My children and husband needed me. Oftentimes, I had to force myself away from the computer to do the afternoon school carpool or start dinner. I experienced guilt if I wasn’t writing and guilt when I wasn’t there for my family. As moms, I’ve learned we are tougher on ourselves than anyone—and I’m still working on this whole mom guilt thing.

Now that Confessions of a Lip Reading Mom is out in bookstores, do you have any projects you’re currently working on?

I am developing a series of lesson plans on lip reading for people with hearing loss. My goal is to combine the book and blog writing with creating meaningful teaching materials to help others with hearing loss. Eventually, I would like to also develop video lesson plans to teach lip reading online and by DVD.

When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
My older kids and I are antique and flea market store enthusiasts. We like to find treasures at bargain prices. My oldest boy and I have chatted about opening our own antique store booth some day, but that’s a far-off dream!

Where can readers find your book?
Confessions of a Lip Reading Mom is available on Amazon and Amazon Kindle, as well as at

Anything else you would like to add?
Three hearing loss awareness projects I am excited about are:

- Show Me Your Ears: This is my online photo gallery of people who wear cochlear implants and hearing aids, children with hearing loss, and even a few animal ears! The goal is to make hearing loss awareness a fun and visual experience. To date, there are more than 200 ‘ears’ on display at

- Lipreading Mom Captions Campaign: I have partnered with the Collaboration for Communication Access via Captioning (CCAC) to develop an email campaign to encourage networks and websites to caption 100-percent of their online videos so that people who are deaf or hard of hearing have full access to them. Visit the campaign page at

- Stop Hearing Loss Bullying: As a person with hearing loss, I have experienced teasing, name calling, and outright bullying—and I am not alone. In schools, communities, and the workplace, people with hearing loss may experience ridiculing and prejudice because of their hearing ability. This campaign has an online petition and is working on a series of videos to heighten awareness that people who can’t hear deserve respect and that hearing loss bullying is wrong. Learn more at

Do you sign, or have you ever considered learning – perhaps teaching the kids?

Yes, my younger daughter and I have used sign with one another since she was a year old (she is 8 now). My sons know very well the signs for ‘I love you’ and ‘Stop’.

We kidded each other a while back about lipreading in the rear view, while driving. While I know you don’t do that anymore, can you think of any other examples where your hearing loss posed a safety threat?

When a person can’t hear her child screaming from the backyard, that is a safety concern. My eyes are my ears.

Cover shot

Cover shot

AUTHOR: Shanna Groves

BOOK TITLE: Confessions of a Lip Reading Mom






BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

Promises Made, Promises Broken

By Joanne Greenberg

Part of the problem of Deaf low reading levels is due to insufficient education. Why should this be? The problem of low reading levels among the Deaf was supposed to have been solved 30 years ago, when mainstreaming was instituted to give Deaf kids an equal classroom experience, among their hearing neighbors at the local school. Why weren’t Deaf children, many of whom were supplied with interpreters, not following the trail of the “normal” kids in their classes?

Promises were made that couldn’t be kept.

For Deaf students with Deaf parents, the understructure of ordinary information was present. Most Deaf children have hearing – non-signing – parents. Even those who do sign are not as linguistically proficient as a bilingual family would normally be.

Schools don’t do remedial work during summers. They tend to pass low functioning students on, until they drop out of High school, unequipped, even for High school – and with Grade school reading levels.

Recently there has been a resurgence of interest in special schools for the Deaf, bucking the trend of fake normalization. We are reinventing the wheel.

Joanne Greenberg was born in 1932, in Brooklyn, NY. She was educated at American University and received and honorary Doctorate from Gallaudet University – the world’s only college for the Deaf. She has written 2 books on the subject and has spent decades working with state mental hospitals for appropriate care for the mentally ill Deaf.

Probation: A Cycle of Despair

"Probation" by Alessandro Scali and ...

“Probation” by Alessandro Scali and Robin Goode (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Probation for the deaf offender can be a cycle of despair. It is a tangle of complex and confusing rules with heavy consequences if the rules are not followed.  This is ever so certain particularly if the deaf individual has poor sign skills, a low reading level, a poor educational history.  Interpreters are often provided for some of the meetings with the case managers but not all of them so the deaf individuals have knowledge gaps on how to comply with probation.  More often than not they have had  no previous significant job training nor skills in time management, budgeting and the “how tos” of keeping a job. And if we add poverty to this sad picture, we see that many cannot afford the fees associated with probation, nor find affordable housing, and dependable transportation to the job. What if

English: Havant Probation Services

Havant Probation Services (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

buses don’t run on Sunday but the deaf person must make it to work?  In addition, they have difficulties finding accessible drug and alcohol treatment if that is part of the probation package. Having an insensitive, busy and overloaded, and deaf culture-deficient case manager won’t help matters much either. Deaf probationees need advocates. Someone qualified, compassionate and williing to help them not fall through the cracks and end up in prison again and again.

The Probation Officer

The Probation Officer (Photo credit: micadew)

Deaf Awareness Week – Day 4

This is a fun post for me, because I get to feature lot’s of pictures of gear.

A member of HEARD, or perhaps a visitor to their site, wrote an interesting piece on the fact that emergency horns – to alert residents to everything from hurricanes to invasions – cannot be heard by the Deaf, and that there’s nothing in place to provide for their safety.

It reminded me of something I’ve been learning and re-learning since I started the project.

We in the hearing world take for granted just how much difficulty the Deaf and HoH have in simple, day to day life. So much of our world is based on the ability to hear. Even in some cases, your basic safety. Hearing can be the difference between life and death.

Tell ya what. If you can’t hear this – you’ll still feel it in your bones.

We cross streets while texting away on our iPhones, all the while blissfully aware that we’ll hear any threat. We know the subway’s coming, because we hear it a half mile away. We can tell if a dog is friendly because we can hear his growl, and we know our cats are happy because we can hear them purr.

Imagine what a scary place our planet would be if all that were suddenly taken away.

These are the horns I have – for my 1 – 3K section. Altec 8-11B. They’re classics.

Deaf Awareness Week is a good time to stress some of these issues. And is a good place, because just doing this project has opened my ears to a whole world of understanding. It’s more than just speech, and even music – although one of the things I have also learned is that many Deaf can and do enjoy music.

Once, for an experiment, I tried to go a whole day blindfolded. Just to see what it was like, and if I could get along without my sight. Well, I’m here to tell you, it ain’t easy. But none of us ever question a world without our ears. Many Deaf tell me that if given the choice, they’d opt for blindness.

Someone wrote – somewhere – Deafness is worse than blindness, because the blind are cut off from things, but the Deaf are cut off from life. I’m paraphrasing, of course – and probably not too well – but I think the sentiment is valid.

As an athlete, I often wonder what life would be like as a paraplegic. I can’t help but admire those brave individuals who overcome that kind of disability and go on to perform incredible feats. The guys who run marathons in wheelchairs – that sort of thing. But, I’ve learned – only recently – that when I see a beautiful piece of artwork, read a stirring blog entry, or hear a stunning score created by someone who’s deaf, I’m witnessing an even more impressive feat.

Here’s your closing shot.

Neve console. For 30 years, I called this “home.”

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?


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.

TSA Agents Laugh at Deaf Man – Reblogged from

TSA agents at the Louisville, Kentucky airport laughed at a deaf man, called him “f***ing deafie,” and then stole his candy – another perfect example of why this loathsome federal agency needs to be abolished immediately.

Read more:

The Injustice of Lonliness as Punishment

[The tagline for is Sentenced to Solitude in Silence. Our contributor JoanneGreenberg sent this in. --Ed.]

The hardest part of being deaf and in prison may not be the rapes, the missing of messages or the misunderstanding in general. It might be the absence of other deaf people. Imagine a Russian or Basque speaker in jail who knows very little English, and suffers the unappeased hunger for simple contact, conversation and communication. This absence, we hear from other prisoners, is what is so biting in solitary confinement.

What I remember from my trips to mental hospitals, before their patents were ditched into our local streets, was the complaint of deaf people there who had been placed geographically, instead of by medical definitions. This was a huge advance for the ordinary hearing mentally ill, because it didn’t discriminate between chronic and acute conditions, thereby allowing the chronic to be simply warehoused instead of being treated. For the Deaf, it was ruinous because they had no way of knowing who else might be there with whom they could communicate.

Now, the prisons have the same problem. If deafness could take prcedence over the type of crime or the length of sentence, deaf people could be housed together and services tailored to their needs could be instituted.

May at

Click on the link to view a PDF update on our activities for May.

May at

A Follow-up to My Last Inmate Letter

[I received another letter from the deaf inmate in CA in response to my letter. His first letter is shown below and/or under inmate letters tab. I have typed pertinent parts, and in clearer understanding, as most of it is a repeat of his first letter but I believe it shows what a little kindness can do for an inmate who has had no contact with society in his 25 years of incarceration. He still wishes to remain anonymous due to fears of retribution and harm but if you, the reader, would like to pass on a word of encouragement to give him hope, please leave a comment and I will print it and send it to him. This also applies to all the letters I have received that have been passed on to BitcoDavid.



4-2-2012                                                                                                                                                                                 ******* **** ******


***** ****** ****

******. CA *****

Dear Ms. Pat Bliss,

After all these years with no contact or communication, your letter was pure joy. I wrote the attorney lady address that you sent me, I took the time and explained all these years of incarceration of abuse and rapes: who – what – when. But because officers read our mail, unless it is legal mail, I ask Ms. Attorney *** to inform you of my condition and circumstances. I fear for my life constantly from officers and inmates which the officers use against other inmates….

I’ve live in loneliness, no love and a broken heart for 55 years. Ms. Pat…there are 2 laws and rules: black and white, the officers urge racism and hate and violence…if you get this letter I’m telling you I don’t want to die in prison…from birth till this day, my life has been lonely and empty and for 25 years hell but thanks to you, you have given me a small light of hope.

But at my age I wonder who would want to deal with a black, deaf, inmate even out in the world? I’m emotionally damaged and scared of people.

I’m so low emotionally, I don’t expect anything, no happiness. I have never loved or never had love, no compassion, no togetherness, no family, no friends and now I’m completely deaf. Pray for me and may God Bless you. Thanks. ****** *******.


[For the public’s information, I have the ball rolling to try to get this man help. Since mail takes so long, I have no other feedback to share at this time.]

Injustice: Mistreatment of the Deaf in Prison

Talila Lewis from H.E.A.R.D. sent us this link. The post was actually written by a young intern.

Injustice: Mistreatment of the Deaf in Prison.

Jail Inmates at Midyear 2011 – Statistical Tables

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jim11st.pdf (application/pdf Object).

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