Heather Whitestone, the first deaf Miss America, spoke to students at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, N.Y. That bothered some, who said sign language would have been more appropriate.

Whitestone, who was crowned in September, spoke to a mostly deaf audience of about 500. The speech was sent by closed-circuit television to 40 other deaf and mainstream schools. A sign-language interpreter translated as Whitestone spoke.Whitestone, 21, who has been deaf since infancy, usually chooses to speak and relies on lip reading. She didn't learn American Sign Language until she was in high school and says she has trouble speaking and signing at the same time.

"I appreciate your respect for allowing me to communicate with my best way," White-stone said.

"She apparently forgot who the main audience was," said Brenda Tress-Mowl of Chili. "She talked to an audience who can't evaluate her ability to speak because we can't hear her."



Birthdays: For Saturday, Feb. 11

Author Sidney Sheldon 78

Actress Eva Gabor 74

Actor Burt Reynolds 59

Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt 44