Today in Tel Aviv University

Each year, on a Friday before the beginning of the academic year, the Hearing Impaired Student Day is held in Tel Aviv University. This year it was held today. The organizers invite current students, and also future and former students are welcome. As they mix together, the experience of the oldtimers rubs on the newcomers. The tips get passed from generation to generation and the age-old wisdom gets spread (even though most of it is only few years old).

After the Day, I went to the Dyonon bookshop. The gate next to the bookshop was already open only in the outgoing direction, so I knew that I’ll have to walk around the campus to get back to a parking lot on its east, where I parked my car. Oh well.

In the shop, I surveyed the computer science books. There was a section for dummies’ level books (in Hebrew). Several of the more professional ones had the Java, C# (but also Linux) keywords on their covers. Also PHP and MySQL were represented, but less strongly. My current favorite, Python, was represented by only a single copy of “Learning Python” – at least as far as I saw.

Oh, the joys of academic world being disconnected from life’s practicalities.
If only they were academic enough to mention LISP or Scheme a lot…

Being a rabid bookholic, I somehow managed to leave the shop with only two books stuck to me. Both of them were from the economics&management section, where I did not look in my previous visits to Dyonon.

One book is “Focused Management – to do more with available resources”. It seems to give a lot of treatment to Eliahu Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints.
The other book is “Systematic Inventive Thinking and Technological Problem Solving” by Dr. Alexander Chernobelsky. The bibliography mentions few publications by Genrich Altshuller, and the book seems to contain a lot of TRIZ related stuff, but I did not see this keyword mentioned in it in my brief glance.
Both books are in Hebrew.

Find the similarity between Itzhak Rabin (1995) and Gal Fridman (2004)

Today I was in a shopping mall when a plasma TV caught my eye. It broadcast the mistral race in which Gal Fridman won the gold medal, first “proper” gold medal won by an Israeli in the Olympic Games.

The broadcast was, according to bottom messages, accompanied by a voice commentary by someone. Of Course, The Commentary Was Not Made Accessible to The Israeli Deaf.

Thus, the comments, which I wrote nine years ago (https://deaf-info.zak.co.il/d/deaf-info/old/rabinfuneral.html), still apply. While names were mentioned here and there and the mark times and positions were broadcast, this was courtesy of the Olympic Games original broadcasters. IBA does not have any credit for it.

Yesterday MICHA's 50th year celebration and fundraising event

Yesterday I was in the “Positive Step” fund raising event for MICHA (another link). The event was held at this time because it has been 50 years since MICHA was founded. It was held in Joshua Gardens, north Tel Aviv.

Admission fee to the event was 20NIS, which was transferred as donation to MICHA. There were lots of advertising, so I assume that companies sponsored almost everything which costs money there – including free ice cream from Nestle.

At entrance, we got free hat and a small bottle of water to drink as we walk. There were lots of white shirts and white & green balloons (blue balloons are apparently reserved to the memory of Ron Arad, MIA).

Before walking, we were treated to a dose of the inevitable “zionut” – boring political speeches. MICHA is well-connected, so the speakers included also Danny Naveh, the minister of health, and Zevulun Orlev, the minister of welfare. Near the end, also Reuma Weizmann, the wife of Ezer Weizmann, a former Israeli President, spoke. She has been member of the managing committee of MICHA for forty years and reminded us to drink a lot of water. She apologized that she will not be joining us for the walk, because they are to celebrate her husband’s 80th birthday. Erez Zino, the CEO of Ozicom Communications Ltd. and also a “graduate” of MICHA Tel Aviv, did not speak this time.

All speeches were made accessible by combination of a notetaker and Sign Language interpreter (far cry from the era during which Sign Language was taboo at MICHA).

After the speeches were over, those who had balloons were asked to release them to the air, and then we started walking.

There was a famous (although I do not know him) basketball player, who came to the event, and walked together with us. Several people utilized the opportunities to be photographed together with him.

There were Disneylandesque people with costumes of cartoon heroes. Only the heroes were from commercials, such as the Baby of Bamba and the Violet Star of Cellcom.

And, oh yes, I saw almost all workers of Ozicom Communications Ltd. there, some of them with their families.

Petah Tikva is to be more accessible to the deaf now

During the last two years, the Petah Tikva municipality has been operating the “Accessible Community” project for improving accessibility to people with all types of disabilities in the city. In the framework of this project, the municipal hotline, which is accessible by voice phone number 106, has been prepared to accept also FAX messages from people, whose disability precludes their use of regular phone.

This evening I was in a meeting, in which the manager of the hotline told us about the project. They accept for forwarding also FAX messages for the police, Magen David Adom (the Jewish/Israeli counterpart of Red Cross) and the firefighters. The FAX number is (03)9040304. We also got a form, which can be filled quickly in case of emergency for FAXing to the hotline. About fifty deaf people (1/4 of the total deaf population in Petah Tikva) participated in the meeting. The opportunity was utilized also by a representative of the Israeli Social Security, who told us about the vocational rehabilitation services provided by Social Security. The Web site of the municipality of Petah Tikva (http://www.petah-tikva.muni.il/) is not accessible to the Mozilla browser, which I used, due apparently to use of a IE specific extension at the home page. However, http://www.petah-tikva.muni.il/htmls/hebrew/moked.html gets you directly to the municipal hotline center (the page is written in Hebrew). I sent a complaint to their Webmaster, emphasizing the problem of blind people, who absolutely must use special browsers to browse Web sites.

Requirements for deaf and hard of hearing people on mobile networks

There are several aspects which need to be taken care of in order to maintain compatibility between 3G cellular networks and equipment used by deaf people for telecommunications.

http://www.etsi.org/cce/proceedings/4_4.htm discusses several of those aspects.

Now, can someone invent a way to levitate a 3G cellular phone before a deaf user, so that the deaf user can communicate using Sign Language and have the cellular phone transmit his message via video? Otherwise, one-handed Sign Language dialect may have to be invented for each Sign Language in use.

Several years ago I wrote a report – Impact of New Telecommunication Technologies on the Deaf – which was based upon projections of future technological developments. It is interesting to review the report from today’s perspective and marvel at how much reality differs from forecasts.

  • Videophone capability is now available everywhere there is fast Internet.
  • FAX machines in Israel now are reasonably priced, and deaf people, who buy them, get tax rebates.
  • I personally have been involved in Hebrew localization of the Nokia 9110 and 9210i cellular FAXes in Ozicom Communications Ltd.
  • “Computerized information systems” are now very popular under the names “Internet”, “WWW”.
  • When the report was written, access to the Internet in Israel was allowed only to academic institutions and Hi-Tech companies, due to the monopoly of Bezeq on all forms of electronic communications. Liberalization happened at 1994, few months after the report was written. All forms of electronic communications still flowed through Bezeq’s veins at least part of the way.
  • 056 services were moved to other prefixes, as the 05* prefixes were assigned to cellular phone companies. They are a niche market, mostly for “adult activities”.
  • Computerized speech recognition is not here yet, at least for Hebrew.
  • The technology to contact emergency dispatch centers exists, but it needs to be properly deployed.