Ginnie Graham: Broken Arrow brothers honored for being pioneers in self-advocacy for people with disabilities

Going through high school, James Meadours was kept separate in special education classes from his Broken Arrow classmates, never really getting to know them.

After graduating in 1986, he was put in a 10-bedroom group home and felt isolated from the world, being at the mercy of other adults.

Joining a singles group at Christ the King Church changed that.

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OU's new American Sign Language program inspires communication across campus

On Tuesdays and Fridays in Collings Hall 223, an entire class period goes by without a single word spoken. 

The classroom is completely quiet — at no point do the students speak out loud to professor Gary Davis, and he doesn’t speak out loud to them. 

That’s because Davis is deaf and is teaching his students sign language.

The silence is only ever broken by students’ laughter — usually when Davis pokes fun at a student’s sloppy use of a sign and shows the student the correct sign, much like a Spanish professor correcting the pronunciation of a word.

Davis, an adjunct professor, is teaching one of the first American Sign Language courses offered at OU — a program administrators have pursued for many years that finally came to fruition fall 2017.

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Advocating for Deaf-Blind in the Workplace

Deaf-Blind in the workplace is on the increase globally and should be seen as any other employment. Deaf blindness might imply a complete vacancy of hearing and sight, but this isn’t the case. Many who are deaf-blind have some hearing or vision or both. People who are deaf-blind can learn skills to work around hurdles. With assisting and usable technology, people who are deaf-blind can be employed in any type industry and work.

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Deaf Sensitivity Training For SC Police Department

Back in September, the Oklahoma City shooting involving the murder of a deaf man at the hand of law enforcement sparked a discussion on how law enforcement can communicate with deaf people.

Oklahoma City Police approached thirty-five-year-old Magdiel Sanchez after a hit and run. They suspected the man may be involved with the incident. At the time, Sanchez had a two-foot pipe in his hand. Verbal orders were given to put the pipe down. After the man did not obey he was then shot and killed by the police. Why did he not obey? Sanchez was deaf.

The story of Magdiel Sanchez and his fateful encounter with the OKC Police Department has made its way over to South Carolina where agencies from across the state came to Lexington Police Department for Deaf Sensitivity Training. Law enforcement and emergency operation officers went through training to learn better ways to communicate with people that are deaf. Some of the training included sign language lessons, learning how to talk to deaf people and discussions based on situation. 

Fred Greenspan, president of Deaf Sensitivity Training Seminar says, "Law enforcement does need this. There's really a very large deaf community among us. Thirty or so percent are hard of hearing and or deaf." (source linked in title)

This Deaf Sensitivity Training seems to be helping officers understand how to better handle situations involving deaf citizens. Heather Miller, Horry County Investigator, says she learned being patient is important. 

"Don't jump the gun as best you can. If the situation is deemed safe and under control, slow down and be patient. Make sure we're communicating our messages to one another accurately and if not, take the necessary measures to ensure that it happens," Miller explains. (Source linked in title)

Fred Greenspan wants police departments to make the effort to prevent future situations like the one in Oklahoma City from happening again.

He says, "Try to bring the light here is the problem so they can address that and know about them so they can be aware and attack that issue as it comes along with no problem."





Sonoma County Deaf Community And Fire Notification..

On Oct. 9, 2017 Sonoma County in California experienced an outbreak of fires that posed threat to many lives and destroyed homes. Among those that lost their homes, a deaf community of approximately 500 people were basically oblivious to the warnings given about the fires. There were text messages, automated calls, sirens in the street etc. but for the deaf community, Oct. 9th was just another silent night. 

The deaf community expresses their concern and frustration. Thankfully there were survivors that made it out of their homes, but they were only notified hours after everyone else by neighbors or family members that knew they would not be able to hear the warnings everyone else would be able to hear.

Several couples that came forward with their stories explained that they were woken by the smell of smoke or vibrations from near the house. 

This issue with communication during emergency situations happens everywhere. 

Advocates such as Vance Deatherage with Deaf Counseling Advocacy and Referral Agency work to improve help for deaf evacuees, making things more accessible.


More information and coverage on individual stories from deaf survivors included in source linked in title.


Deaf-Blind Patrons Should Be Able to Go to the Movies Too

A Pennsylvania man asked a Cinemark Theatre in Pittsburgh to supply a tactile interpreter. The theatre denied his request. 

Paul McGann, a deaf-blind man who uses tactile interpretation to enjoy movies, was denied his request of tactile interpreter when he wanted to see the 2014 movie "Gone GirlWhen presented the case the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Cinemark in favor of the plaintiff.

"Federal disability law requires movie theaters to provide specialized interpreters to patrons who are deaf and blind, an appeals court said Friday." (Quotation from source linked in title)  

Newly Released Videos on HKNC Website

The Helen Keller National Center announces two new training videos for deaf-blind individuals and family members. These videos were developed and are presented by deaf-blind individuals and are fully accessible with captioning and transcripts.

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‘He Can’t Hear You!’: Deaf Man Shot Dead by Oklahoma City Police as Neighbors Scream in Horror

A deaf man carrying a metal pipe was fatally shot by Oklahoma City police on Tuesday night as neighbors frantically tried to tell officers that he couldn't hear their commands.

Magdiel Sanchez, 35, was shot and Tasered on a porch on Tuesday around 8:15 p.m. after he allegedly advanced toward officers following a hit-and-run involving his father, Police Capt. Bo Mathews said Wednesday.

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