DeafWire Edition – 23 July 2022

Weekly DEAFWIRE news recaps
Full DEAFWIRE videos can be seen


Deaf contestant on show

Hayden Kristal, a Deaf comedian and queer activist, is on America’s Got Talent, AGT, as a contestant. AGT is a reality show where contestants compete on live broadcast for $1 million dollars USD; acts range from comedy, dancing, magic, stunts, and other genres. Hayden did comedy and had an ASL interpreter with her.

Hayden was born into a hearing family in Auburn, California and she faced communication barriers. Her comedy was inspired by Drew Lynch and DJ Demers. Hayden has been a fan of AGT for a long time, so having the judges send her to the next round was a dream come true; she said she feels like she has already won. 


Software for accessibility

Sign-Speak is a real-time American Sign Language, ASL, translation software on your smartphone or laptop that recognizes sign language and translates it into spoken language, and vice versa. Companies can communicate with their Deaf and hard of hearing clients and staff. The software was invented by Nicholas Kelly and Yamillet Payano, and Nicholas Wilkins.

Sign-Speak was tested in a New York zoo and a pizzeria in Washington, D.C.. About 90 people a day used the software at both locations and this allowed the businesses to better serve the Deaf and hard of hearing community. Customers didn’t have to write back and forth. Payno hopes Sign-Speak will be launched at some businesses this year.


Fake sign language training

Social media pages and websites for fake British Sign Language, BSL, training courses teach inaccurate signs. “Signalong” posted numerous videos in gibberish sign language, causing an outrage in the British Deaf community. Signalong responded to the complaints, saying they received advice from members of the Royal Association of the Deaf, RAD.  

RAD posted a video, stating that the organisation never endorsed or is in any way affiliated with Signalong. As a result, Gavin Lilley established a “BSL Watchdog” group – they posted a video on its Facebook page, explaining that their intention is to share and report fake/scam sign language training, fake charities, and organisations that claim to teach BSL. 


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DeafBlind artist receives a grant

In 2014, Joe Monteleone, a 60-year-old Deafblind artist was forced to retire from working in public service after 32 years because his Usher syndrome got worse, so he turned to art. Joe has tunnel vision and cannot see in the dark. He creates linocuts – a design carved on a block of linoleum. He tried painting and drawing but found it difficult since he cannot feel it, linocut is tactile. 

After only 5 years of creating art, Joe received a grant from the City of Melbourne to create a linocut of a local landmark. He chose Flinders Street Station – a regular meeting point for Deafblind people. It took him more than 800 hours to complete the artwork and it will be on display in Federation Square in January 2023.


Deaf woman humiliated by pub

After a funeral, a Deaf woman, Sally Arathoon, her husband, Scott, and some family members  visited the Wheatsheaf Wetherspoon pub in Ellesmere Port, England. Sally has Ménière’s disease – an inner ear disorder that causes vertigo. When she went to the bar to order a second alcoholic beverage, she was denied service and accused of being drunk since she “spoke too loud.” 

Scott said Sally had an anxiety reaction from the accusation even though she tried to explain to the staff that she’s Deaf and cannot hear the volume of her voice. They left, humiliated and upset. The pub’s spokesman said they cannot comment on the incident since it’s currently being investigated but they would be happy to speak to Sally and Scott directly.


Driver licences for Deaf & Sign language interpreted concert

In Bogotá, Colombia, after three years of collaborative work between leaders of six organisations, Deaf people are now able to get a driving licence. The Deaf community is thrilled. The decision was based on a study that found hearing limitations have no impact on the rate of driving accidents and skills, however Deaf drivers need to have a sign on their car, informing others that they’re Deaf. 

In Lima, Peru, the Ministry of Culture successfully carried out an accessibility project that allowed Deaf people to attend a concert at the Gran Teatro Nacional. Daniela Prado, the national singer, used a combination of Peruvian Sign Language, LSP, and a series of visual tools to enhance the experience for the Deaf community. The new practices and sensations were created so that all people can enjoy music together and the emotions it generates.

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