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Killeen ISD student gets surprise visit from Dallas Cowboys mascot Rowdy


KILLEEN, TX – This Valentine’s Day is one an 11-year-old girl from Killeen will remember forever.

Kayla Rae was born premature and is deaf, partially blind, has mild cerebral palsy and autism and like many Texans, she and her entire family bleed blue and white.

She is the biggest Dallas Cowboys mascot fan, and on Thursday, she got to meet Rowdy.

“She had no idea, she just knew she was going to get an early birthday present didn’t know if it was a visitor or what it was,” said Martha Garibay Bartolo, Kayla Rae’s mother.

Her older brother is out at school in College Station and her dad is stationed in Kuwait, she thought the surprise might have been one of them.

“He was very happy that we were able to pull this off for her and kind of sad that he couldn’t be here for her,” said Garibay Bartolo. “I’m just glad that she seemed to enjoy it, like I said, she’s very shy but that’s her cowboy right there, isn’t that right?”

It was an especially emotional day for mom.

“We just wanted to do something different for her and surprise her and make it something that she will remember,” said Garibay Bartolo.

Because she knows, Kayla Rae will remember this Valentine’s Day forever.

“What do you want to say to Rowdy?” “Thank you?” said Garibay Bartolo.

“Thank you,” said Kayla Rae.  The surprise only took about a week to plan out.

Kayla Rae turns 12-years-old in exactly one week.

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NTID alumna exhibits paintings


Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf is showcasing a collection of paintings by RIT/NTID alumna Ashley Hannan.

Rise Up: Silent Margins features 17 paintings by Hannan exploring deafness in a unique and powerful way. Her artwork depicts her journey of coming to terms with being deaf, having a cochlear implant and being the only deaf person in the mainstream schools she attended.

“Growing up, after having been educated at an oral deaf school with intensive speech therapy and audiology testing, I still felt incomplete,” says Hannan of her piece “The Black Hole of Conflicted Identity.”

“Though I was implanted with a cochlear implant at age 6, ‘fixing’ me still did not fill in the hole I had and still have in my identity. It wasn’t until my young adult years that I began to awaken and notice the conflict in my self-esteem stemmed from the lack of understanding that there is a deaf culture that is just as functional as the hearing world. I was apprehensive of delving into the deaf world for my identity for a long time.”

Hannan adds that her piece “Be True” was inspired by her realization that all she had to do was be true to herself and emerge into something wonderful that was there all along even though it took decades for her to see.

Hosted in NTID’s Dyer Arts Center Glass Room, the exhibit is on display through Feb. 23, with a closing reception to be held on Feb. 22 from 5 to 7 p.m.

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Actiview app interprets movies into American Sign Language for the deaf and hearing impaired


For those who enjoy movies but need accessible services to participate, Actiview is working is offering a chance to view a movie while it’s signed.

The 2017 film “Wonder” starring Julia Roberts and Jacob Tremblay will be the first live-action, American film to use the Actiview app (download for iOS). Actiview syncs the film with sign language interpretation.

If you wanted to try the app, you can watch “Wonder” on TV or any other platform that includes the film. Open Actiview on a second screen, such as your phone or tablet.

The app “listens” to the movie like the Shazam app listens to songs. And then Actiview plays the sign language interpretation to match the movie.

Actiview offers accessible services to users who are blind or low vision, deaf or hearing impaired and those who speak different languages.

Along with sign language interpretation, the app offers audio description, amplified audio, audio dubs and translations, closed captioning and multilanguage subtitles.

Earlier this week Lionsgate, the studio that released “Wonder,” announced its partnership with Actiview and deaf advocate Nyle DiMarco, who won “America’s Next Top Model” in 2015.

When paired with Actiview, users will see DiMarco signing every line of dialogue in “Wonder.”

DiMarco also gives sign language lessons and tips on the ASL app (download for iOS or Android).

On Twitter, DiMarco said that young deaf children might not be able to read subtitles yet, but they can still enjoy a movie with ASL interpretation.

The app first debuted with the animated kids movie “Cars 3” and later “Ice Age: Continental Drift.” Actiview plans to release the “Hunger Games” series with similar accessibility features in the future.

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New York Deaf Theatre Presents EVERY BRILLIANT THING

New York Deaf Theatre Presents EVERY BRILLIANT THING

New York Deaf Theatre (NYDT) closes their 39th season with an accessible performance of EVERY BRILLIANT THING by Duncan MacMillan with Jonny Donahoe. This production marks James Caverly‘s directorial debut in New York City. Previews begin Saturday, April 27, and Opening night is on Sunday, April 28 at 7:00pm.

EVERY BRILLIANT THING presents all audiences an interactive experience of Duncan Macmillian with Jonny Donahoe‘s play in both American Sign Language and spoken English simultaneously. You’re six years old. Mum’s in hospital. Dad says she’s “done something stupid.” She finds it hard to be happy. So, you start to make a list of everything that is brilliant about the world. Everything that is worth living for. 1.) Ice cream. 2.) Kung Fu movies. 3.) Staying up past your bedtime and being allowed to watch TV. 4.) The colour yellow. You leave the list on Mum’s pillow. You know she’s read it because she’s corrected your spelling. Soon, the list will take on a life of its own. A play about depression and the lengths we will go to for those who we love.

EVERY BRILLIANT THING will be presented as part of the Anchor Partner program at The Flea Theater. The Flea’s three theaters in Tribeca were built to be shared with companies stretching to the next level, without a home of their own. NYDT is thrilled to be back at the Flea as an Anchor Partner this season.

James Caverly makes his directorial debut with New York Deaf Theatre. Directing credits: Romeo & Juliet at the Community College of Baltimore County; Cloud 9 (Assistant Director), Doctor Faustus, Noises Off, and The Philadelphia at Gallaudet University; The McWilliamses at National Theatre of the Deaf; and Quid Pro Quo (workshop) at Mosaic Theatre Company. Broadway credit: Children of a Lesser God (u/s) at Studio 54. Regional: I     Was Most Alive With You at Huntington Theatre Company; Tribes at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Studio Theatre, and Speakeasy Stage Company; Beertown and Squares at Dog & Pony DC, and has toured with the National Theatre of the Deaf. Film: Chicago Med; A Bennett Song Holiday; Red Line.

New York Deaf Theatre is the premiere Deaf theatre non-profit organization for the New York City metropolitan area; supporting, developing, and presenting Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing artists since 1979. NYDT produces theatre accessible to Deaf and hearing audiences, using combinations that include American Sign Language (ASL), spoken English, projected subtitles, and nonverbal theatrical elements. Committed to honor Deaf Culture, NYDT fosters talents of local artists who use ASL and creates opportunities for differently-abled theatre professionals to work and collaborate through inclusive productions and programming. For more information, visit

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Advocates for deaf and hard of hearing hope to get equipment to those in need

JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is pushing to give lower income Missourians easier access to hearing aids. 

The commission is advocating for a bill that would create the Statewide Hearing Aid Distribution Fund. 

The group would partner with audiologists and hearing aid instrument professionals to find people in need and then pay for their hearing aids. 

Dr. Opeoluwa Sotonwa, the commission’s executive director, said currently 10 percent of Missourians live with a hearing loss. 

He said 90 percent of those people cannot communicate with sign language and so they rely on hearing aids. 

People who live under the federal poverty line often can’t afford the costly devices.

“We’ve gotten many calls to our office looking for help, and we can’t help them because we don’t have funds allocated for that,” Sotonwa said. 

This is the second time the bill is being heard. Sotonwa said it made it to the Senate floor in 2018 and was close to passing, but there was not enough time to finish the process. 

“Some professional groups were in opposition to it last year, but we were able to sit down with them and address their concerns,” he said.

Some of those groups included speech language pathologists, hearing instrument specialists, and the Missouri Assistive Technology group.

Sotonwa said the group was worried the money would come out of its funding.

Since then, Sotonwa said, “many of them have came out and supported the bill.”

The biggest challenge is a $5 million allocation to fund the program, but Sotonwa said he is optimistic since Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe is backing the measure.