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Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission fingerspelling bee  Send a link to a friend

[APRIL 11, 2006]  SPRINGFIELD -- On May 1, the Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission will host the ninth annual Deaf FingerSpelling Bee. The event will be in the Illinois Department of Transportation auditorium, 2300 S. Dirksen Parkway. The program will begin at 10 a.m., with completion around noon. Registration is from 9 to 9:45 a.m.

The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission hosts and sponsors the Deaf FingerSpelling Bee for intermediate deaf students as part of a continuing effort to enable deaf students to participate in education activities similar to those of their hearing peers. The event is patterned after the Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee but is modified for deaf students. Sign language is the method of communication during all aspects of the event. The competitors manually fingerspell the words in the competition.

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

Participants involved in the event are intermediate deaf students from Illinois schools with deaf programs. There will be two groups. Group A will consist of students at the fifth- and sixth-grade level at the time of competition. Group B will consist of students at the seventh- and eighth-grade level at the time of competition. In both groups, the students' pure-tone average in their better ear can be no more than 70 decibels.

The first-, second-, third-place and alternate finalists from each school bee will go to the regional contest. The first-, second-, third-place and alternate finalists from each regional event will go to the statewide bee. The alternates are the fourth-place finishers.

Each school will designate its presenters to serve as the representatives to sign the words for the competitors to spell out. A panel of three judges will preside.

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.

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

The presentation of 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 Marion Dramin, outreach manager, Illinois Telecommunications Access Corporation; Emma Danielson, account manager, Sprint Illinois Relay; and Hershel Jackson, deaf services coordinator, Moline.

The timekeeper will be Kate Kubey of the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities, Chicago.

Sign language interpreters will be Marilyn Corlett and Dave Schmidt.

Parking for participants will be available in the designated visitor parking spaces at the Department of Transportation building, 2300 S. Dirksen. South Dirksen Parkway is located in the southeast part of Springfield, between South Grand Avenue and Stevenson Drive.

Participants should enter at the front, through the main entrance, and check in with security personnel, who will guide visitors to the auditorium.

For more information, please contact Kent Schafer, coordinator, at; call (877) 455-3323 toll-free by voice or TTY; or contact the Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission, 1630 S. Sixth St., Springfield, IL 62703.

[Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission news release]

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