Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Parody of "We Didn't Start the Fire"

The middle kid came home from school two days ago and mentioned that one of her teachers played Billy Joel's, "We Didn't Start the Fire" in her history class. She was given the lyrics and mentioned that she didn't even understand what half of those historical mentions meant.

So I slapped "We Didn't Start the Fire" in the CD player and we talked about some of the history that was covered in there. Did I mention that Billy Joel is one of my favorites?

Yesterday morning, she got up out of bed and said, "Mom, I can't get those lyrics out of my head!"

Billy Joel did a great thing for kids all over when he wrote that little ditty of a song.

So today, when I spied this over at Meryl's Blog, I just had to take a look:

We Didn't Start the Fire (amusing video with lyrics and original song)


Here Comes Another Bubble (amusing parody).

And like I told my daughter, Marlee Matlin can be seen in the original:

Billy Joel--We Didn't Start the Fire.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Midwest Deaf Academic Bowl

David took off for the Indiana School for the Deaf last Thursday to compete in the Midwest Academic Bowl hosted by ISD and Gallaudet. Hinsdale South is shown on the left and Minnesota North Star is on the right in the photo above. Indiana won first place and Hersey took second. Hersey won the National competition last year. For those who are not familiar with the competition, the Academic Bowl consists of four team members and team subs who answer questions covering math, history, geography and literature. The teams compete on an individual as well as team basis.

Not a peep is heard the entire weekend as everyone communicates using American Sign Language. If anyone ever has doubts that ASL is a full language, one just has to watch this competition to erase all doubts. The kids can argue over complicated math questions, rearrange Shakespeare quotes and describe Roman architecture all without vibrating a single vocal cord.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Marlee Matlin on Oprah and Dancing With the Stars

Ah yes, the rumors are so true, Marlee Matlin is in the line up for the new Dancing with the Stars season. She will be on Oprah today along with the other cast members.

USA Today published an interview with Marlee: Deaf Matlin Follows in Mills' Footsteps. Marlee isn't worried about following the music. "The stairs at the top of the stage--I'm thinking heels, stairs, and I start to sweat," she says in the USA Today article.

A deaf gal dancing to music? But how?

Like me, Marlee has some hearing with her hearing aids. She can follow music and lyrics with practice. We both share a common love of Billy Joel's music and by memorizing the lyrics, we can follow along.

Billy Joel's song, "Just the Way You Are" was my wedding song and I knew that song backwards and forwards. Yet, because we had a band playing the music and singing the song, I had difficulty following it and had to glance at the interpreter to keep up with the words. If I could do my wedding dance over again, I'd definitely play a CD recording instead. The music and lyrics are so ingrained that any deviation from it makes me lose the ability to follow it.

I haven't watched "Dancing with the Stars" before, but I'm looking forward to Marlee kicking up her heels!

I'm in the middle of the Oprah show and watching the stars from previous shows dance. Riding a Cowboy--need I say more? ::::Fannning myself::::: I'm hooked already!

Update #2:

According to Jamie Berke, Marlee now has a blog on My Space:

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Now Over at Parenting Squad!

I'm now a Contributing Writer over at Parenting Squad and my first article is up:

Ten Hearing Aids at My House

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Shooting at Northern Illinois University

Four students died (now updated to six) and thirteen were wounded today when a gunman unleashed a hail of bullets in Cole Hall at Northern Illinois University. News reports say that the gunman jumped on the stage and began shooting the students from there. He turned the gun on himself a few minutes later.

This hits especially close to home because I have many friends and professors from NIU. I graduated from Northern Illinois University in 1987 and 1989. Every year, I return to campus to speak to a class taught by Dr. Ouellette. In December of last year, just a week after I was there, the campus was closed due to a threat found in a washroom.

My heart goes out to the families of the students who died and the students and professor who were wounded.

BlogHer Post on NIU

Business and Blogging Examines Steak 'n Shake Incident

On Wednesday, January 28, 2008, I experienced discrimination at a local Steak 'n Shake restaurant when a manager slammed the window in my face and refused to fill an order for two milkshakes.

After briefly debating whether to sit in the drive thru in protest and allow the manager to fulfill his threat to call the cops, I decided to blog about it instead. Thanks to the power of the internet, customers no longer have to walk away grumbling about poor businesses practices or in my case, outright discrimination. Companies today are seeing the power of Web 2.0 and the lasting effects that search engines can have on their reputations.

Liz Fuller at Business and Blogging tackled the Steak 'n Shake incident and examined how Steak 'n Shake is handling this public relations crisis that resulted. As she explained how the incident unfolded, she noted an interesting fact that should have Steak 'n Shake executives concerned:

The next day, she itemized over 80 blogs that had picked up her story. The story was also picked up that night by ABC News and Fox News. Today, approximately three weeks after it happened there are almost 1000 hits on Google when typing in the search words, “Steak and Shake” and “Deaf Mom”.

More than that, this story appears in positions #3 through #9 on the front page of Google when searching on the terms “Steak and Shake”. Currently, the Steak and Shake site itself holds positions #1 and #2, but if this continues - how long will that last?

Liz notes that companies today need to implement a crisis management policy to handle any negative publicity that can occur. News via the internet travels faster than the speed of light nowadays. As Liz states:

This incident underscores what we have been saying - the traditional rules of “managing the message” don’t apply any more. Consumers have much more opportunity to take the message into their own hands with minimal cost and maximum effect.

To read the full post on Business and Blogging: Crisis Case Study: Steak 'n Shake Denies Service to Deaf Mom

and a follow up interview:

Business and Blogging: Interview with Karen Putz

Several people have asked me for an update on the Steak 'n Shake situation. Howard Rosenblum, a deaf attorney from Equip for Equality, is working with me on this. Steak 'n Shake has hired an attorney with a disability rights background to assist them. We are currently waiting to hear from them.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

MTV True Life Chooses Deaf Student

MTV is coming to town.

MTV is producing a documentary, True Life, I'm Deaf and has chosen Aubrey Millar from my hometown. You may remember Aubrey from a previous post:

The Oldest Goes off to High School.

David and Aubrey have been friends since they were babies. I'm so excited for Aubrey and I look forward to watching this documentary unfold!

MTV came and shot footage for two days. Now it's a matter of going back to the producer and determining if they'll select Aubrey for the documentary or search for others.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Deaf Bookclub Meets Via Video!

On Saturday night, after sending my oldest kid off to the Turnabout dance, I headed over to my BookHands meeting. Two of our members couldn't make it and one had to leave early. Two of our other members moved out of state but they continued to read the books along with the rest of us. We discussed the book, They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky, about three boys who lived in Sudan and later came to America.

We had hoped to connect via with Karen from Georgia and Kathy from Texas, but Kathy wasn't able to get her webcam up and running. So we had Karen on Oovoo and Kathy on the videophone and we were able to do a video chat. We will be connecting via Oovoo for our next meeting, which will allow Karen and Kathy to see each other and partcipate fully.

The only drawback is that Karen and Kathy will have to provide their own chocolate!

I love technology!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Join Me on Oovoo!

The great folks over at Oovoo, are hosting My Oovoo Day, an event where bloggers from all over are hosting a chat day to interact with their readers using webcams and text and voice chat. This chat is in honor of Susan Reynolds, a blogger who was diagnosed with breast cancer and has been sharing her journey in her blog, Boobs on Ice. You may have heard about the Frozen Peas Fund which is collecting money for breast cancer research in Susan's honor. I also have a friend, Jill, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and I'm doing this with her in mind as well.

I'm hosting an Oovoo chat day on February 21, 2008 from noon until 2p.m. Central time. Participation is limited to five chatters at one time. You can sign up to join the chat here:

A Deaf Mom Shares Her World--Open House!

All that is required is a webcam and the Oovoo software which can be downloaded for free here:

Oovoo Software

We'll be chatting about anything and everything-- kids, life, blogging, and heck, even boobs!

Oovoo is generously donating funds to the Frozen Pea Fund and Hands & Voices for the chat.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Join Me at the Reader's Cafe

Glenda Watson Hyatt has invited me to share the spotlight at her Reader's Cafe Wednesday, February 6 from 4 to 7 p.m. Pacific Standard time. That's from 6 to 10 p.m. Central Standard Time.

Glenda plans to tackle some questions related to the recent denial of service at Steak 'n Shake such as:

Why didn’t you go inside to order your milkshake? (I know why, but I would like Karen to explain why.)

Is this type of incident common for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing?

What don’t most people understand about being Deaf orhard of hearing? What are some typical barriers you face daily?

Some unenlightened souls say you shouldn’t even be driving because you wouldn’t hear sirens coming, and thus, are a safety concern on the road. How do you know when to pull over for emergency vehicles?

As a person with a disability, surely you unfortunately encounter annoying and discriminating situation frequently. What was it about this particular situation that made you fight it rather than brush it of?

What steps have you taken so far to advocate for your rights?

You’ve used social media, like blogs and Twitter, to tell your story. What kinds of responses or results have you experienced? How have you managed to keep up with all of it?

Read more at: Glenda's Reader's Cafe

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Pepsi Commercial Interview with ABC

Last night, I met up with Darren and Sheri Therriault at the West Suburban Association of the Deaf. I am one of the past presidents of this club and Dennis O'Brien, the current president has taken the club to new heights.

Darren played the passenger in the Pepsi Commercial that will be airing today during the Super Bowl pre-game. During the "Deal or No Deal" game last night, Darren and I provided the "commercials" for the breaks.

So many people came up to me last night to share their own stories about drive thru struggles. Most of them related stories about attitude barriers. It is clear that we need to make some changes in the restaurant industry when it comes to serving deaf and hard of hearing customers.

Darren and I and our spouses had to leave early last night. I had to pick up my kids and he had to get up early to do the ABC News this morning with Karen Meyer:

"Bob's House" to Air During Super Bowl

Photo descriptions:
#1 Sheri and Darren and me
#2 Darren and Dennis O'Brien doing a commercial break
#3 WSAD "Howie" leading the way

Friday, February 01, 2008

Culver's Served Me Through the Drive Thru

Yesterday, I joined Patrick Hughes, Jr. and Carey Siegel at the Romeoville Culver's to discuss drive thru solutions for fast food restaurants. Patrick is the owner of Inclusion Solutions, a company that provides products for improved access for people with disabilities.

Inclusion Solutions has installed a product called "Order Assist" in 28 Culver's locations.

I decided to experience the drive thru myself, so I arrived a bit early and went through the drive thru. When I pulled up to the speaker, I pushed a large button below a sign that said: "Deaf or Other Communication Barriers? Review menu, Ring BigBell, Pull Forward."

Easy enough. I pushed the bell and went forward. The employee was alerted by the bell and aware that the car coming up needed assistance with an order. She opened the window with a smile and took my order. When she told me I could wait at the window for my order, she included a casual gesture as well. I also had the option of viewing a printed menu and circling items on that or writing down my order on a professional-looking paper that was clipped to a board with a pen.

I went inside to meet with Patrick, Carey and the manager, Ron Dalrymple. They showed me around the restaurant and explained how Order Assist works. Next to every register is a display stand filled with cards and pens so that customers can write down their orders. Employees are quick to switch to written communication when a customer has difficulty understanding them.

"When deaf people come in and see our Order Assist, their eyes light up and they know they are welcomed here," said Ron.

When Patrick first approached Ron about installing the Order Assist at his restaurants, Ron recognized that it was a simple, easy way to provide access to his customers. Culver's has encouraged the other franchise owners to install the Order Assist. There are 28 Culvers locations in six states that feature this access.

How does Order Assist compare to touch-screen menus, I asked?

The answer was a simple one-- fast food restaurants operate on efficiency and speed--touch screens will slow that whole process down. It is also quite expensive to purchase a touch screen and the customer would have difficulty customizing the order.

"This system is so simple," said Patrick. "With this system, and awareness by the employees, customers can be served at the drive thru with ease."

And by the way, Culver's serves shakes!

Can you imagine if every Steak 'n Shake restaurant had the Order Assist in place--drive thrus would be accessible!