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Chantilly, VA – Annual Basketball Tournament – March 11-13, 2011

Submitted by Potomac on January 27, 2011 — Leave a Comment

66th Annual Men’s & 20th Annual Women’s Basketball Tournament
Eastern Athletic Association of the Deaf
Hosted by:  Northern Virginia Club of the Deaf

March 11-13, 2011

Chantilly, VA

For more information email:

To view this event and others please click here.

terpreted and Captioned Events at the Kennedy Center

To purchase tickets, call (202) 416-8528 (voice/relay); (202) 416-8524 (TTY). For more information and to find out when tickets go on sale, please click here

Concerts for Young People by Young People, Classical Series with Niv Ashkenazi, Emerald Quartet, and Kristina Winiarski

Millennium Stage in the Terrace Theater

terpreted & Captioned: Wednesday, February 2 at 6:00 PM

Classical violinist Niv Ashkenazi, winner of the 2010 American Protege International Piano and Strings Competition, had his Carnegie Hall debut at the Weill Recital Hall in March 2010. Mr. Ashkenazi has won numerous competitions including the Culver City Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition. Mr. Ashkenazi was also the recipient of the 2007 VSA International Young Soloists Award.

Concerts for Young People by Young People, Non-Classical Series with The Ransom Notes, Leo Manzari, and Amy K. Bormer

Millennium Stage in the Terrace Theater

terpreted & Captioned: Friday, February 4 at 6:00 PM

The Ransom Notes, a group of talented young musicians from Denver blend Classical, Celtic, Bluegrass, and Gospel music in a way like no other. At 22, Amanda plays violin/fiddle, mandolin, guitar and provides vocals for the group. Michael is 18 and primarily plays the cello (an instrument unique to the world of bluegrass music), as well as a little mandolin, and also adds his fair share of vocals to each performance. The youngest member of the trio, 16 year old Amelia, plays violin/fiddle, mandolin, guitar, and a host of other instruments. They recently performed on Capitol Hill as part of the 2010 International VSA Festival.

Scott MacIntyre

Millennium Stage

terpreted & Captioned: Saturday, February 5 at 6:00 PM

Since captivating the nation as a finalist on Season 8 of American Idol, singer-songwriter Scott MacIntyre, a 2008 VSA International Young Soloist Award recipient, has continued his successful career trajectory.

Druid: The Cripple of Inishmaan

Eisenhower Theater

Captioned: Friday, February 11 at 7:30 PM

Famed Irish theater company Druid and New York's Atlantic Theatre present The Cripple of Inishmaan, written by Academy Award winner Martin McDonagh and directed by Tony Award winner Garry Hynes, the first woman to win a Tony Award for Best Direction. Set in rural Ireland in 1934, this dark comedy depicts the impact that a Hollywood film crew has over the local residents when it shows up to document the tiny island of Inishmore. When a young, orphaned "cripple" named Billy Claven is selected for a part in the film, his dreams of escape take flight.

D.C. Metropolitan Area

Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD) Winter Dance Concert

MSSD Theatre Malz on Gallaudet University Campus

Sign-Interpreted: Thursday, February 3 at 10:00 AM; Friday, February 4 at 8:00 PM; Saturday, February 5 at 8:00 PM

This dance concert features the outstanding work of seven deaf choreographers—Adrian Saylor, Tara Downing, Fred Beam, Mervin Primeaux, Antonio Webb, Jennifer Drew, and Yola Rozynek—and seven guest dance companies and performers who bring to life dance styles from many cultures. The guest companies and artists this year are: Nrityalaya School of Indian Classical Odissi Dance, Eleanor Roosevelt High School Dance Company,Bison With Attitude Dance Company, The Wild Zappers and the National Deaf Dance Theater, Edgeworks Dance Theatre, Mervin Primeaux and Antoine Hunter. The concert is suitable for elementary through high school students.

For ticket reservations, contact or call (202) 651-5031.

The Carpetbagger's Children

Ford's Theatre

Sign-Interpreted: Thursday, February 3 at 7:30 PM & Saturday, February 12 at 4:00 PM

In a series of charming, humorous and poignant vignettes, Horton Foote’s The Carpetbagger’s Children weaves a captivating tapestry of family secrets, small-town life and private tragedies. At the center of the play are sisters Cornelia, Grace Ann and Sissie, daughters of a Union soldier who moved south after the war. The sisters’ bonds are challenged as they seek to preserve the family’s Texas plantation in an era of startling growth and change.

To arrange seats for a sign-interpreted performance, please call the Box Office at (202) 347-4833 or visit in person.

Marcus; Or the Secret of Sweet

Studio Theatre, Mead Theatre

terpreted: Friday, February 4 at 8:00 PM

The sweltering final chapter of The Brother/Sister Plays, including The Studio Theatre hits The Brothers Size (2008) and In the Red and Brown Water (2010), cuts close to the bone. In this whimsical story of a young boy becoming a man and discovering his sexuality, Marcus risks alienating his loved ones in his own search for love. Past and present, obligation and desire, lust and friendship all collide in the sultry Louisiana heat.

To purchase tickets, please call (202) 332-3300 (voice)/(202) 667-8436 (TTY) or visit us on-line at .

The Arabian Nights

Arena Stage

Sign-Interpreted: Sunday, February 6 at 7:30 PM & Thursday, February 10 at 8:00 PM

Captioned: Wednesday, February 16 at 7:30 PM

In ancient Baghdad, a courageous young girl postpones her execution by weaving magical tales for the troubled king. Genies and jesters, lovers and thieves spring to life from Scheherazade's imagination – allowing her to win the king's heart even as she secures her freedom. Tony Award-winning director and playwright Mary Zimmerman (Metamorphoses) celebrates the wonder of storytelling and the redemptive power of love in this "exhilarating, imaginative theatrical escape" (Variety) that Chicago magazine calls a "feast for the eyes and ears."

Groups of 10+ save!

To purchase tickets, please visit or call the sales office at (202) 488-3300 (voice/relay); (202) 484-0247 (TTY) or e-mail for more information. 

Let Me Down Easy

Arena Stage

Captioned: Wednesday, February 9 at 7:30 PM

Called “the most exciting individual in American theater” by Newsweek magazine, Anna Deavere Smith (Fires in the Mirror, Twilight: Los Angeles) explores the power of the body, the price of health and the resilience of the spirit. Based on interviews with an eclectic range of people, from a heavyweight boxer to a former supermodel, and from Texas Governor Ann Richards to legendary cyclist Lance Armstrong, Let Me Down Easy “is a totally vital piece of theater, mixing a standup comic’s instincts with a great reporter’s keen eye” (Variety).

Groups of 10+ save!

To purchase tickets, please visit or call the sales office at (202) 488-3300 (voice/relay); (202) 484-0247 (TTY) or e-mail for more information. 


Shakespeare Theatre Company, Sidney Harman Hall

terpreted: Tuesday, February 15 at 7:30 PM

Interpreters: Mark Morrisson & Krista Walker

Director of Artistic Sign Language (DASL): Bette Hicks

The Shakespeare Theatre Company premiere of Cymbeline follows Imogen on her search for reconciled love against the backdrop of a colorful and magical journey. Forbidden love, mistaken identities, banishment and a magic potion— Shakespeare combines multiple styles in this endlessly inventive fairy tale.

To purchase tickets, please visit or call (202) 547-1122 (voice); (877) 487-8849 (Toll Free); (202) 638-3863 (TTY).

Charming Billy

Round House Theatre

terpreted: Saturday, February 19 at 3:00 PM

Interpreters provided by Purple Communications

In a Bronx bar, a funeral party has gathered to honor Billy Lynch.  Through the night, his friends and family weave together the tale of a husband, lover, dreamer and storyteller, but also that of a hopeless drunk whose immense charm was but a veil over a lifetime of secrets and all-sorrow.

For information and tickets, please call (240) 644-1100 or visit .

The Comedy of Errors

Folger Theatre

Captioned: Sunday, February 27 at 2:00 PM

A shipwreck, one of Shakespeare's favorite launching devices, starts off this comedy's craziness of coincidence and confusion. Antipholus and his servant Dromio journey from Syracuse in search of their long-lost, identically named twin brothers. Their arrival in Ephesus sets off a chain of mishaps as the twins are mistaken for each other, culminating in a climax of comedic chaos.

To purchase tickets, please visit or call the Box Office at (202) 544-7077.

Coming Soon to the Kennedy Center!


Eisenhower Theater

Sign-Interpreted: Tuesday, May 24 & Friday, May 27 at 7:30 PM

Director of Artistic Sign Language (DASL): Fred Beam

Captioned: Friday, June 3 at 7:30 PM & Sunday, June 5 at 1:30 PM

Winner of seven Tonys, Follies is one of James Goldman and Stephen Sondheim's greatest works. All of life's might-have-beens take center stage as two couples rehash past times and favorite songs amid the crumbling magnificence of their old theater.


Opera House

Sign-Interpreted: Tuesday, July 26, 2011 & Friday, July 29 at 7:30 PM

Director of Artistic Sign Language (DASL): Ernie Hairston

Captioned: Friday, June 17, 2011 at 7:30 PM; Friday, August 5 at 7:30 PM; Sunday, August 7 at 1:30 PM

Back by "popular" demand! The New York Times calls Wicked "the defining musical of the decade," and when it last played Washington in 2005, it broke box office records and sold out in record time.

Performances of Wicked will sell out. Tickets go on sale March 13, 2011 - put this date on your calendar and order tickets early!


Please click here to view the Kennedy Center's website for directions and to purchase tickets.


Gallaudet's Speech, Hearing, Aural Rehabilitation Program

Summer Communication Program for Deaf and
Hard of Hearing Children

The Gallaudet University Hearing and Speech Center (HSC) is once again hosting Camp SHARP. The program provides an intensive, language-rich, communication-accessible, and enjoyable environment for deaf and hard of hearing children to improve their spoken language skills. The children will have opportunities to develop and enhance their spoken English skills and have their sign language skills reinforced through child-centered, play-based activities. Skill areas addressed include speech, listening, expressive and receptive language and literacy. The summer services are offered between June 20 and July 29, 2011. Limited space is available. Services and session availability are contingent upon the number of children enrolled.

Camp Features

  • Services provided by certified, licensed speech-language pathologists
  • Clinicians proficient in American Sign
  • Focus on speech, spoken language, and listening skills within a literacy-rich environment
  • Serves children age 2 years to rising kindergartners
  • Theme-based, developmentally
    appropriate activities
  • Morning sessions (8:45-11:45) with an option for afternoon childcare
  • Low child to clinician ratio
Featured in the
Camp SHARP was featured in a segment by Washington's WJLA TV.  Watch the video here.  Additionally, read more about the camp on Gallaudet's website here
Two Programs

 In order to best meet the individual needs of each child, Camp SHARP will have two programs this summer. Enhancing the understanding and/or use of spoken English is the focus of both programs.

 Program I

Program I is for children who

  • Communicate primarily in American Sign Language (ASL)
  • Do not use or occasionally use
    amplification (i.e. hearing aid or cochlear implant)
  • With amplification have a hearing level in the moderate, severe, and/or profound range
  • Age 3 years (by June 20, 2011) to rising kindergartners

Program I will run from June 20-July 1, 2011.

Program II

Program II is for children who

  • Communicate primarily in English
  • Communicate in both ASL and spoken English on a daily/regular basis
  • Use amplification throughout the day, everyday
  • Without amplification, have a hearing level in the mild to moderate range
  • When aided, have a hearing level in the normal to mild range or the mild to moderate range
  • Age 2 years (by July 6, 2011) to rising kindergartnersProgram II will run from July 6-29, 2011.

    Afternoon Childcare

    Gallaudet's Child Development Center
    (CDC), a campus childcare center, indicated that they are happy to provide service if slots are available. Typically the center services children under the age 4 years, 6 months. The tuition cost is $7.00 per hour. Parents would register and pay the pre-registration fee for their children through the CDC. More information about the CDC can be found at

    Parent Information

    Informational and interactive sessions will be conducted by Gallaudet faculty and staff. Possible topics include: Language Access - Choosing Modalities; Understanding the Audiogram; Amplification - Management/Benefits;  

  • Behavior Promotion/ Management; Cochlear Implant Mapping,and Speech, Language, and Auditory Development. Sessions are conducted in both ASL and spoken English.


    Gallaudet University is located at 800 Florida Avenue, NE Washington, DC 20002. Camp is held in the new Sorenson Language Communication Center (SLCC) pictured above.

    Parking & Transportation

    There is ample parking on campus. Additionally, Gallaudet has a free shuttle that travels to the New York Avenue and Union Station Metro stops.

    ASL Classes for Parents


    Parents may be interested in attending ASL classes through the university during the day while their child is at camp. Click here for more information.

    For More Information

    Please contact Andrea Handscomb at 202-448-6967 or



    Please click here to view Gallaudet's website

    Through the Looking Glass Scholarships


    Through the Looking Glass and its National Center for Parents with Disabilities and their Families are pleased to announce new scholarships specifically for high school seniors or college students who have parents with disabilities.  A total of ten $1000 scholarships will be given out Fall 2011.  These scholarships are part of Through the Looking Glass’ National Center for Parents with Disabilities and their Families.  There are separate eligibility requirements for high school seniors and for college students:

    1. High School Seniors. To be eligible, a student must be a high school graduate (or graduating senior) by Summer 2011, planning to attend a two-year or four-year college in Fall 2011 in pursuit of an AA, BA or BS degree, and have at least one parent with a disability.

    2. College Students. To be eligible, a student must be currently enrolled in a two-year or four-year college in Fall 2011 in pursuit of an AA, BA or BS degree, be 21 years of age or younger as of  March 1, 2011, and have at least one parent with a disability.

    All application materials must be postmarked by March 1, 2011.  Individuals may submit only one application per award

    Selection criteria for all scholarships include academic performance, community activities and service, letter of recommendation and an essay describing the experience of growing up with a parent with a disability.

    Please go to our website: for more information, including the application form, complete application directions and an FAQ page that answers many common questions as well as offers helpful suggestions.

    Through the Looking Glass
    3075 Adeline Street, Suite 120
    Berkeley, CA 94703
    (800) 644-2666

    (510) 848-2005 (TTY)

    Thanks to DHHSC


    Click here for more information about Through the Looking Glass

    Career Opportunities in the Arts

    Interested in careers in the arts? The Kennedy Center’s Opening Stages Facebook Fan page is loaded with career opportunity announcements such as:

    • Internships
    • Fellowships
    • Competitions
    • Auditions
    • Grants/Funding
    • Scholarships

    Opening Stages was developed to provide students and individuals with disabilities with information and resources on career development opportunities. The Fan page will highlight current disability-specific and mainstream opportunities, as well as upcoming exhibitions and performances featuring artists with disabilities.

    The Kennedy Center Opening Stages fan page is open to all. Please become a fan and spread the word to anyone interested in pursuing a career in the arts.

    Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences Open Auditions!

    The Kennedy Center's Theater for Young Audiences will be holding open auditions for the 2011-2012 season on the following dates:

    Monday, February 7 from 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM, Equity Open Call

    Sunday, February 13 from 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM, Non-Equity Open Call

    The auditions will be held at the Kennedy Center located at 2700 F St. NW Washington, DC 20566. Enter through the Hall of Nations side of the building. Sign in at the Opera House Stage Door.


    Please prepare a comedic, contemporary monologue, no longer than 2 minutes.

    Actors interested in being considered for a musical production should prepare 16 bars of a standard musical theater song.

    Piano accompaniment will be provided.

    Please bring headshot and resume. 

    There will not be any appointments for these Open Call auditions.  Actors will be seen in the order in which they arrive. For questions or more information about the auditions, call (202) 416-8830 or email .

    Accessibility accomodations (such as sign language interpreters) will be provided upon request. If you would like to request an accomodation, please contact the Accessibility Office at (202) 416-8727 (voice/relay); (202) 416-8728 (TTY) or .

    ASL at the NGA: An Introduction to the West Building Collection

    Tours of the West Building collection are offered in American Sign Language (ASL) with voice interpretation into English on the second Sunday of each month at 1:00 PM, departing from the Rotunda on the West Building’s Main Floor. To learn more about this and other guided tours of the Gallery, please visit .

    In addition to these regularly occurring tours, sign language interpreters and guides for visitors who are blind or have low vision are available by appointment for tours of the permanent collection as well as for special exhibitions. Please call (202) 842-6247 or the Gallery's Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD) at (202) 842-6176 three weeks in advance for an appointment. Special headphones, which deliver full-frequency digital audio sound in a lightweight design, are available.

    Printed scripts of all recorded tours are available for visitors who are deaf or hard of hearing, and free large-print brochures are available at the entrances to some of the special exhibitions. For more information, please visit .

    National Gallery of Art Seeking Museum Guides Fluent in ASL

    The National Gallery of Art (NGA) is currently looking for experienced guides knowledgeable in art history to lead monthly tours in American Sign Language (ASL) as part of the program ASL at the NGA: An Introduction to the West Building Collection. The West Building displays European and American art from the thirteenth to the early twentieth century. Masterpieces of Italian painting and sculpture, including the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci in the Western Hemisphere, join works by the Dutch masters, French impressionists, and American artists.

    To apply, please send a cover letter, résumé, and references to:

    National Gallery of Art

    Attn: Lorena Baines, DET

    2000B South Club Drive

    Landover, MD 20785

    The application deadline is March 11, 2011.

    For more information please contact Lorena Baines via e-mail at or by phone at (202) 842-6905.

    Job Opening: Technical Director

    Rochester Institute of Technology

    National Technical Institute for the Deaf

    Rochester, NY

    We are seeking a candidate that can teach technical theater courses in scenic, lighting and/or costume technology and serve as technical director for two productions per quarter/semester. Oversee construction, mounting, rigging, general theater maintenance, scenery, lighting, sound and costume elements of theater productions. Ensure over ad-ins, technical rehearsals, and post-production strikes. Successful candidate must be available during run of productions. This is a one-year appointment with possibility of annual renewal, contingent on performance and enrollment.

    Please apply online at http://careers.rit.ed .

    LOWT Auditions

    Mark your calendars!  The 2011 LOWT Auditions will be held February 28 - March 2 (10 AM - 5 PM each day) at Round House Theatre in Silver Spring.

    For more details visit .

    Thanks to John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

    To view The Kennedy Center's website click here


    To view the NGA's website click here


    To view RIT's website click here


    To view LOWT's website click here


    Bill to Recognize ASL as a Foreign Language Passes in House Education Committee

    House Bill 1435 was heard in the Virginia House of Delegates by the House Education Committee this morning. The committee voted 21-1 to "report the bill" (send it to the full House of Delegates for a vote).

    The patron of the bill presented the bill and recognized that there were people in the galley to support it.  There was no public comment on the bill during this meeting.  

    Delegate Thomas Rust of Virginia’s 86th District was the only delegate to vote against it.  His vote was based on concerns from some colleges about the rights and responsibilities of the Board of Visitors of each college to decide what to accept for credits at each university. Del. Rust’s 86th District covers a swath of Fairfax County that includes some of the Herndon and Chantilly area. To learn more about him or contact him:

    The bill will now go to the full House where it will have three readings.  The first reading will just give the name of the bill.  The second, usually done the next day, will be the opportunity for discussion of the bill.  The third reading, which is usually on the third day, will be the one at which the delegates vote on the bill. 

    Thanks to Leslie Prince/VDDHH; additional information added by NVRC.

    Click here to view more information about this bill.


    NVRC Note:

    Many readers have been upset that Netflix is increasing the number of movies and television shows available by video streaming through its InstantWatch service, but these movies and shows are not captioned. Meantime, Netflix has raised the cost of renting DVD and Blu-Ray disks, which individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing had previously fought to have available with captions or English subtitles. The National Association of the Deaf has pushed Netflix to change its service practices so that all individuals may enjoy the entertainment equally. Progress is being made, but it has been difficult to search and find which videos are accessible.

    Now there’s a blog that lists all of the movies currently known to be available by InstantWatch that have English SDH (“subtitles for the deaf or hard of hearing”) as well as silent movies and popular foreign films with open subtitles.  Below you’ll find the instructions at the beginning of the blog, before the well-organized list of movies available.  Kudos to the creator of this blog. 

    Click here to see the list of movies

    Netflix InstantWatch titles with English Subtitles
    (for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing)
    664 Titles so far!!
    (includes 610 Subtitled, 1 listed as Subtitled but doesn't work, 5 Silent Movies, & 48 recommended/popular/highly-rated foreign titles with Open Subtitles)

    •  Subtitles are currently available on these platforms: Windows, Apple, Wii and PS3.  If you see a title I missed, add it to the Comments section, below, and I will add it!!
    •  Hover your mouse (arrow) over a title and you will see a description from Netflix and the option to add the title to your Netflix InstantWatch Queue!
    • "Expires:" date is when Netflix will remove that Movie/TV Title from its Instant Watch list. Dates in Bold/Red mean the Title will be expiring in the next few months.
    • TV Episodes now show how many of the episodes have subtitles (many titles only have some but not all of their episodes subtitled). I show this near the Star Rating as "10 of 12 episodes" meaning out of 12 episodes that season, 10 have subtitles. If all episodes have subtitles it will show as "12 of 12 episodes". I also have added a link to's search page (when available) showing which specific episodes in that season have Subtitles -- shown on the FeedFliks page with a CC icon.
    • Star Ratings are from Netflix's average. According to Netflix, 5 stars means "Really Loved It", 4 stars means "Loved It", 3 stars means "Liked It", 2 stars means "Didn't Like It", 1 star means "Hated It". Star Ratings are added to this page when the Title is posted and are not automatically updated (even though Netflix continually updates their ratings as more & more users rate their movies)
    • Genres & "This Movie Is:" help describe the type of movie (Comedy, Drama, etc.)
    • Titles beginning with "The" & "A" are sorted under the 2nd word (Ex: "The LXD" is filed under "L", not "T").
    • Titles beginning with numbers are sorted as if the number was spelled out (Ex: "30 Rock" is filed under "T" for "Thirty Rock")
    • Titles that have been added to this list during the past 30 days are labelled with: NEW (mm/dd) (Titles listed now show exact date added as mm/dd ex: (07/04)). Expired movies that have been brought back to InstantWatch

    Click here to see more information about Netflix

       AG Bell 2011 College Scholarship Programs Now Open Information and applications for the AG Bell 2011 College Scholarship Program are now available on the AG Bell website. The program offers several scholarships for full-time students who are deaf and hard of hearing and who are pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree at an accredited mainstream college or university. The application deadline is March 15, 2011. Click here for an application and to learn more.

     In addition, information and applications for AG Bell’s George H. Nofer Scholarship for Law and Public Policy are now available on the AG Bell website. This program is for full-time graduate students with a moderate to profound hearing loss who are attending an accredited law school or a masters or doctoral program in public policy or public administration. The deadline for applications is April 14, 2011. Click here to learn more.

    For more information about this program and Alexander Graham Bell please visit:

    Hear the World Sound Academy at Grand Canyon National Park
    Now Accepting Applications

     Unique sound education program integrates students of mixed hearing abilities
    for the learning adventure of a lifetime
    Stäfa, Switzerland (January 13, 2011) – Hear the World, a global initiative by hearing system manufacturer Phonak, and Global Explorers, a non-profit educational travel organization, are now accepting applications for the first-ever Hear the World Sound Academy: Amplifying the Grand Canyon. The Sound Academy will integrate students of mixed hearing abilities to explore the role that sound plays in our lives by experiencing the diverse sound landscape of Grand Canyon National Park.

    Sound deepens our experience of the world and the majesty of the Grand Canyon summons a connection with nature as few places can. However, this world-famous natural wonder faces a serious threat: noise pollution. For this reason, it is the perfect setting to educate students about the importance of natural sound and hearing preservation. Students of mixed hearing abilities will work together with acoustic scientists to collect sound data for the National Park Service while discovering an entirely new way of looking at sound as a precious resource and hearing as a cherished sense. Post-trip, the student ambassadors will launch an online campaign to educate the public about hearing and hearing loss based on what they learned, including a unique sound-themed podcast to be used as a learning tool by the National Park Service.
    The Hear the World Sound Academy follows the 2010 Hear the World Amazon Expedition – where students explored the intricacies of sound in an environment where sound never sleeps, the Peruvian Amazon.

    “Following the success of the Hear the World Amazon Expedition, we wanted to dive deeper into providing students with the understanding that hearing and sound is not something we should take for granted,” said Valentin Chapero, CEO of Phonak and founder of Hear the World. “In partnership with Global Explorers, we are excited to be able to offer this one-of-a-kind opportunity for students to gain the tools needed to be the next generation of sound ambassadors.”

    About the Hear the World Sound Academy: Amplifying the Grand Canyon  

    The Hear the World Sound Academy provides a unique platform where students explore science, culture, leadership and service while at the same time raising awareness about the importance of hearing and sound preservation. More than a simple trip, the Hear the World Sound Academy will include: 

    • A pre-academy curriculum on sound data collection and conservation issues in the Spring of 2011
    • A week-long rafting and hiking adventure exploring sound in the Diamond Down section of the Grand Canyon from July 31-August 7, 2011
    • A post-academy project where students will create their own hearing and sound awareness campaign

    Hear the World Sound Academy applications are currently being accepted through February 26, 2011. Applicants must be between the ages of 15-20 on July 31, 2011, enrolled as a full-time student either the semester before or after travel and experience hearing loss or have an expressed interest in hearing awareness and education. Scholarships are available for those who qualify.
    Participants will be accompanied by Bill Barkeley, a world-class mountain climber and one of the 15,000 people in the United States with Type 2 Usher’s Syndrome – the leading cause of deaf-blindness in the world. Bill also served as a mentor and leader in the 2010 Hear the World Amazon Expedition. Bill’s 2007 summit of Mount Kilimanjaro shattered expectations and confirmed his role as an advocate and inspiration for the hearing loss community.
    To learn more, nominate a student or apply,  click here
    About Hear the World
    Hear the World is a global initiative by leading hearing system manufacturer Phonak created to raise awareness about the importance of hearing. The initiative calls attention to the social and emotional impact of hearing loss and addresses prevention of and solutions to a problem that affects more than 16% of the world’s population. Bryan Adams, Annie Lennox, Lenny Kravitz, Plácido Domingo and other renowned personalities support the Hear the World initiative as ambassadors. In the context of the Hear the World initiative, Phonak has established the non-profit Hear the World Foundation to improve the quality of life of people with hearing loss through financial and technical assistance. The foundation is committed to the prevention of hearing loss as well as the support of people with hearing loss and their families.
    For more information, please click here  
    About Global Explorers
    Global Explorers is a nonprofit organization based in Fort Collins, CO that shares educational immersive travel experiences with school groups and individuals of all backgrounds and abilities. Since its inception in 2003, Global Explorers has served thousands of students and educators and supported communities in Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, Tanzania and the American Southwest. Global Explorers’ programs have been featured on ABC World New Tonight, ABC Nightline, the Travel Channel and CBS Sunday Morning. Global Explorers’ mission is to inspire responsible global citizenship through life-changing travel experiences. The programs all focus on four core disciplines: science, culture, leadership and service.
    To learn more about Global Explorers, please click here  






    By Cheryl Heppner

    Galaxy, Hearing Dog
    Galaxy, Cheryl's CCI Hearing Dog

    On June 17, 2010, after taking notes at the opening ceremony of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) convention in Milwaukee, I went to dinner with some friends I’d made at past HLAA conventions. We had a pleasant and delicious meal at Coast, a restaurant on the shores of Lake Michigan.

    At about 11:20 p.m., we left the restaurant. Outside were three cabs which had arrived to take those in our party back to their various hotels. As I tried to enter the first cab with some of my friends, the driver jumped out and vehemently said he would not take a dog in the cab. I tried to explain that Galaxy was a hearing dog, and told the driver that it was against the law to refuse us. I said that if he did not take us to our hotel I would have to write down his cab number and report him. Two friends, Pam Ransom and Marcia Finisdore, attempted to support me, to no avail. Still carrying my steno pad with notes from the opening ceremony, I flipped to the first blank page, grabbed a pen from my purse, and wrote the cab number.

    Moving to the next cab in line, I opened the door and tried to enter. I was met with a second refusal, and despite a stern explanation by Pam Ransom about the law this driver also drove off without us. His cab number joined the first one in my steno book.

    Thankfully the third cab driver, who had witnessed all this, agreed to transport us. He was from the same company as the other two, Yellow Cab.

    The experience really upset me. Back in 1991 I routinely encountered discrimination like this, but as the 20th anniversary of passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act approached, I thought my days of having to advocate and educate about my hearing dog, if not completely finished, would never again be met with such animosity.

    Searching for a Remedy

    The next morning, before going to the convention, I walked to a nearby building that housed a police station. I wanted to see if I could get a referral to whatever entity handled disability-related complaints for the city. My goal was to see that Yellow Cab be required to train its drivers about nondiscrimination of individuals with service animals so that no other individual with a service animal would experience what I had.

    In the building that housed the police station, I met and received support from Officers Angst and Halm. My request was pretty far off the beaten track for them, but they were enthusiastic about trying to help. I smiled when one of the suggestions they passed on was to call the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, DC. I explained that my intention was not to punish but to educate, as every single person I had met in Milwaukee had been nothing short of wonderful, and I didn’t want to bring potentially bad publicity to the city just because of the hurtful actions of two cab drivers.

    Officers Angst and Halm introduced me to Julie Braun and Tom Arden of the Attorney General’s office, who also set about trying to help. While I waited for them to make phone calls, Galaxy enjoyed showing off some of her skills, and I enjoyed talking about the work she does for me. I also talked about Canine Companions for Independence, the wonderful program that trained us to work together.

    Unfortunately that particular day was a furlough day so most of the city offices were closed and we could not find the right place for disability-related complaints. Eventually a call was made to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s office, where one of his staff conveyed how very upset the Mayor was to hear that the incident with the cab drivers happened in his city. Although I never did find the appropriate place to lodge a complaint and make my request for training of the cab company, I felt very supported by all the wonderful people who wanted very much to assist me.

    Follow-up at Home

    On June 21, my first day back in the NVRC office after HLAA’s Milwaukee convention, I received an email from Officer Walter Tyshynsky of the Milwaukee Police Department. He said he was sorry to hear that I had an unpleasant experience with the city’s taxicab service and would like to speak with me about the situation.

    I replied with the details he requested such as the time when the first cab driver refused to take me and the numbers of the cabs that the drivers were using. After reading my account, Officer Tyshynsky said he would like to cite the two cab drivers who “failed to provide service.”

    He said that what the cabbies had done was completely against city ordinance and that there was a $374 citation for refusing to convey an orderly passenger. He asked whether there were any local residents who were witnesses and could possibly be used as complainants. Unfortunately I did not know of any local witnesses. We’d spent a lengthy time enjoying the food and camaraderie at the restaurant and the streets around Coast were deserted except for our party when we exited the restaurant.

    I did, however, tell Officer Tyshynsky that Pamela Ransom, who tried to intercede on my behalf and does not have hearing loss, would probably be the best witness from our group. He later followed up and asked her a number of questions.

    Mayor Barrett Touches Base

    Within a week I’d also heard from Shannon Hayes, staff assistant to Mayor Barrett, touching base on the cab issue and encouraging me to call the Mayor’s office if I had questions or concerns. I let her know that Officer Tyshynsky had been diligently gathering information from me. I asked that she tell Mayor Barrett that his very supportive response, and that of others from whom I sought help, had convinced me that Milwaukee is one of the friendliest and most welcoming cities I have ever visited.

    In early August, I heard again from Officer Tyshynsky. He requested some personal information from me because it was required to make charges against the cabbies. I provided the information but said that more than a monetary fine I would appreciate a requirement that Yellow Cab educate its drivers on nondiscrimination of passengers with service dogs. In response he told me that the cabbies knew their responsibilities but had denied being told that Galaxy was a service dog, or that anyone had any kind of disability.

    A Surprise in the Mail

    Some weeks later, on September 27, I received three subpoenas from the City of Milwaukee. They required me to appear in Milwaukee Municipal Court on October 25, 2010 to give evidence in action against the two cab drivers.

    I was completely taken aback. It had never been my intention to go to court, and the language of the subpoena was frightening – with “you are hereby commanded to appear in person before the judge” and “failure to appear may result in punishment for contempt, which may include monetary penalties, imprisonment, and other sanctions” – which made me feel like I was being a victim twice.

    Everyone with whom I consulted about my options told me that if I did not show up in court it was most likely that the charges against the cab drivers would be dismissed.

    I wrestled with what I should do. I didn’t like my options. I had invested a lot of time and effort in pursuing action, with the hope it would have a lasting impact through education that would end discriminatory practices. I wanted to see it through. Yet appearing in court would take away two days for travel and the trial, days I really needed to catch up on work at NVRC, and the round trip cost would not be cheap. An additional worry was the possibility that if I flew to Milwaukee and the trial was postponed, I’d have gained nothing and would face the expense of returning again.

    I talked about this with my NVRC family and other colleagues. I got a lot of support from a group of hearing dog partners who, along with their dogs, had also graduated from Canine Companions for Independence. Some of them, bless their hearts, asked if they could send me money to help pay for the trip.

    Time for a Decision

    Those of you who know me well have probably guessed that because I am passionate about justice and have never been a quitter, I just had to go to court in Milwaukee.

    The desire to have something come of my effort and that of all the people who tried to help, coupled with the knowledge that without the cab drivers would never have to learn and understand how hurtful they had been, was strong. I wanted them to have a clear message that their behavior would never be acceptable.

    I set about trying to find a good deal on plane tickets and a hotel. Once those were set, I was tense whenever I found an email from Officer Tyshynsky, fearing news that the case had been postponed. The days leading up to my flight were long and challenging, as October was a very busy one at NVRC and I had been juggling a lot of advocacy activities on top of my usual packed schedule.

    Preparing for the Trip

    On Friday, October 22 and Saturday, October 23, I took a grueling trip with my husband Fred to New York for a memorial service honoring his parents, followed by a luncheon with family and friends. Those two days consisted of very little sleep and lots of driving. I thought that after years of enduring excruciating delays on our infamous Beltway I had been through the worst of traffic nightmares, but nothing beat the horrendous hours we spent on the New Jersey turnpike. Traffic ranged from dead stop to barely moving as ten lanes tried to merge into two. We’d hoped to be home by 7 p.m. on Saturday at the latest, but we pulled into our driveway after midnight, totally wrung out even before we started hauling in things into the house.

    I got up very early Sunday, October 24 so I could pack for myself and Galaxy, get my papers and tickets together, and take a quick look at the mail that came in during our absence. The first thing I did was to put Galaxy outside to do her business. When she returned to the house and I got my first look at her in the bright lights of our kitchen, my heart sank like a boulder. She was carrying both her ears lower than normal, which I have come to recognize as a telltale sign of an ear infection. The stress of the trip to New York, both emotionally and physically, had affected her immune system.

    The last thing any responsible partner wants to do when their hearing dog has an ear infection is fly off in a plane where there is bound to be more stress. Even though Galaxy looks forward to flights because of our ritual of sharing a banana after she carries it to the gate, the changes in air pressure are definitely not good for ears already under assault, and yet another change in her daily routine from being in a new location and different time zone was bound to add more stress.

    A Depressing First

    The timing could not have been worse. It had been more than 19 years since I traveled without a hearing dog. And how ironic that the one of the times I most wanted her to be with me Galaxy would have to be left behind! I had been confident that when I walked into the courtroom with my sweet, beautifully behaved golden girl it would make an impact. People would know that the cab drivers hadn’t been threatened by an unruly dog.

    I had to fight back tears when I woke Fred and told him the news that I could not take her with me. Then, because Galaxy is so quick to sense and react to my emotions, I reined them in tightly and finished packing. I wanted to head out as if it was nothing out of the ordinary and she was in for some fun while I was gone. Fred dropped me off at National Airport and then headed with Galaxy to an after-hours veterinary clinic to have a look at her ears.

    Nothing was going right about this trip. I checked my bag, made it through security, and found a seat at the terminal. To take my mind off my sadness, I decided to do some work while waiting for the flight.

    Unexpected Friends

    Just as I was setting up my laptop I saw someone on the other side of the terminal looking at me. I thought she looked very familiar but wondered if my brain was playing tricks. Then we made eye contact. She smiled and waved. Oh yes, of course! It was Eloise Schwarz, who had been one of the participants in the Wisconsin advocacy training that Claude Stout and I taught two years ago.

    Eloise was just returning after a weekend training at Hearing Loss Association of America’s office in Bethesda, MD. She was full of ideas and resolve to make a difference. We talked for a while and I learned about some of her advocacy and education projects.

    Also in the terminal were two other women who had traveled to the training that Eloise attended. They were equally wonderful and I enjoyed talking with them as well. One was Brenda Neubeck, who works for DeafCAN! in Sylvan Lake, Minnesota. The second was Marisa Sarto, a student at University of Wisconsin-Madison.

    Exploring Milwaukee

    The flight on Frontier, complete with its famous warm chocolate chip cookie, was uneventful but I felt totally lost without Galaxy. When the plane landed in Milwaukee, I followed Eloise long enough to meet her husband before heading to pick up my bag and find a ride to my hotel. I had chosen to stay at the Hilton, which had been the convention hotel for Hearing Loss Association of America. Their service had been outstanding, they were close by the courthouse, and also, cruel irony, I favored them in large part because they have a lovely outdoor courtyard that is perfect for exercising and relief of a working dog.

    Since not so nice weather had been predicted for the following morning, I decided to immediately head out to find the courthouse so I could gauge how long the walk would be. I have a terrible sense of direction so I wanted to leave nothing to chance. My cases were on the docket for 8:30 am and I planned to arrive as early as possible to ensure I would find my courtroom.

    I headed out from the Hilton and eventually found the courthouse, but something about it felt wrong. Clearly it was a courthouse and a large one at that, but the address did not match the one that was on my subpoenas. I wandered, and then wandered some more. After about 90 minutes I was cold, tired, battered by the wind and frustrated so I started asking people on the street if there was another courthouse. Most apologized that they didn’t know and pointed me to city signs, which gave me no more clues.

    Finally I stood at the intersection of one street, my gut telling me something was missing, and mentally walked the streets again. I was out there so long, and with such a look of concentration, that a nearby shop owner came out and asked if she could help. When I told her that I found a courthouse but it didn’t match the street address on my papers, she said that the city streets are just funky that way and that there was no other courthouse.

    Settling in for the Evening

    Relieved, I called it quits and headed back to the hotel, where I finally took the time to check my BlackBerry for messages. I found photos Fred had taken of himself with Galaxy resting nearby, dosed with ear drops after her trip to the clinic. He also had an update on the Redskins game, now in its third quarter. That reminded me of the sports bar at the Hilton – 100{31ab897a4370feb218155abc15d7b38f5bba01528a749bd66fe114ec092a63fc} smoke free, another reason why I love Milwaukee. The bar gets big bonus points as well for the flat screen televisions showing different games, with a volume below the blaring din of your average sports bar. It appeared that each game had at least one screen showing captions.

    I immediately decided it was a good time to have my lunch/dinner. At my request, the kitchen whipped up a special salad for me. I chomped on it while trying cheer discreetly for my team, this being enemy territory until the game’s end. Occasionally Fred and I would text each other with our opinions about a play, and when the Redskins won we did a high five by BlackBerry.

    The Night Before

    I spent the evening before the court hearing in my hotel room, on a date with my laptop to reduce the email that had piled up since my trip to New York. Ending the day was discombobulating without my usual routine; no uplifting play time with Galaxy, no last walk outside for fresh air to and from a pet relief area, no final cuddle before brushing her teeth and hitting the sack. I also felt drained from sleep deprivation and stress.

    That night I didn’t have much that resembled sleep. As the hours ticked by, my discomfort morphed into a raging cold with a monster headache, constant postnasal drip, and total absence of energy. But what made the night most difficult was that I feared I would not wake in time to make my court appearance. Without Galaxy I felt very vulnerable. I would not have any alerts to the clock alarm or a door knock. As a result, I repeatedly dozed off for 15-20 minutes at a time, always awaking with a jolt to look at my watch, in panic that I had overslept. Finally at 6 a.m. on Monday morning I gave up and dragged myself to the shower.

    Morning Preparations

    Revived a bit, I dressed and gave notice to my body’s adrenaline supply that it needed to rise to the occasion. I reviewed my email conversations with Officer Tyshynsky to refresh my memory, and then headed to the Starbucks in the lobby for some oatmeal. I ate in my room while watching local weather reports and reading the newest arrivals on my BlackBerry.

    At 7:15 a.m. I was ready to wrap up and head for the courthouse so I could be there when it opened at 8 a.m. I stopped to pull back the drapes on my window for a check on the current weather, and was astonished by how dark it was. That’s when it dawned on me that I had been looking only at the time on my watch, which I hadn’t adjusted for the time zone difference in Milwaukee! I killed another hour by slowly drinking a second cup of tea, deleting more from my BlackBerry, and doing a mental critique of the captioning on Milwaukee news programs.

    I had a crisp morning for my walk to the courthouse. Once inside, I asked at the information desk for directions to the Branch 3 courtroom and showed the officer one of my subpoenas because his face expressed that he was a bit perplexed. He perused a grid on his clipboard and told me to go through security and then take an elevator to a courtroom on the sixth floor. I found that particular courtroom locked, so I sat outside the room on one of the benches that looked like church pews to wait.

    Waiting for Court

    Traffic for the other courtrooms on that floor picked up as the minutes ticked by, but I was the only one waiting at mine. It was a bit unnerving because I have never been to court and everything I know about it is from Perry Mason, LA Law, Judge Judy, Boston Legal or another TV show. What I hadn’t expected was the constant stream of prisoners in handcuffs and chains walking by with guards or police escorts, some of them in groups chained together and many of them wearing day glo orange garb.

    After 20 minutes I was still alone on the bench and growing more and more concerned that I was in the wrong place. I walked down to talk to one of the people waiting at a nearby courtroom and was told not to worry. Fifteen minutes later, with alarm bells getting louder in my head, I stopped an officer going by and he said the same thing. At 8:20, ten minutes before my case was to be heard, an officer finally walked to the courtroom, unlocked the door and went inside. I was giddy with relief but still anxious, so after counting a good minute on my watch, I opened the door, walked in, and showed him my papers.

    “You’re in the wrong courthouse,” he said. I told him that every single person I’d talked to assured me this was the right place. He calmly but firmly told me that I would need to go to another courthouse.

    A Moment of Panic

    His words unleashed a flood of thoughts inside my head. I’d come all this way, made all this effort to be on time, and got confirmation from so many people that this was the right courthouse. Now I was not even going to make it to court in time!

    I fought those thoughts, focused hard on his face, and asked the officer where the other courthouse was. He told me it was nearby, just a block away. I took a deep breath, thanked him, and raced to the elevator, where I died a thousand deaths as it worked its way down six floors with stops at every one. Nearing the ground floor it suddenly hit me that the officer had told me the courthouse was a block away, but he hadn’t told me in which direction the block was.

    It’s There, But Try to Find It

    Nobody in the elevator knew where that other courthouse was, so I went outside the building and started running to find it. After fruitlessly checking blocks on two sides without success, I was already passing the time for my case to begin. Accepting defeat was just too painful, so I rearranged my priorities and decided to make an appearance anyway. At least that way someone would know I cared passionately about being denied a cab ride due to discrimination, and had tried my best to be there.

    That decision made, I asked a man passing on the sidewalk whether he knew about a second courthouse. He smiled and said that indeed there was one; that people made the mistake I had all the time, and many residents never even know it’s there. He invited me to follow him, as he was going in that direction.

    I will never forget this man’s kindness; during our brief walk he told me that the courthouse I was heading to was a nicer one to be in and gave me a glimmer of hope that they might be accommodating of my tardiness.

    As we approached his destination, he stopped and coached me to go to the end of the block, turn right, and then look for the building. The reason people can’t find it or don’t know it’s there, he warned me, is that it doesn’t look like a courthouse. “What is confusing is that the front of the building where the entrance is located is white, so look for that, he said. “Most people only go there if they are paying a traffic ticket in person instead of sending the money or coming for traffic court.”

    Even with his directions, I wasn’t at all confident I had found the correct building until I got closer and walked inside. I somehow managed to head in the right direction, and Officer Tyshynsky found me as I was preparing to head through security. I told Officer Tyshynsky why Galaxy wasn’t with me as he led me to the courtroom.

    In the Courtroom at Last

    What a pleasure it was to meet the man with whom I had been corresponding. Officer Tyshynsky’s news was ever better. Despite arriving at least 15 minutes past my required time, I wasn’t too late! The judge was not yet seated and the court wasn’t in session. A great weight lifted from me.

    I hadn’t been sure I would recognize the two cab drivers if I saw them again, but after entering the courtroom and taking a seat I immediately found them. They were sitting together and I recognized which one had been the driver of the first cab and which the second.

    Communication Access in the Courtroom

    I’d requested a sign language interpreter for the hearing, although I mentioned CART was my best choice. Officer Tyshynsky had confirmed before my trip that I would have a “translator” so I wasn’t entirely sure what I would be getting. I had come prepared to ask people to repeat or write things down if I did not understand them.

    I was overjoyed to learn that I would have not just a very skilled court interpreter with legal certification but also a certified deaf interpreter. When my request for an interpreter had been passed on, it was unclear what my communication needs would be, so both were sent. I was hugely impressed.

    The city attorney asked me and the interpreters to follow her to another area, where she briefed me on the hearing process and asked me some questions about what had happened with the cab drivers that June evening. Then we all returned to the courtroom.

    The Court Session Begins

    Within a few minutes, Judge Philip M. Chavez walked in and court was in session. He first heard two cases involving drunken driving. I was impressed with both the efficiency in how the cases were heard and with the judge’s personal comments to each defendant during the sentencing.

    One of my cases was next. The interpreter was sworn in, and then those of us giving testimony were sworn in.

    I was the first person called to testify and was told to enter the witness box. The attorney asked me a series of questions such as the location of the cab incidents and a description of my interaction with the cab drivers. At one point I was asked if the first cab driver was in the courtroom, to which I responded yes, and then I was asked to identify the first cab driver and describe what he was wearing. Later, I was asked the same questions about the second cabbie.

    I tried to be terse in my answers and stick to the facts, but at least twice the questions touched my emotions and I briefly veered off. The first time was when I was taken off guard by a request to describe Galaxy. I said that I was so sorry she was unable to be with me and talked about her sweet and kind nature before describing her physically. The second was when relating the facts about the cab drivers’ refusal. I mentioned how bad I felt for the friends who were planning to ride with me or in the other cabs. Though I didn’t elaborate beyond that, I still carry the strong memory how they stood up for me. I love them for it, yet I am sorry it marred the evening for them and that it delayed the return to their hotels.

    Office Tyshynsky Takes the Stand

    Officer Tyshynsky testified next. He chronicled what he had done since getting the case, detailing his follow up with me, Pam Ransom and the cab drivers. Using the cab numbers provided by me and Pam, he had obtained the names of the drivers from Yellow Cab. He discovered that they lived at the same address.

    On visits to their house, he talked separately with each of the drivers. They both told him they didn’t pick me up that night. One said it was because he had a dog phobia and the other said it was because he was allergic to dogs. Officer Tyshynsky asked to see their trip records and they said they had no trip records showing a trip that night to Coastal restaurant.

    The Cab Drivers’ Turn

    As the first and then the second cab driver took the stand, I became more and more concerned. They were like twins in giving many of the same answers to questions, and some of their testimony put in dispute mine and Officer Tyshynsky’s.

    Officer Tyshynsky was brought back to the stand for further questions,. He elaborated on how he had conducted his investigation and what evidence he had gathered. This included more information about statements the cab drivers had made in answer to his questions.

    Judge Perez asked some questions in regard to the trip records. The cabbies had no trip record showing they had gone to Coastal, yet Yellow Cab’s records showed that there had been a call requesting a ride and both cabs had responded to it. The judge questioned Office Tyshynsky about the requirement for cab drivers to keep trip records. Officer Tyshynsky explained the purpose of these records and gave examples of how they had helped him in this and other investigations. He was also asked about how the records are generated. He explained that Yellow Cab’s recording of calls for rides is done by computer, and said that the cabbies keep their own trip records.

    More Questions for the Cabbies

    There might have been a somewhat different outcome with the cases if things had ended there, but both cab drivers were individually called back to the stand for further questioning. The two cabbies’ testimonies began to take some twists and turns, and if I hadn’t trusted my interpreter I would have thought from watching her signs that she had gone completely off her rocker.

    One cabbie said he had his trip record with him. He pulled a paper with the record from inside his coat; the judge asked to see it and it was placed in evidence. Both cabbies admitted they had been to Coast. And then a Mr. Johnson entered their stories for the first time.

    One cab driver said he didn’t pick me up because he had been called there to pick up “Mr. Johnson,” and I was not Mr. Johnson. Then the other cab driver testified the same thing. There was also a claim by one cabbie that he didn’t see me and another claim that I never got near his cab. One cabbie expressed indignation that Yellow Cab never told him he was going to be picking up a disabled person, and later another comment was made about how I never told him I was disabled.

    Judge Perez Makes His Decision

    Judge Perez didn’t waste any time making his decision on the cases. He called both cabbies to the front of the courtroom, and as they stood watching him, he gave a recap of the testimony that continued for several minutes. He told the cab drivers that they had not been credible, while calling my testimony and Officer Tyshynsky’s very credible. Judge Perez also made a comment about how I had gone to a lot of trouble and traveled a great distance to be at the trial and noted that the Yellow Cab records are not easy to falsify, unlike the trip records from one cabbie that were put in evidence.

    Looking sternly at the cabbies, Judge Perez told them that they had done a very despicable thing to me that was a black eye on the city and that they had embarrassed me in front of my friends. He pointed out that I had spoken my testimony and that he could understand me clearly; saying that they should have talked with me that evening at Coasl but did not even try.

    Then he talked about the Americans with Disabilities Act’s importance and what it means to so many people with disabilities and why. As Judge Perez moved to raise his gavel to close the cases, the city attorney requested an additional $500 fine for both cabbies, which the judge granted immediately.

    Suddenly it was over and I felt a great weight lift from me.

    The Costs

    Each of the cab drivers was fined $374 for failure to convey me, and an additional $204 for not having the required trip records. Then there was that bit tacked on at the end.

    There was a cost for me too. I was given two slips of paper for “witness fees,” for which I’m told I’ll eventually be sent about $6 per case. As Officer Tyshynsky said it’s “enough for a couple cups of coffee.”

    But the round trip flight and fees, along with transportation to and from the airport and the cost of the hotel room was just shy of $600. I also gave up two days of my life.

    In return I have something priceless.

    The Court Experience

    At the end of the trial I joined the city attorney and Officer Tyshynsky at the front of the courtroom. I suddenly saw both of them look to the rear of the courtroom and followed their gaze. A man was standing there, looking very alarmed and saying something I could not make out. After exiting the courtroom I learned from Officer Tyshynsky that the man at the back of the courtroom had the next case before the court, and this man was also a cab driver with a violation. He had become so unnerved by the judgment in my cases that he wanted to change his plea to “no contest’.

    Office Tyshynsky and I have exchanged some emails since I returned home, and he said that he expects the case to resonate within the taxicab community. Somehow I feel certain that if it doesn’t he’ll be happy to remedy that.

    I have nothing but praise for my first court experience. Officer Tyshynsky did an awesome job with his investigation, his testimony, and helping to put me at ease in a situation I’ve never before had to navigate. The city attorney demonstrated great efficiency and professionalism. Judge Perez was an inspiring role model, with his keen understanding and his ability to deliver hard judgments with compassion and encouragement for those at fault to become better human beings.

    The two interpreters had fantastic skills, informing me of everything that transpired and giving me confidence that they would be my voice if my own couldn’t be understood. Just as valuable to me was how they made me feel less alone in the courtroom; I would have been much more anxious without them.

    I returned from the court to retrieve my bag in my hotel room, then parked it and worked on my laptop in the Starbucks. There I sipped herbal tea until the Airport Connection van picked me up. I was glad I’d arranged that transportation in advance, because the block in front of the hotel had as many as five Yellow Cab drivers parked and waiting out front every time I checked. I didn’t feel quite comfortable using one that day.

    The Return

    I had a lovely return to National Airport at the tail end of rush hour. Darkness had fallen and the flight path took us along the maze of interstates and highways; the red and white brake lights and headlights of vehicles packed bumper to bumper looked like a giant holiday display. It felt like I was getting a special, festive return. And I was. Fred had dressed Galaxy in her vest and put on her orange leash. He didn’t tell me he was bringing her to meet me. As I was walking, he waved to catch my attention. I was startled, and then I saw her. I crouched low, held out my hands and called her name. Fred let go of her leash, and as she came rushing to me .I was so happy that I burst into tears. For two days Galaxy was somewhat tentative as if afraid we were no longer partners, but now we are again two very different bodies that are one being.

    Cheryl and Hearing Dog, Galaxy
    Cheryl and Galaxy