The Daily Moth 9-13-17

September 14, 2017


8 Dead in Nursing Home in South Florida, Huge Crisis in Myanmar, Sen. Bernie Sanders Introduces “Medicare for All” Plan, Illinois Woman’s Body Found in Hotel Freezer, Interview With Viral Deaf CDI Sam Harris, Rhode Island Association of the Deaf Sues Hospitals for ADA Violations, U.S. Senate Passes EHDI Reauthorization Act, and Interview with Deaf Man from Barbados 




Hello, welcome to the Daily Moth! It is Wednesday, September 13. Ready for news? 




Here are four news briefs: 



Six people died in a nursing home in south Florida (Hollywood) — there was no electricity and apparently the nursing home did not have air conditioning. Three of them died inside, three more died after being transported to the hospital. 


More than 100 people inside of the nursing home was evacuated, some of them were also brought to hospitals. 


The Hollywood police chief said it was sad and that they are now starting a criminal investigation.


An official from the local electricity company said the nursing home was not listed as a top priority to restore electricity after a storm — and this might be why the building was not immediately re-connected to the power lines. It is possible that some areas had electricity while other areas did not. 


Florida Gov. Rick Scott said this situation is unfathomable and that he will demand answers on how this happened. 


There are still millions of people who don’t have electricity and it can be dangerous for the elderly, the sick, or the very young during the Florida heat. 



In Myanmar, there is a huge crisis with a minority group of Muslims — the Rohingya — as the U.N. said they are being targeted by the Buddgist-majority government who wants to “kill them all” — ethnic cleansing. 


This started in August 25 when a group of Rohingya people attacked various police posts and an army camp. This triggered a counter-offensive by the government who has attacked villages and killed many Rohingya. 


Now 370,000 Rohingya, fleeing violence, have crossed over into Bangladesh. The government there is now dealing with a crisis and is asking for more than 70 million to support their needs. 


The Rohingya have faced violence and perspective on the past. They are not recognized as citizens in Myanmar and often live in very poor conditions. 



Sen. Bernie Sanders (I, Vt.) introduced a proposal to establish a new, national health care system — Medicare for all. It is Bernie’s vision to have everybody in the U.S. to have government-run health insurance, for private health insurance to be mostly eliminated, and for the government to have more authority to control medical costs. Everything would be covered, including dental, vision, and hearing coverage. 


Bernie said the Republicans are already looking at the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare as limited and he and other Democrats are looking for an alternative. He has 16 other Democratic senators who has co-sponsored his bill.


The program will be very expensive — around $3 trillion a year — and will require a variety of new taxes to support it, but Bernie and others say it will be a good trade-off since Americans already spend so much on health insurance. 


But with Republicans controlling Congress and the White House, it will probably never pass. Yet, Democrats hope to inject debate and to have Americans understand the concept and look to the future — the 2018 and 2020 elections. Will Americans support this idea? 



In Illinois, the body of a 19-year old woman, Kenneka Jenkis, was found inside a walk-in freezer at a big hotel in the Chicago area last Sunday. 


Kenneka’s family said she was last seen going to a party at the hotel with friends on Friday night. Her friends told her family that she went missing around 4:30 am, and they had her cellphone and truck keys. After a 11-hour search, her body was found in the freezer. 


Her family said investigators said they saw from security video that Kenneka was stumbling around in the hotel (possibly drunk). Police said she might have accidentally got into the freezer (thinking it was an elevator or another door) and got stuck. But her family don’t think this is what happened. Some people think there was a crime. 


Police are still working on the case. Her family said this is horrible and unbelievable. 




Here is an interview with Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI) Sam Harris, who went viral when he interpreted for Florida Gov. Rick Scott. He appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! last night. Here it is.


Alex: Hello, Sam Harris!


Sam: Hello.


Alex: You went viral from interpreting for Florida Gov. Rick Scott and you were on the Kimmel show last night, wow. You’re a CDI, how long have you been working as a CDI? 


Sam: I’ve been doing it since I was a Gallaudet student. I enrolled in 2005 and interpreted sometimes during the four years there. For the past five years, I’ve been doing it professionally. I also teach an ITP (Interpreter Training Program) at a college and do CDI work as well. 


Alex: When you interpreted for Florida Gov. Rick Scott, were you surprised at the level of attention you got in the media? 


Sam: Yes, I was surprised. I knew that it was a serious situation and my vision of the audience that was watching was not for only Deaf people, but also for people who might not use English, I wanted to show that it was a serious situation. I wanted to give that cross-cultural communication.  When I was finished with my job, I felt I did good and left. I did not expect for it to go viral. 


Alex: What did you feel when you saw all those articles about you? How do you think hearing people perceive your job? 


Sam: I’ve seen various perspectives. I’m glad that people recognize the importance of a CDI for effective communication. Many Deaf people were thrilled at the clear communication and the [CDI] difference. But some thought that my facial expressions were too much. They might have a lack of understanding of the importance of cross-cultural communication. It is important in ASL to have clear facial expressions to deliver the message. So there was a range of perspectives. 


Alex: Last night you were on the Kimmel show. How did you get this opportunity? 


Sam: After the hurricane and the Governor’s announcement, someone contacted my partner, Keri Brooks. The person who contacted her is a CODA, from the Kimmel group, and they wanted me to be on the show. We worked it out, I got on a plane here, and it just started from there, it went very fast. 


Alex: You were on the show, in the audience last night. How did that feel? 


Sam: It was… a different experience. It was more focused on a comical performance. Some of his statements were interesting, I just followed along with his vision. It was a different experience and a good one. The audience laughed, that was their goal, to make the audience laugh, and we met that goal. 


Alex: You and your partner, Keri, started an interpreting business, “True-Biz ASL.” Can you tell us more about that business and how long has it been in operation? 


Sam: True-Biz ASL was founded because we felt like other interpreting agencies were not really fully focused on ASL. We wanted to show what a “tru-biz” ASL was. We originally started out teaching ASL online, then we offered training to Deaf people who wanted to be CDIs. As time went on, we realized other interpreting agencies in Florida were struggling to meet Deaf people’s needs and access to… choosing their preferred interpreters, whether it was a male or a female, the voice tone, this service was not really there. So we decided to start this last year. We invested into CDIs and started to use it because it was important to support Deaf people and what they preferred with interpreters. 


Alex: Do you get a lot of requests for CDIs? Is it hard to educate hearing people about CDIs? What are your opinions on that? 


Sam: It is varied. There are some people who are very supportive of it. But there are some hearing interpreters who say they support it, but when they talk to others in other settings, do they really advocate for CDIs and explain the concept clearly? There are still struggles in that. Some Deaf people think they don’t need a CDI, but this is really important, such as information related to hurricanes or if you’re bedridden in a hospital. There was one time when I went to a hospital for a Deaf patient and the doctor said the patient was a vegetable, brain-dead. But when I looked at the patient, I saw that he could understand me just fine through his facial expressions. There are serious incidents like this that go on. So it is important. 


Alex: Wow. Hurricane Irma did pass by close to your home and your business. Are you and your family okay? 


Sam: Yes, we are all okay and safe. I went to a shelter and rode out the storm. The category went down from a 2 to a 1 and to a storm with 60, 70 mph winds. After the night, I went out and saw a lot of felled trees, but there was no damage to my home, everything was okay. What a relief, we are safe. 


Alex: Wow, I’m glad everyone over there is safe and okay. Do you want to share any final thoughts before we close this interview? 


Sam: Yes. I want to say I appreciate the Deaf community and those who have been supportive and said they can see the difference between a hearing interpreter and a CDI. I’m grateful. I want to emphasize that a CDI is a very unique job. There is a lot of skill involved, training, knowing registers, all that, it is an unique job. I look forward to seeing more CDIs emerge and to show other Deaf people that this is a valuable job/service and for hearing people to understand this as well. Communication accommodations for all is required under the ADA law. It can accommodate Deaf people and others during those serious situations. It is important. 


Alex: Thank you for your time, Sam.


Sam: Sure. Good to see you.




The Rhode Island Association of the Deaf (RIAD) is suing a group of hospitals in federal court for violating the ADA by not providing effective communication to deaf patients. 


The RIAD and two deaf women, Kathryn Arcana and Peggy Merhi. The hospital group’s name is Lifespan and they run the Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children’s Hospital, among others. 


What happened? I will summarize the two deaf individuals’ experiences — the incidents were at various times from 2014 to 2017. 


The first is Kathryn Arcana


  • Went to Hasbro Children’s Hospital with her young son — who has a sickle cell disease and another serious health issues.  She says that there was no “effective communication.” There were interpreters, but only briefly, but for the other times, there were no interpreters. Doctors and nurses even tried to speak to Kathryn through surgical masks. She had to talk with doctors via handwritten notes and felt the information was limited. One time the hospital asked Kathryn to call for her own interpreter. She felt frustrated because she couldn't explain doctors about her son’s complicated medical history, feeling that the hospital did not know her son had sickle cell disease.  


- VRI was sometimes provided, but the quality was often bad (froze up or poor microphone) and staff didn’t know how to use it. The hospital then resorted to hand-written notes rather than getting an onsite interpreter. 


  • One time, before Kathryn’s son’s surgery to remove an organ, she had a physical breakdown due to the stress of not having an interpreter. She felt she couldn’t ask questions or get to know the medical team prior to the surgery. After the surgery, she saw that her son looked sick and was in pain, but was not able to effectively communicate with the medical team. It caused severe stress and mental trauma. 



The second is Peggy Merhi 


  • Her late deaf husband, Semi, had cancer — lymphoma. In various visits from 2015 to 2017, the Rhode Island Hospital did not provide an ASL interpreter to them. Staff communicated with Semi by handwritten notes, even when he had IVs in his arms. Once he was so frustrated from the lack of interpreters he tried to leave the hospital while being treated. 


  • In another instance, Peggy did not get an ASL interpreter for her son’s shoulder injury and other medical issues. Staff used her son to translate. 


  • There was another incident where Peggy’s son was admitted to the hospital due to mental health issues. The medical staff were discussing whether to place her son into a psychiatric facility, but there were no interpreters.


  • The Merhis did have ASL interpreters for appointments, but no interpreters in the emergency department. 


  • There was VRI technology provided, but it often froze or the screen went black. One VRI interpreter smoked a cigarette while two dogs ran in the background. They then resorted to hand-writing and they felt valuable information was omitted in the process. 


The RIAD said they tried multiple times to reach out to the hospital and provide training and awareness of ADA rights and how to use interpreters, but that it was not successful as the hospitals continue to discriminate against deaf people. 

The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and seeks for the court to find that the hospital discriminated against deaf people, violated the ADA, to provide and pay for qualified interprets, train hospital staff about deaf people’s rights and how to get interpreters, pay for attorneys fees, and award money for damages. 


The NAD, Eisenberg & Baum, and the Rhode Island Disability Law Center are representing the RIAD and the two plaintiffs. 


Here is a video statement from Todd Murano, the RIAD president. 


[Summary Transcript: Todd explains that the RIAD have decided to file this lawsuit with the NAD after getting multiple complaints from Deaf people in Rhode Island about communication access. Todd hopes that the hospitals will provide interpreters without regard to cost or hours, and for all the floors/departments of the hospital to work together to understand and meet deaf people’s communication needs. He then thanks the two deaf families for being brave to stand up for their rights to file the lawsuit, saying their bravery will forever impact the RI Deaf community and raise standard at hospitals.]




The U.S. Senate just passed the EHDI (Early Hearing Detection and Intervention) Act, which would continue funding EHDI programs for another five years.  


Those programs are focused on making sure newborns and young children are screened for hearing loss, doing research, develop programs for communication and social skills, and fund/supervise states that provide EHDI services. 


The bill would grant $17.8 million for fiscal year 2018, $18.2 million for 2019, $18.6 million for 2020, $19 million for 2021, and $19.5 million for 2022.


The bill’s two co-sponsors are Sen. Portman (R, Ohio) and Sen. Kaine (D, Va). A similar version of the bill was just introduced in the House, sponsored by Rep. Guthrie (R, Ky) and Rep. Matsui (D, Ca). 


Before the bill was passed, the NAD criticized legislators who wrote the bill, saying there was no request for input from the NAD or the Deaf community — rather the legislators opted to take the advice of audiologists, doctors, and speech therapists. 


The NAD was concerned about how EHDI services tended to lean heavily towards speech and hearing therapy while largely ignoring sign langauge, with 85% of parents of deaf children choosing to focus on only hearing and speech. 


The NAD also wanted the funding to not go to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and agencies under their supervision — but go instead to an agency that had experience with langauge acquisition for deaf children.


I reached out to the NAD to see their thoughts about this bill. 


They said that unfortunately none of their proposed amendments made it in the bill, but said there were some positive changes, such as language that said there needed to be deaf mentors and role models for deaf and hard of hearing babies and their families and replacing “hearing impaired” with “deaf and hard of hearing.” 


The NAD said they are now focused on educating House representatives about their concerns and recommendations — including making sure that every family receives services in both ASL and English in addition with the family’s home langauge. 


They plan to announce a special day where they will encourage Deaf people to call their House representatives via VP.







Here is an interview with a Deaf Man from Barbados, Dario. I asked him some questions about how Deaf people in the Caribbean islands were impacted by the recent hurricanes. 


I’m going to interview a Deaf man from Barbados, Dario. I asked him a few questions about Deaf people in the Caribbean and whether they were impacted by Hurricane Irma. Check it out. 


Dario: I’m from Barbados and my name is Dario. 


Alex: There have been hurricanes that have hit the Caribbean islands lately, with the hardest hit areas in the Barbuda and St. Martin. Do you know if there were any Deaf people who were impacted? 


Dario: Before the hurricane came, where I am (Barbados), Hurricane Irma went north of it and towards other Caribbean islands, I noticed a strong rushing wind and then later the winds went the opposite way. The storm hit Barbuda and St. Maarten. Those islands were devastated. In Barbuda, 90% of the island was destroyed. They had no food, no water, and struggled. 


Another island that is close to Barbuda, Antigua, picked people up by ferry and carried them across. They also used planes. There were 1,600 people who were transported from the islands. The animals were left behind and there were other people who cared for them. There are no deaf people living in Barbuda, just in Antigua. 


Alex: So there are no Deaf people living in Barbuda? 


Dario: There are no Deaf people there. 


Alex: On the island of St. Maarten, are there any Deaf people there? 


Dario: I’ve tried to find Deaf people there via the internet or on social media. It is difficult to find any. I don’t know what is going on there. 


Alex: You did mention that there was a Deaf woman who had her roof torn off?


Dario: Yes, she is from Anguilla. We talked via video. She told me that outside of her home, there was destroyed trees and crashed cars and devastation everywhere. I asked her if she and her family were fine, and she said they were. But they do not have electricity and internet is spotty. It is tough to communicate with them. 


Alex: What about your island, Barbados? Is it fine? Any damage from the hurricane? 


Dario: There is no destruction, but there was some flooding in the northwest part from Irma, I mean Harvey, I think. But there was no widespread raining, just in the northern part. Some homes were damaged a little, but we are mostly fine. 


Alex: Do you have any additional comments? 


Dario: I’ve pondered about this — I’m worried because there are no interpreters for emergency notifications when hurricanes come. I wish I could somehow access video of other news and sign it and spread the word to other islands, but it is not easy. Or if there is someone who is willing to interpret, but it is tough because not many are skilled in sign language. It’s tough and I worry about this. I hope someone from the U.S. can somehow support the Caribbean islands, not just the three that were devastated, but all the other Caribbean islands, or at least teach interpreters how to deal with emergency situations. If someone can’t come over, maybe someone over there can interpret news here in one of the Caribbean islands and send the video to me, and I can deliver it to local news to broadcast it so deaf people will know what is going on. 


Alex: Thank you for explaining things. 


Dario: Thank you, Daily Moth.




That is all for today. I will be going out of town tomorrow, but there will be a sub-moth tomorrow — James Doolittle, Jr. So you’ll see him tomorrow. Stay with the light!





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