Hurricane Katrina – Deaf Link, Remote Sign Interpreting – Drop, Roll, Run Forward, Part III

Hurricane Katrina – Deaf Link, Remote Sign Interpreting
– Drop, Roll, Run Forward, Part III

By Monette Benoit

Copyright by Monette Benoit, All Rights Reserved.

Hurricane Katrina continues to dominate the news. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Kay Chiodo, Deaf Link personnel, and I kept our heads down as facts were initially broadcast 24/7.

We listened, working to help others, incorporating new technology, working with emergency national, state, local agencies and volunteer organizations – all grouped overnight in numerous locations – to include abandoned facilities.

Sometimes the only thing one can do before jumping into a new trench is listen – unless that person is deaf or hard of hearing.

As 2006 began, writing this article in February, we continued to sort facts with what was shared, what could be shared …

I am still humbled by what we learned — what could have, should have and might have ‘been’ done – to help more, to do more.

Now we know. Now we know. Yes?

Deaf Link installed remote sign interpreting setups within multiple San Antonio, Houston and Dallas shelters – sometimes without cooperation of all people involved.

In some cases, no one seemed to be in charge; many ‘real-time’ decisions were precedents.

Sometimes, after Deaf Link had worked with people in charge explaining the need and technology, a new group or person was in charge only hours later, and we would be back to square one.

Deaf Link created 24-hour remote sign interpreting as approximately 750,000 people arrived in Texas. Many of us watched TV late at night to see what was unfolding – what was being shared. Many of us were on the phone with each other to ‘hear’ and document what was unfolding.

(Part I and II may be found at www.CRRbooks.com and www.monettebenoit.com with direct links included below.)

Kay and Deaf Link were on the road six days, “Your own time; your own dime.”

Converged Technology Application Partners assisted Deaf Link’s installations. CTAP, Deaf Link’s tech support, met Kay, installing Deaf Link’s equipment. Yet Kay still wishes she could have done more.

Kay Chiodo, Deaf Link’s CEO, is the consummate person to drop, roll and run.

Deaf Link helped HOH, hard-of-hearing, who lost hearing aids.

Many HOH lost their hearing aids when batteries became wet or ran down. Often HOH sat alone, waiting, not asking for help. They sat, waiting.

Announcements blared: “If your social security numbers ends in –, go to –.”

Hard-of-hearing individuals (with good aids) heard garbled announcements.

Those who are deaf, of course, didn’t hear the messages at all and did not know information was being shared within each facility.

Deaf individuals volunteered to help deaf evacuees communicate, and deaf volunteers used Deaf Link’s technology to talk to (hearing) people in charge.

When Kay hit Dallas, Deaf Link’s lines initially were in medical areas. Then FEMA requested a location near Deaf Link. FEMA realized deaf were not receiving housing and social security services.

“There were many other services people needed access to other, in addition to medical.”

Security also utilized Deaf Link, 24/7.

In a few instances, after lines were dropped and Deaf Link had helped people and continued to serve new arrivals, without notice – deaf were moved, relocated.

Each time, deaf and HOH (hard-of-hearing individuals) would have to be found and the process had to begin again.

One day, deaf were organized to be sent to another facility where higher medical care was needed.

Deaf, however, wanted to stay in public arenas to be near children, families and – their quote – “normal” people. Deaf didn’t need higher care or want to be segregated.

Within the KellyUSA facility, some thought it would be great to have deaf only in one area. Many of the deaf adults and children had endured traumatic experiences with hearing during the storm and travels – people they became attached to – and they requested to remain with those new friends.

Deaf evacuees, already traumatized, were often separated from family or friends prior to arriving at shelters.

Facts shared, too, that that blind with working dogs were separated from their ‘ears’ when the dogs were not allowed on the bus after mandatory evacuations. (One incident documents, fact, that a working dog was shot when the blind person would not leave the dog.)

Kay went to KellyUSA’s security, explaining their communication mode is here.

“It’s important they remain with people they bonded with. KellyUSA understood. Whoever was trying to move deaf, dropped it.”

“At the Astrodome, some felt deaf should be gathered and herded.”

Kay can see how that “may be logical to some, but unless they could take hearing people deaf were attached to with them, it would be a challenge. They did move deaf – to another location away …”

“Everyone had good intentions, but it came down to asking the person. No one can make a group decision like that; it’s an individual preference. People were giving their best to everybody. Once services were established and deaf knew where everything was – all deaf had to do was sign they were deaf – using our technology, they instantly had equal access!”

“Deaf, HOH, deaf/blind, people non-English-proficient taught us to be prepared. Through their suffering, they paved the way for a nation to be better prepared. We learned, and Monette, sometimes the hardest lessons are the best learned.”

“Deaf Link was communication accessible alerting Texas deaf and HOH, a first in the nation, for Hurricane Rita, almost three weeks after Katrina.”

Writing these articles on Hurricane Katrina and Texas volunteers, I confirmed Deaf Link never received compensation for their services in any Texas shelter. Reluctantly, after three months, they removed all equipment in December 2005.

When Hurricane Katrina yellow buses originally rolled into Texas, I assisted with information-coordination.

Many court reporters, professionals, HOH (hard of hearing) contacted me asking what they could do.

I worked with sign interpreters gathering facts, stats, listing new shelters within Texas as they were created in real-time.

I continued to phone Deaf Link’s San Antonio office asking, “Now what? What’s next?”

Hours were devoted to which mayor was having a press conference, which group, company, church or agency would or would not be assisting – Who was really in charge?

Sometimes we heard things we could not repeat – (and still can’t).

Often we kept our head down, just as we started, working to help. Sometimes we just listened to each other.

Volunteers were having nightmares. Many felt guilty for not being able to do more. We were having sleepless nights; we needed to eat before accepting new Katrina assignments.

We did not discuss each was turning down ‘real work’ (compensated jobs) to help – many were passionate in their need to volunteer.

After weeks, sometimes numb and stunned, we continued to volunteer, listening, sharing time with each other – while thousands continued to stand in lines seeking food, their family and their loved pets.

After listening and sharing, we would focus back to our task, moving forward with our next Katrina request.

One night Kay phoned, “We’re having a sleepover. Bring your pillow, Monette. Really.”

Running remote services in each shelter, volunteers slept on the floor in her office. Not one complained; each person was thankful to put in more hours.

I gathered detailed information to send donations to deaf/HOH in each Texas city including shelters, churches, deaf volunteers, HOH, special-needs patients.

Most requested items were Bibles, toys, batteries and shampoo (in that order). Socks, underwear and bras sold out in San Antonio, the 8th largest city in the United States.

Eleanor Mitchell, RPR, of Washington emailed me, then typed a sheet asking for donations, which she distributed in her neighborhood. Eleanor mailed her neighbor’s donations to Texas.

Jean Melone of New Jersey wrote asking how she could help. Students in her school, Steno Tech Career Institute, gathered items, then shipped their donations to Texas.

Jeff Hutchins (the man who helped to invent broadcast captioning, and in my opinion, did more to tip our entire occupation) sent an email to me, “How can we best help?”

Jeff forwarded my reply to Accessible Media Industry Coalition.

Jennifer Tiziani of SHHH, now HLA (Hearing Loss Assocation) in Northwoods, Wisconsin, and many SHHH members responded, mailing items “from their closets and homes.”

One deaf woman responded to an email I wrote Jeff. She wrote me offering to share her small New York City apartment with a deaf family.

Many, many emailed me that sitting in their dry home, dry town, listening, they had to do something.

Some wrote me that all they could offer was prayers.

You need to know: You did make a huge difference. Deaf Link did pave a new path. Our work is not yet done. Bless each of you who donated your time, your passion, your hearts and your ears.

“There but for the grace of God go I.”

Kay Chiodo may be reached through www.Deaflink.com, 210-590-7446.

‘Hurricane Katrina – Deaf Link, Remote Sign Interpeting; Drop, Roll, Run Forward, Part I,’ March 2006 may be accessed on http://crrbooks.com/newsdesk_info.php?newsdesk_id=53

‘Hurricane Katrina – Deaf Link, Remote Sign Interpeting; Drop, Roll, Run Forward, Part II,’ April 2006 may be accessed on http://crrbooks.com/newsdesk_info.php?newsdesk_id=54

Monette, Court Reporting Whisperer, may be reached: Monette@ARTCS.com and Monette@CRRbooks.com

Monette Benoit, B. B.A., CCR, CRI, CPE, Paralegal

Tutor, Motivational Management & Career Coach,
Multiple-Title Author of Books & Test Prep for the Court Reporting and CART Captioning Industry
Realtime Court Reporter, Instructor, Consultant, Columnist

Court Reporter Reference Books & CDs: www.CRRbooks.com
Blog: Monette’s Musings, www.monettebenoit.com

* Educational/Career Advancement; Private Tutoring/Customized Coaching

Have you failed NCRA’s RPR, RMR, RDR, or a state court reporting exam?

“Get ‘ER Done In Just One” – as evidenced by the many students and professionals who study Court Reporter Reference Books to pass their RPR, CSR, and RDR exams on the first test. Testimonials are listed online, www.CRRbooks.com.

** Pedagogically sound covering a wealth of material with facts, tips, and comprehensive information.

The “Complete NCRA RPR, RDR, and CSR Test Prep Textbook, 6th Edition” has greatly expanded testing tips, testing focus, NCRA COPE Ethics specific details, grammar sections, plus — legal, Latin, court, English, grammar, vocabularly, medical, and computer chapters. www.CRRbooks.com

The “Test Prep Set” includes four volumes – each listed on www.CRRbooks.com

Monette will help you to pass your test and to exceed schooling and career goals. http://crrbooks.com/index.php?cPath=61

Did You Know: You can accelerate your career with private tutoring and career coaching? Court reporting veteran Monette Benoit can help you achieve your goals.

Tutoring and career coaching topics include:
• Motivational skills to keep you moving forward,
• Time-management skills,
• Process learning for more effective retention,
• Development of skills to author your book, your blog, and how to publish,
• Communication skills, daily interaction improvement skills, and much more.

Who comes to Monette for tutoring and career coaching?
• Professionals who want to achieve their goals, create new possibilities, advance their career, author their book, and to develop the dream within,
• Veteran and novice court reporters, CART (Communication Access Real-Time Translation) providers, and broadcast captioners brushing up on their skills for test-taking requirements,
• In-class students who feel they’re “stuck” and falling behind, or aren’t ready for the required tests,
• Students and veterans who struggle with focus, goal-setting, time-management or other life skills that might be interfering in their upward success,
• At-home students who want to ensure they’re on track for their exams and for their career goals,
• Veteran court reporters, CART Captioners expanding their career options in related fields,
• Students and veterans alike who find they’re struggling with key areas of daily practice,
• Students or veterans who have begun to question their career or whether they’re on the “right track” …

Check out: Reach Your Goals with Tutoring and Career Coaching
http://crrbooks.com/index.php?cPath=29

Monette Benoit, the Court Reporting Whisperer, can help you achieve at much high levels.

Where do you want to go? ** What have you ‘really’ wanted to do with your career, and ultimately, your life?

* No two are alike. Specific custom-designed guidance efficiently assists you!

About Monette Benoit:
As a 25+ year court reporter, CART Captioner, author of NCRA test prep material, and an instructor, public speaker, Monette Benoit has taught multiple theories, academics, all speed classes, and the 225 homeroom within NCRA-approved schools and a community college. She understands the challenges many adults now face in our industry and schooling.

Monette Benoit has worked with thousands of professionals, court reporters, CART Captioners, students, and instructors.

She has also helped to create new court reporting training programs, worked with federal grants, and assisted instructors in developing curriculum for both in-class and at-home students.

Her one-on-one tutoring, private coaching, has greatly assisted thousands of students, novice and experienced professionals to privately reach the next level.

Monette’s Musings is a blog containing information for busy professionals, students, and individuals who are fearless and seek to create their success each day. Reach up. Bring it. Bring it. * Bring it today!

Hurricane Katrina – Deaf Link, Remote Sign Interpreting – Drop, Roll, Run Forward, Part II of III

Hurricane Katrina – Deaf Link, Remote Sign Interpreting
– Drop, Roll, Run Forward, Part II of III

By Monette Benoit

Copyright by Monette Benoit, All Rights Reserved.

After Hurricane Katrina, Deaf Link and Kay Chiodo provided 24-hour onsite and remote sign interpreting in Texas shelters.

Part I posted on www.CRRbooks.com and www.monettebenoit.com began:

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf/blind or do not understand English, you didn’t hear Katrina warnings. You didn’t see captioning on TV. Your world was very different.”

Part I ended: “Next we share more.” Amen: May it be so.

As Dan Heller, VP of Business Development loaded equipment, Kay called Polycom. Robert Hughes, Director Operations Video in Austin, and George Kawahara partnered with Deaf Link.

Succinctly, Kay stated, “We don’t have enough equipment; we can’t pay for it.” They asked, “What do you need?”

Kay replied with specifics; Hughes said, “You got it.” Equipment was drop-shipped, more than she requested, all donated.

Kay then phoned Jack Colley, Texas Director of Emergency Management. Jack was in meetings within Texas SOS, State Operations Center.

Kay spoke to Amanda, requesting Jack Colley receive this message: “Tell him we’re heading in; I really need to do this.”

Jack called Kay, “Whose nickel are you going to put this on?”

Slowly, Kay said, “Well, I guess ours.”

Jack replied, “That’s the right answer.”

Kay asked, “Can I use your name?” Jack, “Yes.”

Again, Kay was ready to drop, roll and run forward to help thousands of deaf and non-English proficient people through multiple Katrina-related emergencies.

When Kay ‘hit’ KellyUSA (our closed San Antonio Air Force Base), she declared, “We’re here to provide access for deaf.”

Monette, you couldn’t find who was in charge. KellyUSA was so busy; people asked, “By whose authority are you here?”

Kay answered: “Well, the State would like to see us provide access for deaf.”

Kay wasn’t lying; she wasn’t stretching the truth.

Prior to providing remote sign interpreting services, Deaf Link needed computers, cameras, high-speed internet connections, lines dropped. Until then, Kay walked the crowds looking for deaf and deaf/blind evacuees.

Communication was a huge problem for everyone, including deaf. Everything in each shelter needed access. Lack of communication resulted in people struggling without information, food, medicine, essentials necessary for survival. Later, when interpreters arrived, onsite sign interpreters were invaluable. Unfortunately, interpreters couldn’t be there 24/7 each day for processing, counseling or full communication.

Before Kay finished installing their first site, KellyUSA, a doctor pulled Kay Chiodo to interpret for a deaf person who had been there several days. The deaf man had cuts on his feet; he was in the water; he didn’t know tetanus shots were available.

One deaf man fainted from lack of food, not knowing food was free.

Police surrounded the halls; he didn’t want to go to jail for stealing and did not eat for three days. They discovered he was diabetic. He had not received medications because could he not hear public announcements.

Counseling was offered for adults and children. Without interpreter access, deaf children missed out. Hearing children of deaf adults could not participate when parents did not have access to announcements.

One woman communicated with puppets to children; Kay worked to have those puppets accessible.

Deaf Link learned “what it takes to hit the ground running” to provide access for people with disabilities and people without English proficiency.

Texas was the first state in the nation to provide these services, and Deaf Link launched the precedent. Tech Trans from Houston partnered with Deaf Link to provide foreign language translation.

Doctors needed access to multiple languages. Tech Trans and Deaf Link provided language access and with one click, individuals received their foreign language.

Kay shared KellyUSA was a breeze with Time Warner dropping lines. Time Warner jumped through hoops; they and SBC dropped cables. They helped Kay find chairs for many individuals and for a pregnant deaf mother. “Their teamwork was a labor of love.”

As Kay Chiodo drove to Houston, SBC’s Southwest Director of Homeland Security, Adam Cavazos shared names, contacts and numbers. Kay learned the politics of getting into a center. Kay received an introduction to Smart City who dropped lines for Deaf Link in Houston and Dallas.

Kay said, “Sometimes you would think we were family.”

Kay walked in the door, used Jack Colley’s (Texas Director of Emergency Management) name and the State saying they want this access for evacuees, and Texas wants to ensure evacuees receive the best services.

In Dallas, Kay and Dan spotted a Toys-R-Us truck outside the Reunion Plaza Center.

She knew they would distribute toys, but deaf parents wouldn’t let children take toys if they didn’t know the toys were free.

Kay experienced this within the Dome: When children were bored, volunteers distributed donated coloring books, but deaf parents took the items from children, returning them because they didn’t know the items were free.

Kay walked around, signing “free, free” to deaf parents.

Leaving, dead tired, Kay strolled over to the Toys-R-Us staff, her voice raised, “Okay. Hands in the air; here’s what you’re going to run into with parents who are deaf.”

Kay taught each the sign for ‘free’, so they would hand out toys to “all the children.” Once each person could sign ‘free’, with their hands in the air, Kay left for her next site.

Kay emphasized how access to information is critical and life-altering in emergencies.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was one of the few to seek out deaf. Through Deaf Link, deaf communicated directly to the Mayor.

One lady described ‘losing’ her son. She begged Nagin to find his body.

This deaf mother evacuated into flooding New Orleans streets with her three-year old son hanging onto her neck. She had a set of twins, one child in each hand.

Each arm raised high, she firmly held a child and struggled to keep their heads above rising water. As the sky darkened, snakes and objects floated as she worked to rescue her family.

It was dark when she discovered that her three-year had slipped off her back into the water.

She tried to find her son, one child still in each hand, struggling to keep their heads above the fast-moving, high water. Each time she picked up a floating shirt, she held a dead body.

The mother’s body shook while she signed, speaking to New Orleans Mayor Nagin.

Kay interpreted: “Please help me find my son, so I can bury him.”

Then the mother thanked Nagin for listening. Kay believes Nagin felt the hurt of everyone he talked to.

“Monette, there was plenty of hurt in the shelters.”

Mayor Ray Nagin’s eyes teared as the mother signed to him that she felt she was punished for being deaf because she couldn’t hear her son’s cries.

The mayor sat next to Kay, shoulders slumped, Nagin’s hands folded in his lap.

And Kay softly said to Mayor Nagin: “The stories are right there on their hands. They just need an interpreter to help them share what they are saying to you and to each person.”

Kay Chiodo and Dan Heller, www.DeafLink.com, may be reached 210-590-7446.

‘Katrina – Deaf Link, Remote Sign Interpeting; Drop, Roll, Run Forward, Part I,’ March 2006 may be accessed on http://crrbooks.com/newsdesk_info.php?newsdesk_id=53

‘Katrina – Deaf Link, Remote Sign Interpeting; Drop, Roll, Run Forward, Part III,’ May 2006 may be accessed on http://crrbooks.com/newsdesk_info.php?newsdesk_id=55

Monette, Court Reporting Whisperer, may be reached: Monette@ARTCS.com and Monette@CRRbooks.com

Monette Benoit, B. B.A., CCR, CRI, CPE, Paralegal

Tutor, Motivational Management & Career Coach,
Multiple-Title Author of Books & Test Prep for the Court Reporting and CART Captioning Industry
Realtime Court Reporter, Instructor, Consultant, Columnist

Court Reporter Reference Books & CDs: www.CRRbooks.com
Blog: Monette’s Musings, www.monettebenoit.com

* Educational/Career Advancement; Private Tutoring/Customized Coaching

Have you failed NCRA’s RPR, RMR, RDR, or a state court reporting exam?

“Get ‘ER Done In Just One” – as evidenced by the many students and professionals who study Court Reporter Reference Books to pass their RPR, CSR, and RDR exams on the first test. Testimonials are listed online, www.CRRbooks.com.

** Pedagogically sound covering a wealth of material with facts, tips, and comprehensive information.

The “Complete NCRA RPR, RDR, and CSR Test Prep Textbook, 6th Edition” has greatly expanded testing tips, testing focus, NCRA COPE Ethics specific details, grammar sections, plus — legal, Latin, court, English, grammar, vocabularly, medical, and computer chapters. www.CRRbooks.com

The “Test Prep Set” includes four volumes – each listed on www.CRRbooks.com

Monette will help you to pass your test and to exceed schooling and career goals. http://crrbooks.com/index.php?cPath=61

Did You Know: You can accelerate your career with private tutoring and career coaching? Court reporting veteran Monette Benoit can help you achieve your goals.

Tutoring and career coaching topics include:
• Motivational skills to keep you moving forward,
• Time-management skills,
• Process learning for more effective retention,
• Development of skills to author your book, your blog, and how to publish,
• Communication skills, daily interaction improvement skills, and much more.

Who comes to Monette for tutoring and career coaching?
• Professionals who want to achieve their goals, create new possibilities, advance their career, author their book, and to develop the dream within,
• Veteran and novice court reporters, CART (Communication Access Real-Time Translation) providers, and broadcast captioners brushing up on their skills for test-taking requirements,
• In-class students who feel they’re “stuck” and falling behind, or aren’t ready for the required tests,
• Students and veterans who struggle with focus, goal-setting, time-management or other life skills that might be interfering in their upward success,
• At-home students who want to ensure they’re on track for their exams and for their career goals,
• Veteran court reporters, CART Captioners expanding their career options in related fields,
• Students and veterans alike who find they’re struggling with key areas of daily practice,
• Students or veterans who have begun to question their career or whether they’re on the “right track” …

Check out: Reach Your Goals with Tutoring and Career Coaching
http://crrbooks.com/index.php?cPath=29

Monette Benoit, the Court Reporting Whisperer, can help you achieve at much high levels.

Where do you want to go? ** What have you ‘really’ wanted to do with your career, and ultimately, your life?

* No two are alike. Specific custom-designed guidance efficiently assists you!

About Monette Benoit:
As a 25+ year court reporter, CART Captioner, author of NCRA test prep material, and an instructor, public speaker, Monette Benoit has taught multiple theories, academics, all speed classes, and the 225 homeroom within NCRA-approved schools and a community college. She understands the challenges many adults now face in our industry and schooling.

Monette Benoit has worked with thousands of professionals, court reporters, CART Captioners, students, and instructors.

She has also helped to create new court reporting training programs, worked with federal grants, and assisted instructors in developing curriculum for both in-class and at-home students.

Her one-on-one tutoring, private coaching, has greatly assisted thousands of students, novice and experienced professionals to privately reach the next level.

Monette’s Musings is a blog containing information for busy professionals, students, and individuals who are fearless and seek to create their success each day. Reach up. Bring it. Bring it. * Bring it today!

Hurricane Katrina – Deaf Link, Remote Sign Interpreting Drop, Roll, Run Forward, Part I of III

Hurricane Katrina – Deaf Link, Remote Sign Interpreting
– Drop, Roll, Run Forward, Part I of III

By Monette Benoit

Copyright by Monette Benoit, All Rights Reserved.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf/blind or do not understand English, you didn’t hear Katrina warnings. You didn’t see captioned crawlers on TV.

You didn’t hear messages as vehicles moved through the streets notifying residents to evacuate. Your world was very different.

As chaotic, unorganized evacuations began, Kay Chiodo, CEO and president of her company Deaf Link (www.DeafLink.com), rolled out to implement 24-hour remote sign interpreting in San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, Texas – all pro bono.

The task was enormous; Kay’s actions, those around Deaf Link, changed the world of children and adults. We want to learn from Kay and Deaf Link. We want to understand.

On Friday, August 26, 2005, Louisiana’s governor declared a state of emergency. On Monday, Katrina made landfall. Wednesday, August 31, plans were initiated to bring evacuees to Texas. On Saturday, September 3, buses arrived in Houston.

As people scrambled to escape, many rushed forward. I have worked with Kay and her companies Vital Signs and Deaf Link for 15 years providing CART, helping where I may.

In 1993, Kay embraced me into the deaf community at a Deaf Block Party, as I stood alone.

On November 23, 2005, Kay acquired a new son-in-law, Mike Houston, whom I met October 2004 at the NCRA Phoenix teaching convention. (Articles: “Serendipity and Fate of Mike Houston,” January 2006, and “Driving Miss Monette,” January 2005 may be assessed at www.CRRbooks.com. Direct links are included below.)

We tease Kay when there’s an event, not only does she drop and roll, Kay drops, rolls, runs forward. Kay Chiodo was raised in an orphanage; there seeds were planted for her passion of communicating with deaf.

After Hurricane Katrina, I helped offsite with communications, sharing facts, details.

We cried; we had nightmares from what we heard. Had Deaf Link not been inside Texas evacuation sites, events would have been very different.

Technology, Kay and remote services changed access. They changed the world we know. They did.

To get this story, I waited, phoning Kay’s home: “Just talk to me. Tell me, so I can share.” I typed, coaxing Kay to share.

As I fact-checked December 2005, people around us were out Christmas shopping.

Kay emailed, “Monette, remember we also gave doctors and police the ability to communicate with persons who were not English-proficient. They asked for Spanish, Cajun French and Vietnamese language interpreters. We helped there too. Oh, and I also tap dance with a flower in my ear.”

This is Kay’s story:

When Deaf Link knew Texas shelters were opening, Kay conferenced her Board of Directors: “Will you back me? We’re going to hit the shelters because we need to. There was a plain old need to do it because we can; we can make each accessible.”

“Ten percent of the American population is deaf; we knew they would be there. Who would be the ones who wouldn’t know to evacuate? It’s going to be deaf, blind. When the TV broadcasts ‘beep, beep,’ and there’s an emergency, you’re out of luck if you can’t hear or see it.”

Prior to providing remote interpreting, Deaf Link needed computers, Internet connections and cameras. Until lines were dropped, Kay walked the crowds, looking for people who are deaf and deaf/blind.

Several Astrodome volunteers posted signs on boards they stuck in one trash can. Other shelters taped signs, hung on a few walls.

At the KellyUSA shelter in San Antonio, as Kay unpacked next to In-Take, doctors brought deaf people to Deaf Link. Volunteers and emergency workers were processing “endless lines of evacuees asking names, addresses, who were you separated from – putting information into a national database to locate other evacuees. Data helped reunite deaf family members who became lost in the shuffle.”

Whenever we spoke, Kay shared shocking, stunning, horrifying facts and events.

The first time, Kay was climbing up a stairwell in Houston’s Astrodome, prepping to leave for Dallas. We spoke multiple times that day as she was working.

Four days later, Kay was still in Houston. I continued to phone, asking how she was, how could I help? Kay was on the road for six days.

When we spoke, Kay’s voice was hoarse; I heard tears.

Then Kay would say, “I’ve got to go, Monette. I need to go back.”

I listened on her phone as Kay sought people who needed assistance.

Kay spoke to technicians, volunteers, requesting, arguing, insisting how to install equipment in a new place, sight unseen, prior to her arrival. Often there were problems. Kay took it all in, collected names, amassed knowledge.

And Kay Chiodo met unforgettable, grateful individuals – who would have had very different Katrina experiences had Deaf Link not been onsite and offsite, providing remote services 24/7.

Kay met Felix in the KellyUSA shelter after Louisiana nursing home staff abandoned residents. Felix is afraid of the dark.

“If you’re deaf and in the dark, you can’t see others.” Felix always carries “an itty-bitty” flashlight in his pants pocket.

When electricity failed, water was rising. Felix didn’t know where his two elderly friends were, one wheelchair-bound, the other using a walker. Without his flashlight, Felix wouldn’t have found them as they screamed.

Felix carried one woman from her wheelchair; the other lady hung on his back, across his shoulders as Felix went down the stairs. Felix waded through high water, toward a rooftop.

They arrived together. Felix wanted to introduce Kay to the two ladies. The ladies had just showered and sat on cots when Kay approached.

Kay asked, “Would you like for me to interpret anything before I leave for Houston?”

One lady said, “Sweetie, we don’t need you to do that. He can read our eyes. He’s our silent hero; we love him.”

Felix crying, dropped on one knee, kissed the lady’s hand, signing, “I love you.”

The lady voiced, “Sweetie, we know he does.” Felix was their hero.

Inside Houston’s Astrodome, a deaf/blind lady sat rocking on a cot, signing, “Help me, help me.”

Kay signed into her hand, “Okay, okay.”

The lady grabbed Kay’s torn shirt; she hung so tight, Kay couldn’t communicate. The woman wouldn’t let go.

Kay said, “You couldn’t help but cry.”

Kay kept signing, “OK, stay, will.”

Kay’s leg had to touch the woman; she clung to Kay. She’d flail out to ensure Kay’s face was there.

“To live in darkness, to be thrown into water, then to be separated – – ”

After the lady’s information was entered into the database, she found the sister she had been separated from during evacuation.

Kay softly shared: “It’s funny, Monette, hours, days went by so fast because you’re caught up in this emotional turmoil. You forget you haven’t slept, eaten. It’s like a wave from each person. It renews you. You have something you have to do. You do it because that’s what you’re supposed to do.”

Kay may be reached at Kaychiodo@DeafLink.com and 210-590-7446.

Part II: We share more.

‘Hurricane Katrina – Deaf Link, Remote Sign Interpreting, Drop, Roll, Run Forward Part II’ may be accessed on http://crrbooks.com/newsdesk_info.php?newsdesk_id=54

‘Hurricane Katrina – Deaf Link, Remote Sign Interpeting; Drop, Roll, Run Forward, Part III,’ May 2006 may be accessed on http://crrbooks.com/newsdesk_info.php?newsdesk_id=55

“Serendipity and Fate of Mike Houston,” January 2006:
http://crrbooks.com/newsdesk_info.php?newsdesk_id=42

“Driving Miss Monette,” February 2005: http://crrbooks.com/newsdesk_info.php?newsdesk_id=19

Monette, the Court Reporting Whisperer, may be reached: Monette@ARTCS.com and Monette@CRRbooks.com

Monette Benoit, B. B.A., CCR, CRI, CPE, Paralegal

Tutor, Motivational Management & Career Coach,
Multiple-Title Author of Books & Test Prep for the Court Reporting and CART Captioning Industry
Realtime Court Reporter, Instructor, Consultant, Columnist

Court Reporter Reference Books & CDs: www.CRRbooks.com
Blog: Monette’s Musings, www.monettebenoit.com

* Educational/Career Advancement; Private Tutoring/Customized Coaching

Have you failed NCRA’s RPR, RMR, RDR, or a state court reporting exam?

“Get ‘ER Done In Just One” – as evidenced by the many students and professionals who study Court Reporter Reference Books to pass their RPR, CSR, and RDR exams on the first test. Testimonials are listed online, www.CRRbooks.com.

** Pedagogically sound covering a wealth of material with facts, tips, and comprehensive information.

The “Complete NCRA RPR, RDR, and CSR Test Prep Textbook, 6th Edition” has greatly expanded testing tips, testing focus, NCRA COPE Ethics specific details, grammar sections, plus — legal, Latin, court, English, grammar, vocabularly, medical, and computer chapters. www.CRRbooks.com

The “Test Prep Set” includes four volumes – each listed on www.CRRbooks.com

Monette will help you to pass your test and to exceed schooling and career goals. http://crrbooks.com/index.php?cPath=61

Did You Know: You can accelerate your career with private tutoring and career coaching? Court reporting veteran Monette Benoit can help you achieve your goals.

Tutoring and career coaching topics include:
• Motivational skills to keep you moving forward,
• Time-management skills,
• Process learning for more effective retention,
• Development of skills to author your book, your blog, and how to publish,
• Communication skills, daily interaction improvement skills, and much more.

Who comes to Monette for tutoring and career coaching?
• Professionals who want to achieve their goals, create new possibilities, advance their career, author their book, and to develop the dream within,
• Veteran and novice court reporters, CART (Communication Access Real-Time Translation) providers, and broadcast captioners brushing up on their skills for test-taking requirements,
• In-class students who feel they’re “stuck” and falling behind, or aren’t ready for the required tests,
• Students and veterans who struggle with focus, goal-setting, time-management or other life skills that might be interfering in their upward success,
• At-home students who want to ensure they’re on track for their exams and for their career goals,
• Veteran court reporters, CART Captioners expanding their career options in related fields,
• Students and veterans alike who find they’re struggling with key areas of daily practice,
• Students or veterans who have begun to question their career or whether they’re on the “right track” …

Check out: Reach Your Goals with Tutoring and Career Coaching
http://crrbooks.com/index.php?cPath=29

Monette Benoit, the Court Reporting Whisperer, can help you achieve at much high levels.

Where do you want to go? ** What have you ‘really’ wanted to do with your career, and ultimately, your life?

* No two are alike. Specific custom-designed guidance efficiently assists you!

About Monette Benoit:
As a 25+ year court reporter, CART Captioner, author of NCRA test prep material, and an instructor, public speaker, Monette Benoit has taught multiple theories, academics, all speed classes, and the 225 homeroom within NCRA-approved schools and a community college. She understands the challenges many adults now face in our industry and schooling.

Monette Benoit has worked with thousands of professionals, court reporters, CART Captioners, students, and instructors.

She has also helped to create new court reporting training programs, worked with federal grants, and assisted instructors in developing curriculum for both in-class and at-home students.

Her one-on-one tutoring, private coaching, has greatly assisted thousands of students, novice and experienced professionals to privately reach the next level.

Monette’s Musings is a blog containing information for busy professionals, students, and individuals who are fearless and seek to create their success each day. Reach up. Bring it. Bring it. * Bring it today!