January 4, 2006
Vol. 2 No. 11

Editor: Tom Willard

Deafweekly is an independent news report for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. It is mailed to subscribers every Wednesday morning and available to read at For information, contact

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Wisconsin School for the Deaf football coach Mark Aleksinski, 50, and his adopted son, Robert Arnold, 18, drowned Christmas night after their snowmobiles broke through thin ice near the family’s vacation home. According to the Janesville Gazette, the family had been spending the weekend at a log cabin Aleksinski built near Rest Lake in Manitowish Waters. When the father and son didn’t return from their outing, police were called in to search. The victim’s bodies were recovered the next morning. Aleksinski, a coach and science teacher at the school for nearly 25 years, was “an outstanding role model for young deaf men,” said his wife, Sheryl, who also teaches science at the school. Robert, who attended WSD and competed in the Special Olympics in bowling, basketball and track, was an “all-around nifty guy,” said former athletic director Pat Blackmer.


The former comptroller of the Lexington School for the Deaf in New York City has been charged with embezzling $42,000 from the school’s checking account, reported the North Country Gazette. James Gutierrez, 33, of Queens Village is facing one count of grand larceny, four counts of falsifying business records and one count of scheme to defraud. Gutierrez, who worked for the school between January 1, 2004 and September 1, 2005, was arraigned and released on $5,000 bail. According to the charges, an audit turned up 14 checks totaling over $42,000 that lacked backup documentation, including five checks that were credited to a credit card account belonging to the defendant. The district attorney alleges that Gutierrez tried to conceal the payments as legitimate business payments to an elevator company and other contractors at the 141-year-old school. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.


A deaf couple in Texas lost everything they owned when their Lake O The Pines home went up in flames on Thursday, December 22, reported KLTV News in Tyler. Boyd Ayers said he and his wife Paula had no place to live and were staying with relatives, “but I can’t feel sorry for myself, right now I want to stay in the Christmas spirit, do it for my kids.” The next day, the Ayers visited the Salvation Army and rang bells to raise money for charity. “If you can do something for someone else it makes you feel better,” said Paula, “because you really get a good feeling in return.” Donations to help the family may be mailed to the Salvation Army, P.O. Box 3909, Longview, TX 75606.


A deaf teenager was in court yesterday in Tulsa County, Okla. to face an armed robbery charge. According to News on 6, 15-year-old Sid McDade’s cases keep getting kicked out of the system because of a lack of interpreters, and yesterday, once again, there was no interpreter. This violates a state law that passed November 1 and requires all state agencies to appoint a qualified interpreter for any proceeding that involves a deaf person. The court said there was no interpreter yesterday because the jail made the request last Friday, not enough time to make arrangements. Money is also an issue, since the state Supreme Court says the courts can pay $40 an hour but many interpreting agencies charge $60 an hour. The new law sets up a certification board that will set the pay rates, and the issue is expected to be resolved over the next few months.



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An appeals court in Waukesha, Wisc. ruled December 21 that a deaf man did not have his rights violated when he was shackled in court, reported GM Today. Jeremy Russ claimed the restraints left him unable to use sign language, but the court said Russ failed to prove that he was hindered in his ability to communicate with his attorney or interpreters. District Attorney Paul Bucher said Russ made no attempt to put his attorney on the stand to detail communication problems. “Had he done that, I think he would have had a better opportunity to make his case,” said Bucher. Russ was sentenced to 15 years in prison for sexual assault and lewd and lascivious conduct after groping two women in a local park.


Stroger Hospital in Chicago has reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to improve its services for deaf and hard-of-hearing patients, reported the Chicago Sun-Times. The U.S. attorney’s office began investigating the hospital after an Americans with Disabilities Act complaint was filed by Haydee Garcia, a deaf woman who, on May 29, 2003, waited six hours before an interpreter was provided. Garcia, now a junior at Gallaudet University, was awarded $7,500 in damages. The hospital has established new guidelines for interpreter requests, provided TTYs in the emergency room, patient rooms and all public telephone locations and begun training personnel in how to assist deaf and hard-of-hearing patients. Said Dr. Nancy Becker, chairwoman of the hospital’s language, speech and hearing department: “We’re just further strengthening the kinds of things we’ve been doing and reinforcing them.”


The city of Fremont, Calif. received an award recently for its new senior housing development, Fremont Oak Gardens, a project of 50 apartment homes that cater specifically to deaf and hard-of-hearing seniors. The Helen Putnam Award for Excellence was given by the League of California Cities, which gives awards annually to many of California’s 477 cities in categories such as public safety, environmental quality and civic involvement. Fremont Oak Gardens was recognized in the Housing Programs and Innovations category, reported the Milpitas Post. The development, the first of its kind in Northern California, opened last February at 2681 Driscoll Road. The project cost of $12,172,239 was paid with local, state and federal funds.


New captioning regulations went into effect on Sunday, January 1. In general, 100 percent of new programs must be closed captioned. However, there are several loopholes. New networks, for example, are exempt during their first four years in operation. Programs between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. are not required to be captioned, nor are TV commercials, locally produced instructional programs or public service announcements of less than 10 minutes. ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and their affiliates must real-time caption their news programs in the top 25 television markets. If the new rules are violated, consumers may send complaints to the TV station or cable/satellite company. If no response is received after 45 days, a complaint may be filed with the FCC. More information may be obtained from Jerald Jordan of DHHCAN, a national coalition of organizations, at


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The vice-president of the Nigerian Deaf Sports Federation was “manhandled” by deaf athletes on December 23 over allegations that he stole money from the organization, reported The Tide. About 30 sportsmen and women at the National Stadium in Lagos “turned down all pleas from passers-by as they descended heavily on John Yusuf, tearing his shirt and beating him,” the newspaper said. Afterwards, Yusuf resigned as vice-president and promised to refund the N400,000 (about $3,100 US), which he said he borrowed to pay for a trip to South Africa to observe a sporting event. The athletes also called for the cancellation of the federation’s recent elections, claiming the results were fraudulent.


A woman from Fiji Island flew to Tunisia in November to accept an award for her work with deaf youths. Nileshni Sekar, arts supervisor of the Foundation for Rural Enterprises and Development (FRIEND), was presented with the Youth and ICT Award from Global Knowledge Partnership in Tunis, Tunisia. She was one of seven people from around the world to be honored at the November 15 ceremony, reported the Fiji Times. Sekar created a program in which deaf youth design handmade greeting cards using quilling, the art of curling paper. Thousands of cards have been sold at outlets across Fiji since they became available in June 2004. The program generates income for FRIEND, which was established three years ago to help lift people out of poverty.


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“The sound of silence can often be deafining [sic],” said the Mississauga News (Ontario, Canada) in a story on a deaf youth who recently won a public speaking award. Sean Matera, 11, captured the Annual Junior Public Speaking Award presented by the St. Patrick’s Catholic Women’s League. The subject of his speech was War and its Effects. “I chose it because my grandfather was a veteran in the Second World War,” said Sean. “And he knows a lot about war.” Sean, a 6th grader at the Blessed Teresa Of Calcutta Catholic School in Mississauga, is “an exceptionally talented student,” said teacher Doris Karatoprak. “He devours books and is a prolific writer.”


An 85-year-old woman in Scotland will receive two hearing aids a year earlier than expected after the Daily Record reported on her plight. Cathie Leslie originally was told she would not even be examined by a specialist until January 2007. “I will be dead by the time I get a hearing aid,” she said. But after the newspaper told her story, health officials swung into action and promised that Leslie would be fitted with hearing aids within two weeks. A “national staffing crisis” was blamed for the initial waiting time, said officials, but a new center that opened in August has slashed the waiting period. A spokeswoman said patients would no longer wait more than 17 weeks for an initial consultation and no more than eight weeks for a hearing aid.



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A New York philanthropist left a $1 million gift to the Long Island Jewish Medical Center to allow poor and underinsured deaf children to receive cochlear implants, reported Newsday last week. Horace Hagedorn, founder of Miracle-Gro garden products, had a severe hearing loss himself and considered getting an implant before learning he was not a candidate for the device. Still, he was so enthusiastic about the process that he commissioned a documentary about cochlear implants titled “The Bridge Between Sound and Silence.” The film was completed by producer Ron Rudaitis after Hagedorn died at 89 last January.


A new website has been created to provide deaf people with health information through American Sign Language videos that feature deaf actors. “Learn Health! Live Healthy!” is a project of Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center and is funded by the Illinois Department of Health. The ASL Health Info Website currently offers information on HIV/AIDS and STDs and will soon add information on breast health. People without high-speed Internet access can request a free DVD or CD. To check it out, go to


Friction and frustration are growing in millions of households, reported The New York Times last week, as baby boomers and their elderly parents, who once fought over long hair and Vietnam, are now yelling at each other over health issues such as hearing. A Better Hearing Institute survey found that 31.5 million Americans are hard of hearing, but only 23 percent wear hearing aids. Boomers, the generation born after World War II, are “annoyed that they have a hard time communicating with their folks,” said Steven Mintz at the University of Houston, and frustrated with older people who are reluctant to try new tools that could help them. Chuck Underwood, president of the Generational Imperative research firm, says the elderly are embarrassed to wear hearing aids, while for their children it’s mostly vanity.



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Next Tuesday is the deadline to apply to become a certified instructor with the Community Emergency Preparedness Information Network (CEPIN) Project. Instructors will be certified to teach a course designed by CEPIN in their own communities. A three-day training program will take place February 7-9 in Northern Virginia. Although the two-year CEPIN project is funded with a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, participants will be expected to cover their own expenses to attend the training program. Resumes should be sent by January 10 to CEPIN coordinator Jim House at More information may be found at


The Washington Post reported last week on Maya Yamada, a sign language teacher at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Md. who last month was certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. She joins an elite group of 47,500 board-certified teachers out of 3.5 million nationwide. Yamada, 37, was born in Toronto and lost most of her hearing when she was 6. She attended Gallaudet University, earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s in deaf and special education. In 1996, she landed a job at Roosevelt High, where she runs one of two programs for deaf students in the county’s mainstream schools. Her accomplishments include organizing a hearing-loss support group, educating faculty on the needs of deaf students and founding a dance company that has performed in Japan, New Jersey, Florida and elsewhere. The certification application required hundreds of hours to complete and will mean an extra $40,000 in salary over the next 10 years.


The Kansas Association of the Deaf wants lawmakers to provide $150,000 to hire deaf specialists at four independent living centers throughout the state. According to the Kansas City (Mo.) Star, KAD president Leonard Hall made the request to state Sen. Karin Brownlee and Rep. Arlen Siegfreid at the county mental health center in Olathe. Currently, many deaf residents visit the Johnson County Mental Health Center for help with daily living, even though they are not mentally ill. “Most people just struggle with the social environment, education and common sense,” said Suzanne Dennis, who runs the center’s deaf unit. Hall said lawmakers could minimize such problems by allocating money for independent living specialists who are fluent in sign language.


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The writer and director of the new movie “The Family Stone” was inspired to include a deaf character by his memories of college days in New York City. “I used to see these packs of deaf kids down on the subway platform, fighting, flirting, joking, arguing, whatever they were doing, in silence,” Thomas Bezucha told the Orlando Sentinel. “I was just enthralled by this silent culture going on right in the middle of all this noise, the din of the city.” When he wrote The Family Stone - about a loud, open-hearted and liberal New England family - he decided to include a deaf and gay son named Thad. Ty Giordano, late of Deaf West Theatre’s “Big River,” plays the role, and family members use sign language so that Thad is included in the fun. The film, which opened last Friday, stars Sarah Jessica Parker, Diane Keaton and Luke Wilson.


A new program called “Signing Time” premiered Sunday on KCET, the PBS station in Los Angeles. According to the L.A. Daily News, Signing Time is designed to teach American Sign Language to children and adults through songs, stories and bright colors. The program was created by Rachel Coleman, who came up with the idea because she was frustrated with how few people could communicate with her deaf daughter, Leah. Signing Time features Leah, 9, and her cousin Alex, 7, who started signing when he was 9 months old. The program will be featured on other PBS stations nationwide, and more information may be found at


The World Institute on Disability is seeking brief stories, quotes, humor, poetry, artwork and cartoons about people with disabilities who have faced abuse and mistreatment by providers, caregivers, personal assistants, medical providers and other helpers. The pieces will be compiled and issued as “CAPE: Curriculum on Abuse Prevention and Empowerment,” a training guide for disabled people, family members and service providers. Funded by the National Institute on Disability Rehabilitation and Research, the book will be distributed nationally via CD-Rom, print and the Internet, in English or Spanish. March 15, 2006 is the deadline to send submissions to: Marsha Saxton, CAPE, World Institute on Disability, 510 16th St., Oakland, CA 94612, email:


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Elinor Kraft, a nationally known deaf storyteller and sign language teacher, died Tuesday, December 27. “She died peacefully and knowing she was surrounded with love every day for the nine weeks that she was in the hospital,” said her daughter, Bonnie Kraft, who noted that today (January 4) would have been her parents’ 47th anniversary. Mrs. Kraft, of Lynn, Mass., was featured as a storyteller in a 90-minute video titled “Elinor Kraft: Live at SMI,” which was produced in 1992 by Sign Media, Inc. She is survived by her husband, Leon Kraft; daughter, Bonnie; and two sisters. A funeral took place last Thursday and a memorial service is planned for May. Donations in her memory may be made to the Greyhound Adoption Service, 16 Jak-Len Dr., Salisbury, MA 01952.


John F. White passed away peacefully at home Friday, December 23 in the arms of his loving wife, reported the Salt Lake City (Utah) Tribune. He was 95. “Jack” was born in Salt Lake City and attended the Utah School for the Deaf in Ogden. On October 31, 1938, he married Vida May Fowkes in the Salt Lake LDS Temple. Mr. White retired at the age of 77 after more than 40 years with the Newspaper Agency Corporation. He loved sports, especially basketball, and he was awarded three National Hall of Fame Awards as a leader, player and coach for deaf athletes over a 60-year period. Mr. White is survived by his wife, sister, three children, 10 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren.


James H. Stoltz, past president of the Pittsburgh chapter and state coordinator for Self Help for Hard of Hearing People, died Tuesday, December 21 at a hospital in McCandless, Pa. He was 81. Mr. Stoltz served in the U.S. Army during World War II and earned a degree in chemical engineering from Carnegie Institute of Technology, reported the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He went on to work as a chemical engineer for U.S. Steel, Allis Chalmers and LTV. Through his work with SHHH, Mr. Stoltz was instrumental in getting TTYs installed at several Pennsylvania Turnpike plazas. He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Eleanor Stoltz; four daughters; three sisters; seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.



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The Department of Speech and Hearing Science seeks two full-time lecturers of ASL. The nine-month appointments begin August 16, 2006. For each position, responsibilities include teaching four levels of ASL and participating in program advancement. Requirements include a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and three years experience teaching ASL at an accredited college or university. A Master’s degree from an accredited college or university, five years experience teaching ASL at an accredited college or university, and experience using Microsoft PowerPoint or other computer-based presentation software are desired but not required. To apply, send a letter of application, statement of teaching philosophy, resume or vitae, and the names and contact information of three professional references (email and/or phone number, and address) to: Pamela Howard, Search Committee Chair, Department of Speech and Hearing Science, Arizona State University, PO Box 870102, Tempe, AZ 85287-0101. E-mail applications are encouraged and must be sent to: The application deadline is January 13, 2006; if not filled, every Friday thereafter until the search is closed. Supporting credentials and additional materials may be required later. Visit for program information. A background check is required for employment. ASU is an EO/AA employer.


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