DeafWire Edition - 8 October 2022

Weekly DEAFWIRE news recaps

Full DEAFWIRE videos can be seen



Deaf on Dancing with the Stars

Dancing With the Stars, DWTS, a reality TV dance competition, announced that Daniel Durant, a Deaf actor from “CODA”, will be one of the contestants in the upcoming season 31. Daniel is the third Deaf contestant to appear on DWTS after Marlee Matlin (2008) and Nyle DiMarco (2015). 

Daniel will be dancing with Britt Stewart and their team name is “Team Sign to Shine.” Daniel said he has a little bit of dance experience from when he performed on Broadway in Deaf West Theatre’s “Spring Awakening.” Dancing with a professional is a whole new world, he explained. DWTS is currently running weekly on Disney+.


First Black Deaf to get PhD degree

Dr. Jenelle Rouse is the first Black Deaf Canadian to receive a Ph.D. She studied Applied Linguistics in Education at the University of Western Ontario. Dr. Rouse is an educator at a bilingual school for the Deaf and an advocate for the broader acquisition of sign language.

Dr. Rouse said after she defended her thesis, the committee said “Congratulations, Dr. Rouse!” She was in disbelief and shock but was so proud she finally accomplished this milestone. She added it took her about three weeks to get used to her new salutation as Dr. Rouse.


Low grades among Deaf students

The National Deaf Children’s Society has called on the UK government to use its review into Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, SEND, to improve long-term support for Deaf children, including an investment in more Teachers of the Deaf. An analysis of last year’s General Certificate of Secondary Education, GCSE, revealed that Deaf children received a grade lower than all the children for at least the seventh year running.

A lack of Deaf awareness in school created barriers for students accessing their lessons. Teachers refused to switch their cameras on for online lessons during lockdown, which meant Deaf students were unable to hear or lipread. There is a legal requirement for qualified teachers to hold relevant mandatory qualifications when teaching classes for students who are Deaf. The ‘SEND’ proposal aims to change the culture and practice in mainstream education to be more inclusive.


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Concerns for access at Deaf school & New app to create accessibility

In Tzaneen, South Africa, a Deaf school called “Yingisani” is immersed in the wilderness where the area is prone to fire. Hearing schools are prepared to evacuate quickly if there’s a fire alert, but that’s not the case for Deaf students at Yingisani. Santam, a financial services group, supported the school by installing smoke alarms attached to sirens, control panels, and strobe lighting systems. The school is advocating for learner’s access to safety and evacuation alerts.

Kenyan entrepreneur, Luke Kizito, created an “assistALL” app that will help Deaf people connect to the digital world. It’s a sign language interpretation mobile app to facilitate with the click of a button communications between Deaf people with businesses, banks, employers, and hospitals. So far the company has seven people working directly on the project and wishes to expand to 500 interpreters.


Deaf community connected to the world

ConnectHear, an app that provides sign language interpretation services, already has more than 10,000 users around the world. It is seen as an innovative accessible technology that can support and empower the Deaf community in Pakistan. The app received positive feedback – many said their call was picked up within a minute and is helping eliminate communication barriers.

Azima Dhanjee, CEO and co-founder of ConnectHear and a Child of Deaf Adult, CODA, said she was the interpreter for her parents and when she was not available to help, her parents faced barriers, leaving them missing out on opportunities. It bothered Azima to see her parents being left out and not able to communicate independently – this inspired her to create ConnectHear.


Deaf advocates for school

Adeline Goh, a 40-year-old Deaf woman from Malaysia, said she didn’t receive much education when she was young. She didn’t know how to sign or understand the words written by her teachers on the blackboard. When she did her homework, her mother would help her correct words and sentences but wasn’t able to explain it in sign language. Adeline decided she didn’t want Deaf children to struggle the way she did so she became a preschool teacher.

Not all preschools in the country have teachers who know sign language, causing many Deaf kids to be left out. The school now may be closing down due to lack of financial support. Teachers at Taska Jaya use their free time to attend courses and workshops to improve their skills in educating and guiding Deaf children. The school hopes to raise RM200,000 ($45,000 USD) to keep it running.

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