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7th annual Deaf Fingerspelling Bee

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[APRIL 27, 2004]  SPRINGFIELD -- The seventh annual Deaf Fingerspelling Bee will be hosted by the Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission on April 30. The event will be in the auditorium of the Illinois Department of Agriculture's administration building on the Illinois State Fairgrounds. Enter through Gate 11 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, and it is the first building to the right. Registration will be from 9 to 9:45 a.m. The program will begin at 10 a.m. and be completed around noon.

This is the first year for the commission to host and sponsor this event as well as the first year for it to be in Springfield. Other sponsors are the Illinois Telecommunications Access Corp, the Chicago's Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities, Sprint and the Illinois Association of the Deaf.

The fingerspelling bee for intermediate deaf students is part of a continuing effort to enable deaf students to participate in similar education activities as their hearing peers. The Deaf Fingerspelling Bee is patterned after the Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee but is modified for deaf students. Sign language will be the method of communication during all aspects of this event.

Participants involved in this event are intermediate deaf students from Illinois schools with deaf programs and will include two groups. Group A will consist of students 10 to 12 years of age as Dec. 31, 2003, whose unaided pure-tone average in the better ear can be no more than 70 decibels. Group B will consist of students 13 years of age and older, up to eighth grade, as of Dec. 31, 2003, whose unaided pure-tone average in the better ear can be no more than 70 decibels.

The first-, second-, third-place and alternate finalists from each school fingerspelling bee will go to the area bee. The fourth-place finalists will be the alternates.

The first-, second-, and third-place and alternate finalists from the area bees will go to the statewide bee.

Each school will designate its presenters for the area and statewide bees. Representatives from each contestant's school will present the words. A panel of three judges will preside.


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In competition, after the presenter signs and says a word, the contestant signs or says the word again before spelling it. The contestant must then fingerspell the word. Upon missing the spelling of a word, the contestant immediately drops out of the contest.

The winner is determined when the last two spellers are competing, one misses, and the other, after correcting the error and correctly spelling the next word on the presenter's list, is declared the champion.

The reference material used for this event is from the American Sign Language Dictionary by Martin Sternberg.

Presentation of the awards will be by Louanner Peters, deputy chief of staff for social services for the governor's office.

The judges for the event will be Emma Danielson, Illinois statewide account manager with Sprint; Kris Smith, assistant director, Department of Human Services, Division of Rehabilitation Services, Services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing; and Susan Dramin-Weiss, deaf services coordinator, Persons Assuming Control of Their Environment Inc.

The timekeeper will be Don Stewart, deaf services coordinator, Springfield Center for Independent Living.

Sign language interpreters will be provided.

If you have any questions, please contact Pam Oller, Deaf Fingerspelling Bee Coordinator, Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission, 1630 S. Sixth St., Springfield, IL 62703; phone toll-free at (877) 455-3323 V/TTY; or e-mail at poller@idhhc.state.il.us.

[Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission
news release]

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