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This is why therapy dogs are coming to help kids with sign language at this Saturday, March 23, event in Lakewood

The therapy dogs help children learning American sign language brush up on their skills

A handful of therapy dogs will lend a paw to local kids who are deaf or have hearing problems brush up on their American Sign Language skills in Lakewood on Saturday, March 23.

While children reading books to therapy dogs to hone reading skills has grown in popularity, BARK Therapy Dogs — a nonprofit that promotes reading with its canines — will extend that opportunity for kids who sign. The dogs don’t understand sign language, said Josie Gavieres, BARK founder and Long Beach resident; but, she added, it helps boost children’s confidence as they learn to sign.

Gavieres said the therapy dogs visit deaf or hard of hearing students at Cleveland Elementary School in Lakewood regularly. It’s been a successful program there, she said, allowing children to practice ASL on someone who won’t judge them.

The BARK Therapy Dogs and ASL interpreters will be in Lakewood from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Iacoboni Library, 4990 Clark Ave. To RSVP for the free event: 562-235-8835 or barkreadingdogs@aol.com.

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Dayton Police Department begins Citizens Academy for the Deaf

— The Dayton Police Department began its Citizens Academy for the Deaf 12-week session last Tuesday, according to a release.

The department currently holds the 12-week Citizens Academy session twice during the year, in the spring and fall, but now offers it for the deaf to help open up lines of communication and engagement.

The participants are part of a hands-on, interactive experience to learn more about what police officers do in their day-to-day work.

The class covers specialized units such as crime scene investigation, detectives and K-9, active shooter and personal safety training, conflict resolution, and handling firearms.

This class offers the opportunity to form a partnership and become better connected with the deaf community in our city, while bringing awareness and educating our officers on how to interact with the deaf to get the best results on a police call or in a personal interaction,” said Officer Dan Mamula, who led the Citizens Academy session along with Officer Chris Pawelski.

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Deaf woman from Dundee plans trip to Sri Lanka to help kids with hearing loss

Iona Duff

A young woman who was born profoundly deaf is fundraising for a trip to Sri Lanka to help children with hearing loss.

Iona Duff, 20, from Whitfield, is planning to volunteer with the charity VoluntEars, which arranges overseas volunteering for deaf, hearing and hard-of-hearing people of all ages.

Iona said: “I have been inspired by my friend Kim who previously made a trip to Sri Lanka.

“I have wanted to do this for a long time. I’ve always wanted to help people in other countries.

“In Sri Lanka, during the mornings I will be renovating a school for deaf children, refurbishing classrooms and painting murals.

“In the afternoons I will teach children some British sign language and I will learn Sri Lankan sign language.”

Iona will also learn to cook tasty curries as well as visit local markets, beaches and Buddhist and Hindu temples.

“I will be running cultural and fun educational games with local deaf students,” said Iona.

“I want to help people with difficulties who are deaf and blind and I want to learn different sign languages.

“I want to get more involved with the deaf community both at home and abroad.

“I am very excited about the trip. It will be a great opportunity and will help me to find my dream job in the future. When I finish this trip I will continue to help others and do more volunteering to gain more experience and to help make a difference.”

Iona is planning to go to Sri Lanka for two weeks, leaving in December 2020 and returning in January 2021. It costs £1,300 to go to Sri Lanka with VoluntEars and flights will be an extra £800.

Iona and her partner Ricci have been organising games for family and friends to help raise money for the flights.

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Starbucks opens 30,000th store globally

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On Monday, March 18, Starbucks celebrated its 30,000th store opening globally. The company has driven net new store growth of 6% to 7% annually, and its latest milestone was reached at the Starbucks Reserve Shenzhen Bay Mix City location in Shenzhen, China.

“The opening of Starbucks 30,000th store is a proud moment for all Starbucks partners,” says Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson. “Over the past 48 years we have worked to build a different kind of company based on a mission grounded in the human experience, the world’s finest coffees, and a constant of pursuit of doing good.  Starbucks now serves more than 100 million customer occasions across 78 markets around the world. It all started with our first store in Seattle, Washington, and today we celebrate the 30,000th store that just opened in Shenzhen, China.”

In recent years, the company has looked to innovate with its stores. There are now three Starbucks Reserve Roasteries that have opened in Milan, Italy, New York City, and Tokyo, Japan. These stores feature an immersive coffee experience, unique cocktails, and Princi bakeries with on-site baking of fresh breads, pastries, desserts, and more.

Additionally, Starbucks opened its first Deaf-friendly sign language store in the United States (and second globally) in Washington, D.C. in October of 2018. The store format is a distinctive retail experience that promotes accessibility and offers employment and career advancement opportunities for Deaf and hard of hearing people.

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Specialist teachers for deaf children battling with stress, workload and long hours

Specialist teachers

Specialist teachers for deaf children are battling stress, spiralling workloads and excessive hours as the system falls into crisis, the National Deaf Children’s Society has warned

  • Specialist teachers have revealed the extreme pressures they face in their roles, with grave knock-on effects for 45,000 deaf children.

  • Almost half now face stress in their job every week and a quarter are affected every day.

  • More than four in five work extra hours just to keep up with their rising workloads, with more than half working an extra day a week

  • More than half have serious concerns about the support available to deaf children, who are already falling behind at school.

  • The National Deaf Children’s Society says the results show a system in “absolute crisis” and it is calling on Education Ministers to “throw deaf children a lifeline before it’s too late”

The warning comes after a survey of more than 600 specialist teachers, carried out by the charity and the British Association of Teachers of the Deaf, revealed that almost half (46%) experience stress in their role on a weekly basis, with a quarter (25%) affected every single day.

More than four in five (87%) are now working additional hours due to increasing workloads, with almost two-thirds of those (63%) forced to work an extra day every week just to keep up.

The National Deaf Children’s Society says the entire profession is creaking under growing pressures and increasing needs despite the Government’s major special educational needs reforms in 2014, with grave knock-on effects for the 45,000 deaf children who rely on it.

Six in ten teachers surveyed (58%) said there was less support available for deaf children than in 2014, while almost half (43%) felt that pupils were now performing worse. Two thirds (69%) said that deaf education in their area didn’t receive adequate funding.

Deaf pupils already fall behind their classmates at Key Stages 1 and 2, with the gap growing to an entire grade by GCSE, despite deafness not being a learning disability.

Specialist teachers offer crucial advice and support to children and their families, from diagnosis right through their education. This can include help with developing language and communication, assistance with hearing technology and advice and training for schools to ensure every deaf pupil can succeed.

However, the National Deaf Children’s Society says the number of specialist teachers has fallen by 15% in the last seven years across England. In addition, the charity says the profession is heading towards a staffing crisis, with more than half of those teachers still in the role due to retire in the next 10-15 years.

As a result, the charity is urging the Government to introduce a bursary fund to replace outgoing teachers and avoid thousands of deaf children being left without crucial support.

The £3.3 million scheme would help train around 400 new Teachers of the Deaf over a three-year period, which the charity says is the minimum number required to stem the tide of those due to leave their roles. Almost nine in ten (88%) of the teachers surveyed said they supported such a proposal.

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Edmonds deaf students qualify for national academic competition once again

Four Edmonds-Woodway students are quietly proving they’re just as important and impressive as anyone else. The team is on its way to the national finals for the Deaf Academic Bowl.
Navigating the daily drama of high school is tough enough, but imagine doing it without the ability to hear.