Friday, February 23, 2007

Deaf Legislative Day

Deaf Legislative Day is an assigned day for us to visit the state capitol to tour and have an opportunity to meet legislators. Workshops and speeches are often presented regarding specific issues within the deaf community.

The 'real deal' with attending Deaf Legislative Day is how to become a better citizen armed with knowledge of how to efficiently advocate within a group or to self-advocate. I will be attending Minnesota's Deaf Legislative Day on March 8th and I urge you to attend your state's assigned Deaf Legislative Day.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Promote Deaf Youth in Government.

We cannot learn to swim from a textbook. We have to go out to the pool and jump in the water to learn how to swim.

'Youth in Government' is a YMCA program that enables high school students to have an interactive learning and understanding how politics work by being in the midst of it.

I have recommended the program to my alma mater at Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf and Minnesota North Star Academy. I hope you will too because deaf politicians are the ones that truly will make changes for us rather than constantly lobbying for change with the people that don't have full understanding of us.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Closed-Captioning Enabled Ordinance

With a new legislature in Minnesota, it's been widely talked about that there will be a state-wide smoking ban in indoor public places and workplaces within a year or two. This has come through from many cities adopting their own city-wide smoking ban ordinance. With this ideology, I came up with an ordinance called 'Closed-Captioning Enabled' ordinance for cities that will later on with the support of many cities to become a state law and who knows, a federal law on this. I am currently working on this to have it enacted in St. Paul, Minnesota. Please feel more than free to copy this letter that I have drafted and propose this to your city council and get this enacted.
Hello [Name],

My name is [ ]. I am interested in proposing a new city ordinance for [City], [State]. I would like to meet with you to work together on this to make it happen.

The ordinance that I have written is;

Closed-Captioning Enabled Ordinance

Effective Dates and Coverage Areas:
July 1, 2007: this ordinance requires closed-captioning feature to be enabled in all televisions at all times in public indoor and outdoor places and workplaces.

This proposed ordinance is valuable to all people with hearing loss; people with English as their second language; reduces the noise pollution; children will rapidly learn to read.

I want to be clear about this proposed ordinance that this is not requiring the television programs to be captioned. It merely asks that the televisions to have its closed-captioning feature enabled so that the closed-captioning will appear if the programs has it.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. Again, I would very much like to work with you or others on this to make this happen for our fellow citizens.

[Home address]
[Phone number]
[E-mail address]

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Raise the Priority of Captioning at Netflix...

Netflix has recently announced that they will offer subscribers the option of instantly watching movies on their PCs within six months. I called them and asked them about the captioning issue of being transmitted online. They’ve apologized that captions and subtitles will not show online and they are working on it amongst the hundred bugs and kinks. My best bet is that captioning is at the bottom of their list of bugs and kinks. I urge you all to call them at this number 1.800.715.2135 and raise the priority of captioning at Netflix.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Leaving Idaho Deaf School to be Closed?

I have been monitoring the events as they unfold at Idaho school for the Deaf and Blind and one frustrating thing is...why aren't more people outside of Idaho stepping in to help the Idaho deaf citizens? I can understand that every state has its own problems and their own citizens are attending to it. The bigger issue for me is - why aren't Gallaudet University, National Technical Institute for Deaf, National Association of the Deaf, et al stepping in? Isn't it their mission to serve the deaf citizens at large whether they are afflicted or not with the school or organization?

To whom have the right connections with Gallaudet, NTID, NAD, et al. Please ask them about stepping in to assist Idaho deaf citizens to save the residential school. Two links are provided to contact and offer your assistance; Idaho Association of the Deaf and Idaho Council for the Deaf.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Target Survey (win $5,000 GiftCard or a Saturn Vue)

For some time now, when you shop at Target, on your receipt it offers you a chance to win $5,000 GiftCard or a Saturn Vue if you fill out their online survey about your shopping experience.

I love doing this survey not because I am in it for the prize but I get in give my feedback in regards to accessibility for the deaf. The survey merely takes few minutes of your time and at the end of the survey it'll ask you an open-ended question, "What can we do to serve you better?" I type in the same feedback over and over... that they could have the majority of their employees to learn basic sign language, to have all TVs in the store including the electronics department to have captions showing, to have all Target exclusive DVDs to be captioned/subtitled, and to have all their online videos on Target website to be captioned.

I urge you guys to do the same when you get home from shopping at Target.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Put Self-Advocacy on your New Year's Resolutions List.

Tonight is the night when we all make our New Year's Resolutions for the year of 2007. I urge you to make your resolutions more meaningful by adding self-advocacy into your resolutions in regards to ASL, captioning, education, interpreting, politics, and social justice.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Deaf School Competition Offer Thousands of Dollars in Scholarships.

What deaf high school competition has an opportunity to win $2,000 and two $1,000 scholarships to the student's choice of either National Technical Institute for the Deaf or Gallaudet University?

It's definitely not sports. It could be the Spelling Bee competition but I believe only the state of Illinois does that and they give $100 savings bond. You would think Gallaudet's Academic Bowl would have scholarship prizes but nope. It's the Deaf Teen America in its 9th year being hosted at Texas School for the Deaf during the dates of March 21st to 25th, 2007

Based on the pictures of past Deaf Teen America, it seems that there are only 10/12 schools in the competition. This is a stunning low number to me because of the amazing scholarship awards that they offer.

Now is the time to get your school, alma mater, or child involved with this and grab the scholarships. To get information packet - contact Jennifer Campero by e-mail at or by phone at (512) 462-5461.

Employment at Deaf Schools.

This quote from an article regarding the crisis at Mississippi School for the Deaf is just wrong.
Dr. Bounds said late Tuesday that there are indeed teachers at the school who are not proficient at signing, but he said the problem is limited to the School for the Deaf. He says the whole state is dealing with an overall shortage of certified teachers.

I may be incorrect but I believe that there are sufficient number of certified teachers with proficient signing skills. Its just a matter of recruiting and posting their employment at outside sources. I applaud American, Colorado, Eastern North Carolina, Hawaii, Learning Center, Louisiana, Rhode Island, and Rochester schools for the Deaf for just doing that through hiredeaf, deafweekly, and deafdigest.

The schools for the deaf also need to establish a pipeline to continuously receive certified signing teachers with colleges and universities that offers deaf education. The two leading schools that constantly graduates proficient signing teachers of the deaf are Gallaudet University and McDaniel College - contact them!

NFL Network to be Captioned!

Les Carpenter of the Washington Post wrote an article today on the new NFL Network.

I contacted Les, to let him know that he missed out an angle on the NFL Network. The new network is not captioned and is missing out on millions of deaf and hard of hearing audience members.

Within hours, I've gotten a response from Les and the PR Director of the NFL Network stating, "Tell him/her our games, pregame and postgame show and all our Replayed games are now closed captioned! And by the start of 2007 season the entire network will be!"

Blind Web Surfers Sue.

Our laws are lagging far behind the rapidly advancing and ever changing terrain of the world wide web that I must say this...we DO need to go to court to make those changes. We should follow the example of the organization, National Federation of the Blind, to enforce captioning requirements online.

Here's a quote from an article online -
The decision to hold Target's Web site to the same standards of accessibility as its physical store under the Americans with Disabilities Act was considered a victory by many advocates for the blind...

-National Federation of the Blind

Saturday, November 18, 2006

I've Moved!

DeafRead, now offers people to blog under WordPress from their site. I've decided to take up on it because my blog serves to the deaf and signing community. My new blog site is

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Survey to Determine Interpreter Shortage.

Your Participation Needed!

The National Collaborative of Interpreter Education Centers (NCIEC) is conducting a federally-funded, wide-scale assessment project to quantify the interpreter supply and demand nationwide.

The purpose of the survey is to determine the shortage of interpreters in the United States.

If you decide to take part in this study, you will fill out a survey/questionnaire about when you need an interpreter, the types of settings in which you need interpreters and when you cannot get interpreters. It will take about 7 minutes.

Use the following URL for more information

Monday, November 06, 2006

Go Out And Vote On November 7th!

Go out and vote then tell others to vote too.

Most polling places are open from 7 am to 8 pm. If you have not registered to vote, you can register at the polling place. You'll need to bring something that verifies your address with a picture ID.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Links On Deaf Political Candidate.

I live ten blocks away from Emory Dively district to vote him to the Minnesota's House of Represenatives on November 7th. Normally I would vote on a person's political views but hey, Emory is Deaf, I'd vote for him. You can learn more of Emory at his website

Yesterday, one of the most read newspaper in the state of Minnesota, Pioneer Press, printed a nice article on Emory. Click on the link below. You will also get to view Emory's campaigning technique.

Today in the same newspaper, a columnist Joe Souchery pokes fun at Emory's campaign. Read about it at the link below.

Tomorrow on November 2nd from 7-8:30 pm, there will be an open debate between Emory and his opponent for the district 64B at the College of St. Catherine. I should also note that the College of St. Catherine is one of three colleges in Minnesota that offers interpreting programs and also offers ASL as a major or a minor.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Look Back At 2001 Transcript of Dr. Fernandes.

After reading this heartfelt letter;
We have not spoken out because there has been no reason to bring in the deaths of Eric and Benjamin Varner into the picture. But since this door has opened by you or by the university/Jane Fernandes, we are speaking out now to set the record straight. It is a door that we truly never wished to have seen opened in the first place.
I went through the archives of the to see in a different light of what happened back then during Mesa's reign of terror. I found a Live Online Discussion of Dr. Fernandes dated February 7th, 2001, a few days after the second murder. Rather than posting a critique of Dr. Fernandes responses to the questions. I'll allow you to read and make your own judgment.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Unsubscribed from Time Magazine.

Upon reading this article online "When Silence Isn't Golden" by John Cloud from Time magazine on the Gallaudet crisis. I immediately shot back with a letter to the editor.

I am shocked, beyond shocked! How can an accomplished magazine, Time, do an article this terrible?! Then it dawned to me that perhaps all of your articles are a bunch of bull and hogwash all along. I am ashamed to have read your magazine in the past and recommended it to others. I will no longer subscribe to Time and will recommend others to drop Time as well until a follow-up article has been published with an accurate article of how the administration is destroying Gallaudet University.

Sonny Wasilowski
St. Paul, MN

Wall Street Journal Online: Gives Us A Boost.

I have received permission from the writer to post his article on this blog. This online edition of Wall Street Journal gives us major exposure to all the VIPs of small, medium, and large companies on the demand of online captioning.

Deaf Web Users Fear Being Left Behind
As TV Shows Stream Onto the Internet

October 25, 2006

The Internet has been a boon to deaf computer users, giving them easy access to a wide variety of information and breaking down communication barriers. But many of those users feel left behind by one of the Internet's fastest-growing segments: online video.

Though television networks and movie studios are rapidly expanding into Internet distribution, few online videos offer the closed captioning that companies are required by law to offer to TV viewers. The major networks provide full-length episodes of some of their most popular shows on the Web, including hits like "Lost" and "Survivor," but none of them include captions. Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes store sells downloads of more than 200 TV shows, but doesn't offer versions with captions, and the company's popular iPod player doesn't support them.

The absence of online captions has emerged as a hot topic in the deaf community. The media providers say they are held back by technological hurdles, and point out that online distribution of TV content is still in its infancy. But advocates for the deaf and hard of hearing say the lack of captions is a slight, since most programs have already been transcribed to comply with Federal Communications Commission rules. They are pushing to update government regulations to cover the Internet.

"It's like history repeating itself from TV to Internet," said Jim House, a spokesman for Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Inc., a Silver Spring, Md., deaf advocacy group. Groups lobbied networks to caption shows starting in the 1980s, he said. Regulations put in place in the 1990s by the FCC and Congress required TV manufacturers to make sets compatible with closed-captioning signals, and set a timetable for networks to include captions with their broadcasts. While captions are now common on U.S. broadcasts, it wasn't until January of this year that they became mandatory for all English-language programs produced since 1998.

"I'm hoping we do not have to wait another 25 years" to bring captioning to Internet video, Mr. House said.

The FCC rules that require TV shows to include captions don't apply to online programs (one exception1 requires federal agencies to caption speeches and other videos they provide online). Some groups, including the National Association for the Deaf, are lobbying lawmakers to expand the captioning requirements in the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to include the Internet.

According to the National Institutes of Health, between 500,000 and 750,000 people in the U.S. are "profoundly" deaf, and 32.5 million American adults have some degree of hearing loss. The numbers are expected to increase as the population grows older.

"We shouldn't have to be legislating this anymore," said Rosaline Crawford, an attorney with the National Association for the Deaf, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Maryland. "If you've got captions on your program that's broadcast on TV, it can't be rocket science to take those captions and put them on the Internet."

There are technology constraints to online captioning that don't exist in TV broadcasts. For TV broadcasts, producers generally use outside companies to create captions for programs, which are then transmitted using a standard format that can be read by TV sets.

But on the Web, video is served up using a variety of popular software players, including Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Media Player, Apple's Quicktime, RealNetworks Inc.'s RealPlayer and Adobe Systems Inc.'s Flash Player. All of the players are capable of including captions with video, but each has a different -- and incompatible -- way of handling them. "It's fabulously complicated to translate TV captions into online formats," said Joe Clark, an accessibility consultant who has extensively studied closed captioning, and writes about it on his Web site2.

Still, Mr. Clark is critical of slow progress networks are making with online captioning. One problem, he said, is that large media companies often have different divisions handling broadcast and online distribution, so captions can get lost in the shuffle. He said he believes TV networks are underestimating demand for online captions.

Representatives at ABC and NBC said the networks are looking into online captioning, but declined to provide details. Fox and CBS said they have no plans to caption the Web versions of their entertainment programs. But, which serves up a live, online version of "CBS Evenings News with Katie Couric," is in talks with a company to provide online captioning, said Michael Sims, director of news and operations for the site. "We have been working to determine what the best standard to do this is," he said. "We're in the meeting stage."

An Apple spokesman said the company's iTunes store and iPod media players don't support closed-captioning, but said the next version of the company's Macintosh operating system will make it easier for its QuickTime video software to integrate closed-captioning text.

"The Internet has traditionally been a place where I could, as a deaf person, go and get equal access to information," said Jared Evans, a 32-year-old software developer in San Diego. "The vast majority of content on the Internet has been text and images which you don't need hearing abilities in order to understand the content."

Mr. Evans said the boom in online video has been "a step backward" for deaf users: While material is easier to access, the lack of captioning makes it less useful than traditional TV broadcasts. "These same companies already have decades of experience in adding captions to content on TV, but are opting to not do the same with their online content."

Joseph Santini, a 28-year-old social worker in New York who is deaf, was excited when Apple released a version of its iPod player capable of playing videos. "The only time I have for watching TV, like many others these days, is on the subway," said Mr. Santini. But he was disappointed to learn that the TV shows for sale on iTunes didn't carry captions. "Entertainment aside, what about my future employment prospects? How long before it becomes standard to get all news, information about the city, on video-capable devices? I see this coming, I want to be part of the future."

A few companies have taken some steps to offer captions for online video. In July, Time Warner Inc.'s AOL began offering captions for some CNN newscasts. Working with captioners at WGBH, a Boston public broadcasting station, AOL serves up about 20 captioned stories a day, said Tom Wlodkowski, AOL's director of accessibility. CNN doesn't offer captioning for clips on

Google Video in September began letting users submit captions with their videos. The captions can be toggled on and off by viewers by hitting a "CC" button while the video is playing in Google's custom software. Although the site's selection of captioned videos is small, Google Inc. now asks major content providers to include captions whenever possible, said Ken Harrenstien, a deaf software engineer at Google who helped develop the feature. "It's not so much that it's a technical issue," he said. "More a process of consciousness-raising.

Write to Andrew LaVallee at andrew.lavallee@wsj.com3

URL for this article:

Hyperlinks in this Article:

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

We Stepped Up, Not Dr. Fernandes.

Below is an e-mail that I've sent to Craig Plunkett after I read his article on September October 22nd issue of the Washington Post.


Dear Craig,

My name is Sonny Wasilowski. I knew your son, Eric. He and I are proud graduates of Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf. I was there as a student at Gallaudet when he was murdered. Every year on September 28, I think of him and talk about him to others that know him. I love and miss him dearly.

I am writing to you in response to your article in the Sunday’s issue of the Washington Post paper. I read it as I was heading back to Minnesota from Washington, DC to give my support to the people involved with the protest. The people that you have called them, radicals, have stunned me because you have not only described me as one but also your son, Eric, as one. If Eric was alive today, I know he would have been with us asking for Dr. Fernandes’ resignation so that the presidential search may be re-opened and that there will be no reprisals to the people involved in the protest.

During Mesa’s reign of terror, the faculty, staff, and students stepped up, not Dr. Fernandes. Did you know, it was a small group of students including myself from Minnesota led by a staff, Deb Skjeveland, not Dr. Fernandes, that founded the scholarship in Eric’s name? Did you know that the majority of the people on campus knew it was someone within us that carried out the murder of Eric but Dr. Fernandes cried to us and the media that the murderer came from outside? Did you know that the murders would have never occurred, if had Dr. Fernandes expelled Mesa from MSSD for multiple thefts? I hold Dr. Fernandes accountable for the murders, not as one who stepped up for Gallaudet.

The protest is not led by mere 10 percent of the student body, as you believe. The numbers are much larger and it is essential to recognize that the faculty, staff, alumni, and parents are very much involved in this. Please take the time to educate yourself of the protest at This protest is not about Dr. Fernandes not being “deaf enough.” It is about her failures of leadership and loss of support from the campus community.

I hope you and your family will reconsider the endorsement you have given to Dr. Fernandes to be the next president of Gallaudet.

Sonny Wasilowski

PS – In the future, please refrain from offensive comments regarding the intelligence of the faculty, staff, students, alumni, and parents that they will not remember their past presidents and what it takes to run a university or how a university president is chosen. We are in this protest because we do know our past presidents and know how a university president is chosen or what it takes to run a university.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Bring Your Tent...

Yesterday at Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf in Faribault...I attended their football game against Missouri School for the Deaf. The game ended with the score of 66-0 with Minnesota winning their conference title, Great Plains School for the Deaf (GPSD) composed of Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, and Missouri. Minnesota girls won their GPSD volleyball title over the weekend at Council Bluffs, IA. Go Minnesota!

On a spur of a moment as I drove to the game, I decided to make a stop at my brother's home. I picked up a tent and lawn chairs as a symbol for the people at the game to think and talk about the crisis at Gallaudet University.

To view pictures of the game and the tent with its lawn chairs in the background, head on over to Lisa's blog.

Next time, you head over to a football game, bring your tent and lawn chairs. Take pictures and post it up on your or your friend's blog. Consider this a mini-Tent City of the Tent Cities popping up across America and the globe.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Information From Police On Last Night.

Connecting to relay center...

Session started at 11:09pm on Friday, October 13, 2006

Hello! CA14339Male





Sargent Echols Institute of Police Science GA

Hello there... this is Sonny... I am calling concerning about the incoming deaf students at your station.. i have been hearing that you guys have no interpreters.. could you please explain the situation over there to me? GA

The situation is under control, we have 5 intrepretors on site and we have 3 more on standby, and we have allready began processing the arrestees and thus far we have processed 45 of the expected 80, many of which have paid out or ellect to forfit GA

How much are they to paid and how long is the processing fee... are the any other interpreter such as tactile intepreters and are the students getting their pagers back for the vital communication pruposes? GA

pagers yes, interpretors yes, payout for the charge is 50 dollars cash GA

will this go on the students records? GA

yes, most defiently... GA

will the students have to go to court eventually or this is just it? GA

if they pay out... they do not have to go to court if they ellect to forfit they will have to go to court... if they pay out there will be an arrest record but no conviction... if they ellect to forfit they will have to go to court and risk conviction, because they will be prosicuted during the elect to forfit process GA

many thanks for all the information.. you have been helpful... one final question.. suppose the students and people pay $50 and return to gallaudet and stand in the lines... will they be repeatedly arrested or not? GA

good questions if they return to gallaudet and continue thier course of action... they will be re-arrested and charged... and will not be allowed to ellect to forfit or pay out therefor they will be taken to central cell block and processed through the regular criminal process GA

many thanks for all your time.. this information is crucial to all of us to have this to be peaceful as possible.. have a good evening.. bye ga to sksk SK

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Register To Vote!

There are 26 days remaining until election day on November 7th.

To vote is your privilege as a citizen of this country. Anytime you send out an e-mail or a letter to a politician, you should always start or end with, "I am a registered voter."

Register To Vote!
Join The Republican Party
Join The Democratic Party

Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.
-Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Feeling Inspired? Inspire Others Now!

I felt inspired when I was at the Minnesota rally for Gallaudet in St. Paul by GUAA Minnesota Chapter.

The very next thing was that I wanted my fellow Georgians to be inspired by this rally for Gallaudet. I sent off an long e-mail with tidbits of information, explanation, blogs, and vlogs. I also paged people with this same information. Within 48 hours, two flags have popped up in Georgia! I am proud of you Georgia.

As I go through the map of Tent Cities...there are currently 19 cities in 14 states (not including DC). I urge you with connections to other states to encourage and promote the rallies of Tent Cities to be founded in the remaining 36 states. Then we can truly say, "Unity for Gallaudet!"

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Gallaudet Protests Impacts Online Captioning.

For the critics that say no good can come out of the Gallaudet protests have to look at the bigger picture here.

People of all sorts are being sucked in this crisis at Gallaudet and tens of Tent Cities are flourishing around America and even in Denmark along with our neighbor, Canada. People are being exposed to current issues and difficulties that we approach in everyday life.

I was thrilled to find that Washington Post online has a video of the Gallaudet crisis alongside with their article on Gallaudet and this video has captions! This proves that all along the media can do this and WE NEED to contact Washington Post online and thank them for this and ask them to continue this online captioning for all videos posted on their website. Hopefully other media outlets will follow suit.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Mail Me Your Art.

Regarding to the events at Gallaudet University.

Nowadays we are at an era where not only a picture is equivalent to ten thousand words but a video is equivalent to a million words.

But we must remain true to our society's roots - ART. Art has and always will be highly valued more than the written word, typed word, pictures, and videos.

I urge everyone to create any form of art regarding your feelings, views, and events at Gallaudet and mail it to me and I will post them all on this blog. I will see to it that one day it will be displayed at Gallaudet's art gallery after the whole protest that the presidential search must be re-opened and there must be no reprisals for the faculty, staff, students, and alumni involved since May, 2006.

Mail your art work to:

Sonny James
1575 Laurel Ave
Apt. Basement
St. Paul, MN 55104-7494

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Up And Running -

Last March, I blogged about a neat website called where they have hundreds of groups that you can set up or join and meet in your area.

Last month, my brother with my assistance set up a meet-up for Rochester, MN. Our first meet up, we combined two groups of ASL and Deaf & Hard of Hearing. It went well although it was small but I'm confident it'll grow. In our second month of September, we'll have two separate meet-ups for ASL and Deaf & Hard of Hearing. To view our events go to and

If you find yourself wanting a gathering of friends and new people, don't wait for it to happen, set it up yourself through or other means possible. This blog on self-advocacy isn't just about captioning, interpreter needs, deaf rights, and etc. It's about being a self-starter. Do something for yourself, your friends, and the community.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Positive Feedback.

I've recently learned of this link through an e-mail issue of DeafWeekly - Check it out! Barbie features a video on her campaign site using sign language to reach out to the deaf.

It's not often I get to do this but whenever I get the chance, I give positive feedback. I sent Barbie an e-mail at and thanked her for her consideration and possible historic move to feature an sign language video on her campaign site.

Any time you guys read an article or see something awesome and positive on the deaf - send them a positive feedback!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Feedback Through

This blog is a follow-up of a previous blog I posted 'Flat-Panel Televisions'.

In Cedartown, Georgia's SuperCenter Walmart, I stopped at the customer service every now and then to make my input to the store manager that the TVs hanging from the ceilings need to display closed captions.

Currently in Minnesota and I'm at it again at Rochester and Owatonna's SuperCenter Walmart. I hope the increasing number of store managers from various locations of Walmart contact the headquarters regarding the issue, the greater the chance that there will be captions displayed in Walmart everywhere.

I urge everyone that shops at Walmart to make a stop at the customer service desk and make the invaluable input that the captions needs to be displayed for equal access. For those that don't feel comfortable going to the customer service or don't shop at Walmart can fill out the online feedback form regarding the captions issue.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

16th Anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act

The ADA has done us a lot of good! God bless America for it. However, as President Bush recently spoke at the National Assocation for the Advancement of Colored People conference. He has said that "It's a lot easier to change a law than to change the human heart." That quote is in regards of racism in America. Allow me to change the quote a bit, "It's a lot easier to change a law than to educate the human mind." This is in regards of ignorance of nearly every possible issue.

Not just some people - too many people are ignorant of the ADA or at least how to appropriately serve and/or accommodate people with disabilities.

My proposal to approach the issue of racism and the ignorance of people with disabilities begins in our public school system from K through 12. The current emphasis in our school system are math, reading, science, social studies, and writing. We need to add two classes that will be invaluable to the public school curriculum - ethics and diversity. Those two classes will directly approach the two biggest issues we have.

In the end, this quote will actually mean something, "_______ does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age and handicapped status in employment or the provision of services."

Monday, July 24, 2006

Wrap Up - Interpreter for the Doctor's Office

To make a long story short. I had to cancel my doctor's appointment due to my sudden move from Georgia to Minnesota. But nevertheless, I feel that this struggle to get an interpreter for the doctor's office was a success.

Let's review the lessons learned from this.
  • Doctor's offices often try to talk out of getting an interpreter. Be firm and clear that you require an certified interpreter.
  • Doctor's office often try to bait you by offering you an appointment without an interpreter with a sooner date versus a later appointment with an interpreter. Remain steadfast and request an certified interpreter at a sooner date and report this.
  • Doctor's office often claim that they can't find an interpreter. Have a list of the local and state-wide interpreter agencies prepared and give the office a copy. Contact your local deaf advocacy office for this list.
  • Have your local/state/national deaf advocacy agency's number on your speed dial and report the incidents immediately. They will contact the doctor's office on your behalf.
  • Have your insurance carrier's number on your speed dial and report the incidents immediately. They will contact the doctor's office on your behalf.
  • Check out every now and then to refresh your memory on the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Attempt #4 - Interpreter for the Doctor's Office.

I walked in the doctor's office this morning and found a different secretary at the appointment window. To cut to the chase, I informed her that I was here previously and had been on the phone with them. I'd like to meet with someone about having an interpreter for my appointment. The secretary referred me to the same nurse that I've previously been with and I believe this is the same person that hung up on me yesterday.

This nurse handed me a clipboard with paperwork attached and tried to fingerspell to me. I was moderately surprised because she never fingerspelled to me in my previous two visits. Unfortunately, I couldn't understand her fingerspelling so we went back to writing back and forth. She wrote that I had to complete the new patients information forms before I can be admitted for appointments. Which was upsetting because I filled out the very same forms in 'Attempt #1' as I've told her over the phone yesterday.

As I turned in the forms, the nurse notified me that she'll need schedule my appointment two weeks in advance to find an interpreter. I was given the tentative date of July 19th. note: the doctor's office is closed from July 3rd to 7th. I wanted to asked for an appointment at a sooner date but I held back because what really matters is that they're finally making progress to get an interpreter and I'm confident that at future appointments, they'll learn that they can set up appointments within 72 hours in advance.

Within few hours, I've received an e-mail this afternoon that they've gotten an interpreter and was able to move up the date of the appointment to July 17th instead of the 19th.

Mission accomplished!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Attempt #3 - Interpreter for the Doctor's Office.

It's been over a week and I have not received an e-mail or phone call regarding my upcoming appointment with an interpreter.

I called the office this morning and spoke with the secretary that remembers me from the past two times I've been at the office. She apologized that she couldn't find an interpreter and told me that she has seen me read and write well hence I can come in for an appointment without an interpreter. I remained steadfast and assured her that she can find an interpreter and I asked her for the names of the interpreter agencies that she called to get an interpreter then I was put on hold...

Another woman picked up the phone and told me that they know how to fingerspell and repeated the mantra that she has seen me read and write well and asked me to have my appointment without an interpreter. I explained to the lady that I can write back and forth at a fast food restaurant for my order and I can write back and forth at the auto store for a specific part I want but at the doctor's office, I require an interpreter to have a full access and understanding of what is happening and being explained during my appointment.

The lady on the phone soften and told me that they will try and search for an interpreter but at the time, they cannot serve me because I'm not in their computer. I told her that I was in her office twice in the past two weeks. She then tells me that the secretary tells her that I didn't fill out any form last week then I replied that is because I already filled it out two weeks ago and the secretary last week didn't ask me to fill out any forms. The lady on the phone replied, "I'm sorry, that's your word against her word. We don't have you on our file and you'll need to come in and fill out paperwork."

I then came to a conclusion...I told the lady that I will be in her office late today or tomorrow after I complete phone calls to "people" that I was not provided service. The lady suddenly gotten upset and told me not to do that because they have not refused me an interpreter. I told her that you may have not refused me an interpreter but you are denying me of service due to putting me through "red-tape" of changing my PCP provider and coming back to fill out "paperwork" when I've filled it out in the past and you are encouraging me to come in without an interpreter. She then hung up on me.


Shortly after the call, I called my local GACHI office and explained to them of the phone converstation I had. I was told that they've called and faxed information on the ADA regarding interpreters at the doctor's office and they've faxed a list of interpreter agencies and freelance interpreters to them. They will make another call to the office today to follow up on my case.

I also called my insurance provider and explained the situation to them. The person on the line apologized on the behalf of the doctor's office and will be contact them today to have them provide better service and inform them that they must provide an interpreter by request.

I will be at the office tomorrow morning to fill out their "paperwork" and hope that this third trip to the office will be the charm to receive service and an interpreter.

For further information on having interpreters for the doctor's office. Go to this link -

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Want Change? Give Feedback.

I'm on the look out for jobs and the best place to do that is to contact your college/university's career center. I've signed up for my alma mater's e-mail listserv of job listings. I receive several e-mails from them a day/week and it has become time consuming to open all those e-mails and attachment to find that the position is advertised for California, Montana, or Maine. Whereas I'm interested in certain states. Thus, I decided to e-mail to my career center on the feedback to add the intials of the state in the subject line of the e-mail so we can easily sort them out as we look for job positions. To my delight, they've loved the feedback and they've adopted the change.

Fr: deb(at)
To: sonnyjames(at)
Subject: RE: Job Postings

Hi Sonny!
Nice to hear from you. Hope all is well with you. Thanks for your brilliant idea. We will start adding the state next to the job title in the subject line so the alumni will only open the email they want to read.
Have a great summer!

-----Original Message-----
Fr: sonnyjames(at)
To: Gallaudet University Career Center
Subject: Job Postings

For future reference could you please post the initials of the state that the job is being advertised from in the Subject line because I cannot go through them all to find if the job announcement is from Georgia, Alabama, or Tennessee.

To be connected to your Alumni Job Network - click on your alma mater.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Attempt #2 - Interpreter for the Doctor's Office.

I waited for a week after my first attempt at the doctor's office to give my GACHI Advocate time to mail information and pamphlets to the doctor's office on the ADA law and how to get an interpreter and serve the deaf community. In that time frame I've also received my new insurance card with the correct doctor listed on the card as my PCP.

I walked in the doctor's office and met with the same secretary that I was with last week. I gave her my insurance card and asked for an appointment. She said I could come in tomorrow. I reminded her about last week that I had requested an interpreter for the appointment. She didn't flinch or turn around and talk with the nurse about an interpreter. She surprised me by asking, okay, how does this work?

I told her that there are two ways. She could go ahead and give me an appointment that is a week in advance then begin calling for interpreters and ask them to come in at that specific time. Or with my flexible and open schedule, I permitted her to call interpreters and let them decide when was the best time to come in and let me know when that is and I'll be there.

I will call the doctor's office through video relay to follow up their progress on finding an interpreter. That is to be in my next post.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Attempt #1.5 - Interpreter for the Doctor's Office.

Immediately after 'Attempt #1' - I contacted my local GACHI advocate (Georgia Council for the Hearing Impaired, Inc) about being turned away after asking for an interpreter at the doctor's office.

I explained what had happened and gave the advocate the address and phone number of the doctor's office from the business card I've gotten. The advocate said they'll send the doctor's office information sheets and pamphlets on the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) on requiring interpreters at the doctor's office. If the doctor's office turn me away after the 2nd time, they'll call and may visit the office to educate them and help me to get the services that they're required to provide.

The second step after getting in touch with my local GACHI advocate - I called my insurance carrier and changed my PCP (Primary Care Physician) provider to the one that I had visited. I also took the opportunity to explain on what had recently happened and the customer representative that I spoke with assured me that this should have not happen and if it happened again, my insurance carrier will contact the doctor's office and lobby on my behalf to have them to provide an interpreter.

I've just received a new insurance card in the mail with the correct PCP on my card. I will be going to the doctor's office this afternoon and keep you posted.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Attempt #1 - Interpreter for the Doctor's Office.

Growing up back in Faribault, Minnesota - I never had a problem receiving an interpreter for the doctor's office. Onward to Gallaudet University in Washington, DC - I never had a problem receiving an interpreter for the doctor's office. BOOM - Here I am in Cave Spring, Georgia - I was told by the local community that its near-impossible to receive interpreting services in the doctor's office and even in the hopsitals. Please note that Faribault and DC indeed has a large friendly deaf community but Cave Spring stands out because this town has nearly 1,000 residents and approximately ten percent of them are deaf or hard of hearing. Where else in America can you find a community that has ten percent of its resident deaf or hard of hearing?

Attempt #1

On the Internet - Through my insurance provider's website, I made my pick of a family doctor based on how close her office was to my home and the Wal-Mart Supercenter that I could shop after the appointment.

I called the doctor's office through video relay services (VRS) and the secretary was friendly and told me to come in the next morning to fill out paperwork before I could schedule an appointment. That went well, I thought since the secretary had no problems with the VRS.

The very next morning, I stopped by the office and I was warmly greeted by the secretary and was given two pages of simple "paperwork" as I turned in my insurance card. Within 15 minutes, I was given an appointment at this Monday, June 19th at 2 pm. That was easy and quick, I thought.

At this point, I asked for an interpreter to present at my appointment and suddenly this secretary turned to an older lady who appears to be a nurse and quickly talked back and forth. The secretary wrote back that the doctor knows some sign language - and I wrote back that its wonderful she knows sign language but as she is a medically professional doctor, I will also need a professional certified interpreter alongside. With my reponse, I was "put on hold" for several minutes as the secretary and the nurse talked at length and the nurse took over the secretary's seat and went over the computer then she wrote to me that the office cannot serve me because they are not the assigned PCP (Primary Care Physician) on my insurance card. I notified the nurse that I'm new to the area and the PCP that is assigned to me is not my choice and I choose this office. The nurse replied, "contact your insurance company to change PCP then come back."

There you have it - I will be back to that doctor's office and I will blog on my second attempt.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Spread LiveChat.

For anybody that has connections to small, medium, large, or even extra-large business - I'd like to spread awareness of the LiveChat feature whereas it doesn't only gathers them more clients/customers but become leaders for providing services to the deaf and hard of hearing people. On a second thought, this LiveChat feature would also be great for our local, state, and federal government.

Below are the various links to acquire the LiveChat feature. Please spread the awareness to your connections.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Quicken Loans - LiveChat.

I've received an awesome e-mail few days ago and I've received permission to post it.


I work at Quicken Loans in Livonia, Michigan and thought you might be interested in writing about a new feature on our website – online chat -- that seems to be popular with our deaf customers.

We’ve learned that our deaf clients prefer online chat because of its ease and security. We‘ve also found that deaf clients like the added benefit of being able to communicate directly with us, avoiding having to use a relay service to translate the conversation. Obtaining a mortgage is one of the most stressful financial transactions a person can make and there’s not much room for error. Good communication is key to a successful transaction, and chat is really proving to be a useful tool.

Interestingly enough, when we first began testing chat on our site, we weren’t even aware of the benefit to deaf customers. It was through our interactions with our deaf clients that we realized they preferred the service. Below I’ve included a few pieces of actual chat transcripts that I thought you might be interested in (names and phones numbers deleted for privacy reasons):

[01:17:00 PM] Karen: With over 150 different options I am confident that we can find something that makes sense for you. Would you like to continue the process through chat or would you prefer to continue over the phone?
[01:17:18 PM] Visitor: thru chat is fine since I m deaf... smile...
[18:26:50] Lindsi: What number can I call you at?
[18:28:05] Visitor: ok, let me explain you first. you will need to call Sorenson Video Relay Service (VRS) first at (deleted) then VRS will ask you for my home phone number – (deleted). Is it clear to you?
[18:28:39] Visitor: it is just because I am hearing impaired
[18:29:10]Lindsi: Do you prefer to chat about it then?
[18:29:24] Visitor: yes, it would be much easier
[18:31:41] Lindsi: Okay, whatever is best for you. I have my grandfathers hearing and I could not get in to the teaching program in school based off my hearing test. That was hard although I assume that your situation is different. Where do you plan to go on vacation?

[13:30:13] Chelsea: Okay, with over 150 different options I am confident that we can find something that makes sense for you. Would you like to continue the process through chat or would you prefer to continue over the phone?
[13:30:42] Visitor: thru chat
[13:30:44] Visitor: bec im deaf
[13:31:28] Chelsea: Okay, just one moment, let me get you your reference number.

Nwani: That's right, you said it was discharged 3 years ago. Okay, (name deleted), right now we have over 150 programs going, and what I need to do is narrow them down to the one or two that will work best for you. The quickest way to get you the information you need is to spend a few moments on the phone. What’s the best number to reach you at right now?
[10:07:05] Visitor: I am deaf and I would prefer to do it like this instead of over the phone.
[10:08:10] Nwani: Okay (name deleted), what I'll do is get you over to one of our bankers. Let me get your reference number...

If you have any suggestions on how we might make our site more accessible, we’d appreciate that feedback as well. Or, if you ever do a blog entry about businesses providing services to deaf people, please consider mentioning us. We would greatly appreciate it.

And of course, feel free to try out the chat yourself (no purchase necessary). Just go to our site and click on the “Chat online now!” link in the upper right corner of the page. One of our bankers will join the chat to answer any questions you ask.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Newsweek's Equal.

From time to time, I like to google up my own name or my blogsite and find who and what is linking to me out there in the world wide web.

I found an excellent blog by Mike McConnell's Kokonut Pundits blogsite citing "How Readable Is Your Deaf Blog?"

Mike has rated my site and found that I'm Newsweek's equal and I'm honoured...after all I do subscribe and read those type of magazines - Newsweek, Time, U.S. News & World Report and Week.

Correction: Mike didn't actually rate my site and others as well. He used the 'Juicy Studio: Readability Test.' Please read his blog link above to get the full idea of how the readability test works.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

My Story: Gallaudet University - Board of Trustee

In the spring of 2003, I suddenly found myself to be the Acting President of the Student Body Government (SBG) at Gallaudet University from the role of Speaker of the House for the Student Congress with the resignation and disappearance of the previous administration's President Darius McCall and Vice-President Katie Canfield.

With the help of Dean of Students, Carl Pramuk, he had gotten me a spot to speak at the February Board of Trustee (BoT) meetings after the previous administration had failed to set up their spot. This part of the meetings with the BoT was called the 'Committee on Student Affairs' along with approximately seven BoT members present.

To get an idea of what the BoT's meeting schedule look alike. Check this link at here and there.

I was warned by Mr. Pramuk that I might not have much time to speak because my part was at the very end of the 90 minute meeting after the board hears from the athletic department and the honor's program. There was also the Graduate Student Association (GSA) President Greg Montgomery, that was scheduled to speak after me.

The athletic department took up approximately the first 30 minutes of the meeting and the honor's program took up the next 55 minutes. This only gave me and the GSA President two and half minutes each to speak on the behalf of the Gallaudet student body. I was truly upset at the honor's program because I felt that they had no regard for our part of the meeting whereas we'd have our opportunity to speak to the board about various issues that we go through on campus. The honor's program presentation to the board was led by its Director Dr. Shirley Shultz-Myers and Provost Dr. Jane Fernandes.

When I was called to speak my part to the BoT - I was cut off after only a minute and half and I was told that there wasn't any time remaining for me. I spoke back and told to the BoT that I represent the SBG and they should let me finish, unfortunately, they didn't let me finish and I had to go back to my seat. Up next was the GSA President, all he had to say was sorry that he's not able to say anything of importance due to the time, he hoped that he would see them at the first ever students & BoT tea social.

The voice of Gallaudet's undergraduate and graduate student body was shut out of the BoT meeting because Provost Dr. Fernandes and Dr. Shirley Schultz-Myers had no regard for us. As some of you know, this very meeting was our only opportunity to speak directly to the BoT because any other time we wanted to speak directly to the BoT, we'd have to go through the President I. King Jordan's office.

Late in the afternoon at the very first ever students & BoT tea social, there were approximately twenty-five selected few students by Mr. Pramuk present to socialize with the BoT and we were disappointed to find that only two BoT members showed up. One of two BoT members that showed up was Dr. Glenn Anderson.

Friday, May 05, 2006

My Story: Dr. Jane Fernandes

My second year at Gallaudet University in the fall of 2000. The campus was thrown into chaos after an Phi Kappa Zeta off-campus party when we all arrived back on campus to find that someone has been murdered. The deceased is Eric Plunkett, a person I miss dearly. He and I are proud alumni of Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf (MSAD) in Faribault.

Within days of the murder, Deb Skjeveland (her husband is a fellow Minnesotan), the coordinator of residence education at Clerc Hall sent an e-mail to specific Minnesotans (alumni of MSAD) to get together and talk about Eric Plunkett. As we gotten together, we agreed to her suggestion that we'd set up a scholarship in Eric's name and we agreed that this scholarship will go to any deserving incoming student from Minnesota. As the fall homecoming quickly approached, we had a booth to give out maroon and gold ribbons (MSAD colors) to the people that donated to the Eric Plunkett scholarship. The monies that we've collected were huge, we easily ambassed over the $25,000 needed to become endowed.

At the end of the semester, we were called into the Provost's ofice to meet with Eric's parents. Eric's parents thanked us for coming forward to work with the Provost for Eric and the scholarship. We all had a nice brief personal converstation and received a gift basket from them. I left the office stunned to find that Eric's parents were misled by Dr. Fernandes that she has initiated the scholarship and has seen to it that it has quickly become endowed. From that day forward, I never saw Dr. Fernandes as my Provost but as a person who is a cozener, when the credit should have been due to Deb Skjeveland, a real compassionate person who thought nothing of herself but for others. She is now a program manager for Camp Lakodia in South Dakota.

A cozener is not someone I'd want to have as our next President of Gallaudet University.

Correction: My apologies for the confusion. The PKZ party was in February of 2001 and the murder that happened was Ben Varner's death. The night that Eric Plunkett's body was discovered, I was at University of Maryland football game vs. Florida State University.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Unity For Gallaudet.

From Cave Spring, GA...I read every blog and news link I can find about the protest going on at Gallaudet University over the process and selection of Dr. Fernandes.

I am disappointed to find that there are one too many blogs out there that are essentially sticking up their noses at the protest that is going on its fourth day at Gallaudet. I cannot help but think of this poem by Pastor Martin Niemoller.

"First they came..."

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
I was not a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.
To be clear here, I am not comparing the protest with War World II. I'm merely sharing the same sentiments that I'm feeling about this issue. We all need to come together in 'Unity For Gallaudet' regardless of affiliations, age, background, color, communication modes, sex, and more.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Gallaudet University - Board of Trustee.

As some of you may know that Gallaudet University has recently announced that their current provost Dr. Jane Fernandes has been selected as their 9th president.

I'm stunned!

Before I can spew out my anger at the selection process and how could this happen. I'm disappointed in myself that I didn't blog about this earlier and often as in 3 months ago when the presidential search committee (PSC) was in progress. I as in We, should have made it overwhelming clear that we will not see to it that Dr. Jane Fernandes becomes the next president.

I've been reading and receiving e-mails/pages from friends about the protest that is happening at Gallaudet University. I've been saying to myself and others that I wish I was at Washington, DC for this until I realized something.

The critical people that we need to reach are the decision makers and that is the Gallaudet's Board of Trustee. They don't all live in DC/MD/VA area. They live as far as California, Ohio, Michigan, Colorado, Arizona, South Dakota, New Jersey, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Georgia. Hence, I encourage you to contact your nearest Board of Trustee member and ask that they reconsider their selection. This is the link to see who the Board of Trustees are and which state they reside in.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Taking A Step Further.

I've recently been thinking, how do I keep making people coming back to my blogsite? Not for egoistical reasons but to spread the ideals of self-advocacy for the deaf, by the deaf.

I've come to reach a decision...I've decided to use both avenues of mass communication; e-mail and this blogsite. Each time I publish a posting on my blogsite, an automatic mass e-mail will go out with the message that I've recently blogged on my blogsite.

I hope that this message through e-mail will be forwarded on to friends, family, church, school, and businesses. I also hope that with this e-mail, people will come to this blogsite to read previous postings ranging from interpreter issues to captioning issues and to promote American Sign Language.

To be added to this newly created listserv for this blog, e-mail me at sonnyjames(at) and please use 'deaf advocacy' in the subject line. Thanks in advance!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Flat-Panel Televisions.

With the prices dramtically going down on the flat-panel televisions...I'm beginning to see more and more of them hanging from the ceiling in stores such as McDonalds, Walmart and et cetera whereas there wasn't a regular televison being there before. They would either have a news show, music video and/or a marketing gimmick displayed.

I love TV, who doesn't? Its reality that with the advancing technologies of the shrinking televisions that we will begin to see them everywhere. I just wish it would equally be the reality that captions would be on at all times on all public televisions that we see in stores, offices, schools and et cetera.

Earlier tonight at my new local Supercenter Wal-Mart, I made a stop at the customer service area before I exited the store. I notified the store manager on duty that I would like to see all the televisions to have captions on at all times in the near future. He was receptive to my request and said he would contact the "home office" then he would follow up with me with an e-mail.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Comment Cards.

It came to me last week as I was shopping at IKEA that every comment card I come to...I will write down that their staff; barista, bartender, cashier, waitress, librarian, stewardess, mechanic, hair stylist, et cetera...should learn sign language as part of their people skills in their field of work.

It's one thing to have schools to offer American Sign Language (ASL) classes...we need to think outside of the box, which is to notify employers that we'd like to see their staff with basic sign language skills.

One comment card from me will not make an impact on employers but if all of you readers adopt this principle of filling out every comment cards you see then we're bound to have an impact one or more businesses.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Maximize Our Value.

The world's largest movie theatre chain is Regal Entertainment Group also known as Regal Cinemas. I have found them to be receptive to provide captioning and descriptive audio (DA) in their theatres which I have successfully gotten them to install in Macon, GA.

I checked their site and searched to find how many theatres they have in the state of Georgia. The number came up to 16. I also checked to see how many theatres provide captioning and DA. Only 4 theatres do and they are in Atlanta, Buford, Chamblee, and Macon. That's merely 25%.

I want us to maximize our value. Let's get the remaining 12 Regal theatres in Georgia to provide captioning and DA. Those cities are Alpharetta, Atlanta (Perimeter), Atlanta (Tara), Augusta (Exchange), Augusta (Village), Austell, Douglasville, Duluth, Kennesaw, Savannah (Eisenhower), Savannah (Stadium) and Snellville.

The method I used to have Macon to provide captioning and DA is no secret! You have to do 3 things.
  1. Add your local Regal theatre's number and the headquarter's number to your phone address book. The HQ's number is 1-865-922-1123.
  2. Call both the local theatre and the headquarter in a friendly manner and request that they provide captioning and DA. Do this 5 times a week. It'll only take 10 minutes of your time.
  3. Call them 5 times a week and when they finally say they'll do it, keep calling anyway until they finally start providing captioned and DA movies.
Every states can do it too! In Minnesota, there are 3 Regal theatres and only 1 provide captions and DA. Minnesotans can maximize their value by making calls to get the other 2 theatres to provide captions and DA.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Now Showing At Macon, Georgia.

I received an exciting e-mail this morning that I'd love to share with you all.

Date: Sat, 1 Apr 2006
Subject: open captioning now at regal

Mr. Wasilowski

Hi, this is Joelle Roth from Regal Cinemas on Tom Hill Sr blvd. I am pleased to inform you that the open captioning projector is now complety installed.

The open captioned films this week are as follows: Sunday 1:15 V for Vendetta Monday 1:15 V for Vendetta Tuesday 4:05 Inside Man Wednesday 1:20 Inside Man Thursday 4:05 Inside Man

Joelle Roth
Assistant Manager Rivergate
14 245 Tom Hill Sr blvd
This comes after months after months along with dozens and dozens of calls to this movie theatre and to their headquarters to have the open captioning projector to be installed at my location. Go to Regal Cinema's website to see whats being captioned near you.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Anyone Up For C-Print?

Go to this great article titled, 'Laptop-based class captioning proving a boon' to learn what a C-Print is and what it does.

I have not had an opportunity to experience C-Print but I could easily envision the benefits having C-Print. For those complicated terminology classes that I've had like Business Law or any Science classes. C-Print would be benefit me more because there are many terminology that don't have signs for it and seeing the terminology in print would help put me in an equal footing in the learning process with my hearing peers.

I want to give my 2-thumbs up to C-Print and encourage people to consider a career in C-Print.

An excellent website to refer others to a captioning career is National Court Reporters Association: Serving the Court Reporting and Captioning Professions.

Genuine Response.

I send out many e-mails to different companies and e-mail addresses about my advocacy for captions on their online videos. For the first time, I've received a genuine on below.

Subject: Re: Comment
From:"Movie Trailers" ""
To: ""

Hi Sonny,

You are right we don't have any captioned trailers at present but it is something we want to change.

Our team has been proactive in the past in reaching out to the studios requesting the assets necessary to caption trailers. The studios have yet to deliver the assets we need like timecoded text. All have been interested in offering this ability, but somehow it just doesn't get delivered.

We inquire about their progress from time to time but it appears the process is not one that they know how to incorporate into their workflow. The trailers we receive are not closed captioned but if they were, we would not have a process to open the captioning and make it deliverable for the web.

We do not know if the trailers that they deliver for television are captioned by the studio, or if they have a third party add this to the trailer afterwards. This is why we ask for the dialog in text form.

Access to trailer dialog by the deaf and hearing impaired is something the movie trailers team would like to offer as an open caption option. Not only would this be good for the deaf and hearing impaired, but it would help the young and English language challenged. QuickTime has a process of allowing text to be added to the media and we have previously offered open
captioning on product commercials via the website.

The Movie Trailers Team is committed to trying to offer trailers that are captioned and hope our continued persistence delivers results.

We will not give up and appreciate your email.

-Movie Trailers Team

Sunday, March 26, 2006


Please take a look back at a post, 'Feedback Links Provided', I've made earlier in the year.

I want to remind everybody that we, as an advocate, cannot let our guard down for a day. We must keep on sending letters, e-mails, blog, and talk among our family and friends about our cause in the field of captioning, interpreting, education, and more.

My e-mail of the day went to I asked them to provide captions on the trailers that they have on their site so it will give me a clear decision of which movies I'd like to watch at the theaters or through Netflix.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Parents and the family.

I'm a big believer in the power of the family. I'm also a believer in the ancient African proverb - "it takes a village to raise a child." For a deaf child to suceed in life, I believe s/he requires both family and the village to be involved.

A solution to a dilemma came to me while working at Georgia School for the Deaf. We, as a village (deaf community) must take up the responsiblity to empower the family of the deaf child with his/her natural language. American Sign Language (ASL) must be used around the deaf child at all times. I've seen too many parents and family members that don't sign or sign at all times around the child. The child loses valuable information from daily activities that s/he goes through with the family that will later contribute to the child's future.

If you're a believer in the power of the family and a believer in the ancient African proverb then please take it up to yourself to educate the parents and the family of the deaf child that they must learn ASL and sign at all times around him/her.

The rewards of the parents and the family using ASL around the child will be seen as the child grows up to be intelligent, mature, and successful anywhere and anytime s/he may be in life.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

New Additions...

I've added a new feature "Contact Lawmakers" on the right side of this blog. It's a wonderful tool that puts us few clicks away from sending out letters to our lawmakers to begin making changes for us. The changes begin within us hence the quote on top of this blog - to promote self-advocacy for the Deaf, by the Deaf.

I would also like to welcome Bradley Porche and his new blog site as an emerging Deaf Advocate for the emerging technology. He has typed up a great letter to the FCC to have them to mandate captioning on the Internet.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Urgent: Concerning Idaho School f/t Deaf & Blind.

Subject: New Legislation to Close ISDB By July 1, 2008
Date: Wed, 15 Mar 2006
From: Maynard, Wes J. - Council for Deaf and Hard of Hearing -
To: Anyone Interested in Deaf/HOH Education

Three legislators have written a Bill to close ISDB by July 1, 2008 and mainstream all the students into regional day programs. The legislators behind the Bill are Representatives Henbest, Skippen, and Senator Lodge. It is called House Bill 821. See for the full print of the Bill.

The Bill goes up for debate in the House Education Committee next Tuesday, the 21st at 8:00 a.m. in the Gold Room on the 4th floor of the Capitol building.

This Bill is a surprise to many people because the State Board of Education has been planning to appoint a Work Group of experts to explore issues regarding deaf and hard of hearing education, and to work with those experts to make sure they address all the details. However, individual legislators have the ability to introduce any Bill they want at any time during the legislative session.

This is why it is important that you come and testify to make your views known. Any citizen is allowed to come and testify next Tuesday. Whether you agree or disagree with it, the legislature won't know unless you tell them your opinions.

The Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is currently forming an official position on this issue and I will be testifying on Tuesday.

This is a Summary of What the Bill Says:

1. To be in full force and effect on July 1, 2008.

2. Close the school in Gooding and sell the property.

3. Mainstream all the students to five non-residential regional day programs within these areas: (1) Kootenai or Bonner County; (2) Nez Perce or Latah County; (3) Ada or Canyon County; (4) Twin Falls, Gooding, Jerome, Minidoka or Cassia County; (5) Bingham County.

4. Each of these five regions would have a "host" school district that would coordinate services and transportation with surrounding school distrcits.

5. The State Department of Education would annually distribute to the districts $50,000 per student, based on average daily attendance.

6. The educational services to be offered at each of these programs for deaf/hoh students would include, but are not limited to:

-auditory/oral program for pre-kindergarten through 1st grade
-a sign language based program for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade
-speech and language therapy services

7. The State would maintain a small Administrative agency in Boise to coordinate with and consult local districts on deaf/hoh educational issues. It would be called the "Division of Deaf and Blind Education" instead of ISDB. The Outreach program would report to this new agency, not the local school districts.



Wes Maynard, MBA, CI/CT
Executive Director
Council for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing
1720 Westgate Drive, Suite A
Boise, ID 83704
208.334.0879 voice/videophone
208.334.0952 fax
208.334.0803 tty

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


The advocacy that I bring on this blog is all me. My feelings, thoughts, and wishes...the three things that I feel strongly about for our needs as a deaf individual are captioning, interpreting, and American Sign Language (ASL).

I'm open to feedback, ideas, suggestions, or even interviews. A while back an old classmate of mine from Gallaudet whom graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) posted a comment on my blog urging me and others to go over to Wikipedia to help to contribute to the term of Audism. In short, Audism is a term referring to a situation whereas a deaf or hearing person makes another deaf or hard of hearing person feel inferior.

I have not blogged about Audism in the past because I've felt that the solutions to Audism is really only presentable to places where the Deaf people are the majority and there aren't many places like that. To name few places, would be the Deaf schools across America. This is something that Deaf schools should address and put a stop to Audism. As for places outside of Deaf schools or places where the Deaf people are the majority, solutions are not able to be presented. Hence, one of my three main advocacy issues is to put ASL in high schools nationwide, by learning ASL people will learn about our deaf culture and adversaries.

I experience Audism on a daily basis and I would love to see Audism being eradicated. The best defense to Audism is to spread awareness about it.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Interview with

Many thanks to Bob Sullivan of - he has written an brilliant article on 'Net Video Leaves the Deaf Behind'. It was a great honor to be interviewed for my input on his article. I hope there will be more articles similar to this on other websites such as AOL, CNN, and BBC.

Many of you may not know that this is my second interview on a national media outlet. Here's a 'copy and paste' of my first interview by Wall Street Journal Online ( four years ago.

Deaf Adopt Text-Messaging As a Means to Communicate


Before he started using wireless-messaging services, Sonny Wasilowski, who is deaf, felt like he was tethered to his computer -- constantly booting up to check and re-check his e-mail to keep up with friends and family. Even routine conversations, such as making plans to meet friends at a bar or getting picked up at the airport, were frustratingly time consuming.

Now, the 21-year-old Gallaudet University student says his two-way pager has helped him cut the cord; so much so that he almost never puts it down. One exception: "My fiancee does not allow me to use it at all while driving."

Wireless paging has become nearly as ubiquitous for the roughly 30 million people with hearing loss in the U.S. as cellphones are for the hearing population, its adherents say. Pagers, from such companies as Research in Motion Ltd. and T-Mobile, and text-messaging services via cellphone allow the deaf to communicate with family, friends and co-workers in the same fashion as their hearing counterparts.

Demand for text-messaging services among the deaf is soaring as the technology revolutionizes the way the hard of hearing communicate. Their enthusiasm also comes at the same time when demand for wireless data services in the general population is weak, and ever-lower prices can be a big draw for the deaf. But the services still aren't cheap and some deaf users would like to see greater coordination with emergency and other assistive-listening devices as teletypewriter phones (TTY).

About three years ago, pagers became widely available at a relatively low cost, and the tide had turned, says Judy Harkins, director of the technology access program at Gallaudet. "Pagers filled a need for mobile communication and the deaf community became hooked," she says.

At Gallaudet, the nation's only liberal-arts university for the deaf, a wireless pager is a must. Thumbs fly in classrooms as students send flurries of messages across campus, observers say. "If you don't have a pager, you're considered behind in the culture," Mr. Wasilowski says.

The deaf have long had access to TTY phones, which haven't translated very well to the wireless world. Newer cellphones don't always have the proper adapters to hook into a TTY phone, and digital cellphone service interferes with hearing aids. Moreover, spotty cellphone service -- an annoyance even for people with good hearing -- often garbles sound.

Wireless pagers, on the other hand, free a hard-of-hearing person from the bulky equipment that accompanies a TTY phone and the cords connecting them. Users of pagers from companies that cater to the deaf, such as Wynd Communications, a unit of GoAmerica Inc., can send text messages through a relay operator to someone on the phone or who is using a TTY.

Using the pager alone delivers greater independence; when talking on a text telephone, both parties must wait for a relay operator to tell the other party what the deaf person is saying, and then key in replies.

"It's like walking around with a text telephone," says Andy Imperato, president of the American Association for People with Disabilities, about pagers, which have "opened up avenues of instant communication."

Louis Schwarz, who is deaf, is a certified financial planner in Silver Spring, Md. When he started his business in 1983, Mr. Schwarz says he worked hard to educate financial institutions about how to use the relay-telephone service, which was slow and cumbersome.


Many deaf people choose to buy wireless services through companies that cater exclusively to the hearing impaired because they offer better deals for people who send lots of data. Here's how some services stack up:

WyndTell Wynd Communications, a unit of GoAmerica Inc., Hackensack, N.J. www.wynd.com1 * $39.95 a month for unlimited characters sent or received each month, unlimited e-mail * RIM 850 pager free ($399 retail value) with one-year contract

DeafWireless Subsidiary of Boundless Depot, Las Vegas www.deafwireless.com2 * Standard plan: $19.95 a month for 150,000 characters; 10 cents for every 100 characters over the limit * Power plan: $39.99 a month for unlimited use * RIM 850 pager free with two-year contract, or $69.95 with one-year contract

Now, Mr. Schwarz uses a two-way pager called SideKick through wireless operator T-Mobile. His service includes unlimited Web browsing, instant messaging, e-mail and phone services. The device also doubles as a digital camera.

"It keeps me in touch with my clients at all times and they feel more assured knowing that I'm doing services for them," Mr. Schwarz says.

To be sure, the devices don't always meet all their needs. Many users rely on their pagers to relay information in emergency situations, but users still can't send text messages to 911 emergency services.

And though pagers remove operators from the equation, conversations still don't have the ease or immediacy of discussions between hearing people, says Jim House, director of member services and public relations for Telecommunications for the Deaf Inc., in Silver Spring, Md., a group that promotes distribution of technology for the deaf. "It is not real-time, meaning you have to wait for a response, not like the back-and-forth banter hearing people enjoy on the phone," Mr. House says.

The cost also can be prohibitively expensive. Mr. Wasilowski says many of his friends have stopped heavily using their pagers as they move out of college and into the work force.

But many employers of those with hearing loss find they're an easy way to make the workplace accessible. "Pagers serve as the functional equivalent of what a hearing person needs to access messages when away from the office," says Daniel Luis, president and chief operating officer of GoAmerica, adding that hundreds of companies and the federal government have tapped them for this purpose.

Although the deaf population remains a niche market, some companies are catching on to the potential it could deliver as the technology continues to spread. As a whole, the disabled community has $175 billion in discretionary spending and $1 trillion in income, according to management-consulting firm Booz, Allen & Hamilton in Washington.

Verizon Wireless, for example, made its network and handsets TTY compatible, but also understands that text-messaging is a compelling product for the deaf, says spokesman Brian Wood. Although the company doesn't know how many customers using its services are hard of hearing, Verizon plans to make improvements sometime next year to its customer-service call centers so that it can better serve the needs of its deaf customers.

Also still to come are some standards and etiquette for using the pagers -- not too far from what's needed for cellphones, observers say. Tom Walsh, a marketing manager for Advanced Bionics in Sylmar, Calif., which makes cochlear implants for the deaf, reported watching attendees at a recent conference reaching into their bags and pockets to grab buzzing pagers, and punching back replies during seminars.

But restricting their use might be a tough sell at Gallaudet.

"They could try, but I don't think they will," Mr. Wasilowski said, laughing at the prospect of a university policy to curtail pager use during classes. "It would cause chaos."

Write to Stacy Forster at stacy.forster@wsj.com3

URL for this article:,,SB1037129766286676268.djm,00.html

Thursday, March 02, 2006

ASL Meetups

American Sign Language (ASL) is my passion and its my desire to see everybody to have at least basic knowledge of ASL. It would be a blessing someday to see schools nearly everywhere offering ASL classes. For the time being, I've discovered this website a while ago and I want to share this with you all and you can set up ASL meetups in your community to learn, teach, and enjoy the privilege of using ASL in jokes, stories, converstations and more...

Here's the site - - go there and set up a free account and say you're either interested or would like to start an ASL meetups. I've just registered and I would love to participate in an ASL meetup in my area if someone comes forward but if not, that's okay, I will start it in the summer when I'm off from teaching my little kids at school.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

ASL Books In Bargain Bins.

In bookstores, I like to check out the foreign language area every now and then to see what's the latest book on American Sign Language (ASL). Yesterday at the mall in B. Dalton's, I didn't have to look far for ASL books...2 different ASL books were in the bargain books area right in the front of the bookstore. Granted, the bargain bin is bad news for the book because it won't be restocked, but HEY, it gets great exposure for ASL and people do love buying bargain books.

A light bulb went off above my head's the idea - if you love ASL as much as I do and want to give ASL more exposure and have people to buy ASL books. Before you leave the bookstore, take 2 or 3 ASL books and place them in the bargain bins. Do this every time you visit a bookstore and you would be giving ASL greater exposure and have people buying them whether they're really not being sold at bargain prices. Haha. How about it?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Fargo as in Fargo, North Dakota has an article in their front page newspaper yesterday titled 'Sign language interpreting a rare profession in N.D.' by Teri Finneman in the Forum. Please click on the article before reading ahead.

Fargo is the largest city in North Dakota and the Forum is the largest newspaper in the state along with several hundred thousand of readers in northern Minnesota. The article was a great expose on our problem of having a shortage of interpreters however it has missed out on giving us a solution.

I called Teri earlier today to compliment her on her writing and giving us a voice on the interpreting shortage then I asked to offer my solution to this interpreting shortage as I've presented on this blog in the past. She appreciated the compliment and was open to anything I had to say.

I told her that it truly was unfortunate to hear that only ONE college in the state of North Dakota to offer a interpreting program. One person in the article commented that the shortage of interpreters is due to the lack of knowledge of the career. I told Teri that this is smaller of the two problems. I told her that the bigger problem is that American Sign Language (ASL) is not being exposed out there in North Dakota.

ASL should be offered in as many K to 12 schools across North Dakota. Then in the outcome of students taking this class, they can make an informed decision whether to make a career out of ASL such as teaching, counseling, interpreting, and et cetera. One problem...North Dakota's Department of Education (DOE) does not have ASL in their curriculum as a foreign language for K to 12. They only have it for post-secondary school which means community college, college, or university may only offer ASL. The reason why the only college in North Dakota to offer an interpreting program is because its in a town called Devils Lake where the state's school for the deaf is at. To find if your state recognizes ASL as a foreign language, click here.

Teri was very nice and receptive over the phone. I thanked her for her time and I hope that she will have a follow-up article presenting this solution to the communities of North Dakota. To everybody reading this, promote ASL to be taught in as many schools in your state and if you know anybody in North Dakota, please do have them check my blog and have them to contact their DOE to have them to include ASL in the k to 12 curriculum.