June 29, 2005
Vol. 1 No. 37

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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Three deaf people were injured Thursday when a small plane crashed on Martha's Vineyard, Mass. during the 12th Annual Deaf Pilots Association Fly-In. The pilot and two passengers were taken by ambulance to a local hospital and then transported to Boston, where they are being treated for broken legs and other injuries. Pilot Alec Naiman, 51, remained in critical condition Monday, while passengers Jeffrey Willoughby, 40, and his teenager daughter, Jessica, are now listed in good condition. According to the Vineyard Gazette, Naiman was attempting to land his Cessna Skyhawk on a grass runway at Katama Airfield in Edgartown when he spotted another plane preparing to take off. Naiman aborted the landing, said airfield manager Michael Creato, but the plane stalled and fell at least 50 to the ground. Nearly a dozen other deaf pilots landed afterwards, unaware that the airfield had been ordered closed due to the accident. "Luckily, nobody was killed," said Creato. "It could have been worse."


A deaf Connecticut woman awaiting an emergency heart transplant has been successfully weaned off an artificial heart pump, the Stamford Advocate reported yesterday. Laurie Bartow, 45, of Danbury, had the artificial pump and another heart-stabilizing device installed May 20 after being diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy, a heart infection that causes both ventricles to stop pumping blood. "Her heart wasn't beating at all and we didn't hold out much hope for recovery," said Dr. John Elefteriades, a heart surgeon at Yale-New Haven Hospital. But then a remarkable thing happened. "On the monitor, we started to see extra blips," said Elefteriades. "We realized it was her own heart awakening." Doctors began turning down the pumps and eventually decided to remove the devices and let Bartow's heart work on its own. The surgery, which took place June 9, was the first of its kind in the United States. Bartow's heart is essentially back to normal, and her case gives doctors hope that one day such artificial pumps may be seen as temporary.


The search for Mistie McWhirter outside Flagstaff, Ariz. was in its fifth day Thursday when hiker Robert Labuda came across the missing deaf woman in Sycamore Canyon. "I was curious why she was so excited to see me," Labuda told the Arizona Daily Sun. He led her on a seven-mile hike to safety, stopping overnight in a winter cabin. After emerging Friday morning, McWhirter was treated at a hospital and given a clean bill of health. She had been reported lost June 19 after walking off into the woods during a Father's Day picnic with her boyfriend, her 5-year-old son and his brother. McWhirter credited her father, Jim, for teaching her how to survive in the wilderness, and said it was thoughts of her son, John, that kept her going. "She's very, very lucky to be alive," said Sgt. Randy Servis, search and rescue coordinator for Coconino County.


David and Lynn Sabin, a deaf couple in Alton, Ill., survived a house fire Friday morning when their 3-year-old son, Joseph, woke them up. Fire was coming from two windows and the front door of their home when firefighters arrived, alerted by a neighbor taking a morning walk. The fire started under a window air conditioner, said Assistant Chief Tom Chappell. "They stored things on top of the power cord and heat was being generated, which started the fire." He estimated about $40,000 worth of damage was done to the house and the family's belongings. "They have nothing now," he told the Alton Telegraph. The family was put up in a motel for one night and given the number for the Red Cross to arrange for additional help.


An Amber Alert was issued for a hearing-impaired boy who disappeared Monday afternoon near the Veteran's Hospital in Detroit, WDIV reported. The alert was canceled yesterday when Shawn Outley, 16, was found safe. No other information was available on where he was found or why he disappeared, but police offered a phone number (313-596-5900) for anyone who could provide additional information.


Robert Lee Berry pleaded no contest in Butte County (Calif.) Superior Court last week to one count of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. Fourteen other identical counts were dismissed, the Chico Enterprise-Record reported. Berry, 51, waived his right to an extradition hearing and will now be returned to New York to face similar drug charges, along with allegations that he defrauded up to 65 deaf individuals. New York authorities have sought Berry for years, and several victims signed petitions demanding his extradition. He reportedly used Internet chat rooms to establish relationships with deaf women and persuade them to pay for his drugs and medical appointments.


Zoning for the proposed sign-language town of Laurent, S.D. hit a snag last week when the McCook County Planning Commission voted not to proceed with the first reading of an ordinance that would allow the town to be developed. An opponent group, McCook Citizens United, showed up with proposed changes to the ordinance, the Argus Leader reported, and commissioners decided to review the proposals before moving forward with the project. The last-minute maneuvering left Laurent co-founder M.E. Barwacz frustrated, but board chairman Marc Dick, who broke a 2-2 tie by voting against the motion to move forward, said, "These are changes proposed by the people you are going to have to live by." The planning commission will take up the issue again at its meeting next week.


A deaf, illiterate Afghan refugee was granted U.S. citizenship in Fairfax, Va. last week, seven years after he first applied. Salam Reangber, 40, grinned widely all morning as his long struggle came to an end, the Washington Post reported. He came to the U.S. in the mid-1980s with most of his family, escaping the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. He and his brother, Satar, who is also deaf, started working immediately as tailors, the trade they learned back home instead of learning to read and write. They applied for citizenship in 1998, but immigration officials lost Satar's papers and told Salam that being deaf did not excuse him from taking a written English civics test. With help from sister Najia Hayat and social worker Lisa Burdick, the brothers were finally exempted from the civics test after being diagnosed with mental retardation. Satar was granted citizenship last year and Salam took his oath on Friday. "He's really happy," said Hayat. "We are all very happy and relieved."


William Pangaribuan, 36, a deaf Indonesian immigrant, is being held in Plymouth, Mass. following his arrest June 10 on a deportation order. Last week, a Department of Homeland Security official denied claims by his wife, Hartaty Sri Haveline, and friends that he is being mistreated and kept in a secret location. Pangaribuan's 2002 asylum request included himself, his wife and her 7-year-old daughter; the couple also have an 11-month-old baby who is an American citizen. According to the Daily Democrat (Rochester, N.H.), an immigration judge denied the couple's request in October 2003, and the judge's decision was upheld by the Board of Immigration Appeals in December 2004. The couple then asked for a stay of removal, but their request was denied in April. Pangaribuan was one of 187 people arrested in New England as part of Operation FLASH, a program of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency aimed at getting alien fugitives off the street and out of the country.


Monday was the 125th anniversary of Helen Keller's birth, and her hometown of Tuscumbia, Alabama is celebrating with its annual week-long Helen Keller Festival. Visitors can enjoy music, food, and arts & crafts, while touring the Keller home, Ivy Green. Keller was born a healthy child, the Voice of America reported yesterday, but at an early age she lost her hearing and sight. Only after teacher Anne Sullivan arrived did Helen learn to sign and speak, saying her first word -- "water" -- near a little black water pump that still sits near her home. Many family members remain in the area, including great-grand niece and namesake Keller Johnson Thompson. "She wasn't a person who was stuck in a dark and silent world," said Thompson of the woman known worldwide for her advocacy for the disabled, women and minorities. "She lived life to the fullest."


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Jessica Rees is the U.K.'s foremost forensic lip-reader and an expert witness who has lip-read more than 1,000 tapes involving 700 cases, said the BBC on Monday. But her credibility was challenged last year by a defense lawyer who claimed that she falsely represented herself as a graduate of Balliol College, Oxford. Rees, the first deaf student admitted to Oxford, conceded that she had not completed her degree but said she did not intend to mislead anyone. She was dropped from the case and police were asked to investigate her for perjury. The Crown Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute her, but also decided not to use her as a witness any more. Rees said she was surprised by the decision, since the investigation had cleared her of all charges. It appears that her career as a prosecution witness is over, but she can still work on police surveillance and assist the defense in courtroom cases.


Art Daily reported Saturday on "an innovative project to radically re-think the future of hearing products." The project has enlisted some of the U.K.'s best designers to come up with "hearwear" that can be as fashionable as eyewear has become. The HearWare display features "stylish and attractive hearing products, some almost like jewelry, that people not only need but will really want to wear." The products are for everyone, not just for those with hearing loss, and suggest revolutionary new possibilities: "Imagine having a remote control you could use to instantly block out the sound of noisy builders or a screaming child; or a product that allows you to hold a clear conversation in a noisy bar." The display will open July 26 at the V&A, a museum of the decorative arts, and run through March 2006.


Two men in Ontario, Canada received jail sentences last week for taking part in a gang-style beating of a deaf man. Jeremy O'Neil, 24, was given two years jail time and three years probation, while Joey Robinson, 18, was sentenced to nine months in jail and three years probation. Two other adults are still facing charges in the April 12 assault on Terry Hamill, 25, at a home in Kemptville. According to the Brockville Recorder & Times, the trouble started after Hamill gave a package of marijuana to O'Neil. Hamill was repeatedly punched and kicked, and his blood was splattered inside and outside the residence. His body was bruised, he broke a finger and he needed stitches on his face. "I don't understand why they beat me," Hamill told the court in sign language. "They don't like me. I don't know if it's because I'm deaf." Attorney Claudette Breault shared his puzzlement. "For some reason, they took a dislike to him and they decided to beat the hell out of him," she said.


A 2-year-old poodle named Mack has been recognized in the U.K. as Heroic Hearing Dog of the Year. Last October, Mack saved the life of owner Edna Hind, a 71-year-old deaf grandmother from Kirkbride, by pulling her out of the path of a runaway truck. According to the News & Star, the two were walking near a cafe when Mack suddenly yelped and jumped. "He caught me off guard and I lost my footing," said Hind, who fell into a doorway and missed the truck by inches. "I hurt my shoulder and thought, what was that for? Then I saw this lorry. It was right on the pavement and only just missed me." Mack is Hind's second hearing dog, and he has lived with her for about a year. "He's my best friend and I don't know what I would do without him," she said.


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Dozens of deaf Catholics filled the pews of St. Anselm church in Sudbury, Mass. on Sunday, June 19, as the Rev. John P. Fitzpatrick celebrated his last Mass. "Father Fitz," who established the Deaf Community Center 35 years ago, was allowed to say Mass one last time at the church the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston tried to disband nine months ago. Worshipers have occupied the building nonstop since Sept. 12 to block its closure, reported the Boston Globe, and they welcomed back the priest for what was "a bittersweet occasion for pastor and parishioners alike." Fitzpatrick, 71, figures he had another five or six good years in him at St. Anselm but feels he is too old to start over somewhere else. "Of course, I am disappointed," he said, "but I am also grateful to have been allowed back on this altar." Evicted from the rectory, he left church after Mass on his motorcycle, his white ponytail peeking out of his helmet and his tiny dog, Dakota, strapped into a sidecar.


Lisa Banister of Peshtigo, Wisc. has a new pair of digital hearing aids, thanks to an essay her husband David wrote for a local contest. Lisa lost her hearing many years ago from an ear infection, reported the Detroit News, and her loss was complicated by the effects of multiple sclerosis. Unable to afford expensive digital hearing aids, she went without -- until David learned of the contest, sponsored by Heritage Hearing Care in Menominee, Mich. and Bernafon, a hearing aid provider. Lisa "deserves to hear the gravel under her feet," he wrote. "She deserves to hear her kids whispering in her ear, papers rustling in the next room, birds singing in the morning." Judges thought so, too, and David's essay was chosen the winner among 11 entries. "It was like someone looked down and said, 'Give these guys a break,'" Lisa said.


The Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle reported last week on Tamala David, 31, who received the 2005 Outstanding Adult Award from the Rochester Area Colleges Continuing Education Association. David, who is married and has three children, is a master's and doctoral student at the University of Rochester's School of Nursing. A fluent sign-language interpreter, David is active in the Rochester Black Deaf Advocates and works with UR researchers on a deaf-related project. Her interest in sign language came from her deaf grandparents, and she took classes at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf to learn how she could help deaf African-American seniors. David is also a self-employed community health nurse and founder of Soul Fitness Inc., a nonprofit mobile fitness exercise company. "She's awesome," said Jane Tuttle of the UR School of Nursing. "She's one of these people who has an unlimited capacity for making things happen."


When Kathy Krewsky of Waterford, Conn. couldn't fasten her seatbelt on a flight to Florida last year, it was the spark that changed the deaf woman's life. Krewsky, an IT specialist with the Navy, weighed 303 pounds and wore a size 26 dress. "It was so hard for me to breathe," she told the Norwich Bulletin. After years of dieting and failed exercise programs, she made the radical decision to have gastric bypass surgery. Hartford Hospital, where she had the surgery, considers the procedure "very risky" and puts the odds of a patient death at 1 percent. Krewsky met with a psychiatrist and a nutritionist and began a pre-op exercise program to prove she was serious. The surgery, which interrupts digestion and leads to fewer calories absorbed, was a success. Today, the 5'7" Krewsky weighs 165 pounds and wears a size 10. "I still have a hard time looking in the mirror," she said. "My mind still thinks I'm fat."



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Anita Buel, a deaf Minnesota resident, has been named one of the world's "Best Emerging Social Entrepreneurs" by the New York-based global nonprofit organization Echoing Green. As one of 10 winners worldwide of a 2005 Echoing Green Fellowship, Buel will receive $60,000 in seed funding, strategic counsel and technical assistance over the next two years to train the nation's first Deaf Community Health Workers (DCHW) and promote access to health education and resources for the deaf. Based in St. Paul and focusing initially on Minnesota's deaf population, DCHW will partner with health practitioners and educators to incorporate American Sign Language and other modes of communication into health literacy, education and advocacy. The project is expected to serve as a model for other states to follow. "It's a chance for deaf people to take well-informed ownership over their health decisions," said Buel.


If you order a burger at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, N.J., there's a chance it will be prepared by Andrea Seltzer, a recent graduate of the Academy of Culinary Arts at Atlantic Cape Community College in Mays Landing. Seltzer, 23, works in the hotel's Casbah Cafe, and aside from the usual challenges of working in a busy kitchen, she faces the additional challenge of being deaf. But she doesn't see her disability as an obstacle, reported the Cherry Hill Courier-Post. "As long as people talk slowly, I have no problems," she said. Seltzer worked part time in various jobs at the Taj for three years before graduating last month and accepting a full-time job. When the cafe closes for the season, she'll move on to "garde-manger," which involves preparation of salads and other foods that don't require an oven or grill. "I like to work with cold food," she said. "I make the displays look interesting, like artwork."


The National Emergency Number Association has teamed up with telecom testing company TelecomXchange International to develop an automated system that tests 911 centers on their ability to communicate properly with TTY callers. The system, known as TTY-PASS, sends out a three-minute test script to the 911 operator's TTY. According to MRT of Overland Park, Kan., the public safety access point then copies the text into a secure website, where it is given a score. To pass the test, the TTY must have a one percent or less total character error rate. The system was designed to help 911 centers fulfill their obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which mandates all emergency operators have access to TTY equipment and requires regular testing of the equipment.


The Deaf Training Employment Center (DTEC) of Goodwill Southern California has received Goodwill Industries International's Stewardship Excellence Award. The award was presented Monday at Goodwill's annual meeting in Wisconsin. A partnership of Goodwill and the California Department of Rehabilitation, DTEC provides personal, vocational, social adjustment and employment services to deaf and hard-of-hearing adults. Last year, DTEC worked with 150 people, placing 132 in jobs with an average wage of $10.53 an hour. This year, the program has already doubled its goal. "They don't think of themselves as disabled," said director of operations Darla Kim. "We shouldn't either. It's about qualified candidates and doing good work."


A reception will take place tomorrow at Gallaudet University to welcome eight medical students from the University of California at San Diego's Moores Cancer Center. As part of the Deafness and Cancer Project, funded by a five-year, $1.6 million grant from the National Cancer Institute, the students will take part in a four-week immersion program to learn American Sign Language and develop an understanding of deaf culture. It is hoped that other medical schools will adopt the UCSD model. "This program has the potential to greatly improve the health care of deaf individuals," said Gallaudet's Linda Lytle. "There is no substitute for direct and easy communication between doctor and patient."


Five students from the laboratory science technology program at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, N.Y. have received awards from the American Chemical Society, the country's largest scientific society. Ahmed Ibrahim, Anita Kurian, Lauren Schweitzer, Lauren Shea and Jacquelyn Wilson received ACS Chemical Technology Student Recognition Awards in honor of their "high level of performance in the laboratory and the classroom, excellent communication skills, integrity, and reliability." ACS, a nonprofit group with 160,000 members, publishes scientific journals and databases, convenes research conferences, and provides educational, science policy and career programs in chemistry.



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Are you an artist with a disability? Would you like to have your artwork published in a magazine as part of Disability Employment Awareness Month? Well, you can't ... it's too late. An "Open Call for Artists with Disabilities" was emailed to a long list of artists last Thursday afternoon, with an entry deadline the following day. The email came from Elizabeth Khan, art curator for Picture That, LLC in Stamford, Conn. Khan was asked to explain why she had given artists less than 24 hours to submit their entries. "The client came to us on really short notice," she replied. One artist on the recipient list said, "It seems that these people always operate in this fashion, last-minute-type alerts. Can this be the reason why I don't participate within their functions?" If you'd like to comment, write to


"Senses," an exhibition by Mariliana Arvelo that opens July 7, documents the experience of the deaf/blind community in Boston through a series of photographs and etchings that are intended to be touched. According to a news release, Arvelo "explores the interdependence of our senses and the private, intimate and expressive qualities of communicating with sign language" with artwork that "focuses on the beauty, character and experience of those struggling to cope with adversity." Arvelo was born in Caracas, Venezuela in 1979 and graduated three years ago from the New England School of Photography. "Senses," her first solo exhibit, runs through July 30 at the Gallery at the Piano Factory, 791 Tremont Avenue, Boston, which is open weekends from noon to 5 p.m.


Interpreter Joan Kalkman spent months preparing for the WWWFest last weekend in St. Cloud, Minn., reported the St. Cloud Times. Kalkman, 43, and her interpreting partner, Jody Converse, 30, used their signing skills to translate the music of a number of classic rock and blues bands during the annual community festival. Interpreting music allows time to prepare, but poses unusual problems -- double meanings, an ever-changing set list and musicians who get distracted by the sign language. Kalkman contacted the musicians in advance to help prepare for the gig, and one performer, Edgar Winter, provided a set list and details of songs with audience participation. The Kentucky HeadHunters were less helpful. "They told me, 'We have nine CDs and it can be any of them," said Kalkman. The HeadHunters also asked the interpreters to move off the stage last year, claiming they were distracting the band members.


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A memorial service was held Friday for Jeanette Padgett Mortzfeldt, 65, who died unexpectedly at home in Silver Spring, Md. on June 18. Mrs. Mortzfeldt attended the Texas School for the Deaf and Gallaudet University, and worked as a cartographer with the U.S. Department of Commerce until her retirement in 1999. She is survived by her husband of 33 years, Ronald Mortzfeldt, two sisters, and many nieces, nephews and loving friends. Mrs. Mortzfeldt was a past president and longtime member of the National Literary Society of the Deaf (NLSD), which marks its 100th anniversary in 2007. Contributions in her memory may be made to the NLSD in care of Alice Hagemeyer, 2903 Craiglawn Road, Silver Spring, MD 20904.



I have a question regarding the content of your newsletter. Overall, I see no problem with what I read. However, lately I have come to realize that there aren't too many stories about Deaf people who are empowered and breaking barriers regardless of their deafness. What about stories about Deaf people who succeed?

I read about an man from India who invented a "cure" for "deaf and dumbness"???? I don't want to read about someone who still refers to deaf people as having dumbness!!!!! I read about the man with Cochlear Implants who felt better about life and himself with a computer chip in their head???? What about the people who don't need technology to feel better and feel empowered through community and ASL??? I read about horrible things and injustice that happens to deaf people (the man who worked for 20 years at a ring company and still earned $5 an hour) or the practically blind and deaf woman who was attacked in her home??? Where is the good news????

Where are the stories of Deaf people and their families that are successful, breaking barriers without assisted hearing devices? I'm not saying you should eliminate any news, however, I, as an Interpreter and CODA feel that there isn't equal representation of the Deaf community. If there is something you can do about it I would appreciate it. When my hearing colleagues read these stories (curing deafness, cochlear implants), it's people like me that have to re-educate people on these matters and I don't feel they are represented truly either and written one sided.


Michele Pilchen
Staff Interpreter


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