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Avi Bokler Wins 3 Medals in Karate

The 12th Deaf World Championship in Martial Arts in Moscow, Russia, ended with resounding success of Russian athletes in judo and karate. The host nation collected a total of 24 medals, including 7 gold, 8 silver and 9 bronze. However, the biggest surprise of the World Championships was the performance of Avi Bokler of Haifa, Israel, who won a full set of medals - gold, silver and bronze - one for each of three different disciplines of karate. In honor of Bokler, the flag of the State of Israel was raised high three times at the medal stand in front of many competitors, officials and spectators at the Grand Sports Complex of lzmailovo in Moscow.

Bokler is a native of Tashkent, Uzbekistan, but his parents are originally from the city of Bukhara, Uzbekistan. The family moved to live in Israel in 1990, when Avi was 9. In his interview with Rafael Pinkhasov, a prominent deaf sports journalist from New York, Avi said that winning the three medals in Moscow was his proudest moment in his illustrous karate career and that he hopes one day soon the sport of karate will be included as an official medal event in the program of the Deaflympic Summer Games. Bokler said, "I hope one day soon to become the first ever Deaflympic champion from Israel."

Although Israel has been participating at the CISS-sponsored Deaflympic Games since 1957, it has not produced a single Deaflympic Games gold medalist. The only medal won by Israel at the Deaflympics was a bronze in 1993 by the men's Israeli basketball team.

At the Moscow championships Avi was accompanied by the two officials from Israel - Shimon Maman as a delegation leader and Tzvi Bronfman, his coach and manager. The Moscow championships included male and female athletes from 14 countries of Europe, Asia and South America in four different disciplines of judo, karate, taekwondo and wushu.

Deaf Lawyers Forum

Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act and other similar laws, the number of Deaf and hard of hearing lawyers and law students has grown dramatically. Many of today's young lawyers can recall at least one law school class or bar review session in which an interpreter signed to a deaf student in the front row, in which computer assisted real-time ("CART") captioning was provided to a non-signing deaf student, or in which a hard of hearing student used hearing aids or other auxiliary aids and services. There is no "typical" deaf or hard of hearing attorney or law student. In fact, perhaps all they have in common is that they are lawyers who happen to be deaf or hard of hearing.

In mid-1999, a small group of deaf and hard of hearing attorneys, including Bernard R. Hurwitz, decided to find out if a community of deaf lawyers was possible. Because most cities have at most one or two deaf lawyers, the group decided to form an online discussion group. Originally hosted on a commercial listserv, the group has grown over the last five years into http://www.deafga.org, a full-fledged proprietary web site replete with a full-featured message board and numerous links to helpful resources. More than fifty deaf and hard of hearing attorneys across North America have joined "DeafGA."

One of DeafGA's most-accessed forums is entitled "Legal Accessibility Issues," where members discuss discrimination, access, and technological issues affecting their careers as well deaf and hard of hearing people as a whole. That forum and others like it serve as clearinghouses of information and assistance that previously did not exist for deaf and hard of hearing attorneys and law students.

DeafGA has also launched a disability law blog, or "blawg," entitled Disablawg (http://www.disablawg.com), the first of its kind, and is working with the American Bar Association (ABA) Commission on Mental and Physical Disability Law (on which a DeafGA member sits) to share resources and create a formal program for mentoring deaf and hard of hearing law students.

At some point, DeafGA will no doubt reach the critical mass of deaf and hard of hearing attorneys necessary to establish a presence at ABA meetings. At that point, attorneys who are deaf and hard of hearing will have an increased involvement in ABA affairs.

Hospital Settles Suit With Posners

Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills, NY has agreed to pay the family of a deaf patient, Sarah Posner, $125,000 for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to provide a qualified sign language interpreter during an extended hospital stay in 2001.

According to the suit filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office on March 23, 2001, Norman Posner, 85, brought his wife, then 77, to Parkway after she complained of dizziness, poor balance and having difficulty breathing. The couple explained to admission staff that they would need an interpreter to make sure they understood clearly any prospective medical procedures and health risks. During Sarah Posner's extended stay, the hospital failed to follow through with interpreters, instead using a variety of methods including lipreading and writing, neither of which was satisfactory. In addition, attorneys for the couple charged that Mondays through Fridays the hospital utilized a full-time physical therapist, Joseph Potenza-who had only limited knowledge of sign language-as the family's interpreter.

"It was very frustrating for us at the beginning with their failure to provide a qualified interpreter and because of the lack of communication between Norman and the doctors," the couple's daughter-in-law, Marlene, explained. "That made us think about other deaf people who were admitted to Parkway. We didn't want to see them suffering."

As part of a settlement agreement, the hospital agreed to begin ADA training for staff members who have contact with Deaf patients and made other changes that would ensure effective communication in the future for Deaf patients. Dr. Frank Mazzagatti, senior vice president of Parkway Hospital, said the facility has already installed an audio-video conference center to connect patients to a sign language interpreter. Live interpreters will be supplied upon request.

"Norman is elated that Parkway has agreed to provide better service for deaf patients," Marlene Posner said. "It's important for deaf people to communicate with their doctors better."

Hayward Auction Features Israeli Artist

In the spirit of promoting nonviolent community, DeafHope presents "Life of Hands", an auction of art by Uzi, a Deaf artist from Israel sharing his worldly artistic experience. The event is on June 5th and includes a wine and cheese reception from 3 to 7 p.m., and a live auction from 4 to 6 p.m. Admission is $15 per person or $25 per couple (children age 13 and under free). there is a maximum of 70 people; RSVP by June 3rd by emailing to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or calling 510/733-3133 (TTY). Make check payable to DeafHope and mail to DeafHope, 22418 Mission Blvd., Hayward, CA 94541. The Uzi Gallery will remain open for viewing from June 7 to 11, 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. with an admission fee of $10 per patron. Part of the funds from the auction will be donated to DeafHope for its Deaf survivors' services.

Uzi was born in Afula, Israel, and was the first deaf child in the town. He used drawing as a way to communicate with his family and others. He attended Jerusalem School for the Deaf throughout his childhood and adolescent years. At the age of 11, Uzi began studying art at the Museum of Israel in Jerusalem. From 1973 to 1975, he studied lithography and sculpture at the Art Museum of Tel Aviv. After this, he continued studying art in an art residency, Ein Yod, in Hafia. In addition, he danced with a professional dance company, Kol Demama (sound-silence), which was internationally known for its deaf and hearing dancers.

While with Kol Demama, Uzi traveled all over the world and designed and created many different background settings for the group's performances. Afterwards, he continued to travel all over Europe for several years where he began including the beauty of signed languages into his art style, a composition of colors and hands with stories of similar experiences, artistically depicting the language and culture of deaf people. Uzi's works are represented in collections in Israel and all over in Europe and the United States. He is fluent in three languages: Israeli Sign Language, American Sign Language, and Hebrew.


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