WASHINGTON — Police departments across the country have recently put extra emphasis on their community policing efforts, working to improve relations with the black community and other minority groups.
In the same way, in Washington, a special Metropolitan Police Department unit has been working for more than a decade to build trust with another local community.
The Metropolitan Police Department’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Liaison Unit is the only such unit in the country. The unit’s two officers — Myra Jordan and Tayna Ellis — both learned sign language outside MPD.
“We are on call 24 hours, seven days a week,” said Ellis.
“And it’s not work to us because it’s something we truly, truly enjoy doing,” Jordan said.
Jordan helped create the unit nearly 15 years ago. Since then, it’s become a major resource for the local deaf community.
Last year alone, the unit responded to more than 300 calls for service.
Shayninna McCoy, a specialist with the local advocacy group Deaf Reach, said, “The deaf community feels confident that their communication will be understood by the police.”
The Washington region is said to be home to the highest concentration of deaf people in the world. Many attend Gallaudet University then stay here for their careers.
Sophomores Navid Azodi and Thomas Pryor received the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for their submission in the undergraduate “Use It” catergory, which recognizes tech-based inventions that improve consumer devices. The “SignAloud” gloves have built-in sensors which read the wearer’s hand positions and movements, then wirelessly transmit them to a computer. The computer then runs the information through a gesture database, using an algorithm to determine the best translation, which is then spoken.
One North Carolina mother was so impressed when a Chick-fil-A employee used sign language to communicate with her hearing-impaired daughter that she shared a video of the encounter on Facebook that has since gone viral across social media platforms.
"It is a big deal to [the] deaf community that Starbucks has one now. We all want to have that at every drive thru in the world."
By Dominique Mosbergen
For members of the deaf community, ordering food or drinks at a drive-thru can be a frustrating, or even impossible, experience. But as one deaf woman recently discovered, Starbucks is trying to make this feature accessible for customers with disabilities -- with the help of a little technology.
On Tuesday, 28-year-old Rebecca King of St. Augustine, Florida, uploaded a video to Facebook which reveals what happened during her visit to a local Starbucks drive-thru.
The video shows King driving up to the ordering kiosk. A woman’s voice emits from the intercom.
"Hi, welcome to Starbucks," the woman says. "What can we get started for you today?"
King does not respond and waits in her seat. A few moments later, a Starbucks barista appears on a monitor.
When 11-year-old Lily Molina visited Yosemite National Park for the first time, she was stunned to meet a park ranger who spoke her language.
Lily is Deaf, and usually relies on her mother Kristal to interpret for her when she visits museums or other attractions. But that means her mom can’t fully engage in the thing they’re seeing, because she’s worried about keeping up as an interpreter.
For 40 years, CSD has championed communication accessibility for the deaf and hard of hearing. This week, as we celebrate #IWD2015, we honor the diverse, vibrant sign languages and cultures that make up our world; recognize their unique contributions and achievements to their local communities; and recommit to working together for a brighter future.
It’s not every day that a film from Ukraine is released in the United States without subtitles. But “The Tribe” is in so many ways a special case: a crime drama about a teenage “deaf mafia” in which the only words used are sign language. As conceived, written and directed by Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy, the movie tells its story of violence and love through visuals alone, withholding translations of the nonprofessional actors’ passionate signing.
Even Mr. Slaboshpytskiy, 40, wondered whether his artistic gamble would work.
“Of course I was not sure when I start this film,” he said in a recent Skype conversation in English from Ukraine. “I thought it was a very brave and very pretentious idea. And nobody knew who I was!”
Now more people will know Mr. Slaboshpytskiy’s formidable name (pronounced slaw-bosh-PEETZ-kee): “The Tribe” begins a theatrical runon Wednesday in New York before its gradual release in theaters across the country. At festivals, his highly unusual debut feature has been a must-see, sweeping up prizes in the Critics’ Week competition last year in Cannes before going on to awards at AFI Fest, Sundance, the Toronto International Deaf Film and Arts Festival and elsewhere.
Some may think a good musical theater experience requires the audience to hear every note performed, but groundbreaking theater company Deaf West is challenging this notion with its adaptation of Tony Award-winning musical Spring Awakening.
The Los Angeles-based company — reportedly the first professional resident Sign Language Theater in the western U.S. — has been staging shows featuring hearing and deaf actors since it was founded in 1991. While all of their productions have certainly been innovative, the theater's current production of Spring Awakening, directed by Michael Arden and currently in its second run at the Wallis Annenberg Performing Arts Center, is being hailed as something truly special — especially for its largely unprecedented approach to incorporating deafness into the production.
Deafness isn't just accommodated, it's incorporated. Most well-intentioned efforts to welcome individuals with disabilities involve making mainstream institutions, spaces and/or experiences accessible. Often, individuals with disabilities can exist in these spaces, but they're not truly integrated into them, as evidenced, for example, by the addition of a sign language interpreter or, in theater, separate performance communities for the disabled.
KARACHI, Pakistan — With one national language, Urdu, four provincial tongues (Sindhi, Punjabi, Pashto and Balochi), and nearly 300 regional dialects, Pakistan’s linguistic diversity is like a beautiful carpet, interwoven with threads ancient and young. The regional languages developed over thousands of years, while Urdu came from northwestern India in the 12th century. Then, in 1947, English was made an official language as a legacy of British rule in India.
Now a small group of educators of the deaf intends to add one more language — this one not spoken. It is called Pakistan Sign Language, and its creators just may succeed in spreading its use across the country.
Muharrem is not used to being able to communicate with everyone around him because he's hearing-impaired, and not everyone around him knows sign language.
One morning he woke up and that had all changed. The moment was put together as part of an ad for Samsung Turkey.
Many people who interacted with him, some of which Muharrem did not seem to know, had secretly taken sign language lessons to pull off the surprise.
Muharrem walked down the streets of Bagcilar, a district in Istanbul, with his sister, Ozlem. As they walked, people suddenly began greeting Muharrem in sign language. After the first few people interacted with him, he became confused.
"What's going on?" he asked his sister. The two continued walking.
When his taxi driver spoke to him, he looked overwhelmed. Finally the siblings arrived at a city square, where Muharrem was greeted by name by a virtual representative of Samsung. She explained that the surprise has been set up just for him.
Muharrem wiped away his tears, hugged his sister and thanked his neighbors for their help.
Samsung Turkey posted it on YouTube calling it "The Most Emotional Surprise of the Year." The ad has gone viral, with an unofficial version getting 3 million views.