November 10, 2004
Vol. 1 No. 4
Editor: Tom Willard
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TENNESSEE DEAF STUDENT DIES IN CRASH OF SCHOOL VAN
Viola Wooten, 16, died yesterday of injuries sustained when the Tennessee School for the Deaf van she was riding in crashed into a utility pole. The van went out of control Monday afternoon after crossing railroad tracks in South Knoxville. According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, driver Valerie Raley, 24, became distracted for an instant and then overcorrected her steering. Raley remains hospitalized; three other TSD students in the van were treated and released from the UT Medical Center.
TEXAS TEEN PREVAILS IN JACK-IN-THE-BOX LAWSUIT
An 18-year-old Baytown, Texas teen who sued the Jack in the Box restaurant chain for discrimination settled his case last week and was awarded $25,000. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the suit on behalf of Alfonso Cruz after he was rejected for a $5.15-an-hour cook’s position. The manager told Cruz and his mother, who interpreted during his job interview, that the food-making system was too complex for a deaf person to operate. “Jack in the Box just assumed he couldn’t do the job,” said attorney Aimee McFerren. The chain, which has over 2,000 restaurants in 17 states, denied the allegations and any wrongdoing but agreed to drop its policy of rejecting deaf applicants.
FAMILY FUND FOR MAN KILLED BY TRAIN TOPS $4,500
The New York University student who tried to rescue a deaf immigrant who was hit by a train in New York City Oct. 17 has raised more than $4,500 to help the man’s family back home in Bangladesh. Eric Munson told the Washington Square News that he is thrilled with the response to his fund. The money represents two year’s worth of income in impoverished Bangladesh. Syed Faxle Mowla was killed after stepping onto train tracks to retrieve his new hearing aid. Munson was attempting to lift Mowla to safety when the train struck.
FLU SHOT SHORTAGE AFFECTS DEAF NURSING HOME
The nationwide flu shot shortage has affected Columbus Colony Elderly Care in Ohio. The deaf nursing home with 130 residents is still awaiting its supply of flu shots. Administrator Linda Briggle told WBNS-TV that she wants shots not only for residents but also for the home’s 170 workers. “I am concerned,” she said. “People who are elderly and get the flu, they get very, very sick and sometimes they die.” The facility is cleaned everyday with antibacterial soap in order to cut down on germs.
CALIFORNIA MAN ‘CRITICAL’ AFTER BEING HIT BY TRAIN
A deaf man struck by an Amtrak train earlier this week remains in critical condition in Santa Barbara (Calif.) Cottage Hospital. Alcibiade Parra-Vargas, 36, was walking his bicycle along train tracks when he was hit 2:30 p.m. Sunday. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the victim was attempting to mount his bicycle when the train struck him as it blew by.
MOM OF DEAF TEEN KILLED BY POLICE SEEKS JUSTICE
Nearly three years after her 18-year-old hearing-impaired son was shot and killed by police officers in Denver, Regina Keith sat down with the Public Safety Review Commission last week and asked that the officers be punished. Gregory Smith was shot six times by officers James Turney and Robert Silvas on Jan. 29, 2002 after he refused to put down a utility knife. The shooting was justified, the district attorney’s office ruled, saying the officers acted in self defense. Smith’s mother has filed a civil-rights lawsuit against the officers, their supervisors and the city, seeking $12 million in damages.
KENTUCKY INTERPRETERS BALK AT NEW PAY RULES
Only a handful of Kentucky’s court interpreters have signed off on new rules that went into effect Oct. 1. According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, the state’s 108 court interpreters have until Nov. 19 to sign a new contract, but many do not plan to sign because it requires too much work and not enough pay. Two hourly pay levels of $25 and $40 are specified, but interpreters will no longer get paid for travel or waiting time. An interpreter who waits three hours in court and then interprets 15 minutes would be paid only $10. Three interpreters have filed an appeal, saying the new rules were written without input from interpreters or deaf organizations. The state says the new guidelines are necessary because annual interpreting costs have grown from $500,000 to $1.2 million in four years. About 75-80 percent interpret for Spanish-speaking people; 10-15 percent interpret for deaf individuals.
POLICE CHASE GOES THROUGH DEAF SCHOOL CAMPUS
The Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf community was “stunned” by a high-speed police chase through its campus Nov. 3, said school superintendent Donald Rhoten in a statement last week. Police were in pursuit of three teenagers in a chase that had started 15 minutes east of the school, he said. The fleeing car sped through the WPSD campus and crashed through a wrought iron gate to get out. After another 30 minutes, police captured the two passengers, though the driver got away. Rhoten noted that several students were in the area and he was “very, very thankful that no one got hurt.”
SORENSON DONATES $5 MILLION TO GALLAUDET
A $5 million donation to Gallaudet University from Sorenson Media and the Sorenson Legacy Foundation was announced Nov. 4. The money will be used to help create a language and communications center on Gallaudet’s Washington, D.C. campus. The new center will bring together nine programs currently scattered around campus, along with an 85,000-book Deaf Collection. The donation comes from James LeVoy Sorenson, a billionaire inventor of medical products, and his son James Lee Sorenson, who developed a videophone for the deaf. It is the second largest private donation in school history, after $10 million received in 1992 for the W.K. Kellogg Conference Center.
A VOTING FIRST FOR DEAF-BLIND VIRGINIA WOMAN, 90
A deaf and blind 90-year-old woman from Hampton, Va. voted for the first time Nov. 2. Helen Foy was assisted in the voting booth by her son, Henry Thomas Smith. He had been urging his mother to vote since 1992 and finally “pressed the issue this year because of the magnitude of the presidential election,” said the Daily Press. According to the National Organization on Disability, about 41 percent of an estimated 40 million disabled people of voting age voted in 2000. The number was expected to spike this year thanks partly to the Help America Vote Act of 2002, which includes provisions to improve voter technology for people with disabilities.
DEAF CON MAN GETS 25 MONTHS IN JAIL
A federal judge sentenced deaf con man Massoud Shokouhi Vafa to 25 months in prison Nov. 3 and ordered him to pay back his victims $384,543 when he gets out. Vafa was confronted by several deaf victims at his sentencing, said the Hartford Courant, and “In silence, they managed to shout.” One woman who lost $23,000 said she was “very embarrassed,” and an elderly man who lost $135,000 said, “We have been devastated by what has happened.” Vafa claimed to be an investor when in reality he was a compulsive gambler. Public defender Gary Weinberger called the case “a tragedy in so many ways,” noting that casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City fueled his client’s addiction by providing him with free rooms and other comps. Vafa, who is now destitute, faces the possibility of being deported to his native Iran.
DEAF TAKE PART IN ‘NATIONAL COMING OUT WEEK’
A group of deaf students played a role in National Coming Out Week (Oct. 11-15) at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Spectrum, formerly Deaf GLO, is an organization of people who are gay, bisexual, lesbians, transgender and gay-friendly. Among the week’s events was a presentation by Barbara Jean Wood called “Are Our Rights as a Gay Person in the Workforce Protected?” Wood, executive director of the new Colorado Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, recalls meeting former governor Michael Dukakis in 1985 when interviewing for the similar job she held in Massachusetts. According to The Empty Closet, Wood was asked if anything about her might embarrass the governor. When she replied that she is lesbian, Dukakis said, “Oh, that is nothing! Anything else?”
DEAFNATION EXPO WRAPS UP SUCCESSFUL SEASON
More than 2,300 people turned out
for Austin’s first DeafNation Expo, the 10th of 12 shows this year for
the Deaf Nation team. “I was pleasantly surprised with the high number
of participants,” said Joel Barish, CEO of DeafNation, Inc. Sprint, SorensonVRS,
Microsoft Network, IP-Relay and AT&T Relay were sponsors. Attendees were
treated to performances by John “Leno” Maucere and magician Matt
Morgan. DeafNation wrapped up its season Nov. 6 in Salt Lake City and will launch
its 12-city 2005 schedule Feb. 26 in Phoenix. Info: www.deafnation.com.
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BECKHAM-INSPIRED ART FUELS SUCCESSFUL AUCTION
Two dozen artworks inspired by British soccer star David Beckham were auctioned off at Christie’s in London Nov. 4, raising more than $275,000 for the National Deaf Children’s Society. Celebrities, art collectors and corporate patrons attended the auction to view and bid on the artworks, which were created by some of the world’s most renowned artists. Beckham was unable to attend but said, “I hope the evening is a great success and that my name in some small way will help them to achieve their goal.” Marking its 60th anniversary this year, the NDCS is the only charity dedicated to the support of the United Kingdom’s 35,000 deaf children. Selected artworks are posted on the organization’s website: www.ndcs.org.uk.
DEAF-BLIND ISRAELI TROUPE EARNS INTERNATIONAL RAVES
A group of 12 deaf and blind actors in Israel have formed the Nalaga’at theater group. Na lagaat means “do touch” in Hebrew, and the name of their acclaimed show is “Light is Heard in Zig Zag.” The group met in a drama class, and founder and director Adina Tal “recognized the potential of the group and fell in love with its people.” Last summer the troupe toured North America, performing for over 4,000 people in Montreal, Toronto, Boston and New York. Each actor is accompanied onstage by an interpreter, who help with timing and costume changes ... and tap the actors’ knees to communicate applause. A standing ovation in Manhattan lasted a quarter of an hour, with members of the audience moved to tears. The troupe’s website is www.nalagaat.org.il.
SCHOOL FINDS A SAVIOR AFTER DONOR’S CHECK BOUNCES
Officials at the School for Deaf, Dumb and the Blind in Punjab, India, were in despair after a large check from a prominent donor turned out to be worthless. The supposed philanthropist was arrested, and plans to build a new wing on the school were up in the air. But the school has found another benefactor in Balwinder Singh Safdipur, who compensated the school for the bounced check and donated 4,000 square yards of his land to the school. According to Onlypunjab.com, the land is worth Rs 35 lakh.
GOVERNMENT WORKERS TRAINED IN SIGN LANGUAGE
Novinite.com, the Sofia News Agency, reported Nov. 4 on efforts to train Bulgarian government officials in sign language. Staff from the Bulgarian Ministries recently completed a sign-language course and were granted certificates by Deputy Prime Minister Plamen Panayotov. According to Novinite.com, knowledge of “deaf-and-dumb language” will lead to better communication between government and “citizens with sense disabilities.”
DOGS BITE MAN WHO DIDN’T ANSWER HIS DOOR
An unidentified New Zealand man was recovering last week after being mauled by police dogs. Twelve officers were sent to the man’s house Nov. 2 after he allegedly threatened a resident with a fake gun. When the man did not respond, police broke down his door and sent in the dogs. He was taken by ambulance to a hospital with serious leg injuries. A woman who lived in the same building told a local newspaper that her neighbor was deaf and would not have heard the officers’ demands to open up.
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LIFE & LEISURE
A THREE-MONTH MAKEOVER FOR FLORIDA WOMAN
A 38-year-old deaf medical auditor from Florida experienced a $35,000 makeover courtesy of Fox TV’s “The Swan.” Gina Davis’s new look was revealed on the Nov. 1 episode after she underwent a three-month transformation that included a nose job, eye and brow lift, chin implant, liposuction, Lasik eye surgery, breast augmentation, tummy tuck, and tooth veneers. She also began a fitness program and had several therapy sessions because “she’s had a complex all her life," mom Sally Paluzzi told the Daytona Beach News-Journal. About 500,000 women applied to be contestants on the show, and only 10 were selected. Davis, who also was given two new hearing aids, will move on to the show’s “beauty pageant” to air Dec. 20. To view her before and after photos, visit www.fox.com/swan/home.htm. Click on "CONTESTANTS" and then on Davis' picture.
HALF OF U.S. STATES NOW HAVE DEAF COFFEE CHATS
The DeafCoffee.com team is about halfway to its goal of having coffee meetups in all 50 states. More than 75 deaf chat coffee places have been identified in 24 states around the country in just over a year, and anyone can attend a chat in their area or start a new one. The goal is to provide “an enjoyable, family-oriented, smoking-free fun event,” said a news release from founders Grant Laird, Jr., Brenden Gilbert, Steven Whitworth and Sam Dunn. Click on www.deafcoffee.com to see if there’s a chat near you; you can also sign up for a free email newsletter and view photos from previous chats.
‘BAHA SYSTEM’ OFFERS NEW HELP FOR HEARING LOSS
Diane Georges, 45, is one of about 5,000 people in the U.S. with the new BAHA system from Entific Medical Systems, and her experience with the new hearing device was featured in the State Journal-Register (Springfield, Ill.). The BAHA system was developed in the late 1970s, but wasn’t approved for use in the U.S. for another 20 years. BAHA is designed for people with chronic ear infections, congenital hearing loss and single-sided deafness. It allows sound to be conducted through the bone rather than through air via the middle ear. Surgery costs about $27,000, but many insurance plans view the device as a hearing aid and refuse to cover it. BAHA was developed by Entific Medical Systems of Powell, Ohio, which says on its website (www.entific.com) “surgery is minor and many patients report a wide range of advantages over other hearing devices." Another person’s views of the BAHA system may be found at www.singlesidedhearing.com.
A WHITE NOISE MACHINE MIGHT HELP
Are you hard of hearing and extremely sensitive to noise? You may have a condition called recruitment. This condition is similar to hyperacusis, the ability to hear more than you want to. Many with recruitment or hyperacusis are told nothing by their ENTs and audiologists, said a Deafweekly reader. “If you do have this,” she advised, “the best thing you can do is buy a white noise machine from Zellers or PharmaPlus, and try to always be around gentle soft soothing noises.” If you suspect that you may have this condition, visit the Hyperacusis Network Bulletin Board at www.hyperacusis.net.
RESEARCH SHOWS THE VALUE OF PAGERS
Two-way pagers help to improve the social skills and independence of deaf people, says a research study now underway in Canada. Connie Mayer, an assistant professor at York University in Toronto, says her five-year study may result in policy changes. For example, the government currently pays for hearing aids but not pagers, despite evidence that deaf people depend more and more on pagers for communication. When students first started using pagers, researchers noticed some were sending only 10 messages a month. Now they are sending and receiving over 3,000 messages a month. Said the mother of one deaf student: “It’s made life much, much easier.”
MERRILL LYNCH DONATION HELPS ENTREPRENEURS
A $50,000 donation from the Merrill Lynch & Co. Foundation Inc. will allow Gallaudet University to create a new business certificate program. The Merrill Lynch Entrepreneur Certificate Program will be administered by the Gallaudet Leadership Institute and is designed to help deaf and hard-of-hearing people become business owners and gain the knowledge and skills to run a successful enterprise.
TEACHER IS TOPS IN ‘TECHNOLOGY & LEARNING’
Rosemary Stifter, a technology specialist at the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center in Washington, D.C., has been named 2004 Ed Tech Leader of the Year by Technology & Learning, the leading publication in the K-12 educational technology market. This is the 17th year the magazine has recognized the “best of the best” among technology educators. Stifter works with deaf and hard-of-hearing children from toddler age up to eighth graders. Many have secondary disabilities and come from homes in which English is not the primary language. She and three other awardees were honored at a recent conference in Denver.
NEW SOFTWARE RECYCLES TV CAPTIONS FOR WEB STREAMING
A new software introduced last week allows closed captions created for broadcast and video to migrate to the Web. WGBH’s National Center for Accessible Media calls its new software CaptionKeeper. The Boston captioning pioneer says it solves a nagging problem: video often doesn’t make the leap from television to the Internet with captions intact. CaptionKeeper provides a remedy by automatically converting line-21 captions created for TV and video into Web-streaming formats. WGBH is also creator of the Media Access Generator, or MAGpie software, a free tool that allows do-it-yourself captioning and audio description of digitized material.
INTERPRETING STUDENTS DECRY POSSIBLE CLOSING
Bloomsburg (Pa.) University’s interpreter training program is in danger of being dissolved, said an open letter last week from unidentified students in the program. Bloomsburg is one of only four colleges on the East coast to offer a four-year training program in interpreting, the students said, and it’s important because new rules will go into effect in 2012 that require all interpreters to complete a four-year training program. According to the letter, university officials want to close the program because they can’t find qualified professors. But such an action would “hurt the interpreting students, the profession and the deaf community, and make the university look bad,” the students wrote. To voice your opinion, write: email@example.com.
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
BERKELEY GALLERY PLANS KOLOMBATOVIC RETROSPECTIVE
“Igor Kolombatovic: A Retrospective” is going up this week in Berkeley, Calif. – but only for three days. It opens with a reception 5-8 p.m. Nov. 12 at the Nexus Gallery, 2701 Eighth St. Kolombatovic took up painting in his native Yugoslavia and later studied at the Fine Arts Institute in Rome and the San Francisco Art Institute. He’s lived in the Bay Area 35 years and is a Docent at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the Oakland Museum of California. Kolombatovic is a longtime board member of D.E.A.F. Media, Inc., and this show is part of the organization’s 30th anniversary celebration. Coming up: a gala at the Oakland Museum Jan. 29, 2005 and a juried show of deaf artists April 15-23, 2005.
POETS, FILMMAKERS SOUGHT FOR DEAFLYMPICS FESTIVAL
Attention deaf poets and filmmakers – the Deaflympics wants you. The Deaflympics Cultural Festival will take place in January 2005 in Melbourne, Australia and will include an International Deaf Film Festival and a Short Film Competition. Guidelines may be found at: http://www.aad.org.au/news/IDFF2005Guidelines.pdf. In addition, the Victorian Deaf Society is planning a signed poetry event in Federation Square called “Bridging the Great Divide,” an array of poetry signings from all over the world. For details, visit www.vicdeaf.com.au.
CHICAGO WOMAN TO TEACH PHOTOGRAPHY IN IRELAND
Melissa O’Neal, 24, is off to Ireland for six months to teach photography to deaf children, courtesy of a Fulbright scholarship worth about $11,500. A native of Gilbert, Ariz. now living in Chicago, O’Neal won the award after combining her interests in photography and deaf culture for her senior project at the University of Arizona. She spent three months at the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind in Tucson, photographing the students and giving them simple projects. She also documented the everyday life of a Tucson family with deaf parents and two hearing children. “I work well with children,” O’Neal told The Arizona Republic, and “with photography, there are no language barriers.”
WISCONSIN PAINTER TAKES BEST OF SHOW AT DEAF ART EXHIBIT
Susan Dupor of Lake Geneva, Wisc. took “Best of Show” and a $1,500 prize for her painting “Gestational Rhapsody” at Tennessee’s First National De’VIA Art Competition in Nashville, Tenn. (“De’VIA” is a term used by some to describe Deaf Art.) The exhibit took place at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville with support from MCI Tennessee Relay Services and the League for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. “It is a great fortune, good and inspiration to be a participating member of the deaf culture and I am proud to paint about it,” said Dupor.
RATHSKELLAR SHOWS ARE FREE THANKS TO ANONYMOUS DONOR
An anonymous donor has bought up all the tickets to Rathskellar’s final four shows at Gallaudet University Nov. 11-13. As a result, the performances are now free. The donor, who will be revealed at a post-performance reception, encourages attendees to donate what they feel is appropriate. Rathskellar has been performing since 1998 and will go into hiatus for several years after the Gallaudet shows, said artistic director Jon Kovacs.
NEW SHOW ‘THE DEAF DUCKLING’ TO TOUR MIDWEST
Mixed Blood Theatre, a professional multi-racial theater company based in Minneapolis, is seeking ASL-proficient actors and deaf actors for "The Deaf Duckling," a new educational touring performance. The show rehearses March 28 through April 10 and then tours the Midwest for four weeks. Please call Aditi Kapil at (612) 789-1288 to schedule an audition slot or for more information.
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CSDR FOOTBALL TEAM WINS FIRST TITLE
Alberto Martinez, a junior on the California School for the Deaf, Riverside football team, set a school record with 314 yards in a 64-24 rout Nov. 5 against Riverside Sherman Indian. With three touchdown runs of 50, 99 and 65 yards, Martinez combined with freshman quarterback Joey Weir to lead the team to its first-ever league championship. CSDR (8-1, 4-0) watched an early 21-0 lead get whittled down to 27-18 before the momentum changed in the second half, said the Press-Enterprise.
SOCCER STANDOUT FOR ILLINOIS WESLEYAN
Katie Kelly, a junior midfielder with the Illinois Wesleyan women’s soccer team, can be difficult to communicate with sometimes, said coach Dave Barrett Nov. 3 in The Pantagraph of Bloomington, Ill. That’s because Kelly is approximately 50 percent deaf in both ears. “It’s kind of difficult for me to hear him,” Kelly said of her coach. “I rely on my teammates a lot.” But playing without her is simply not an option, the newspaper noted. This season, Kelly is leading the Titans (12-4-1) with 13 goals and 30 points.
BROADBAND DONATION HELPS BRITISH DEAFLYMPICS TEAM
The British Deaflympics team will be able to send news and photos of events as they happen directly to the UK Deaf Sports website, thanks to a sponsorship from Broadband of BT. The website – www.ukdeafsport.org.uk – will also offer facts and figures about the British athletes. Broadband Internet technology “will play a huge role in offering up-to-date information during the Deaflympics,” predicted UK Deaf Sport president Derek Simmons. The Deaflympics are set for January 5-16, 2005 in Melbourne, Australia.
GOLF TOURNAMENTS, BEACH VOLLEYBALL SET FOR 2005
Looking for something to do next year? DeafNation has announced plans for three golf tournaments and a beach volleyball tournament. The golf tournaments will take place in Phoenix, Ariz. on Feb. 24; Oahu, Hawaii June 13-14; and Ijamsville, Md. (near Frederick) July 5-7. Volleyball is set for June 15 at Waikiki Beach in Oahu. All of the events are for charity, with two deaf youth groups and the Phoenix Deaf Community Center benefitting. Info: www.deafnation.com/sports.asp.
JEWISH DEAF CONGRESS TO MEET IN FLORIDA
The Jewish Deaf Congress 2005 conference will take place in Tampa Bay, Fla. with the theme“Oy! Treasures of Judaism Oy!” It will be the 46-year-old JDC’s first conference in Florida, “which is an irony due to a large Jewish deaf population,” said conference co-chair Debbie Meranski. Set for July 3-10 at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, the conference will feature “many fun workshops, presentations and entertainers,” said co-cahri Jon Ziev. “Participants will enjoy learning new things, meeting each other, and laughing throughout the week.” Info: www.jdc2005.com.
ALBUQUERQUE TO HOST DEAF LATINO CONFERENCE
“The Kaleidoscope of the Deaf Latino Community” is the theme of the National Deaf Latino Conference, set for June 30-July 3, 2005 in Albuquerque, N.M. The conference aims to bring together people who are involved with Spanish, ASL and English to discuss multi-cultural social obstacles that affect the lives of deaf Latinos. A registration fee of $120 is available until May 31; rooms at the Doubletree Hotel are set for $69. March 31 is the deadline for presentation and exhibitor applications. For information, write NDLC05@aol.com or mail to Matt Martinez, NDLC Chairperson, P.O. Box 10610, Beaumont, TX 77710.
WILLIAM PFEIFFER, JR., STUDIED COMPUTER PROGRAMMING
William J. Pfeiffer Jr., 35, of Lubbock, Texas, died Oct 6. He graduated in 1989 from Nebraska School for the Deaf and in 2002 from San Jose (Calif.) State University, where he studied computer programming. According to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Pfeiffer suffered emotionally after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and wanted to understand the “talking world,” so he traveled to 32 states in the U.S. He is survived by longtime companion Chuck Garcia and numerous family members. Memorials may be offered to Nebraska, Iowa or Texas AIDS foundations.
Deaf Abused Women’s Network
A domestic violence and sexual assault program providing advocacy, outreach, and encouraging community engagement
Two years or more of related experience with a demonstrated understanding and ability in the following areas: administration, fundraising in the form of charitable giving and grant-writing, and budget planning
Fluency in American Sign Language and an understanding of and openness to the variations and diversity within the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind community
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