Biographical Information of Omer Zak

[PICTURE]
NAME:
Omer Zak
AGE:
51
OCCUPATION:
Digital Electronics and Software Engineer (see my resume)
HOBBIES:
Science fiction, software writing.
HEARING STATUS:
I am profoundly deaf from birth.
I was mainstreamed during all my years in school.
FORMAL EDUCATION:
B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the Technion, Haifa, Israel.
M.Sc. in physics from Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel.
FAMILY STATUS:
I am divorced, no children.
COMMUNICATION STRATEGY:
I carry around pen and pieces of paper. They are the most reliable method of communication which I use. When I and the other party get used to each other, we shift to lipreading mode (which is faster than writing, when it is successful). If the other party doesn't speak Hebrew or is not lip-readable due to any reason, we stick to pen and paper method. The above applies to normally-hearing persons whom I encounter on my job.
With my deaf friends, I use mixture of mouthing, signing and finger spelling.
Sometimes, during my conversations with hearing people, there are phrases which defy lipreading. Then after 2 unsucessful tries (or sometimes after first try, if I feel like that), I ask the other party immediately to write the phrase in question. Then we resume oral discussion.

When I was as tiny as your thumb, my father used cued speech to communicate with me.

THE WORST THING ABOUT DEAFNESS IS:
Communication problems and the resulting social isolation.
(I hope Roy Miller doesn't mind my stealing the above two lines from his biographical sketch. I just couldn't express it better.)
THE BEST THING ABOUT DEAFNESS IS:
When my coworkers express their envy of my not being affected by the prevalent noise pollution.
MY MOST IRRATIONAL FEAR IS:
Whether people would refuse to deal with me if I stand on my rights.
IF I EVER BECOME HEARING:
I'd get some recordings of Johann Sebastian Bach's music, and find out whether what Douglas R. Hofstadter wrote about it is true.
PERSONAL HEROES:
I am very unloyal to my personal heroes and change them each few years. At the moment, it's Menachem Begin who prevented, in the 1940's, another repetition of the Jewish tradition of engaging in civil wars at moments of crisis.
WHAT I HOPE TO ACHIEVE BY HAVING SUBSCRIBED TO DEAF-L:
  1. Be in contact with hearing impaired people around the world (For me, 'hearing impaired' is the catch-all term for all kinds of hearing problems. I prefer this to saying 'Deaf, deaf, hard-of- -hearing, tinnitus sufferers, sensitive to loud voices, cochlear implanted,...'.)
  2. Be up to date about the state of the art in technical aids for the deaf (for this purpose, 'deaf' means being unable to use voice alone to follow a speech).
  3. Be in contact with deaf people who are successful in business, management etc. so that I can utilize 'networking' (grapevining?) to be more successful in my job (which involves both digital hardware design and software development, as well as supervising junior engineers once in a while).
WHAT AM I INVOLVED IN (AT MY OWN TIME):
  1. TDDS: Several years ago I was involved in the Israeli TDD project. I wrote the de-facto standard which was followed by TDDs in Israel. I wrote software which implements the TDD standard on VIC-20, Commodore-64 and IBM PC computers. There were very few TDDs in Israel. The market was too small to justify development of an Hebrew version of TDDs, and those who tried to - couldn't invest enough in R&D to insure reliable operation of their product. However, FAX machines entered into common use in the early 1990's.
    In the early 2000's, I worked for Ozicom Communications LTD. and developed for them software which enabled deaf people to use the cellular FAX capabilities of Nokia 9110 and Nokia 9210/9210i Communicators. Nowadays, several deaf persons in Israel use the SMS capability of cellular phones, and this means of communication replaced FAX machines.
  2. CAN: KESHEV, the organization of hard-of-hearing and deafened adults in Israel, asked me to develop multilingual CAN software for use in the international congress which was held in Jerusalem between 9-14 Aug. 1992. I developed the software and it was used during the congress. Now I would like to augment the system by providing stenographic and voice recognition inputs. I hope to learn from DEAF-L what is the situation in this area.
  3. I want to develop a novel means to help deaf people overcome the limitations of their visual systems when they try to lipread. The idea is that it is not sufficient to provide extra clues to help disembiguate phonemes, which look the same on the lips, but one needs also to overcome the problem that at normal rate of speech, lip movements are too rapid for the normal eye to reliably follow them.
  4. Another idea which I wish to develop, and which is not related to deafness, is a Web site for translation between languages, which will do better job than any existing translation Web site.
E-MAIL:
Internet:
w1 at zak.co.il
WWW HOME PAGE:
http://www.zak.co.il/