W. David Mortensen Becomes President Emeritus

Valerie Kinney and Jodi Kinner

 dave3W. David Mortensen, known in the deaf community as Dave M or DM, has been appointed president emeritus by the   Utah Association of the Deaf.  He succeeds Dr. Robert G. Sanderson, who passed away February 2012.

 Dave’s involvement with the UAD began in 1967 as editor of the UAD Bulletin, and as board member, chairman and  president on the UAD Board for a total of 33 years, 22 of them as president, a record unbeaten to this day.  Currently, he is editor of the Utah Telecom Book.

His accomplishments are many.  His main theme through the years has to fight for deaf rights in education,  workplace, interpreting and medical fields.  He actively solicited help through district representatives and senators on important issues relevant to the deaf community.  He saw growth in UAD from a simple to a complex organization administering several programs, from a home-run organization to a business office.

            One outgrowth of his lobbying saw the fruition, begun during Dr. Sanderson’s time, the establishment of the deaf center.  Other issues included the TTY program, addition of two deaf persons to serve on the USDB Institutional Council (later Advisory Council), establishment of a relay service, recognition of American Sign Language as a foreign language credit course, initiation of the Interpreter Training Program.

            He initiated the Golden Hand Award in Utah, the Miss Deaf Utah Pageant, and the establishment of UAD Bookstore, all under the Utah Association of the Deaf.    

            Dave worked for NAC (newspaper) and Valley Mental Health while attending the University of Utah and received a Bachelor of Arts degree with a certificate in social work and a Master of Social Work degree.

            He received many honors, both from the Utah Association of the Deaf and from other organizations such as National Association of the Deaf, Registry of Interpreting for the Deaf, Utah State Board of Education, Utah State Committee of Consumer Service, Utah State Office of Rehabilitation, Utah State Prison, Friends of Eagle Aerie #76, Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind.

            On the personal side, Dave and Shanna have been married for 59 years, and have five children: Kevin, Kristi, Karin (deceased), Kent, Kory, along with 11 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

            The Utah Deaf community is very fortunate to have Dave as a strong advocate for the deaf.  For years, he dedicated a great deal of his time and energy to the Utah Association for the Deaf to promote civil and accessibly rights in the local Deaf community. If it was not for him, none of his accomplishments would have happened.  It is fitting that he is now known as president emeritus within the Utah Association of the Deaf community.

President’s Corner

After the UAD conference, things are quiet during the summer.

We are excited to announce the 8th ASL Films coming to our town. It will be on Friday, September 20 and Saturday, September 21 at Sanderson Community Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. This will take place during the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Festival, so be sure to come for both!  Please check the advertisement on page 6 for more information. We will announce on UAD Announce when tickets become available for sale.

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) is thrilled to announce the appointment of Claudia Gordon as the Public Engagement Advisor for the Disability Community in the Office of Public Engagement at the White House.  For more information, click on http://www.nad.org/news/2013/7/nad-applaudsappointment-claudia-gordon-publicengagement-advisor-white-house

We look forward to making an announcement in August of our new UAD website. It is almost ready to be put up on UAD.org.

Hope you have a good summer!

Philippe Montalette

Rattles ‘n’ Powder

July 17, 2013 – Skyla Lee, daughter of Stacie Mortensen of Salt Lake City.  Her big sister, Lylah, is anxious to have her home soon.  Skyla is a granddaughter of Kevin and Sandy Mortensen of Salt Lake City and a great granddaughter of Dave and Shanna Mortensen of Murray.

Anniversary Milestone

July 27, 2013 – Roy and Darlene Cochran commemorated their 50th wedding anniversary, April 19, 1963 with an open house on July 27, 2013.  They previously celebrated the occasion with a cruise to Spain, the Canary and Caribbean Islands last fall. Their children are Darwin and Wendy Cochran, Sandra and Jeff Harrington, Don and Tiffany Cochran, and Lisa and Kevin Graves.  They have 12 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

Sorenson Communications to cut department that aids deaf community

Devon Dolan, KSL Reporter, July 10, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — Dozens of Utahns will lose their jobs and many others will be affected when Sorenson Communications cuts their Internet Protocol Relay department.  Internet Protocol Relay is a program that allows deaf or hearing impaired individuals to make a phone call. The department will be discontinued on July 31.

Emisha Sill has been using it as her primary form of communication since 2007, and she was devastated when she learned that the Internet Protocol Relay service would no longer be offered.  “I was really dumbfounded,” Sill said. “I couldn’t believe it.”

Sorenson Communications made the decision after the FCC reduced the rate paid to companies providing the service by 21 percent during 2013. The FCC will continue to reduce the paid rate for companies an additional 6 percent each of the following two years.

Chief Marketing Officer of Sorenson Communications, Paul Kershisnik, said the company just can’t make a profit while providing Internet Protocol Relay.  “When what you’re being paid is below the actual cost, your only choice is to get out of business,” Kershisnik said.  150 employees will be affected by the department being shut down, and 25 to 30 will be transition to another department in Sorenson Communications.

Sorenson Communications is the third IP Relay provider to discontinue the service in the past three months. However, Marilyn Call, a representative of the Division of Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, said the cut won’t make a big impact on the deaf community.

“Less than one percent would use the SIP Relay,” Call said. “Most of them use a text telethon where they can use their own voice or they use video relay.”  Call said that video relay is the most used form of communication among deaf individuals. Sill said that she will most likely switch to video relay, but that she is not happy about the IP Relay being discontinued.  “I guess I’m just going to have to use my mobile and be patient with it and suffer though it because I really don’t have any other options,” she said.

Sorenson Communication customers who use IP Relay and want to continue will have to switch to another provider.

August 2013 Holidays

  • 3    National Watermelon Day
  • 10  National S’mores Day
  • 13  Left Hander’s Day
  • 30  National Marshmallow Toasting Day

Jean Massieu School News

Michelle Tanner

Summer is coming to an end and school will be beginning soon.  We have enjoyed an unprecedented number of summer camps this year.  Students have enjoyed two overnight camps in Ogden.  One was a lifetime sports camp and the other was a camping camp.  Both were intense and great fun!  Other camps have included the science camp, art camps, preschool camps, literacy camp and drama camp for the older students.  We were also able to host Rathskeller for a day.  The summer has been full of activity.

I have already seen several students and parents that can’t wait for school to start!  We are all excited to be beginning a new year.  We have a few new faces I would like to introduce to you.  Brandon Hill will be the new ASL Specialist for JMS.  He comes to us from Gallaudet with a Master’s Degree in ASL Teaching and we are ecstatic that he will be joining the team.   As a highly qualified math teacher, Chris Flygare will be assuming the responsibilities of teaching math to our middle school and high school students.  We also have a new preschool teacher, Stacy Flom.  She has been working as a teacher of the deaf in California for a number of years and will be collaborating with Leanna Gale in preschool.  Kelly Leeper will be a new aide in our elementary program.  She comes to us from Florida and we are thrilled to have her on board.  Finally, the office will have a new face, Angela Byrnes.  She will be replacing Paula Bailey as the Executive Secretary for JMS.  She has a bachelor’s degree in management and has taken all the sign classes that were offered her at the University of Utah.  I hope you will join me in helping these individuals feel at home in JMS.  We are delighted to be working with each one of them.

We are pleased that several new students will be joining us this year.  We have had some tremendous enrollment growth and we are looking forward to working with these new students, as well as all the old faces that make JMS bright.

As a reminder:  School starts August 21st for elementary, middle school and high school students.  Preschool and Kindergarten will start August 26th.  We hope to see all of the parents at Back-to-School Night on August 28th.  Please stop by sometime and meet all the new faces and see the changes at JMS.  We love having lots of involvement from the Deaf community.

Deaf Parent Infant Program

Paula Pittman

We have had a busy summer in PIP this year!  Many of our staff members and families in our program were able to attend the Mountain States Summit on Deaf Education in June that was held here in Salt Lake City.  We had some wonderful presenters who are nationally known, and their presentations provided us with an opportunity to think through the services we provide in our program.  In addition to the Mountain States Conference, the majority of our staff were also able to attend the Western Regional Early Intervention Conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  The sessions we attended renewed in our staff the importance of encouraging parents to use more advanced language concepts with their child who is deaf or hard of hearing.

In the past two months our staff has been learning how to use the new online tracking system that the State Department of Health launched on April 29.  We had our training on this system in May and we are now creating our lesson plans on this system and are working to create better collaboration between the Early Intervention Agencies that are under the Health Department to ensure that we are providing effective services to all of the children and families that we serve.  We have also been aware of the glitches in the system and are working with the Health Department to resolve those issues.  We also will be working with the Health Department and Baby Watch Early Intervention to turn the tracking system into a strong data system for PIP.

We have lost two staff members this month. Catherine Sharpsteen, who had been conducting all of our Listening and Spoken Language Toddler Groups in the Salt Lake City area, retired at the end of the contract year.  We also said goodbye to Natalie Hawkes, who had been serving many of our families in the North and in the Salt Lake City area.  Natalie and her family are moving to Arizona so her husband can attend law school there.  We are so grateful for the work they have done for us in PIP and we will miss them very much, but wish them well as they start these new chapters in their lives.

We have hired three new staff members, one Deaf Mentor and two Parent Advisors.  Our new Deaf Mentor is April Trocki.  April worked as a Deaf Mentor in our Program several years ago, and we are thrilled to have her back on staff!  Melissa Leitheiser, who will be working part time as our new Language Orientation staff member representing the ASL/English approach and will be a part time early intervention provider/Parent Advisor as well, joined our Program officially in May and we are excited to get Orientation visits started again.  Kim Geurts just joined our staff last week and will be a full time early intervention provider/Parent Advisor in the Salt Lake City are and in Summit County.  We are so excited to have these wonderful folks on our staff.

As we look forward to this new school year, we hope to accomplish the following tasks:

  1. Expand our Orientation Process by adding video vignettes of other adults who are deaf or hard of hearing who grew up experiencing different communication approaches and experiences to broaden their opportunities to learn from adults who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  2. Survey parents regarding the Orientation process in order to improve the process and broaden that aspect of our program.
  3. Complete the gathering of assessment data on our PIP children and write up a report on our data that was gathered from January-July of 2013.
  4. Implement a pilot program called “Listening Time” that will provide one-on-one listening skills support and training for families and children in a center-based setting.  This program will be available to any family in our program, regardless of the methodology they are using to interact with their child.  It will be limited to children who are between the ages of 18 – 36 months.
  5. Create materials that describe our program that can be distributed to doctors, audiologists, speech language therapists, families, etc. (brochures, pamphlets, etc.).

We will begin the new school year with our annual USDB Opening Institute and professional training day on August 15-16.  We look forward to a new year and to continued growth and improvement in our Parent Infant Program!





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