VOLUME 41, NO. 12

Cole Zulauf, Beloved Leader, Mentor, Friend Passes

It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of our cherished friend and mentor, Cole Zulauf, on December 10, at the age of 88.

Surrounded by his loving family, Cole left behind a legacy that will forever be remembered. Cole was an integral part of the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (KCDHH) since its inception in 1982. As one of the founding fathers, he dedicated his time and expertise to various volunteer roles within the organization, including serving on the search committee for KCDHH Executive Directors and as Chair of the Board for two terms. He also actively participated in the Lexington and Louisville Deaf Clubs, the American Athletic Association of the Deaf (AAAD), the Eastern Athletic Association of the Deaf (EAAD), and the Mini Deaf Olympics (MDO), now known as the Deaf Youth Sports Festival.

Cole tirelessly advocated for the rights and well-being of the deaf and hard of hearing community in Kentucky. Even at the age of 73, he continued his service as the Program Coordinator of the Telecommunications Access Program, managing the distribution of specialized equipment to Kentucky residents. His background as a civil engineer and his involvement in various deaf organizations brought invaluable knowledge and wisdom to KCDHH.

Beyond his professional contributions, Cole was known for his infectious smile, warm hugs, and his endearing nickname, Mr. Magoo. He had a knack for making everyone feel appreciated, often honoring staff on special occasions like Mother's Day. The office would always be filled with the scent of oranges, as he enjoyed having one for his afternoon snack.

Family was his greatest treasure, and he was a dedicated husband, father to three sons, Barry, Jonathan, and Andrew, and grandfather to three grandchildren, Eliza ("M.E."), Cole, and Jackson.

Cole's impact on Kentucky's deaf community was immeasurable. His exemplary leadership, wealth of experience and depth of knowledge in all things related to deafness and the joy he brought to our lives will be sorely missed.

Visitation is on Tuesday, December 19, Milward Funeral Home, 1509 Trent Blvd., Lexington, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.. A private burial will be on Wednesday, December 20, 12 noon, Cave Hill, Louisville.

Kentucky Automated Vehicle Information System Rollout

Governor Andy Beshear announced that the final phase of the Kentucky Automated Vehicle Information System, or KAVIS, will be rolled out in January to replace an outdated system. On Jan. 1, 2024, county clerk offices will not be able to process vehicle and boat registrations, transfer titles or issue license plates and disabled placards. Online vehicle registration will also be unavailable. The change will not impact driver license issuance at Driver Licensing Regional Offices.

The following week, batches of county clerks will resume services each day. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet expects the entire state to be back up and running by the end of the week. Kentuckians will benefit from efficiency and improvements under the new system, including more than 20 new special license plate designs promoting nonprofits. More information is available at drive.ky.gov.

Photographers Invited to Contribute to Team Kentucky Gallery

Governor Beshear and First Lady Britainy Beshear invite Kentuckians to lend their creative talents to the Team Kentucky Gallery, which is located in a main hall of the state Capitol in Frankfort.

The Beshears believe there is no better place than the Capitol to highlight Kentuckians’ voices as represented through art, and the spring 2024 exhibition will showcase photography exclusively. Entrants are encouraged to highlight Kentucky’s people, architecture and natural beauty but may also submit photos that showcase their choice of lighting, composition and other purely artistic qualities.

Selected photographs will be displayed for a six-month rotation in the Capitol and on the Team Kentucky Digital Art Gallery, where the photographers can provide additional information. After the rotation, photos will be returned to the artists. The current rotation runs until Jan. 9, 2024. The next rotation will begin Jan. 10 and run until June 30, 2024.

The deadline to submit artwork for consideration for the spring 2024 exhibit is Wednesday, Dec. 20. Photos will be selected by Friday, Dec. 29, and photographers will be notified shortly thereafter. For information on requirements and submissions, click here.

KCDHH Commissioner Receives HLAA Award

Jeannie Taylor, Commission Board member for KCDHH, was recently honored with the Virginia Mason Award from the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) Kentuckiana Chapter. The award is given in recognition and appreciation of exceptional commitment to HLAA. Virginia Mason, a Louisville woman who was struggling with progressive hearing loss, is credited with starting the chapter in the Derby City. Jeannie is a co-founder of the HLAA Chapter in Bowling Green and has worked to drive change and advocate for deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind Kentuckians.

Congratulations, Jeannie. Well done!

KCDHH Staff Recipients of KAGC Annual Awards

KCDHH staff members earned recognition in the Kentucky Association of Government Communicators (KAGC) annual Awards of Excellence this afternoon. Jessica Endler Smith captured first place in the Internal Communications section of the Website/App/Social Media category for her publication, Hiring Employee Guide for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Employees. Jayna Oakley placed second for the Communicator newsletter September 2022 issue in the Print/Publications category. Honorable mentions also went to Jayna for the KCDHH Fact Sheets Packet in the Graphics; and Jayna and Anita Dowd for the KCDHH billboard in the Print/Publications category. Jessica is the Telecommunications Access Program Coordinator; Jayna is the Information Office Supervisor; and Anita is the Executive Director.

Pictured left to right is Jessica, Anita, and Jayna.

Sorenson Unveils New Project for Veterans with Hearing Loss

Sorenson, a language services provider of inclusive communication services for Deaf, hard-of-hearing, Deaf-Blind, and global language communities, launched the Sound Off Project (SOP), an initiative dedicated to supporting United States military veterans and service members with hearing loss.

Sorenson provides communication solutions to those with eligible hearing loss who need captions to use a phone, according to the company. SOP’s mission is to raise awareness about hearing loss among military service members and veterans, collaborate with veteran affiliates and organizations, and promote the adoption of these services to promote independence in communication. Read more here.

Spotlight on Mental Health

The Power of Advocacy

By Michelle Niehaus, LCSW (michelle.niehaus@ky.gov)
Program Administrator, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services
Dept. for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities

On a Wednesday night in November, I had the privilege of watching the power of advocacy at work. Individuals representing interpreters, DeafBlind individuals, KCDHH staff, Seven Counties staff and clients, and citizens of the Commonwealth with hearing loss attended a Town Hall in Louisville hosted by the Judicial Commission on Mental Health.

It was the first time in the 15 years I’ve been the Program Administrator for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services at the Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental, and Intellectual Disabilities (DBHDID) that people showed up like that and were heard by people attempting large systems change around criminal justice and behavioral health issues.

One person discussed the injustice of sign language users being mandated to treatment then being penalized when they struggle to find treatment providers willing or able to provide an interpreter.

Another person shared the frustrations of taking calls for years about agencies and organizations that haven’t fully implemented the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) despite its passage in 1990.

Someone else bravely told her story of losing custody of her children due in large part to a lack of communication access in the court system.

One person educated the panel about access issues when encountering first responders (e.g. law enforcement) and how lack of access creates dangerous ripple effects as the person moves through the justice system.

Their stories spoke truth to power. Their stories centered on the importance of communication access for the first 45 minutes of the two-hour session. Dr. Katherine Marks, Commissioner for DBHDID, called the stories offered “compelling and important.” Since that evening, I’ve heard that the information shared resonated across the department’s staff and has spurred conversations and questions, like “why haven’t people shown up like that before?” As a result, educational opportunities have been provided to multiple departments within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) on the importance of communication access in both announcing and conducting public hearings.

As a reader of the KCDHH newsletter, you like to stay informed on what is happening at the state level. Many changes that are made in state policies or procedures require public hearings and input. Auxiliary aids and services as required under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can be requested for participation in any of them.

Here’s an example of the Public Notices page for Medicaid.

Meaningful and lasting change takes time. It also takes participation from a wide variety of people. KCDHH and DBHDID continue to educate inside state agencies and organizations. We are working to find more effective ways of informing deaf and hard of hearing communities of opportunities to advocate. Posting vlogs alongside written notices is one strategy we are trying to upscale. We encourage you to show up to these opportunities and make your experiences known. Representation is vital and decision-makers need to see the impact their decisions have on real people. More inclusive and equitable services and supports are needed statewide. Those services should be designed with the input of as many people as possible.

We encourage you to learn more about Public Notices and meetings where you can describe your experiences and recommend needed changes. Together we can build a more equitable future.

Job Opportunities

NAD Looking to Fill Several Contract Positions

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) is looking to fill several positions. See below:

Do you enjoy working with deaf youth? Are you creative and enjoy problem-solving? Do you work well with others and get excited when great things happen? Then you could be our next Camp Director! We’re looking for someone to work with our Leaders and Builders at the Youth Leadership Camp this Summer! The Camp Director plans the overall program and reports to the NAD Director of Youth Programs. While this is initially a remote position, the director is expected to attend in-person during the camp session. Learn more about the Camp Director position here.

Do you enjoy planning events? Are you highly organized and detail-oriented? Are you comfortable working remotely? You may be our next Conference Planner! The Conference Planner will coordinate all aspects of our conferences, from initial concept to post-event evaluation, ensuring that each event runs smoothly and successfully. Contract pay negotiable. Learn more about the Conference Planner Position here.

Save the Date

DBHDID Offers Three Part Skills Development Series

The Department of Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectural Disabilities will host a three part skills development series on working with sign language users in substance use treatment recovery. This free series will be presented by Makato Ikegami, DSW, MSW, LCSW, and is open to alcohol and drug counselors, social work, professional counselors, and nursing. The trainings are from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and include:

DBHDID Adult Peer Support Specialists Training Jan. 22

Did you know that the Department of Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities for individuals’ (DBHDID) partnership with Bridgehaven enabled DBHDID to train eight new Peer Specialists this year? Peer Support Specialists bring important perspective and support to individuals in recovery with substance use or mental health diagnoses. There is a training on January 22 and interested peers should contact michelle.niehaus@ky.gov for an application. You may also call or text 502-892-9122 or leave a VP message at 502-385-0460.

Tech Updates

Amazon’s Eight most helpful accessibility features

Amazon has been working to make its products accessible to everyone for a decade, and the company is just getting started. According to the World Health Organization, some 1.3 billion people—one in six of us—currently experience a significant disability. And that fact is at the heart of Amazon’s approach to designing devices and services like Alexa. For over a decade, Amazon has worked with world experts on disability, accessibility, and advocated for accessible design throughout the company. To understand more about how Amazon approaches accessibility, read Amazon’s eight accessibility innovations here.

High-Tech Shirt Helps Deaf and Hard of Hearing Patrons Feel Music

Chicago’s Lyric Opera is aiming to make its performances more accessible via the SoundShirt, a garment that vibrates to match the music. In October, the Lyric became the first opera company to offer the shirts to audience members who are deaf or hard of hearing. The device comes from a London-based wearable tech brand called CuteCircuit. Each shirt costs about $1,900, but interested guests can reserve one for special performances at $20 a ticket, according to Axios’ Carrie Shepherd. The SoundShirt is worn like a lightweight jacket and features 16 small motors throughout. Microphones are placed around the orchestra on stage to record specific instruments and send a live signal to activate vibrations in the shoulders, forearms and upper and lower back. Watch a YouTube video about the SoundShirt.


Calendar of Events

PLEASE EMAIL US AT: kcdhh@ky.gov

KCDHH Resources:


KCDHH’s Telecommunications Access Program (TAP):
Landline or wireless equipment for Kentucky residents who are deaf,
hard of hearing, speech impaired, or have both a hearing and vision loss.

KCDHH Commissioners



632 Versailles Road
Frankfort, KY 40601

Voice: 502-573-2604
Videophone: 502-416-0607
Toll Free: 800-372-2907
kcdhh.ky.gov    |   kcdhh@ky.gov

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