Saturday, January 8, 2011

Oklahoma AF Base Add Video Relay Services For Its Deaf Employees

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Oklahoma Air Force Base adds video relay services for its deaf employees

From Tinker Air Force Base Public Affairs Office:

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Thanks to the installation of a new, technologically-advanced device called the Z-150, deaf/hearing impaired employees at Tinker can now speak to, and see, one another over the phone.

The Z-150 is a video phone system with a camera and monitor that allows communications to travel over the network, similar to a computer. It uses a relay interpreter service, so deaf/hearing impaired employees can have conversations with other people who are not hearing impaired. A relay person, or a sign language interpreter, visually communicates to the deaf/hearing impaired person who has the Z-150 through the monitor.

Susan McClintick, information assurance specialist in the 72nd Air Base Wing Communications Directorate, worked on a team of three people for nearly two years to get the Z-150 certified and approved in compliance with Air Force standards.

"This is to help our hearing impaired employees, so they will have less dependence on an interpreter or interpretation services," Ms. McClintick said. "Our main goal was to make sure they weren't going to use a product that later someone would come out and say, 'Oh, you can't use this.' We wanted to make sure it was approved prior to them ordering and using it."

Patty Wilson, program analyst and sign language interpreter in the 76th Maintenance Wing's Operations Office, is currently the only interpreter on base. She said the Z-150 system frees up a lot of her time interpreting the small items that can now be completed by using the Z-150.

Instead of Ms. Wilson having to physically meet with the hearing impaired employees to interpret each time they use the phone, the Z-150 connects to an answering service and a live person signs and translates to the deaf caller.

Although one Z-150 was already installed within the Defense Logistics Agency on base, David Harman, an engineering technician in the 948th Supply Chain Management Group, was the first hearing impaired employee within the Tinker Air Force side to use a Z-150.

"It's wonderful," Mr. Harman said. "It helped me to be independent myself, and I can call anyone, anywhere. I don't have to depend on people calling for me."

Mr. Harman has been working at Tinker since 1985 and has seen many phone devices for deaf/hearing impaired employees come and go. But the Z-150 is the fastest and most efficient system so far, he said.

Because of Mr. Harman's experience and knowledge with video phones, Ms. Wilson chose him to be the first person to test the use of the phone and make sure it worked properly. Tinker now has four five of the phone systems installed and five several more have been ordered.

"We will order continuously until we finish getting all the deaf on base a Z-150, working with their supervisors," Ms. Wilson said.

There are currently 100-150 people employed at Tinker who are deaf or hard of hearing, and who will eventually need the Z-150 phones installed in their offices. The devices cost $399 per phone, but Tinker is able to get them free of charge through the Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program, or CAP, which is funded through the Secretary of Defense and is designated to help government employees with any type of disability.

Not only does the Z-150 have a camera and video, it has many other functions as well. It can be used between two hearing impaired employees, which means an interpreter is not needed at all.

"The phone also allows hearing impaired employees to call other people who have Z-150 phones, and the interpreter drops out of the picture," Ms. McClintick said.

Also, if a person has a cochlear implant, a device that provides a sense of sound to hearing impaired individuals, then that person has the option to actually speak to the interpreter from the answering service.

"So they have a right to use their voice if they choose to do so," Ms. Wilson said. "But the interpreter will still sign."

The sign language interpreters within the relay are part of an answering service provided through the Z-150 phone system. However, they are government employees so they have a code of confidence that allows them to share and communicate any type of information they may see and hear.

Before the Z-150, Mr. Harman would primarily communicate through e-mail when he wasn't relying on Ms. Wilson to interpret for him. With the new phone, he said he uses the Z-150 at least three or four times per day.

"I don't have to bother Patty for the little things anymore," Mr. Harman said. "It's great technology and I appreciate this so much." 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Gadgets For SMA (from Gwedolyn Strong Foundation)

Posted: 26 Dec 2010 08:22 AM PST

Was Santa good to you this year? Did he bring you that awesome new iPhone you were wishing for? Was there a shiny new Canon digital camera under the tree? Did you find an Xbox Kinect in your stocking? New laptop? GPS device? That’s awesome! You must have been a very good girl/boy this year and we’re sure you are enjoying all of your brand new toys today.
So, what are you going to do with that old cell phone, digital camera, video game console, laptop, or GPS device that is now sitting in your closet or drawer? Simple. Why not turn them into much needed SMA research dollars through GadgetsForSMA.com! At NO cost to you! For many items, not even the cost of a box to ship it in!
It’s super simple and you can sell almost any gadget through the system. They’ll tell you instantly how many SMA research dollars your gadget is worth and they send you a box in the mail. All you have to do is put your gadget in the box and ship it back to them. They even pay for the shipping! It really is that simple. We promise :)
So what are you waiting for? Go to GadgetsForSMA.com now to get rid of those gadgets and help accelerate research focused on ending SMA!
Here’s how:
  • Go to GadgetsForSMA.com
  • Type the name of your gadget in the white box and click “Find”
  • Select your gadget’s model from the search results and click “Donate Now”
  • Answer the simple questions and click “Calculate” (the resulting $ amount is how much GSF will receive as a result of your gadget donation)
  • Click “Add To Box”
  • Click “Checkout” if you are ready to help end SMA or type the name of another gadget in the white box and click “Find” if you want to add more gadgets to your order
  • That’s it!

A Young Man Who Is Making A Difference in the Lives of His Haitian Countrymen (from Fireside International Blog)


I am so proud to bring you this blog post about a young Haitian man that has shown us all what it means to be a hero.
I first encountered Herold Charles on Twitter nearly a year ago. Immediately following the earthquake in Haiti, Herold was fast on his feet, acting swiftly to make a difference in the lives of those who were suffering, both in Haiti and abroad.
On Friday, December 10, 2010, Herold will be honored for that valiant and heroic effort on the TeenNick HALO Awards (premiering at 8pm Eastern Time on TeenNick). In addition to totally surprising us with a donation of half of his charitable prize, Herold was kind enough to grant me this interview where he explains more about his incredible journey.
LUKE: Tell us your story. Where are you from specifically, what are your passions, and where do you see yourself in the future?
HEROLD: I am from Jacmel. I moved to the states when I was 12 with my dad. All my other relatives live in Haiti. My dad is currently there since the quake and never came back home. I have a passion for Technology. I am currently in high school but I am doing both High School and college at the same time. I am currently in my 3rd year on studying IT- Computer Networking. I don’t really think much of my future but from the looks of things, I am pretty sure it’s gonna be a great one. I hope to continue on networking. If not, I’ll go for psychology. All my friends tell me I picked the wrong career choice because I am so good at giving advice.
LUKE: Describe the TeenNick HALO Awards.
HEROLD: The TeenNick HALO Award is an award given to individuals that are Helping And Leading Others (HALO). After the earthquake in Haiti, I was helping intensely with Relief Efforts; I helped find missing relatives for people in the States and around the world through Twitter. They would send me the name, address, and phone number of their relatives in Haiti and I would then forward it by text (at that time calling didn’t work) to my family in Haiti and they would then go and get me some news on those people. Once they got news, they would in turn call me and let me know what they heard and I would go ahead and call the families here and let them know what I heard. Some was good news and others, not so good. Besides that, I was helping out with translation from English to French, Creole, or Spanish. I would translate documents for medical personnel and news reports.
LUKE: As I understand it, there was a personal prize and a prize for your choice of non-profit. Can you describe how that breaks down?
HEROLD: There were two prizes given. They awarded me with a combined total of $20,000. $10,000 would go towards my education and the other $10,000 would go to the charity of my choice. I decided that you guys (Fireside International) and Project Medishare would be the two organizations I would award the grant to, because I oh so love the work that you guys are doing! Both of you will receive $5,000 each.
Herold Charles stands alongside a fellow hero to Haiti, Wyclef Jean
LUKE: We feel so very fortunate to share the $10,000 prize with @Medishare4Haiti. While we are very aware of our own projects, can you please take a moment to tell us more about the work that MedShare is doing?
HEROLD: Project Medishare for Haiti, Inc., a 501.3 non-profit registered in the State of Florida, was founded in 1994 by Drs. Barth Green and Arthur Fournier from the University of Miami School of Medicine. It is an organization dedicated to sharing its human and technical resources with its Haitian partners in the quest to achieve quality healthcare and development services for all. This mission is accomplished through two distinct but complimentary programs which now frequently intersect, such as the Community Health Program and the Integrated Community Development Program.
(You can find out more about Project MediShare at their website:www.ProjectMediShare.org
LUKE: As a humanitarian and a young leader, what advice can you give to the rest of us when it comes to making a difference in our world?
HEROLD: My advice to everyone out there is that you are never too small to make a difference. With the right determination, you can’t change the world but you can sure change someone’s life. If that person pays it forward, you will reach a whole lot more people than you imagined. When I was doing this work, I didn’t expect anything to happen. But look at how much is happening. I would suggest to everyone that whatever they are doing, don’t do it for selfish reasons. Do it because you care. Do it because you are passionate about it. Do it because you care about people!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Wheelchair Basketballers Help Out Wounded Warriors

UTA wheelchair basketballers help wounded warriors who are trying out for Army team

02:21 PM CST on Sunday, December 12, 2010
By IAN McCANN / The Dallas Morning News
ARLINGTON – As they get ready to compete against their counterparts from other service branches, soldiers trying out for the U.S. Army's wheelchair basketball team learned from some of the best in the sport this weekend.
KELLEY CHINN/Special Contributor
KELLEY CHINN/Special Contributor
Army Spc. Craig Smith took a spill while on the court with Army veteran Randall McMinn (left) of the UTA Movin' Mavs during a wheelchair basketball tournament Saturday.
The soldiers belong to the Army's Warrior Transition Unit, set up in 2007 to support soldiers injured in the line of duty and their families. In May, they'll be playing in the Warrior Games, a joint program of the Department of Defense and the U.S. Olympic Committee.
"We try to use sports to help them in their transition," said Maj. Chris Cooper, who oversees adaptive sports for the Warrior Transition Command. "It definitely makes a significant difference in the process."
They trained in a clinic hosted by the University of Texas at Arlington's Movin' Mavs, one of the top programs in the country, then played against each other in a tournament that will help narrow a field of 25 soldiers to 10 for the Army's team. The event closed Saturday night with a game against the Movin' Mavs.
Some of the soldiers lost limbs in combat, while others suffered paralysis, knee injuries and back injuries.
Joining the warrior transition program helped Sgt. Le'Roy L. Scott II realize that he's still able to contribute as a soldier, even though he can no longer run miles with a pack strapped to his back. In August 2007, he was hurt by an improvised explosive device, nearly died and is still facing more surgery.
"These guys taught me it's OK," said Scott, 36, who grew up inPhiladelphia and is based in Kaiserslautern, Germany. "After the injury, I realized what mattered to me the most – my kids, my family."
Playing sports has been helpful for Pfc. Dean Baker, based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. He was paralyzed from the waist down by a car bomb in Iraq nearly two years ago.
"I just thought I was done," said Baker, 19. "My Army career was over."
He eventually started playing basketball at a community recreation program and found something that's helped him stay in shape. Even though he wasn't much good at basketball before, Baker said, he's gotten the hang of the wheelchair game.
"I don't really like to go work out in a gym," he said. "Staying in shape, it's helped a lot with my back."
Baker has regained the ability to walk, though he is still partially paralyzed in one leg.
While some at the weekend camp had rarely touched a basketball before, Spc. Roshanda White had long played the game before she suffered a major knee injury when she was based in Korea. She played it in a wheelchair for the first time this week.
"I came around pretty good," said the 27-year-old, who is based in Heidelberg, Germany. "This is something that can be done to boost morale and to put that spirit in people's lives. This puts us back out there.

View From My Window

This is/was the view out my window of a glorious sunset and the reflection of the Broncos game from my tv that sits on the other side of my living room