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Boating Family Inspires State’s First Safety Training for Deaf Youth
Great Lakes Boating & Marine Trades - Press Release

Course Begins at CNY Boat Show February 10-14


Dave White, New York Sea Grant, 315-312-3042

Drew Wickham, Boating Industry Association of Upstate New York, 585-526-5460

Frieda Heckman or Maggie Russell, AURORA of CNY, 315-422-7263

Kevin Cooper, Cooper’s Marina, 315-635-7371

Syracuse, NY, February 1, 2010 - Kevin Cooper and his 10-year-old sons Adam and Jacob have boated as a family since the boys were born. The twin brothers are now ready to be certified safe boaters and thanks to a partnership of New York Sea Grant, the CNY Boating Industries Association and AURORA of CNY, both boys can begin earning their certificates at the Central New York Boat Show February 10-14, 2010.

Jacob will take the Young Boater’s Certification course for ages 10-17 offered at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, NY, on Thursday, February 11, 6-8:30pm, and Saturday, February 13, 10am-3:30pm.

Adam, however, is hard-of-hearing and, although his dad Kevin operates Cooper’s Marina in Baldwinsville, Kevin did not know of any courses to help deaf youth obtain the certification needed for youth to legally and safely operate a boat on New York waters.

“One day at a Boat Show Committee meeting I asked Dave White of New York Sea Grant how a youth who is deaf could receive boating certification. The next thing I know Dave is calling to say Sea Grant and the Boating Industry Association of Upstate New York (BIA) have the opportunity to partner with AURORA of CNY to offer young boater safety training with American Sign Language interpreters at the Central New York Boat Show in 2010. My vote was yes,” says Kevin, who serves on the BIA CNY Boat Show Committee.

AURORA of CNY, based in Syracuse, provides services to people with hearing or vision loss.

Boating Industry Association of Upstate New York President Maureen Doyle says, “The Association is pleased to combine resources with New York Sea Grant and AURORA of CNY to sponsor this first-ever interpreter-facilitated young boater training at the February boat show to extend the enjoyment of boating to the deaf and hard-of-hearing.”

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation sponsors the New York safe boating courses. Director of Marine Services Brian Kempf says, “This new training for the deaf is a first for New York State. Deaf individuals have taken the boater safety course with their own interpreters. This is the first time formal training has been offered with an interpreter signing for the entire class.”

Deaf/hard-of-hearing youth ages 10 to 21 may register for the free training required for youth to legally operate a boat in New York State waters.

American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters from AURORA of CNY will sign the Young Boater Safety Certification Course in American Sign Language for the youth and their parent(s).

The free course will be held in four 5:30-7:30pm sessions, starting Wednesday, February 10 and Friday, February 12 in the Horticulture Building Seminar Room at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse. The series will conclude with Wednesday, February 24 and Friday, February 26 sessions at the AURORA offices at 518 James Street, Syracuse.

The free Young Boater Safety Certification Course for hearing youth will be held in two sessions at the boat show: Thursday, February 11, 6-8:30pm, and Saturday, February 13, 10am-3:30pm, including certification exam.

New York Sea Grant will teach the deaf/hard-of-hearing youth in cooperation with AURORA’s American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters. US Coast Guard Auxiliary and Syracuse Sail & Power Squadron instructors are teaching the traditional Young Boater Safety course.  Youth must attend all 8-hours of training and complete a proctored exam to receive their certificate.

The courses are offered free. Each registrant receives three free admission passes to the boat show.

Seating for both editions of the safety course is limited and pre-registration is required. Deaf youth may register with AURORA of CNY by phone: 315-422-7263, TTY/TDD phone: 315-422-9746 or follow the registration process signed in ASL at videophone 315-422-7263. Hearing youth may register with the New York Sea Grant Oswego office at 315-312-3042,

The Central New York Boat Show, the state’s largest and oldest boat show with more than 500 boats of all types on display. Show admission is $9 per person; children younger than 12 free.

Background on Project Partners


Aurora of CNY was created in 1991 when the Syracuse Association of Workers for the Blind, Inc. (estab. 1917) and the Central New York Association for the Hearing Impaired, established in 1976, following a study in the 1970s identifying the needs of deaf community members. The Marjorie Clere Interpreter Referral Service, created in 1979, provides professional Sign Language interpreting. 28 million people in the U.S. have some degree of hearing loss. Of that number, 10 percent are profoundly deaf and use ASL as their preferred mode of communication. Aurora of CNY is located at 518 James Street in Syracuse, NY. Contact: Director of Deaf Services Frieda Heckman or Director of the Marjorie Clere Interpreter Referral Service Maggie Russell, 315-422-7263, videophone: 315-679-4169, TTY/TDD phone: 315-422-9746, web: www.auroracny.org

New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant is one of the largest extension programs in the National Sea Grant network. New York Sea Grant educators and specialists work with shoreline stakeholders to conduct research and outreach to facilitate understanding, appreciation and use of NY’s Great Lakes shoreline’s natural and recreational resources. New York Sea Grant’s Great Lakes Program has offices on the State University of New York campuses in Oswego, Brockport and Buffalo. Contact: Dave White, 315-312-3042;

Boating Industry Association of Upstate New York

The Boating Industry Association of Upstate New York informs the public of federal and state boating rules and regulations for using New York’s freshwaters, including Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River, and the Finger Lakes, and for the Historic Erie Canal system. Association members represent boat-related businesses from boat sales to boat restoration and canvas makers. The annual February CNY Boat Show in Syracuse is one of the Association’s many different outreach. Contact: Boat Show Manager Drew Wickham, 315-447-9286; web: www.cnybia.org.

Central New York Boat Show, www.cnyboatshow.com

  • The Central New York Boat Show and Sale is New York State’s largest & oldest boat show with more than 500 power & sail boats, yachts, water recreation equipment and marine accessories on display.

  • Show Hours: 1-9 pm Wed., February 10; Thurs., February 11; and Fri., February 12; 10 am-8 pm Sat., February 13; and 10 am-5 pm Sun., February 14.

  • Show Admission: $9 per person; children under 12 free. Parking and parking lot shuttles are free.

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