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My new TV thinks I’m hearing

April 17, 2015

by Nancy Creighton

My new TV is not bad, it’s perfectly serviceable. But it’s got a built-in assumption– that television viewers are hearing people. In these days of diversity, respecting the disabled, and universal design principles, such an assumption is indefensible.

The old RCA and me.

The old RCA and me.

The old RCA TV I’ve been using gave up the ghost recently. It was an excellent TV in its day– built-in VCR, and built-in closed caption chip (that wasn’t mandated until 1990; thanks go to NAD, NCI, TDI, FCC and others for making CC a reality). I tried for one day to live without TV, but these days, I’m hooked. So my brother and I went out shopping for a cheap digital TV that was big enough for me to read the captions from across the room. We ended up getting a brand called Insigna from Best Buy, a brand I’d never heard of before and can’t recommend for deaf viewers.

What’s great it is has a button on the remote specifically for toggling the CC on and off. What’s awful is that every time we turn the TV off, the CC turns off, too.

What’s worse is that when we turn the TV back on, just pressing the CC button doesn’t turn on the captions. It took awhile to figure this out– the words that come up on the screen say the captions are on, but they aren’t. Not until we cycle through the three settings: CC ON, CC ON WHEN MUTED, CC OFF, and finally get back to the CC ON setting do the captions turn on. And it takes a few beats for them to come up so we’re sure it’s working.

On a daily basis, it’s annoying, but livable. Just hit a button four times instead of once to turn on the closed captions. There are worse things to live with. But step back and look at the larger picture– it’s another example of institutionalized discrimination. “Institutional discrimination is built into the structure itself. Thus it is more covert and more tenacious. It can occur regardless of the desires or intentions of the people perpetuating it.” (Freeman, Woman in Society). While Dr Freeman’s article focuses on women and employment, her statement can apply in many situations, including design and manufacturing decisions.

I don’t know why the manufacturers of my new television designed the closed captioning function to wipe out the information when turned off, or why it takes four presses of the CC button to turn it on again. It can’t be difficult– my RCA was over 20 years old. Maybe it was cheaper? By how much? Perhaps they just didn’t think about it. But then, they thought about it enough to include a CC ON WHEN MUTED function. Do they think that hearing and deaf people don’t watch TV together?

Some televisions, more expensive brands, allow the customer to set the size and color of the captions. There are a lot of possibilities for customer control of the captions, but most television manufacturers don’t take advantage of the digital capabilities.

On a cheap TV, I wasn’t expecting to customize my captions, but I did expect them to stay on until changed. That’s not unreasonable. It’s good business.


Not up on the acronyms?

FCC: Federal Communication Commission, Closed Captioning on Television

NAD: National Association of the Deaf, Making Sounds Visible

NCI: National Captioning Institute, History of Closed Captioning

TDI: Telecommunications for the Deaf, Media and Information Technology: Access Milestones

Further Reading:

The Seven Principles of Universal Design

Freeman, Jo. “Institutional Discrimination.” Institutional Discrimination. Accessed April 17, 2015.

One year anniversary of… my fall

April 2, 2015
Nancy in hosptial bed, Patient is deaf" sign above her head.

In the hospital one year ago.

I just came in from walking my dog, Tucker. A year ago, I took him out, drove to one of our places to walk, and just after letting him out of the car, I fell. It was just before 8 pm, and getting dark. I was very lucky that a kind stranger driving by noticed me lying on the sidewalk– I was only there for a few minutes. He helped me up and half-walked, half-carried me the few steps to my car, but the pain was too much, I couldn’t stand or walk on it. He called my brother for me, and Dick arrived and called 911, and one of my best friends, Judy, a “sister by choice.” Judy tells me that when the paramedics moved me off the gurney onto the bed at the hospital, I screamed. I had no idea I was making any sound, but she said she’ll never forget it. A day and a half later I had surgery to replace my broken hip. It was a partial replacement– I still have all of my pelvic bone, only the head of the femur was replaced.

The true loss of this fall was the loss of my independence. I was lucky to have my brother living with me, able and willing to take care of me. In the beginning he had to do all of my shopping, my laundry, help me get out of bed the days it hurt too much to move, and drive me everywhere. Recovery has been a long, hard road. Even with excellent physical therapy (thanks, Joe and Yoni!) I’m not walking like I used to.

I limp, I take Aleve, I use a cane. But I also walk my dog, do my own shopping and laundry, drive. I’ve got about 99.99% of my independence back– I still ask Dick to bring in the bags full of food after I’ve gone shopping.


I’ve been busy the past few months. I posted a lot of the sharing from Betty’s memorial before diving into other work. But not everything. The hangup? Accessibility. In the slideshow I prepared, there’s a video of Betty talking about one of her paintings. I tried to caption it, but kept running into technical problems. Though I’m pretty good at teaching myself new things, I had to stop working on this to work on a paying project, and haven’t yet had a chance to go back to it. I will soon, and then I’ll announce it. In the meantime, you can see what’s available on the link at the top right of these pages, “Betty G. Miller – Memorial.”

It’s back on! You’re invited to help celebrate Betty’s life

November 23, 2014

12/7/2014 is the date for Betty's memorial

This is just a quick note to tell all of you about the upcoming Memorial Program for Betty G. Miller.

As you all probably know by now, Betty died December 3, 2012 (see for her obituary). This is the third time we’ve started to plan a memorial. The last one, planned for April 12, 2014 had to be cancelled when I fell and broke my hip. I was in a rehab facility working on learning to walk again last April. I’m a lot better, though walking with a cane for now.

I’m finally able to work on a memorial, and with the help of several friends, we’re planning one for December 7th. It will be held in the lobby of the Washburn Art Building at Gallaudet because that’s where Betty was happy. Here’s the specific information:

Sunday, December 7, 2014
Washburn Art Building
Gallaudet University, Washington, DC
Memorial Program 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Gallery closes at 1:00 PM

Jan DeLap will be the emcee for the program, and there will be light refreshments served before and after the program. Parking at Gallaudet will be free, no need to get a permit.

Please RSVP to NanC (a temporary address) ASAP so that we have a count for the chairs and food.

— Nancy Creighton

P.S.: I recently went to NTID for their Viva De’VIA events. I’d never used Instagram before, so I played around with it. You can see my photos at:

P.P.S.: Patti Durr at NTID has posted some videos from the banquet online. Brenda Schertz played the part of Betty, going up to different tables and giving her biography. See it here:

Postponed! Betty G. Miller’s Memorial

April 10, 2014

The Universe has Spoken, Betty’s Memorial Must be Postponed

Calendar graphic for 4/12/14

Postponement from April 12th.

Well, it’s official. It is with great reluctance that I am canceling the memorial program celebrating Betty G. Miller’s life on Saturday, April 12, 2014. We will plan it again, but haven’t yet settled on a date or place.

On Wednesday last week (April 2nd), I went to take our dog, Tucker, out for a walk. It was getting dark by the time we got outside, almost 8 pm. I parked on one of our favorite streets, went to shut Tuckers door after he bounded out, and turned and fell. Straight over sideways, in a cartoon kind of way— didn’t bend anywhere just straight line clunk, hard on the pavement, on the widest part of my body. I felt I could see it while it was happening, and I remember thinking “Oh, s~!t” as I was going down. What’s amazing is that I didn’t also hurt my shoulder, elbow or wrist; knee or ankle; my head or face. Only my hip.

At the hospital I found out that I had broken my hip and needed a partial replacement.

But Betty’s memorial program was in less than two weeks! Presenters have been working on their pieces, either video, in person, or through Jan DeLap, our emcee, interpreting into ASL from their written English. Betty’s niece was flying up from New Orleans. Tracey Salaway, curator for the art show where the memorial was being held, took time out of her art show duties to assist in the event preparation, and helping with a video of Betty to be shown. Sister-by-choice was gifting us two nights at Kellogg Conference Center Hotel— there were too many people doing too many things to make this work.

I was determined to continue with plans. In a little over a week, I’d be well enough to have my friend drive me down, and I’d use a wheelchair while I was in DC. If that really became impossible, I’d make sure it continued, and I’d participate through online real-time services (Google Hangouts on Air). So I kept silent, let people continue to work on their presentations, waited until after my partial hip replacement surgery Friday morning to make a decision.

Even after the surgery, when I was recovering in the hospital and while being transferred to a rehab facility, I was determined that the “show would go on.” But so many small things started going wrong for so many people, that I finally accepted the message from the Universe, to cancel this Saturday’s memorial program. I can’t do it.

Not this week.

I’ve emailed the presenters and asked everyone who wasn’t yet finished to keep working. So we will pull something together.

In the meantime, please go see the art show. It’s a wonderful show filled with art from a wide variety of artists working in the Deaf View / Image Art (De’VIA) genre . The reception is this afternoon from 4-6:30 at the Washburn Art Building. The show will be open this weekend from 11 AM to 4 PM both Saturday and Sunday; the show closes on Monday, April 14th at 4 PM.

More shall be revealed…….

You’re Invited: Memorial for Betty 4/12/14

March 26, 2014

4/12/14 date for Betty's memorial program

As you all probably know by now, Betty died December 3, 2012 (see for her obituary). It’s been a tough time for me, but I’m slowly getting used to her being gone, and smiling more often than crying when I see photos and videos of Betty.

Because of that, I’m finally able to work on a memorial, and with the help of several friends, we’re planning one for April 12th. I’m thrilled that it will be in the art gallery filled with Deaf View/Image Art (De’VIA) paintings. Here’s the specific information:

April 12, 2014
Washburn Arts Building, Linda K. Jordan Gallery
Gallaudet University, Washington, DC
Gallery opens at noon
Memorial Program 1:00—3:00 PM
Gallery closes at 4:30 PM

Jan DeLap will be the emcee for the program, and there will be light refreshments served before and after the program. Parking at Gallaudet will be free, no need to get a permit.

Please RSVP to ASAP so that we have a count for the chairs and food.

More about the art show and plans in my next post.

— Nancy C.

One Year Later, Thinking of Betty

December 7, 2013

I’ve passed my one year mark, and have met my “firsts.” Not only the first holidays and birthdays and anniversaries, but also things like the first time I saw sushi in the store and thought “I’ll get some for Betty” then burst into tears; the first time I was watching TV coverage of gay marriage issues and realized it’s not “our fight” anymore, because “we” wouldn’t be getting married; the first cats that came into my life after Betty died and I couldn’t bond with them right away because they weren’t part of my family— because they didn’t know Betty.


We didn’t know it would be the last photo taken of Betty. Brenda Schertz (center) came to visit, and my brother took this photo of us.

Friends have asked how I’m doing and I’m never quite sure what to say. This year has been a time for crawling into my shell, working to take care of myself and let myself grieve. Every once in awhile I poke my head out, look around online and try to reconnect with my world. Then I disappear again. Society seems to think that I need to move on quickly, to embrace the future. In the past, traditional societies mandated a one-year grieving period. Friends who have gone through similar grief have told me to be gentle with myself, that it took them a year-and-a-half to two years to slowly put the grief aside. That’s the journey I’m on, but I get impatient sometimes. The sadness hasn’t gone away, and might never do so. But as time goes on, I don’t mind carrying it as much. 

The photo shown is the last photo taken of Betty, November 18, 2012. Brenda Schertz came for a short visit and I’m so glad she said she wanted a picture of us. 

Originally, friends and I scheduled a memorial service for Betty today, December 7th. Since I didn’t advertise the date, I didn’t post that it was being postponed for the second time. We just couldn’t get ourselves together enough to plan this. But the third time should work, and we’re making plans for a memorial for Betty in April. More details soon.


Betty’s Painting, “Celebration of Hands” Featured on “Glee!” 9/26/2013

September 25, 2013

One of the things I did this summer was work with people from the art department of “Glee!” — the FOX TV show. They wanted to use one of Betty’s paintings, “Celebration of Hands.” Well, this painting has a story– it’s lost!

Before I get into that story, let me tell you that I gave the set designers permission to use an image of the painting, and a couple of photos, the ones shown here. They told me the episode is going to air on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 9 PM, and the only thing they mentioned is that the painting will be on the wall at a Deaf school. Well, I just checked the FOX website, and their season opening show is about the Beatles, and to my knowledge there’s nothing “Deaf” about the Beatles, so perhaps the episodes have been switched around. I’ll find out and post an update here.

Updates 9/26 — It’s On!

I’ve heard back from several people, and yes! It’s on tonight! I got a message from Michelle Collier, the Art Department Coordinator for “Glee!” who wrote: “Yes, the episode that airs tonight includes the scene with Betty’s art. They enter the School for the Deaf when they are looking for help during one of the Beatles numbers. I’m not sure how much of the artwork is seen in the final cut, but definitely check it out!”

I also heard from my friend Janne Harrelson who wrote: “My understanding is that one of the rival choirs on the show will be a Deaf choir, performing the Beatles’ song “All You Need is Love” in ASL.”

And from another friend, Patti Durr: “Looks like it will be on tonight….’Glee’ premiere features deaf choir Graduate student Thomas Korn will appear in the season premiere of Fox’s Glee on Thursday, September 26 at 9 p.m. as a member of a rival choir, The Haverbrooks—the all-deaf choir, as they perform the Beatles song “All You Need is Love” in American Sign Language.” Patti continued: “Someone else emailed me and said they know Tommy – the Deaf actor – and he says he saw the artwork during the filming. Ya hoo!”

ImageBackground on the Lost Painting

“Celebration of Hands” was done in 1987 from a slide taken at an event at Spectrum: Focus on Deaf Artists that happened in 1978 or ’79. Betty often worked by first projecting a slide onto the canvas, and doing a prelimiary paint sketch based on the slide. She would finish the work without the slide projector, making changes as she went along. When it was done, this painting hung in our home in DC, opposite the front door so it was often the first thing seen when people entered.

I’m not sure what year– I have a lot of old info to wade through!– a buyer for corporate art contacted Betty. Sprint had received a contract for Maryland Relay Service operations and were looking for artwork for their corporate office in Baltimore. Betty sent them information on several paintings and they picked this one, bought it and had it shipped to Sprint. I can’t remember if we went to see it in place, but I think we did. I have a vague memory of a huge lobby and the painting was hung there, not up in the office of Sprint itself.

A few years later, Sprint lost the contract for Maryland Relay Service and moved its office. Betty contacted Mike Baer, who used to work at Sprint in Baltimore, and asked what happened to the painting but he didn’t know. He asked around, but nobody knew.

ImageWhen Glee! designers asked for permission to use the painting, I went on a search for a good photo, and I can’t find one! The one they had was from NTID/RIT’s Deaf Artists website, which is a clear photo (shown above), but the color is wrong. I finally found a photo that had the correct colors, but it’s only a detail (just part of the painting), out of focus and dirty (shown at right). And those two are all I can find. Michelle Collier, the Art Department Coordinator for Glee! that I worked with told me they could probably recreate the image with a high enough resolution to have it printed, and asked for clearance for the image.

Know Where It Is?

I would love to know what happened to this painting. If anyone does know, or has seen it since the early 1990s, please tell me using the comments to this blog. One thing I would like to do is get a good photo for Betty’s archives!


You see that center figure with the cap? That was Chuck Baird, another famous Deaf Artist who was at Spectrum in the late ’70s.

–Nancy C.


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