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Blog posts tagged with 'Deaf'

Discover the latest innovations in the low-vision, low-hearing, and mobility industry, as well as those must-have products to enhance your day-to-day life. Our Independent-Living Blog will help make daily life a little less of a struggle and a bit more pleasurable with assistive products, suggestions, and advice. MaxiAids Helps You Do It . . . Yourself™
20 December, 2017

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children Sign Their Wish List to ‘Signing Santa’

 

 

Dozens of local North Carolina children who are deaf or hard of hearing got a special treat earlier this month at the Northlake Mall in Charlotte, at an event organized by the Charlotte Regional Center. Not only did the children get to sign what they want for Christmas to Santa and take a picture with him, they also got to play and bond with other deaf or hard of hearing children.

Mary Ann Franklin, who is deaf, took her 10-year-old daughter Alexis Poe to the Signing Santa event, who is hard of hearing. "It's a good experience for her to be able to understand and communicate with signing Santa,” she told WSOCTV.

Santa Claus took a photo with each child and held up the sign for “I love you” each time, which is three fingers up. About 40 children showed up to the event to participate in some holiday cheer, from local schools like Cotswold Elementary School, Cleveland County and the North Carolina School for the Deaf.

Blaire McCorkle, the manager of the Charlotte Regional Center, said she remembers Signing Santa events as a child. “I've had this experience myself and to see the kids for them to be able to see Santa using the same language. It is just amazing," she said.

McCorkle and her team help deaf and hard of hearing families all throughout the year, but this special event helps get kids who often feel alone this time of year feel a sense of community.

Check out these products that are also improving the lives of people who are hearing impaired.

05 December, 2017
25 October, 2017

Deaf Poet's Visual Slam Poetry: Creative Storytelling Without Words

Douglas Ridloff started composing poetry in American Sign Language when he was a teenager after a well-known ASL poet named Peter Cook visited his high school. Now he's performing regularly in New York City, in a medium that he says has benefits and nuances that spoken word poetry does not.

“ASL poets can create a complete poem or story by using one handshape to represent a multitude of concepts,” he said. In ASL, Ridloff explained, a single handshape can mean a different word depending on its placement of movement. The handshape for “rooster,” for example, is the same as the handshape for “car.” “Maybe you could compare rhyming or alliteration to that concept, but that’s just something not experienced in spoken English,” Ridloff said.

People who sign ― including ASL poets like Ridloff ― also use facial expressions and other “non-manual markers” to communicate the equivalent of volume or inflection. A head tilt, nod or shake will provide tonal context for the words that are signed, marking the difference between a declarative statement and an inquiry. Raised eyebrows indicate questions; lip movements indicate superlatives. This, he says, contributes to the “spherical” or nonlinear nature of ASL poetry. “Spoken English can be non-linear too, but what it cannot do is exemplify three, four things at the same time,” Ridloff said. So, for him, what began as a passing hobby has evolved into its own unique art form.

CLICK HERE to see industry-leading ASL products that enhance the interaction/communication of those who are deaf or hard of hearing!

10 October, 2017

Uber Offers Sign Language Tips to Passengers for Better Communication with Deaf Drivers

In an effort to improve communication between deaf and hard of hearing Uber drivers and their passengers, Uber is offering basic sign language pointers to passengers on its main app. Passengers will now learn to sign their name, as well as say “hello” and “thank you” to their hearing impaired driver.

Uber riders will be able to access these tips through a special card located right on the main Uber app, located in the messages section. Uber added this feature in support of National Deaf Awareness Month.

Uber’s goal in adding new features like these sign language tips is not only to improve the experience between hard of hearing drivers and passengers but also to recruit more deaf drivers. They previously rolled out features like notifying passengers when their driver is deaf, and disabling phone calls with deaf drivers, instead encouraging passengers to text with any questions. On the driver’s end, Uber added a feature that lights up their phone when passengers request a ride, instead of notifying the through a text message that they might not hear.

"Actions mean more than words," Uber posted to its announcement page about the new ASL pointers. “And we're excited to create new and meaningful ways for people to earn money and connect, regardless of how they communicate. We hope this small update will contribute to a much larger conversation between riders and drivers around the world."

Check out these products that are also improving the lives of people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

 

05 October, 2017

OSU Research: Gene Therapy for Deafness

Researchers at Oregon State University have been working on what could lead to the development of gene therapies for those born deaf. Mutations in a protein called otoferlin, which binds to calcium receptors in the sensory hair cells of the inner ear, can be directly linked to hearing loss. 

The team found more than 60 mutations that weaken this bond to the sensory hair cells of the ear, marking the first of many steps to identifying successful therapies. 

In a press release from OSU, Colin Johnson, associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics stated that, “a lot of genes will find various things to do, but otoferlin seems only to have one purpose, and that is to encode sound in the sensory hair cells in the inner ear. And small mutations in otoferlin render people profoundly deaf.”

The size of the protein has been causing problems for researchers thus far.

“The otoferlin gene is really big, and it makes a huge protein,” Johnson explains, “the traditional method for making a recombinant protein is using E. coli, but they loathe big proteins. This paper came up with a way of getting around that challenge.”

“We were trying to shorten the gene, to find a truncated form that can be used for gene therapy,” Johnson added. 

“There is a size limit in terms of what you can package into the gene delivery vehicle, and otoferlin is too large. That’s the Holy Grail; trying to find a miniature version of otoferlin that can be packaged into the delivery vehicle, and then hopefully, the patient can start hearing.” 

To get around these obstacles and find out how otoferlin mutations affected their bond to calcium receptors, the researchers developed a new way to assess that bond after identifying a truncated form of the protein that can function in the encoding of sound.

This research not only opens a door for people who are born with hearing loss, but for researchers working to solve similar problems through bioscience as well.

Johnson’s team included doctoral biochemistry student Nicole Hams, former biochemistry doctoral student Murugesh Padmanarayana, and Weihong Qiu, assistant professor of biophysics.

 

See our products that are designed for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Article courtesy of Corvallis Advocate's Andy Hahn

Image courtesy of Renae Richardson / Levana Photography