Author Archives: Valerie Stafford-Mallis

ACS Proud to Sponsor the Clarke Mainstream Conference October 22-23 in Sturbridge MA

This year’s conference, “Tuning In and Tapping Potential” will bring together parents for two days of workshops.  ACS Owner/Manager Mike Cano will be making an in-kind donation of his incredible CART writing skills and Business Development Manager Valerie Stafford-Mallis will be staffing an exhibit. ACS will be offering a special pricing coupon at its exhibit, so be sure to drop by.

Keynote speakers include: Teresa Caraway, Gael Hannan, Lydia Denworth and Bill Barkeley.  Special features include: “Making Connections!” A day-long program designed for students with hearing loss in grades 7-12; Special Parent Workshop & Luncheon for parents of children with hearing loss; New! Product Demo Learning Labs and much more!

Participants can earn professional development credits from the American Academy of Audiology (AAA), the AG Bell Academy of Listening and Spoken Language (LSLS), the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association(ASHA), the Connecticut State Department of Education, the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID), the Pennsylvania Department of Education ACT 48 and MA PDPs!

Make your plans to attend NOW!

Hosted by:  Clarke Mainstream Services, a program of Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech
Event:  35th Annual Conference on Mainstreaming Students with Hearing Loss
Dates:  Tuesday & Wednesday, October 21-22, 2014
Location:  The Sturbridge Host Hotel and Conference Center, Sturbridge, MA

Contact:  Barbara Tetreault
Phone:  413.587.7313
Fax:  413.586.6654

ACS Salutes the D/deaf Community During Deaf Awareness Week September 21-27, 2014

Scan ACS WordCloud Exhibit Design

Since 1951, the last full week in September of September has been designated Deaf Awareness Week.  The purpose of Deaf Awareness Week is to educate communities about the many issues the deaf population face during everyday life, as well as to honor the history and culture of people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. ACS recognizes the deep, rich, and varied culture found in the D/deaf and hard-of-hearing community and is proud to provide services that help make the spoken word accessible. 

ACS supports and embraces the following Deaf Awareness Week objectives. To learn more, please reach out to

  • To differentiate between misconception and fact about deaf and hard of hearing people and deaf culture.
  • To understand the differences in the attitudinal approaches to being deaf or hard of hearing by the hearing public and by deaf or hard of hearing people themselves.
  • To learn about types, degrees, and causes of hearing loss and other audiological information.
  • To become familiar with terminology related to being deaf or hard of hearing.
  • To become familiar with sign language and other ways deaf and hard of hearing people communicate.
  • To understand the functions of assistive devices used by people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • To better understand an interpreter’s role.
  • To learn about the types of educational programs and support services that are available to deaf and hard of hearing children.
  • To gain an understanding of the psychosocial aspects of being deaf or hard of hearing.
  • To become familiar with the services and resources that are available to the deaf and hard of hearing community.
  • To learn about communicating with deaf and hard of hearing people.
  • To have a better understanding of deaf culture.
  • To recognize that “Deaf People Can Do Anything Except Hear!”

Source: Neighborhood Link website

Guidelines for Using Speech-to-Text Services for Students Who Are Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing

Transcription-Captioning Readiness Checklist Page 1Transcription-Captioning Readiness Checklist Page 2


A while back I had a discussion with some instructional specialists about evaluating when speech-to-text services might benefit a student.  They wanted to make sure they considered everything they should consider when evaluating student placement and service delivery.  The goal, of course, is to support the student’s ability to actively and meaningfully participate in the communication, instruction, and social activities of their class by using their preferred communication mode.

In the case of speech-to-text services, there is a placement and readiness checklist for students who are deaf and hard of hearing that can assist IEP teams (students, teachers, specialists, parents, and school administrators) when making decisions about programming and placement.   It was adapted by C.D. Johnson, D. Pfeiffer, and B. Parrish-Nowicki from an earlier Interpreter Use Inventory (B. Schick 2004). I originally found it under a State of Virginia’s Department of Education Caption or Transcription Checklist citation but I have since found it under citation from other respected organizations such as Hands & Voices.,d.eXY

I am sharing the link with you here in this blog.  I can also email the document itself to you.  I recently presented a webinar on Guidelines for Using Speech-to-Text Services with many excellent additional resources.  I am happy to share that webinar PowerPoint with you.  Please feel free to email me if you have any questions. My email address is

Awesome New Video on Communication Access Realtime Translation

Screen Shot CART video

ACS is pleased to share on its website a new video by the University of Washington AccessComputer Project that explores what CART is and where it can be used. The video is ideal for anyone who is deaf or hard-of-hearing and is considering what types of accommodations might be best for participating in a class, conference, webinar, or business meeting. The video was developed by the Access Computing Project at the University of Washington.  The University of Washington has granted ACS permission to use this video for educational, noncommercial purposes.

To view the video on the ACS website, click on the following link and scroll down to the bottom of the page:

You will be taken to the ACS CART landing page, then scroll down to access the video. The video is captioned.

For more information about communication access realtime translation, please email

Additional Information About the Video

Author: Rob Roth, AccessComputing staff

The University of Washington AccessComputing Project produced a  7minute-34 second video, Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) Services for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing People, that explores what CART is and where it can be used. The video is ideal for anyone who is deaf or hard of hearing and is considering what types of accommodations would be best for participating in a college-level class or at a conference.

The video was developed after it was discovered that few, if any, resources were available on the Internet to explain what CART and other captioning systems were. Four students from the Summer Academy for Advancing Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Computing, including two ASL signers, speak about why they chose captioning within a STEM educational setting. This video is viewable on the Alternative Communication Services (ACS) website by permission of the University of Washington.

Copyright © 2014 by University of Washington. Permission is granted to copy these materials for educational, noncommercial purposes provided the source is acknowledged. The AccessComputing project is funded by the National Science Foundation (grant #CNS-0540615, CNS-0837508, and CNS-1042260). Any questions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the federal government. We support the University of Washington’s online privacy statement and its terms and conditions of use.

ACS Proud to Support National Court Reporter’s Association

NCRA logoThe National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) is a national professional association of court reporters, real-time caption writers, and CART providers.  ACS has been a proud supporter of the NCRA for many years.  Business Development Manager (and CART consumer) Valerie Stafford-Mallis is currently serving on the NCRA CART Ethics Committee to  make sure the voice of the deaf and hard-of-hearing consumer is heard.

The largest annual gathering of these professionals will take place later this week in San Francisco as they meet for the NCRA 2014 Annual Convention and Exposition at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square from July 31 through August 3, 2014.

NCRA 2014 Convention

There will be seminars, workshops, networking events, and other opportunities for court reporters and captioning and CART professionals to meet and learn more about what is on the horizon in our industry.

Last year ACS submitted a presentation proposal that was accepted on how to seamlessly utilize CART and platform sign language interpreting at the same event.  The material was presented dramatically in a skit and received rave reviews.   To request a copy, please send an email to

Speed and real-time contests are held to showcase the talents of some of the best steno writers in our business.  Owner/Manager Mike Cano competed last year.    Mike placed 4th in one leg of the contest and 13th in the second leg.  This gave him an overall national ranking of 12th place (out of over 21,000 writers in NCRA).    ACS sets the bar high and it shows!

NCRA photo 2

Most people in the deaf and hard-of-hearing community are probably aware of this, but many people do not know that the highest quality real-time captioning on television is done by people utilizing court reporter stenography skills.  Software cannot come close to matching the skill of these highly trained broadcast caption writers. Certified Broadcast Captioners (CBC) must pass a rigorous written exam testing their knowledge of subject matter AND a skills test in which they must caption in real-time for 5 minutes at 96% accuracy at speeds of up to 180 Words Per minute.  ACS requires its caption writers to be able to caption at speeds of up to 225 Words Per minute with a 98.5% accuracy rate.

Because people in the broadcast television industry and the business world will still continue to need captioning services, there will probably be some captioning and remote CART provided from hotel rooms of ACS broadcast caption writers attending the Conference. 

So when you watch your favorite live television show this week, you might wonder where that caption writer is.  Is he or she working from a hotel room in San Francisco?


Blog Portions Adapted From: COMMENTS FROM A CART OPERATOR – continuing series – DeafDigest – Blue Edition – July 27, 2014




In Memoriam Lija Angela Yu Yin Hyssong 7-3-2014

Lija Hyssong

Lija Angela Yu Yin Hyssong, 16-year-old daughter of Angie and Phil Hyssong and sister of Zoe Hyssong, died suddenly July 3rd after a brief illness.   Lija is survived by her loving parents, Angie and Phil Hyssong, her dear sister Zoe, and fond grandmother, Carmen H. Kaesmeyer.  Lija was the beloved niece of nine aunts and uncles.  She brought much joy and light into the lives of many cousins, relatives, and friends during her life.  Lija walked with Christ while on Earth, and she is with Him now.  She received her reward. 

Lija was born in Xing Yi, China, and was adopted by Angie and Phil Hyssong December 5, 1999.  She attended St. John’s Lutheran School, Glenn Westlake Middle School and was a sophomore at Glenbard East High School, where she was a cheerleader.  Lija’s Christian faith defined her life.  She was active in S.O.A.R. (the Youth Group at St. John’s) and had been on several mission trips with them.  She was a member of China Sisters and was a volunteer at NEDSRA, an organization that provides special recreation opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

Because ACS is a family, we wanted to share information about Lija’s funeral arrangements with you.  Visitation will be held Friday, July 11th, from 2-9 PM at Brust Funeral Home, 135 S. Main St., Lombard, IL.  Funeral services will be held Saturday, July 12th, at 11 AM at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 215 S. Lincoln Ave., Lombard, IL.

A scholarship fund is being set up to honor Lija’s love for education.   In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting memorial donations be sent to P. O. Box 278, Lombard, IL  60148. 

ACS Supports Team Member’s Professional Development


ACS just sent me to an incredible, one-week program at the University of Washington. The Minority Business Executive Program is designed to teach business owners and managers to lead their organizations through current and future business challenges. Microsoft sponsored my tuition and ACS sponsored my travel expenses and time away from the office.  The UW Office of Student Disabilities Services made sure I had a CART writer at my side providing communication access throughout the entire program.   You can see her next to me in the picture below.


We learned to utilize financial tools to make more effective decisions, develop and understand long-term strategic plans for growth and sustainability, market our products and services more effectively, manage our processes and projects more efficiently and develop our leadership skills. And we had a little fun along the way.

The MBE Program put 32 of us through a combination of lectures, discussions, guest speakers, panels, interactive simulations, team exercises, and self-assessments. We gained knowledge, tools, and a valuable network to help us achieve business goals.  It was an intense week from 4:00 PM Sunday evening until 6:00 PM Friday evening.  We had evening group assignments, lunches and learns, and working breakfasts. The bonds of friendship formed immediately and we learned so much from each other.

Class Portrait

Commencement finally rolled around Friday evening.  Here I am proudly receiving my Certificate of Completion from Faculty Member Bill Bradford.


ACS truly is “the Alternative” . The ACS management team recognizes each individual in the service delivery process, letting each do their job to the best of their ability.  An individual’s professional growth and development is taken very seriously here at ACS.  From the bottom of my heart, I thank Phil Hyssong and Mike Cano for making it possible for me to be a part of this fabulous professional development experience.  I look forward to using what I learned to grow the company and to better serve our clients.

ACS Provides Sign Language Interpreting at SHRM

Andrea Crosson SLI 1

ACS has been providing the sign language interpreting for the SHRM general sessions this week in Orlando FL.  Over 14,000 HR professionals are in attendance.  ACS is proud to have been selected and thanks SHRM for trusting its communication access needs to us!  Interpreter Andrea Crosson has provided sign language interpretation for some very special presenters at SHRM so far: Robin Roberts, Thomas, Friedman, and David Novak to name a few.  When it absolutely has to be done right, contact!

Visit ACS Booth #214 at Hearing Loss Association of America Convention

HLAA ACS Half-Page Ad MS Publisher Landscape

ACS is getting very excited about being a part of the Hearing Loss Association of America’s 29th Annual Convention at the Renaissance Austin, located in the beautiful town of Austin, Texas.  The convention dates are right around the corner: June 26 – 29th.

Mike Cano will be donating his incredible CART skills to make the product and technology demonstrations accessible to persons with hearing loss.


Valerie Stafford-Mallis will be presenting Communication Strategies for Surviving the Workplace or Job Search on Thursday, June 26th at 3:00 PM.


The ACS Convention Exhibit will be open for business.  Ask to be pointed in the direction of Booth # 214.  Leave a note for me if you do not see me, please.  I will be a moving target!

Big Grin Exhibit Shot

Make your plans to join the fun…it’s not too late. Be there or be square!!!!!   For more info please email me at

Hearing From Your Pet’s Perspective

While people enjoy what we consider to be a rich range of sounds, our everyday hearing pales in comparison to our furry or feathered friends. Able to recognize sounds far lower or higher than our ears can accommodate, many pets enjoy a world of sound we can’t even begin to appreciate.

Dogs have a much broader range of hearing than their human friends. 

German Shepherd

Cats have even broader ranges of hearing.  In fact, a cat’s hearing is so sensitive it is among the best of any of the mammalian species.  However, cats do not hear very low frequencies.  Could that be why they seem to ignore us when we speak to them?

Max 2014

Click here to learn more about what your pet’s ears experience.  And don’t forget to protect your own hearing from noise-induced hearing loss.

If you do have hearing loss,  email us at and let Alternative Communication Services (ACS) show you how easy it can be to make the spoken word accessible for meetings, webinars, videos, conference calls and  television broadcasts.