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
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
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
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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
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,
KSchafer@idhhc.state.il.us; 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.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission news release]