Israeli Soldiers Shoot Deaf Palestinian Farmer, 4th Farmer Shot in 3 weeks

23 02 2009

 Monday February 23, 2009

by Eva Bartlett –

The following testimony was written by Eva Bartlett, one of a number of internationals with the Free Gaza movement who have been accompanying Palestinian farmers in Gaza: What caused the Israeli soldiers to shoot a deaf farmer today (18 Feb)? Was he threatening?

Farm kids in Gaza

Farm kids in Gaza

 Was it because the group of farm labourers had successfully worked quickly to harvest their day’s wages? Was the sight of retreating, unarmed, clearly non-threatening civilians too tempting to resist?

Whatever the motivation, the result is another casualty of Israeli soldiers’ malevolence: a 20 year old deaf farmer, Mohammad al-Buraim, working the land to support his family of 16, may not walk easily again. The bullet which targeted his ankle penetrated straight through and landed in the tire of the truck he’d been pushing.

Abu Alaa, owner of the land and Mohammed’s uncle, said: “When they first shot, we knew it wasn’t ‘warning’ shots. We started to run away. They shot again.”

Another farm labourer from Khan Younis, Yasser Rizek Samoud (20), was next to Mohammed when the Israeli soldiers’ shooting broke out.

“We had stopped our work and were ready to leave. The truck wasn’t starting. We were pushing the pickup truck. The Israeli soldiers started shooting at us from the border area. Mohammed was hit in the leg. I carried him about 2 metres before they started shooting again. We were able to get him to a truck on the road, which took him towards the town. An ambulance picked him up from the truck and took him to Nasser hospital in Khan Younis.”

Samoud attests there was quiet before the Israeli soldiers shot al-Buraim. “There weren’t any (Palestinian) fighters, there was nothing happening except for us farming. We work because we need to. We get 20 shekels a day, it isn’t a lot, but it’s the only work we can get.”

It was 18 February approximately 10:15 am and farmers were leaving the land they’d harvested, roughly 500 m from the Green Line. The lightly-dressed, unarmed farmers were clearly visible to and seen by the several Israeli army jeeps and the Hummer which had patrolled the border fence, stopping for long intervals to watch the farmers work, then moving on.

 The farmers’ proximity to the border fence was more than off-set by the very visible nature of their work and of all present, including the 5 international human rights workers wearing bright vests and using a megaphone. The farmers’ tools are a kitchen knife slightly sharper than one used for eating, binding cord, and donkey carts or pickup trucks to haul away the harvest.

Before the shooting occurred, the Hummer sat directly across from the working farmers for over 30 minutes, observing. There was no threat from the farmers who glanced worriedly at the vehicle from time to time but otherwise kept swiftly working. Israeli soldiers inside the vehicle would have had no problem seeing the actions of the farmers cutting and binding spinach and parsley, and loading it into the back of a small pickup truck. The farmers finished for the morning, packed the truck, and attempted to leave. Still unarmed.

The Israeli soldiers shot at the sides and backs of unarmed farmers pushing their pickup truck which had stalled. Even after al-Buraim had been hit, the shooting continued although the snipers would have been able to see that someone had been shot.

The firing continued as the farmers, surrounded by international human rights observers, walked away from the field and took shelter behind a nearby house, reaching it at around 10:30 am. Israeli soldiers continued to shoot at the farmers and internationals taking cover, for a period increasing their shots to every 5 seconds, with that unmistakably close “pftzzzz” of the bullets whizzing past.

After time, internationals evacuated farmers in 2 groups, again surrounding them as we walked, wary of the sniper’s abilities.

Given that the soldiers were shooting at the backs of retreating, unarmed, farmers and internationals, the pretext of ‘defending the border’ or Israeli soldiers’ having felt ‘threatened’ becomes blindingly transparent.

There was no shooting from the Palestinian side, no threat, no reason to shoot, other than malevolence. The farmers were clearly involved in the task of working the land, and the internationals accompanying them were visibly and audibly recognizable.

U.K. citizen Jenny Linnel also present during the shooting said: “The farmers were in the process of leaving when the IOF shot. And the IOF continued to shoot as the farmers tried to leave, continued to shoot, sniper-style, as the farmers cowered for cover. It was aggression for the sake of aggression.”

 The life of a farmer is never easy, and is all the more difficult for farmers in the “buffer zone,” the band of land which has been imposed and extended arbitrarily to 1 km from the Green Line (on the Gaza side, not the Israeli side) by the occupying force which insists it has ‘withdrawn from Gaza’ [yet somehow controls borders, imports and exports, and the entry of humanitarian aid (entry denied), and which can impose no-go zones in a land not its own, for its ‘safety’ (as with the separation wall cutting deeply into the west bank and carving the occupied land into smaller, militarily-controlled, chunks, the imposition of a “buffer zone” on Palestinian land in Gaza begs the question: if Israel is erecting the Wall and imposing no-go zones out of safety concerns, why not do so on Israeli land?)].

Were farming merely made difficult due to the ban of seeds and fertilizers into Gaza, as well as the ban on machinery replacement parts (extended to hospital equipment replacement parts, and replacement parts for basically anything that breaks down in Gaza), people could perhaps get on with it. But with Israeli soldiers’ near-daily shooting on Palestinians living on, working on, their land in an arbitrarily confiscated zone, then farming becomes seriously problematic.

Ironically, as we near-daily accompany farmers in these troubled ‘buffer zone’ regions, vigilantly keeping watch of the many jeeps scurrying to and fro and taking long pauses parked directly across from wherever we are farming, we see unhindered farming activity on the Israeli side: crop-dusters circle in wide arcs, tending the plots below with chemicals and planes unavailable to Gaza; tractors plow the land…in broad daylight! At a leisurely, unworried pace!

Back in the Gaza prison, farmers struggle with broken trucks, hand-harvesting, and an obstacle course of bullets.

Israeli soldiers have made a regular practice of targeting civilians, including farmers, in the arbitrarily-imposed “buffer zone,” a practice that continued throughout and despite the June 19 ceasefire.

And while the demeanor of the farmers makes it evident that they are accustomed to being shot at, they are nonetheless clearly afraid. Until this close call, their need to work the land had overridden fear for their lives. A sort of resigned determination seemed to guide them, along with the adage, “hek iddinya,”(”This is our life”), explaining in words and gestures that they have little option but to continue working the land, for the produce itself or for a mere 20 shekels a day.

Yet, Abu Alaa says they will not go back to the fields any time soon. “How can we go back? Its too much now, too dangerous. We will wait until it feels calmer.”

From his hospital bed, charismatic and likeable Mohammed al-Buraim, assures that he’ll be okay, even after the assault. But no way will he go near the field. “You think I’m crazy?!” he signs.

The shot was so near. It could have taken his life. Just a few feet up…just a slightly slower, slightly faster reaction… it was close. They were close to again killing an impoverished farm-worker.

On 27 January, in the same area, IOF soldiers killed 27 year old Anwar Zayed al-Buraim, shooting him in the neck while he picked vegetables on land approximately 600 metres from the Green Line. Anwar was Mohammed’s cousin.

These fertile rural eastern border areas of the Gaza Strip are emptying, because farmers, many of whom have farmed here for generations, are now too frightened to live and work on their own land. The confines of the Gaza Strip, which is just forty kilometers long and ten kilometers wide, are being shrunk even further by relentless Israeli invasions, by the imposition of an arbitrary and expanding “buffer zone” and by the targeting of civilians and farmers trying to live on and earn a living from their land.

Mohammed al-Buraim marks the fourth shooting of Palestinians in the ‘buffer zone’ in the last few weeks. The three shootings prior to Mohammed’s were: on 18 January, Maher Abu-Rajileh (24), from Huza’ah village, east of Khan Younis, was killed by IOF soldiers while working on his land 400m from the Green Line; on 20 January, at 1 pm, Israeli soldiers shot Waleed al-Astal (42) of Al Qarara, near Khan Younis, in his right foot; and on 27 January, Anwar al-Buraim was shot in the neck and killed.

While attacks on farmers in other border communities, especially those on the Israeli side, would not go unnoticed, somehow the international community remains silent about these deaths, injuries, and breaches of international law.

Just as the international community has stooped silently complicit to the siege on Gaza which has denied Palestinians of every conceivable means of existence and livelihood, so too are international leaders silent to the oppression of the farmers and fishermen, the poorest and the bravest, facing Israeli fire and ending up like Mohammed, Anwar, or 23 year old Rafiq who was targeted 2 miles off Gaza’s coast while in a small fishing boat. Israeli soldiers sprayed the boat with bullets, the ‘dum-dum- exploding bullets hitting Rafiq in the back and exploding into numerous tiny shrapnel pieces which pierced his lungs and remain dangerously close to his spine, impossible to remove.

These are not isolated and random instances. They are part of the policy of cutting off any means of self-sufficiency the Palestinians try to engage in, and of continuing in the efforts to break Palestinians’ will, efforts which have included a years-long, brutal siege, a 23 day bloody war killing over 1370 Palestinians, and the ongoing targeting of civilians throughout the Gaza Strip.


‘Pippin’ gives a new meaning to ‘stage hands’

23 02 2009

February 21, 2009

Alexandria Wailes' hands

Each evening just before curtain, Alexandria Wailes makes her way through a dark maze of wooden beams under the stage of the Mark Taper Forum. The 5-foot-8 actress hunches forward to avoid knocking her head against the ceiling, which is less than 5 feet high.

When a red cue light flashes, Wailes, who is hearing impaired, raises her hands through a pair of holes in the stage and performs the opening number of “Pippin” in sign language. Her disembodied song of seduction (“Join us / come and waste an hour or two”) is one of many scenes in which a pair of isolated hands steals the spotlight in this revival of Stephen Schwartz and Roger O. Hirson’s musical, running through March 15.

A low-tech but high-concept visual effect, the constantly reappearing hands play a multitude of roles in the show: sign-language interpreter (this is a Deaf West Theatre co-production); keeper of the rhythm (they occasionally snap to the beat); and any number of sight gags (a “severed” arm delivers some the production’s biggest laughs).

But theater buffs will recognize those hands as an hommage to Bob Fosse, the legendary choreographer who staged “Pippin” on Broadway in 1972. Fosse began his production with a pair of white-gloved hands emerging through a curtain of light — an image that has become the musical’s trademark symbol.

Alexandria Wailes at work Director-choreographer Jeff Calhoun says he wanted to reference the “Fosse hands” without copying them. “It was the first idea I had,” he explains. “Fosse had the hands coming at you in a horizontal configuration, so I thought it would be interesting to have them emerge vertically from under the stage.”

Initially, he wanted the hands and arms to be clad in red, from elbow to fingertip. But lighting tests revealed that the red sleeves made the sign language difficult to read. He also envisioned a minimalist production dominated by shafts of light (another hommage to Fosse) but eventually opted for a more concrete approach with elaborate sets.

“Pippin” — which tells the story of Charlemagne’s young son, who strikes out on his own after rejecting his father’s tyrannical ways — is a musical steeped in optical illusion. (“Magic to Do” is one of its most memorable songs.) The crew’s resident magician is Tobin Ost, the scenic and costume designer. Ost devised a series of stage holes 8 inches in diameter that the cast can open and close from below using a simple hinge mechanism.

The crew collaborated with Deaf West to ensure that the holes were large enough to enable actors to sign in a comfortable and intelligible way. “We couldn’t have done this before the Taper renovation,” Ost says. The refurbishments added an extra 2 feet in height to the 576-square-foot space beneath the stage, enabling several actors at a time to move around. During performances, a stage hand is always present to act as traffic controller. (The crew keeps ice packs handy in case of head injuries and other collisions.)

Michael Arden, left, and Tyrone Giordano with the hands For the scene in which Pippin comes across a Visigoth’s bloodied head and arm, actor Aleks Pevec sticks his head through one of the holes, while next to him beneath the stage, Wailes lends her arm to the scene. To coordinate the spoken and signed dialogue, Pevec, who can hear, squeezes his castmate’s hand to alert her when she should begin signing. The below-stage area also contains several closed-circuit monitors so deaf actors can watch the conductor and the orchestra during the musical numbers.

For the show’s famous orgy sequence, Calhoun and his crew constructed a special bed with latex masking so actors can hide underneath while their hands and arms poke through to caress Pippin’s body. The original Broadway production featured a bed full of writhing actors, but again, Calhoun didn’t want to copy Fosse’s staging.

Calhoun hopes to add more hand and arm choreography if “Pippin” transfers to Broadway. “You just can’t have dancing, because that would invite comparisons to Fosse,” he says. “It’s daunting to work under his shadow. The hands are meant to honor the sign language, but they’re meant to honor him as well.”

— David Ng

Top: Alexandria Wailes’ hands emerge in “Pippin”; middle: while under the stage, Wailes uses production notes and monitors as cues; bottom: Michael Arden, left, and Tyrone Giordano, who jointly portray the title character, rehearse with the hands. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Church bridges the communication gap for deaf and hearing

9 02 2009

Sunday, Feburary 8, 2009

Sophie-Shifra Gold signs directions during a game called “the elephant game” Saturday at a potluck social at Calvary Baptist Church. The social encouraged deaf and hearing members of the community to come together for dinner and games. 

February 9, 2009

Elberta Cochran, 81, talks through sign language about how the deaf community has changed and grown throughout the years in Craig.

Mariah Kowach, 12, makes the sign for elephant during “the elephant game” before dinner Saturday night. Participants in the game were pointed at and either had to make the sign for elephant or tree, or had to take a turn in the middle.

Criag, Colorado—Mariah Kowach, 12, makes the sign for elephant during “the elephant game” before dinner Saturday night. Participants in the game were pointed at and either had to make the sign for elephant or tree, or had to take a turn in the middle.

Asking someone to describe his or her perfect day is generally straightforward.

But when one person is deaf and the other doesn’t know sign language, suddenly the situation is more complex.

At Saturday’s gathering of the local deaf community at Calvary Baptist Church, hearing people and deaf people began an evening of dinner, games and socializing with an icebreaker questionnaire. The questions were a way for all involved to practice interacting and to get to know one another.

Asking and answering questions was a small example of the kind of difficulties the deaf face every day as they try to communicate. But the activity also showed that obstacles can be overcome.

“It really is harder. It’s harder to find a job, to be on our own. We need hearing people, and we have a lot to offer,” organizer Staci Nichols said. “We wanted to pull the deaf out of isolation and show opportunities the world has to offer.”

Nine deaf people and twice as many hearing ones attended the dinner.

Elberta Cochran, 81, remembers when Craig’s deaf community was only she and her husband.

It’s “nice, really nice” to have more deaf people to socialize with, Cochran said. “We need social skills, to visit.”

For Mariah Kowach, 12, the evening was a chance “to meet new people who sign like us.” She and Amber Snow, who translates for Kowach at Craig Intermediate School, were at their first local deaf social.

Allison Cunningham and Sophie-Shifra Gold came from Grand Junction for the chance to spend more time with other deaf people.

“Being deaf myself, it’s good to meet with others — older and younger — and to get to know more people like me,” Gold said.

Cunningham, a junior at Mesa State College, said she appreciates Craig’s tolerance.

“It’s backwards in Grand Junction,” she said. “There is not a lot of acceptance of signing and deaf culture.”

The dinner was deaf-friendly through and through.

Instead of a fork tapping on a glass, flashing lights caught attendees’ attention before grace. People applauded by waving their hands instead of clapping them. Instructions, speeches and the blessing all were both audible and signed.

As the crowd waited for spaghetti to finish cooking, they played “the elephant game,” which is popular with the deaf, Nichols said. She stood in the middle of a circle of participants signing directions as Kevin Haynes translated.

When she signed an elephant or tree, the person she pointed at and those on either side had to form mammal or plant. Those who messed up took a turn in the center.

The hearing also benefited from the evening, Nichols said.

“They get to see that anything can be overcome and to encourage diversity,” she said. “It encourages us not to take anything for granted, especially communication.”

Deeana Armstrong, who is working toward her certification as an interpreter, organized the evening with Nichols.

“We had been thinking of how to join the deaf and hearing,” Armstrong said. “I’m hearing, and she’s deaf, but we socialize a lot.”

Patience and taking time to learn how to communicate have made their close relationship possible, she said.

For more

For more information about free sign language classes, contact the Calvary Baptist Church at 824-5222.

 © Copyright 2009 Craig Daily Press

Deaf Pennsylvania Fire Chief Makes Self Heard

3 02 2009

Mark Kite Sr. followed a family tradition when he joined the Yukon Volunteer Fire Company in 1977.

“My grandfather and my father and myself and my brother and now my boy,” Kite said, rattling off the family members who all served their community in South Huntingdon.

Kite, who was born nearly deaf, once thought he couldn’t be a firefighter.

His grandfather knew better.

“He fought for me,” Kite said. “I could do anything.”

Kite, 50, has proven just that. On Jan. 5, he took over as chief of the 75-member fire company.

“I told the members it’s up to them,” Kite said. “Surprise! I won the election.”

Kite, who is deaf in his left ear, has a 60 percent hearing loss in his right. A hearing aid helps him with some sounds and his speech. While he uses sign language with other deaf people, he mostly speaks with the hearing world.

“As long as we speak clearly, he’s an excellent lip reader,” said Noreen Kite, a Yukon firefighter and his former sister-in-law. “We can’t talk about him in front of his face because he’ll know what we say.”

“He has ways of knowing what’s going on,” said fireman Gary Moore Sr.

For his first few years as a firefighter, Kite took on whatever job was needed. He eventually found that driving the fire trucks was the best fit for him.

He’s been driving to fire and accident scenes ever since, getting help from fellow firefighters when new information crackles over the radio.

If a call is canceled, they switch a light on and off to get his attention. Then they use hand gestures to get him to slow down or head back to the station.

At scenes, Kite uses rudimentary sign language to communicate in noisy situations where it’s hard for even a hearing person to understand.

Thumbs up means more water. Thumbs down means turn down the pressure.

While he can typically hear what’s coming over the radio, Kite’s speech is difficult to understand over the equipment.

But that’s not a concern.

“He can tell anyone around him to get on the radio and tell them what needs done,” Moore said. “In my mind he’s qualified. He’s been around the fire company for many years and he has the experience.”

Neil McDevitt, a deaf firefighter with the Fire Department of Montgomery Township in Montgomery County, said Kite is the first deaf fire chief he has heard of anywhere in the country.

“Personally, I am in awe of his achievement,” McDevitt said. “That he was able to accomplish this by working hard, moving through the ranks from lieutenant to assistant chief to chief is a testament to the hard work he’s done at Yukon and the trust his fellow firefighters put in him.”

McDevitt, who is the program director of the Community Emergency Preparedness Information Network, a project to prepare emergency responders and deaf and hard-of-hearing people for disasters, said he knows of about 15 firefighters nationwide who are deaf and communicate primarily through sign language.

McDevitt estimates there are about 50 profoundly deaf firefighters, with many more having lesser levels of hearing loss.

“You’ll hear my colleagues tell you that they often rely too much on their hearing and that the ability deaf firefighters have to trust their other senses gives me advantages hearing firefighters don’t have,” McDevitt said.

Kite has responded to the most calls of any Yukon firefighter for more than 15 years.

He wears two pagers. A standard-issue Minitor pager that all firefighters carry is set to vibrate rather than emit tones. The second, a text pager typically carried by officers, gives him the location of an incident and other details available to 911 operators.

The department hopes to invest in six communication devices so Kite and his line officers can text-message back and forth. A sign language interpreter attends meetings with Kite.

At home, Kite uses a video relay system to communicate with the outside world. He uses a Web cam to communicate in sign language with an operator who translates the conversation to the hearing person on the other end of the call.

A system for the fire hall should arrive next month so Kite can make and take calls from there.

“It’s a big difference from 33 years ago,” he said. “I had nothing. If there wasn’t technology, I would never be a chief.”

When he goes to sleep, he hooks up his paging system to a light in his bedroom that flashes and a unit that vibrates his bed to wake him. It’s a system he’s used since he became a firefighter. He relies on the system because his wife, Barbara, is deaf.

“I get up, and I’m gone,” he said.

He’s usually the first one at the station.

“I could never figure out how he got here so fast, and then he told us,” said Noreen Kite.

“He’s usually standing in the door waiting for me,” Moore said.

Kite’s son, Mark Kite Jr., 24, and another young man with hearing loss, Daniel Shively, have joined the department within the past decade.

Twice a year, Kite brings students to the station from the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, where he works as resident supervisor. They wash and wax the trucks and learn about firefighting.

Kite believes his accomplishments can be achieved by others with hearing loss.

“If they figure out how to do, they can do,” he said.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency

28 01 2009

News from

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2009 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing recommendations to the regions affected by severe winter weather in Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern states. USDA is hopeful that this information will help minimize the potential for foodborne illnesses due to power outages and other problems that are often associated with severe weather events.

“Power outages can occur at any time of the year and it often takes from a few hours to several days for electricity to be restored to residential areas,” said acting USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Ron Hicks. “Without electricity or a cold source, foods stored in refrigerators and freezers can become unsafe. Bacteria in food grow rapidly at temperatures between 40 and 140 °F, and if these foods are consumed, people can become very sick.”

Steps to follow to prepare for a possible weather emergency:

    * Keep an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer. An appliance thermometer will indicate the temperature in the refrigerator and freezer in case of a power outage and help determine the safety of the food.
    * Make sure the freezer is at 0 °F or below and the refrigerator is at 40 °F or below.
    * Freeze containers of water for ice to help keep food cold in the freezer, refrigerator or coolers after the power is out.
    * Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately — this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
    * Plan ahead and know where dry ice and block ice can be purchased.
    * Store food on shelves that will be safely out of the way of contaminated water in case of flooding.
    * Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than 4 hours. Purchase or make ice cubes and store in the freezer for use in the refrigerator or in a cooler. Freeze gel packs ahead of time for use in coolers.
    * Group food together in the freezer — this helps the food stay cold longer.

Steps to follow after the weather emergency:

    * Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.
    * The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.
    * Discard refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers and deli items after 4 hours without power.
    * Food may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40 °F or below when checked with a food thermometer.
    * Never taste a food to determine its safety!
    * Obtain dry or block ice to keep your refrigerator and freezer as cold as possible if the power is going to be out for a prolonged period of time. Fifty pounds of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic-foot full freezer for 2 days.
    * If the power has been out for several days, check the temperature of the freezer with an appliance thermometer. If the appliance thermometer reads 40 °F or below, the food is safe to refreeze.
    * If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine its safety. If the food still contains ice crystals, the food is safe.
    * Drink only bottled water if flooding has occurred.
    * Discard any food that is not in a waterproof container if there is any chance that it has come into contact with flood water. Discard wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers.
    * Undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all-metal cans and retort pouches (for example, flexible, shelf-stable juice or
seafood pouches) can be saved. Follow the Steps to Salvage All-Metal Cans and Retort Pouches in the publication “Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency” at:
    * Thoroughly wash all metal pans, ceramic dishes and utensils that came in contact with flood water with hot soapy water and sanitize by boiling them in clean water or by immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water.
    * When in Doubt, Throw it Out!

FSIS has available a Public Service Announcement (PSA), available in 30- and 60-second versions, illustrating practical food safety recommendations for handling and consuming foods stored in refrigerators and freezers during, and after, a power outage. Consumers are encouraged to view the PSA at:

News organizations and power companies can obtain hard copy (Beta and DVD) versions of the PSA by contacting the Food Safety Education Staff in FSIS’ Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Education by calling (301) 344-4757.

Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day. Podcasts and SignFSIS video-casts in American Sign Language featuring text-captioning are available on the Web at

NAD Helps School Access the Inauguration Online

27 01 2009

By advocacy | January 26, 2009

The NAD advocated for and participated in the development of provisions to ensure that the Presidential Inauguration was accessible to deaf and hard of hearing Americans in Washington, DC, and across the country. The NAD Advocacy Blog posted information about the Presidential Inauguration and available access features, on-site and online, as the information became available.

The NAD received this report from the Atlanta Area School for the Deaf:

“This is Amy Cohen Efron from Atlanta Area School for the Deaf, and we would like to thank you for your contributions to NAD advocacy blog announcing about BISVRS’s ASL interpretation and’s live streaming online video with closed captions.

“This blog announcement was published on Monday, January 19th, and I used these services on an Inauguration Day at Atlanta Area School for the Deaf. We set up our laptop connected to the Internet, with the LCD projector. We were able to display two browser windows side-by-side with the ASL interpretation with closed captioned video on the screen. We had our sign language interpreter standing on the stage interpreting for younger children.

Presidential Swearing in
Photo by Joyce Fongbemi. Interpreter: Donna Flanders, CI/CT

“We took several pictures during this memorable event, and everyone in the audience were very engaged with Obama’s inauguration with cheers, tears and waving our hands with so much enthusiasm!

Photo by Joyce Fongbemi

“Never have I seen 100% accessibility like this on the Internet before! A big THANK YOU for making this known to all of us one day before the inauguration. You made a big impact on our school!”

Thank you, Amy, for sharing this with all of us. The NAD is pleased to learn that efforts to ensure an accessible Inaugural experience by deaf and hard of hearing Americans were successful.

(Illinois) Interpreter helps Deaf Football Player to Sucess

16 01 2009

News from ABC 7 Chicago News

Thursday, January 15, 2009

(ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill.) — The role of sign language interpreters is to break down communication barriers for people who are deaf.

But some relationships are more demanding than others, like in the case of a northwest suburban high school football player.

It’s all about team work when it comes to football. This is why Anthony Maginity and his interpreter, Racheal Griffin, are such great partners

Eighteen-year-old Maginity is a senior at John Hersey High School. Although Hersey is not his local high school, he enrolled there because of their deaf program and football.

“Because my school doesn’t have a deaf program, so I heard about this school from a friend. And she said that this school is great, so I decided to come here and observe the program,” Maginity said. “Since I was little, I love football, I just couldn’t stop playing.”

Prior to joining Hersey’s football team, his biggest concern was communication.

“Because I was used to playing football with my dad as an interpreter, so this was my first time having a real interpreter on the field,” Maginity said.

Sports fan and staff interpreter Griffin said it was not easy being part of the team.

“There’s a lot of verbal communication that happens during football. You have the quarterback that’s doing an audible call. You have teammates communicating on the line with each other about what’s the play or how they’re going to move,” said Griffin.

Coach Mark Gunther said Maginity and Griffin had a unique relationship.

“I think communicating with Anthony has been really smooth in fact we don’t even notice that there’s a communication gap,” said Gunther.

“My experience would be different because if I never met her, I don’t think I would have been more close to my teammates because Racheal can relate to me and she understands my perspective and she interprets and communication is smooth with my teammates and between us,” said Maginity.

And that relationship will soon change as Maginity will be graduating this spring.

“Racheal’s not going to college with me unless something happens, but probably not. I decided I’m going to go to RIT in New York. It’s Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. I probably won’t be playing football. I’m going to focus on my major,” Maginity said.

He said he wants to become a civil engineer. Hopefully he’ll find an interpreter like Griffin in Rochester. If you are interested in being a sign language interpreter, check out:

Columbia College ASL-English Interpretation Dept.

Waubonsee Community College Interpreter Training Program
630.466.7900 x 2361 (Voice)
630.896.1179 (TTY)

William Rainey Harper College Sign Language Interpreting Program
845.926.6415 (Voice)
845.925.6772 (TTY)


(Copyright ©2009 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)