By: Hannah Perry
Junior Intern

An adaptation to Google glass opens up the skies to deaf students.

When deaf students visit planetariums, they are left in the dark. The lights are off, and they are unable to see the ASL interpreter who narrates the descriptions of the constellations overhead. To solve this problem, Brigham Young University has recently launched the “Signglasses”project. This groundbreaking project uses Google Glass to project the sign language narration onto the classes. This project is special to a few deaf students attending BYU and working on this project. Signglasses will open up the skies for deaf students who adventure to the planetarium. The deaf students will no longer need to strain their eyes to see their interpreter in the dark or have to kink their neck to see both the night sky and the interpreter. The student can look straight up at the sky as there is a pre-recorded interpretation of the show playing in the corner of the glasses.

The Signglasses have potential to go beyond the planetarium’s presentation. Will Signglasses be used in museum presentations? Or plays? Will these Signglasses slowly replace interpreters in every setting with a set script? Signglasses have the potential for great things. The Signglasses team is also working with researchers at Georgia Tech to see if the glasses can be used as a literacy tool. To learn more, check out their video on YouTube.

This blog post represents the opinion of the author and not necessarily the views supported by The Deaf Dream.


38 Wonderful Moments In Closed-Captioning History

A fun buzzfeed article about closed captioning, submitted by intern Hannah Perry.

We Live in a World

By: Danielle Gutierrez
Deaf Dreamer

We live in a world where Eyeth is a fantasy.
We live in a world where we are the minority.
We live in a world of irony where hearing babies sign, and Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing are denied their natural language.
We live in a world where individual identity is not only encouraged, but praised,
yet we live in a world where Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing are forced to pretend.
We live in a world where we become excellent actors and actresses.
We live in a world where we become the best guessers.
We live in a world where our hands gets pushed down and our voices are praised,
yet our needs are not heard.
We live in a world of oppression, under constant attacks of Audism.
We live in a world full of tears, pain, and misunderstandings.

We live in a world where changes are desired to be made…
Need to be made…
Must be made.

We live in a world…

Accessibility: 1, Inequality: 0

By: Mariam Janvelyan
Managing Intern

You want to know something incredible?

Great, because I’m about to tell you something that is going to give you hope for a generation of new signers.

I have been in ASL classes for two years, and as our last quarter was approaching, our professor, Benjamin Lewis, was racking his brain for a big final project that would allow us to give back to the Deaf community. He refused to let our hard work die out, and this stubborn man came up with a big project that had us all shaking from fear. Now, many of you already know the stress that finals week brings, but this project had added on an entirely new dimension of terror; I have never seen anyone go white that quickly from the prospect of a final. But I will tell you something else. Fear aside, there was a fire behind the eyes of my classmates, a kind of excitement I hadn’t seen come through so obviously before. We were ready, and the expectations were high.

Is your curiosity piqued yet? Are you wondering what exactly is this amazing project I’ve been going on and on about?

The project revolves around a commonplace issue for Deaf people: accessibility. Think of the last time you spontaneously decided to go to a museum. Chances are, if you’re hearing, you’d get a tour guide that would walk you from place to place and explain everything in that exhibit, or you would get a pair of earphones that would present the information to you auditorily. If you are Deaf, they’d drop a big, clunky textbook into your hands that had the script, in English, for each exhibit; you would fake a smile and act grateful, because you’re a nice person who has sadly become accustomed to this kind of inequality. But hey, some places didn’t even have that.

See, Ben is an adventurous person, and he decided last minute to go to a museum, only to realize there was absolutely NO accessibility for Deaf people whatsoever. He looked around at people who were entranced by the exhibits; there were exclamations of shock followed by tears as they learned about the Holocaust. He saw all these people feeling emotions he was being denied access to.

So he decided to make a change. For over a year he contacted the highest administrative officials of the museum, and finally got hold of them. Once they heard his project proposal, they were completely thrilled and on board. We received permission, went to the museum, recorded all the audio, transcribed it, glossed it, translated it into ASL, and filmed ourselves signing it in front of a green screen. There were 14 of us, and 18 exhibits, so many had to do two videos. The weeks after that were spent editing, captioning, and perfecting these videos.

The final version (or as Ben likes to call it, version 1.0) will be released at the Museum of Tolerance on iPADs they will provide for Deaf people to access when they please. Each exhibit will be numbered, so as the exhibit itself lights up, all you need to do is click the corresponding number on the iPAD and a video will pop up of someone signing the same information.

So, how’s that for accessibility?


This blog post represents the opinion of the author and not necessarily the views supported by The Deaf Dream.

Lipreading vs. Sign Language

By: Albany Jacobson Eckert
Junior Intern

I have a genetic degenerative hearing loss. I was born hearing, got hearing aids at age 11, and will become deaf probably by the time I am 30. I decided to start learning ASL last year. One time, I told a nurse about this and she told me that I needed to learn to lip-read. I was briefly taken aback, but I assured her I’m learning sign language. She just ignored me and kept insisting that I needed to learn to lip-read.  My experience is probably not unique. And it’s probably not the last time that will happen to me. But, if it does, I can happily give these reasons for my decision:

  1. Only around 30% of English can be read on the lips. And that’s probably in an ideal situation: no mustaches, no mumbling, clear light, etc. On the other hand, sign language can be understood from across a room.
  2. You cannot learn to lip-read the same way you can learn to sign. Learning sign is very straightforward – there are specific rules for the vocabulary and grammar. But, becoming skilled at lip-reading takes year and years of experience and trial and error, which can all go out the window with a single mustache.
  3. Lip-reading is mainly a one-way communication method. Meaning that the hearing person can understand you if you speak, but trying to understand the hearing person can get pretty stressful. Sign language, though, even if you’re still learning, can be understood by both parties.
  4. Lip-reading is optimized by knowing the context of the situation. If a deaf person enters a spoken conversation with no idea of the context, they’d probably have a hard time catching up. But, with a signed conversation, a person can probably understand the conversation after a few seconds. If not, they can always ask.
  5. Learning sign language enhances your linguistic skills and cognition. This is true with any language. Languages are generally bound by rules and patterns, which people can easily detect. Lip-reading is less predictable and can vary from speaker to speaker.
  6. Learning to sign opens up a whole new culture. And a culture with people who will understand you better! Why didn’t I start learning earlier???

Or, I can just show them this link: Even then, this test is multiple choice!

This blog post represents the opinion of the author and not necessarily the views supported by The Deaf Dream.

“You’re not allowed to ‘do’ sign language”

By: Mariam Janvelyan
Managing Intern

Do you understand these words as you’re reading them?

Is English your native language?

Did you answer yes to both of these questions?

Okay then, stop reading.

I mean it.

You don’t deserve access to this in your native language.

Are you offended? Now imagine you’re a 12 year old Deaf girl being threatened with suspension for using sign language. That’s right. For speaking in your native language. The reason? Sign language is “a safety hazard.”

A letter was sent home with a 12 year old Deaf student, admonishing her for “doing sign language after being told it wasn’t allowed on the bus.” The schools district attorney continues to insist that there are no rights being violated, when the case can be made that school officials are violating the ADA (Americans with Disabilities) Act. Now I was under the assumption that absurdities such as this one don’t occur anymore; how wrong I was. I cannot comprehend the reasoning behind denying someone such a fundamental human right: their right to ACCESS, their right to LANGUAGE. Freedom of expression. Taken away by those who have absolutely no right to do so. The only redeeming part of this story is that the child’s parents are planning on suing the district for infringing on her rights, which means this child has access to a proper language model at home.

You don’t ask a Spanish student to stop speaking in Spanish. You don’t ask a Chinese student to refrain from using Mandarin. So why force a Deaf student, who cannot hear and has been using ASL to communicate her entire life, to stop using ASL?


This blog post represents the opinion of the author and not necessarily the views supported by The Deaf Dream.

A Misconception at Gallaudet

By: Hannah Perry

Gallaudet College, a college for the deaf, in the nineteenth century was seen as a beacon of hope; giving higher education to the deaf Americans in a safe and accepting environment. Books, articles, and websites today give praise to the ever growing Gallaudet University. If one takes the time to dig deeper through the college’s past they will realize that there is a misconception that contradicts the popular believe that Gallaudet has always been a sanctuary for deaf students. The history reveals the shocking impact the school has had on the deaf students, faculty, and deaf culture and confronts the issues of gender discrimination at Gallaudet. The research gives light to the fact that Gallaudet did not always give their students a fair chance. Contrary to popular belief Gallaudet University does have a dark past full of oppression and discrimination. This article focuses on coeducation at Gallaudet College in the nineteenth century.

The founding of Gallaudet College in 1864 was a miraculous step forward in the deaf world of education, but what is not often mentioned is the fact that women were not accepted into Gallaudet for many years. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, the president of the school, did not debate the issue of accepting female students for 16 years. The female students applying for Gallaudet were often top students in their class, but despite their academic achievement many were not accepted. Although coeducation was a topic of debate during this time, Gallaudet didn’t seem to be holding up to its mission statement. Laura Sheridan, an advocate for higher education for women asks Gallaudet, “Has the National Deaf-Mute College, whose proposed object, is ‘to give competent deaf mutes and others…a thorough education in the studies usually pursued in American Colleges’, opened its doors to women?”. Many deaf men and leaders of Gallaudet did not want women involved in higher education and it was the women, hearing and deaf, who were the strongest advocates to get women enrolled in Gallaudet College.When women were finally accepted into the school they were treated like second class citizens and were kept out of clubs and organizations.“Female students were not allowed to attend on campus extracurricular activities without a matron or faculty member escort.” The women students were kept out of literary meetings and discussions and unable to develop and improve their language. This oppression is not often brought up when talking about Gallaudet and this topic does not appear in most deaf historical writings about Gallaudet College.

In the book “A Place of Their Own,” by John Vickrey Van Cleve and Barry A. Crouch, the fact that women were not accepted and treated poorly is not even mentioned when talking about Gallaudet College. The book “Forbidden Signs,” by Douglass C. Baynton, does have a whole chapter on women, but it focuses on teaching in Gallaudet and the growth of female teachers, not the discrimination female students faced. These books mask the fact that Gallaudet has a dark past with discrimination. These historical books support the popular belief that Gallaudet gave wonderful opportunities to men and women alike.

I believe Gallaudet University is a wonderful place to receive a higher education, but in order to not repeat the past we need to understand the history of the organization in its entirety. It was shocking to me that this behavior was allowed, and that the deaf male students were rarely a support in the fight for educational equality. I do not agree with the fact that female students were not treated equally and also the fact that this discrimination is hardly mentioned in most historical writings. I believe that Gallaudet College made a mistake and that their misjudgment should depicted correctly in history books.

This blog post represents the opinion of the author and not necessarily the views supported by The Deaf Dream.

15 Struggles Only Deaf Or Hard Of Hearing People Will Understand

By: Hannah Perry

Now THIS is a community!

By: Mariam Janvelyan
Managing Intern

“You remember I told you about that friend whose father’s uncle’s brother’s sister in law’s aunt twice removed is Deaf? Yeah? Well her daughter…”

As a profoundly hearing Armenian, I find that Armenian culture and Deaf culture are pretty similar: Armenians run on Armenian time (i.e. always late), they take forever to say goodbye, and everyone in the community pretty much knows each other. This past weekend, my ASL club (UCLA Hands On) along with ECC hosted a bonfire/potluck/mixer at the beach, and something really stood out to me: you don’t really know the differences between a hearing and Deaf community until they’re staring you in the face.

For starters, we were realistically expecting a minimal amount of people.  What started with 5, quickly turned into 50, and then 100, as hordes of people continued to pour in. As more and more people joined us, the differences between the two worlds really struck me. When the sun set and the bonfire was lit, Deaf people, almost unconsciously, gathered around the fire or other sources of light, while hearing individuals chose to struggle to see each other sign in the dark.

There were moments where I’d look around and simply stare at the conversations around me, in awe at the speed and expressiveness of each, catching glimpses of introductions here and there. One of my favorite parts of the night was that I was able to flit from group to group, pop in and introduce myself without feeling awkward or uncomfortable like many tend to with strangers, and then talk to people I’ve just met like I’ve known them my entire life. Within the first five minutes of conversation, we had exchanged our life stories and were joking around as you would with people you’ve known from diaper days. As the night went on, and conversations became deeper and more meaningful, I learned a few things:

  1. I felt a stronger connection to people whom I had just met than I ever had with others I’ve known my entire life.
  2. I was challenged and had my perspective altered on topics I wouldn’t even think about in other situations.
  3. I had. A lot. Of fun.

I realized, this is what I think of, when I think of community. There’s a sense of belonging, of oneness, of genuine care and curiosity of the other, and I feel beyond blessed to be able to get a glimpse of this noisy, beautiful world, that everyone just assumes is silent.


The Challenge

By: Mariam Janvelyan
Managing Intern


I looked around the table and all I saw were hands flying through the air, as my classmates recounted their favorite memories related to ASL. Facial expressions excitedly shifted from one emotion to the next and body language expressed volumes more than a mere sentence ever could.

Two hours. That was the challenge. A two hour silent lunch. Two hours communicating without using the one thing we’re so accustomed to: our voices.

The challenge was welcomed and then executed flawlessly. I watched as my classmates went up to the counter, pointed at an item on the menu, then held up two fingers and nodded, confirming their order. I went up and wordlessly asked for the student discount by pointing at myself, showing my student ID card, and signing an exaggerated version of “LESS MONEY?” I saw the understanding dawn on the cashier’s face as he beamed back at me, nodded, and signed thank you.

Thank you. With one simple sign, he broke the cynicism that seems to accompany hearing and Deaf ASL users alike.

For two hours, I heard nothing but the occasional clink of a fork on a plate, the shift of papers, and the hustle and bustle of the busy kitchen. I heard conversations of customers come to a stop as their eyes fixated on our table, trying to decipher the reasons behind our laughter. At the same time, I heard my Professor recount his favorite memories in his time teaching us. I heard my classmates make fun of me for the ridiculous mistakes I’ve made during my journey through the Deaf world. I heard my friends make plans for the weekend.

I heard everything. Why? Because I hear with my eyes, and speak with my hands. The challenge wasn’t just to not speak, but to listen. And I think you’ll find that Deaf people are the best listeners.

This blog post represents the opinion of the author and not necessarily the views supported by The Deaf Dream.


%d bloggers like this: