“You are fortunate to be deaf because…”

One of the clichés to which the Hearing World subjects us deafies countless times is the remark, by some sufferers of the so-called “noise pollution”, that we are fortunate not to suffer from the noise.  Nevermind the fact that the hard of hearing are even more bothered by noise than the normally hearing.

Few days ago, I witnessed a new twist of this cliché.
Recently, I started working for another company, meaning that I have new co-workers.  One day, at lunchtime, one of them remarked to me how fortunate am I, as a deaf person, to have no use for cellphones.  Obviously he got tired of the constant interruptions due to cellphones.

With glee, I pulled out my cellphone and showed him that I, too, was assimilated by the culture of the cellphones…

Now he knows what he needs to know about SMS and 3G video chats.

Guide dogs for the deaf and the deaf-blind

Everyone knows about guide dogs for blind people.

There are also guide dogs for deaf and deaf-blind people.  Those dogs are trained to alert their masters when there are some important environmental noises.

Those who serve deaf-blind people are also trained to pick up things, which are dropped on the floor, and bring them back to their masters.  This is useful since when, for example, a deaf-blind person loses his keys, he doesn’t hear the noise of their dropping on the floor and once he notices the loss, cannot easily look for them by sight.

People, who need to have such dogs trained in Israel, can contact the Ali Hope nonprofit, which specializes in such a training.

Two 25th year anniversaries

One famous anniversary is the 25th anniversary of the GNU project, which happens today.

One much less famous 25th anniversary will happen three days from now, on Sept. 30, 2008.  This is the best choice for an official starting day of the Israeli TDD Project.

On Friday Sept. 30, 1983, I at last went to the computer shop, plucked down my money and bought my Commodore 64 home computer.  This model was chosen because it supported software-defined fonts, and because it had a cheaper brother, known as VIC-20.

My game plan was to use the Commodore 64 to develop software for both VIC-20 and Commodore 64.  This software was to serve as terminal/chat program, which supports textual communication in Hebrew.  At the time I already had a 300bps modem connected to an ADM 3A terminal, which belonged to my employer at the time, and which I used to connect to my employer’s computer systems and monitor jobs, which ran overnight.

When I returned home with my spanking new computer, I found in my mailbox a letter, which took 23 days to reach me.  The letter was from Susan Bullowa, who subsequently partnered with me in the project.  It took us a while to meet, but when we met, it turned out that she has a lot of useful information which complements my own information.  And on the other hand, I had in my possession technical information and experience, which complemented hers.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

An accessible video clip

… which is in stark contrast to the ultra-Orthodox attitude against people with disabilities.

The captioned (in Hebrew) video clip is the second video in http://www.hofesh.org.il/articles/books/books.html (in Hebrew), and it is about a book shop, which avoids displaying an anti-religion book due to threats from the town’s rabbi’s wife.

Mark Drolsbaugh’s question to parents of deaf children

Mark Drolsbaugh is a Deaf guy, who also runs workshops for hearing parents of deaf children.

In his Evolution of a Cochlear Implant Attitude article, he writes about getting a number of parents breaking down in tears in a simple workshop closing exercise:

“All I did was ask them to share positive traits and abilities their kids have. More specifically, traits and abilities that have nothing to do with deafness or the ears. All I wanted was for them to stop looking at the disability and start looking at the ability. Even though I made my point, the emotional reaction catches me off guard.”

This reminded me of the deaf man from nightmares. This man, DB, is a deaf psychologist, who is very strong advocate of oralism. He spends a lot of time improving and polishing his speech. What I find especially troubling about him is that every time we meet, in a social function of the hearing impaired, the one and only subject, which he would discuss with me, is the uttermost importance of my getting speech therapy and improving my speech. Nothing else is important or worthy of discussion. SHUDDER!

We the deaf are not only ears. We are also software development, sports, art, parenting, and simply living human beings. This is what those parents and DB failed to acknowledge.

A new software developers’ mutual help Web site (no longer) rudely excludes deaf software developers

The newly announced http://www.stackoverflow.com/ Web site confines all communications to the audio format. No provision for textual transcription of the audio podcasts exists. Users’ submissions are accepted only if they are in audio format. This is probably the founders’ newest idea for filtering out spam and flames.
However, it is a case of rude inaccessibility. Please do not contribute and do not browse the Web site – and let the founders know your opinion about this case of throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
The announcements in the founders’ blogs are as follows:

What next, a Web site, which excludes gay software developers?

23 APR 2008 UPDATE:

The podcasts are now transcribed into text, making them accessible to the deaf as well as being helpful to people, who want to discover them using search engines, and people having no time to listen through the entire podcast.
The transcription mechanism is Wiki-based, allowing people to transcribe text piece by piece. So even if you have only 15 minutes to spare, you can still make a contribution.
It is still necessary to persuade them to accept questions as text in addition to sound clips…

The Earth Hour and the Deaf

I am not going to participate in the Earth Hour, which is due to be held tonight in Tel Aviv between 20:00-21:00.
This is in spite of my support for the idea of taking care of our environment.
The reason – due to my deafness, I need light and various electronic appliances to communicate with other people.
Note: I do not live in Tel Aviv itself, but I’d participate in the project if it were not for the accessibility issue.

Additional links:

    Ph.D. dissertation about Deaf entrepreneurs

    Yesterday I spent all day reading Sue Ellen Pressman’s Ph.D. dissertation “A NATIONAL STUDY OF DEAF ENTREPRENEURS AND SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS: IMPLICATIONS FOR CAREER COUNSELING”. As far as Pressman and I know, this is the first time such a study was undertaken.

    I have a methodological note: the study claims to be based upon a representative sample of the deaf entrepreneurs in USA. However this claim is not supported by the methodology used. The sample was self-selected by consent to answer a questionnaire, and by being member of (or known to) Deaf and hard of Hearing Entrepreneurial Council (DHHEC) i.e. included in DHHEC’s mailing list.

    There also seem to be few non sequiturs. Most entrepreneurs had some postsecondary school experience (some of them having college degree), but it does not by itself imply necessity of postsecondary school experience for success in business. Similarly, the fact that most of the entrepreneurs use voice to communicate with hearing customers and employees – does not by itself imply that voice is necessary or advisable for business success.

    The following study findings are not obvious:

    • Deaf entrepreneurs usually had hearing employees and hearing customers.
    • Percentage of college graduates among Deaf entrepreneurs is higher than that among hearing entrepreneurs.
    • To communicate with hearing employees and customers, about 60% of the Deaf entrepreneurs used writing.

    I made the following mental notes upon reflecting upon the study:

    • Cultivation of relay services goes together with development of deaf owned businesses.
    • There is a problem (not mentioned in the study) of lack of mutual trust among the Deaf in business, at least in Israel.

    The Israeli police will turn hearing aids into a popular fashion

    For me personally, this is not a rant, because I use neither hearing aids nor MP3 players.

    Recently, the Israeli police began issuing citations to people, who cross roads while listening to music using MP3 players.

    The news item about this subject (written in Hebrew) has several talkbacks asking what about deaf people, how will the policemen tell hearing aids apart from MP3 players, and generally complaining about the screwed up law enforcement priorities of the Israeli police.

    One possible consequence of the new policy is that MP3 players, which look like hearing aids, and earpiece, which look like hearing aid earpieces, will become popular – as people will try to impersonate as hard of hearing in order to evade the 100 NIS fines associated with being cited for crossing a road while listening to music.