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.

The Woman from the Bubble

Today I saw the premiere of the movie “The Woman from the Bubble” (directed by Neta Levi) in the Cinemateque Tel Aviv. It is a documentary movie about few months from the life of Lee Dan, an Israeli Sign Language interpreter. Several Israelis know her face and her trademark-long hair from the bubble allotted to the Sign Language interpreter in those TV programs, which are made accessible to the deaf by Sign Language interpreting.

Near the beginning of the movie, we see the painstaking camera adjustments, which need to be made for the interpreter to be properly centered in her bubble. The movie ends with her wedding ceremony (see full disclosure at end).

In between, there are several sketches of situations of interpreting, teaching the Hearing about the Deaf, and even attempts to matchmake single Israeli deaf Arab women with Palestinian deaf men. The men turned to be male chauvinistic and to prefer hearing women, who can hear baby cries without special technology.

Three scenes stayed in my memory.

  • When Lee Dan interpreted in a court trial involving a Deaf man, the Deaf defendant rudely cursed the judge. As a faithful interpreter, Lee Dan had to interpret his signs and pass along the same intonation and emotions. Since the defendant signed a lot of f*** words, the judge held the interpreter in contempt of the court!
  • Another court situation involved a rape, in which both the rapist and the victim were Deaf. Lee Dan interpreted for both the rapist and his victim. Due to her sensitiveness, it was very difficult experience for her. Lee Dan had to render the victim’s humiliation and pain AND the rapist’s cold outbursts that the victim denies having wanted it at the time. After this experience, Lee Dan vowed never to interpret in rape trials anymore.
  • An happier scene involved a pregnant woman, who was late to give birth, and was now hospitalized. The woman and her husband were very worried because she ceased to feel the fetus’ movements in her tummy. The woman was connected to a monitor, which beeped in rhythm with the fetus’ heartbeats. However she and her husband, being deaf, did not hear the beeps. Lee Dan asked a nurse to move the monitor closer to the woman’s bed and asked the man and the woman to touch the monitor and feel the beeps. The scene ended with a look at the relieved and happy faces of the couple.

Full disclosure: I attended Lee Dan’s wedding ceremony, and saw a cameraman there. However, my non-photogenic face did not make it to the movie.

Cochlear Corporation of the Borg

Few years ago, when there was a lot of bad blood between Deaf identity adherents and the medical establishment over the subject of cochlear implants, I sometimes used the following E-mail signature:

I am the Cochlear Corporation of the Borg. All resistance is futile. Deaf Culture is irrelevant. YOU SHALL BE IMPLANTED.

Now it seems that the real Cochlear Corporation, which is based in Australia, considers all human languages – spoken or signed – to be irrelevant, unless they are spoken English. The news item in question did not clarify the status of American English, which has several differences from Australian English.

More about the bad blood:

Blogging About Disabilities

I write in this blog not only about crazy ideas, but also about accessibility and deafness.

Lorelle on WordPress wrote a blog article about people who blog about disabilities. This article repeats the old stuff (known to people with disabilities, but not widely known otherwise) about the percentage of people disabilities in the general population, mentions the relevant legal issues (specific to USA), and links to several relevant and interesting blogs.

The above article also refers the readers to Globe of Blogs – Disabled Blogs for more disabled blog links.

Videoclips with subtitles – Halelujah!

Ilan Shavit publicized three videoclips about Israel.

I was happy to be surprised to see that those videoclips have subtitles in Hebrew, making them accessible to the hearing impaired, who know Hebrew!

The links to the videoclips are:

  1. Israel – Part 1
  2. Israel – Part 2
  3. Israel – Part 3

Freedom of expression for primary and high school teachers

I was prompted to write this by a request, which I received today.

Some background information: large part of the contents of my DEAF-INFO Web site is material, which was posted to the DEAF-L mailing list by various subscribers over the years. When the mailing list was active, I saved the best posts and put them in the Web site, with attribution to the original contributor.

The request, which I received today, was to remove the attributions to a particular contributor.

In the past I received similar requests. Upon further questioning, it turned out that most of those requests were made by people, who expressed their strong opinions about various deafness related issues, while they were students. Few years later, they were to get jobs as teachers in schools of the deaf. Then they were concerned that they’ll get into trouble because of the opinions, which they expressed in the past.

I asked someone, who teaches in a regular primary school, about this. She explained to me that teachers are forbidden to publicly express their opinions. The teachers are usually state or county employees. The only people authorized to publicize opinions are the employer’s public relations specialists.

I believe that this state of affairs is rather unfortunate. Teachers work “in the trenches” – they deal with pupils with learning disabilities, they deal with non-working educational methodologies, they deal with poorly-designed materials. They should be able to criticize non-working methods of instruction. If their school principal does not improve the methods, the teachers should be free to publicize their criticism. This would allow parents to ultimately have a say in improving the quality of instruction their children receive.

This is important especially in the area of deaf education, which is especially rife with conflict among different goals (integration vs. separate identity), philosophies (oral vs. Sign Language) and a bewildering choice of communication methods.

"Do you need assistance?"

Recently I flew with British Airways.
They seem to have recently made commitment to provide accessible experience to passengers with special needs.
At any case, when checking in for flights, I was now asked if I need special assistance. The accessibility program seems to be relatively new – they now know how to deal with passengers with difficulties in walking, but deaf passengers are relatively new experience for them. So I had my turn at educating the airline employees that deaf passengers need a way to see the captain’s messages in writing, especially in emergencies.
The airplanes, in which I flew both directions, had plasma TVs for each seat. However the video programs were suspended whenever there were announcements – with no written rendition of the announcements. This is something, which can be improved.
An hilarious experience was when the airplane neared landing. I was asked by two stewards if I need assistance. I explained that I’ll need assistance, only if we crash land, and the captain gives instructions to the passengers. We all laughed.

Rabbi Eliashiv declared war on the deaf!

Rabbi Eliashiv, an Haredi rabbi, issued a ruling forbidding schools under his control to admit children, whose parents are using non-“kosher” cellphones (cellphones with intact ability to use SMS, Internet and video).

This ruling adversely affects deaf people, who need to be in contact those parents due to reasons like:

  1. They work with those parents and need to communicate them as part of their job.
  2. They themselves are deaf children of those parents.

It is necessary to take legal action, with the aim of outlawing cellphones without functional SMS, and outlawing discrimination against deaf parents of haredi school children, who use video for Sign Language communication via 3G cellphones.

Sources (in Hebrew for the time being):