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ASL Idol 2007

CSD of Ohio hosted the second annual ASL Idol competition at the Ohio School for the Blind Auditorium in Columbus, Ohio on Thursday, March 1 to raise funds for Ohio mental health programs for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deaf-Blind.

Over 350 attendees voted for their favorite performer of each of the two categories. “This event is about Deaf pride and showcasing our ASL talents,” Darlene Zangara, division director of CSD of Ohio explains.

Based on the popular American television show, “American Idol,” Bill Estes, Marla Berkowitz and Willis Cook were the judges performing the roles of Simon, Paula and Randy. Michael Halischak was a smashing hit as the host for the show and a great imitator of Ryan!

The 2007 ASL Idol winner in the student category was Franco Harmount, a middle school student from the Ohio School for the Deaf for his ASL story “9/11.” The winner in the community category was Nancy Boone, a teacher with the Ohio School for the Deaf for her talent, “Poetry Immersion.”

Group performances were also given during opening and half-time including deaf preschoolers from the Alice Cogswell Center in Columbus, Ohio with their rendition of the Three Little Pigs, The Deaf Hip Hop Dancers and Drama Girlz Power. Returning ASL winner from last year, Anthony Nelson, mesmerized the audience once again, with his ASL song, “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy!” 
The ASL Idol show ignited a sense of pride with a look around the lobby afterwards witnessing the community members talking with each other about the possibility of themselves participating next year! A comment heard from many was “I can’t wait for ASL Idol 2008!”

CSD Promotes Health Literacy at State Capitol

Three members of the Health Literacy Coalition recently visited Pierre, South Dakota’s capitol, to promote health literacy for deaf and hard of hearing South Dakotans. CSD staffers Paula Souhrada and Judy Morgan along with Fran Rice from Health Connect demonstrated a portable educational tool called the Health House. It contains a touch screen monitor for observers to learn health information – by touching an icon on the screen most people can hear health tips and messages – not so for deaf and hard of hearing individuals who rely on American Sign Language (ASL) as their preferred mode of communication.

In an effort to build awareness about “accessible health information,” a newly produced ASL video on the topic of diabetes was demonstrated to show legislators how the existing Health House would be enhanced. All Health House information, now spoken English, could be available in ASL by clicking on an icon.

Many legislators were also surprised to learn that health educational or informational videos are still not captioned. Tom Kober, division director of CSD of South Dakota, stated “It was great to go up to Pierre and plant the seed about the need for accessible health information. I look forward to further working with the legislators in hopes for introducing a bill that will require all health educational and informational videos to be captioned.”

Legislators received packets of information along with cut-out cookie treats in the shape of sign language “I Love You” and small bags of popcorn. The Health Literacy Coalition plans to work with members of the Health and Human Services Committee to identify community solutions for the next legislative session.

Russell West Joins Camp Lakodia as Coordinator

Russell West, supervisor of residence programs at the the California School for the Deaf, has been appointed coordinator for the upcoming National Leadership & Literacy Camp (NLLC) camp, basketball and football camps at Camp Lakodia in Madison, South Dakota.

West, formerly employed as student developmental manager at Texas School for the Deaf, has camp management experience, being assistant sports camp director at Gallaudet University, coordinator of Hatrak Survival Program at the National Association for the Deaf (NAD)’s Youth Leadership Camp (YLC).

“We are very fortunate to have someone like him join us this year and we believe this will be an exciting opportunity for him to share his knowledge and experience with us for our summer programs here at Camp Lakodia,” said Peter Bailey, Camp Lakodia director. West will work closely with Bailey to direct camp programming and will work directly with children and teenagers during the camp season. It is NLLC’s eighth year in operations, working with deaf students develop their leadership capabilities and to grow their knowledge of leadership. Information on all NLLC camp programs is available at