Monday, 30 May 2016

Genetic Modifications....

Hi, I'm not deaf myself so I thought the best way to understand this is to ask the deaf community itself in order to gain the perspective of them. 

With the advent of genetic modification, soon it will be possible for doctors to edit any types of genetic disease out of newborns. My question is that what deaf people think about the possibility of not only the next generation of people to be 100% free of deaf babies, but every generation after that. 

Would deaf people consider this a good or a bad thing? If you had the choice to be born with hearing or to be born which one would you pick? 

Comment:  Depends how you see deafness, 

(A) as a disability 

(B) As a rogue gene or as

(C) Au natural state of being.

70m deaf suggest the jury is still out.   There is a clash of medical/social view.  The majority seeing hearing loss as a disablement.  However there are MANY different genes that contribute to deafness and loss.  Current thought, is that none of the genes are capable of removal at present, we were told 25 years ago, deaf children would no longer be born, but that hasn't happened.

If we could remove genes now, there are still deaf areas who would seek out a deaf gene to perpetuate their culture, and of course illness or accident can add to deaf populations too.

The third world will probably be the central areas of cultural deaf, western areas will have better access  to the 'cure'.  With better equipped special facilities and advances we can expect drastic inroads into the current perceptions of deafness and community.

It will be a minority under fire for some time to come. The issue is Identification of the particular gene that contributes to going or being deaf.  Cultural deaf are refusing to be assessed in most part.  One suspects parents hold the key, not the community, as they could take 'action' prior to birth, thus pre-empting any collective cultural view prevailing.

Day with a difference.


An app that connects deaf people with public servicesPeople with a hearing disability in France will no longer have problems when they phone hospitals, banks and municipalities, thanks to Acceo, a revolutionary, free app for smartphones. 

It’s very simple to use and is based on a service run by sign language interpreters. The user calls the service they need and an operator-interpreter receives the request for information, which is forwarded to the entity in question. 

The interpreter then sends the reply back to the user in a video using sign language or in writing. As many as 20,000 companies, museums and healthcare services, etc, throughout France have already signed up to the service.

CI Theft: Non-profit helps 4yr old.

Courtesy photoLaura Coate holds her 4-year-old son, Sora. in this portrait provided by the family. Some components for Sora Coate's cochlear implant to help the boy hear were stolen out of their car Wednesday.The mother of a 4-year-old deaf, autistic boy has received good news about the stolen parts for an ear implant device that helps her son hear, even though the parts have not been returned.

Offers of financial support from the public and a warranty on one expensive part make it likely that Laura Coate won’t have to shoulder the financial burden of replacing the items. “That’s a big sense of relief,” said Coate, who lives with her son Sora at Pence Place apartments in Columbus.

She went to her car on the morning of May 18 to retrieve a backpack that contained important parts for a cochlear implant for Sora. The boy had recently received the implant for his left ear.

When she arrived at the vehicle, she noticed that the rear passenger window was smashed in and the car ransacked. Among the missing items was the backpack, which contained parts, including batteries, a charger, a remote for the volume and a drying kit.

Coate said she is touched that people have reached out to help because the theft was devastating and left her feeling defeated.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Sign interpreter sacked for ‘changing the news’

fakesignerA story I am sorry I missed first time around, the perils (Or laughs), of having a bored Interpreter signing !  

A prominent BBC News sign language interpreter has been sacked after complaints from deaf people revealed that she was ‘sometimes embellishing, sometimes just making stuff up.’

Leslie Grange, 32, has been a sign language interpreter for seven years. In a statement today she cited ‘personal difficulties – particularly a crushing professional boredom’ as to why, over the past six months, she had started deviating from what was actually being reported, giving deaf viewers an often ‘wildly different version of events’.

“Questions started to be raised around the time of the Japanese earthquake when several viewers emailed us to complain about our reports of radioactive zombies sighted near the nuclear reactor. We dismissed them as some sort of organised hoax.”

“However, when there were similar numbers getting in touch to ask if Rebekah Brooks was really in trouble for raping a monkey, and why the BBC was claiming that, as a special summer treat, the Prime Minister had told the nation’s teenagers they didn’t have to pay for anything any more, we realised something was wrong.”

“I would like to apologise to everyone in the deaf community,” Grange told reporters today, “though when I had Cameron tell Obama “your statesmen-like profile leaves my willy plump” – well, frankly I don’t think that is so very far from the truth.”

May: Better hearing month.

May is Better Hearing Month and a good time to dispel some myths and misunderstandings about the deaf and those with hearing loss.

1. Hearing loss comes with age and there’s nothing you can do about it.

False. This may have been true many years ago for some conditions, but with today’s advances, nearly 95 percent of people with hearing loss caused by problems with the inner ear can be helped with hearing aids, according to the Better Hearing Institute.

2. A little trouble hearing is normal. But wait until it really gets bad before going to a specialist.

False. The longer you wait, the harder it is to treat hearing loss. That’s because the auditory system in the brain stops recognizing sound as your hearing worsens. If you wear hearing aids regularly, your brain can learn to reprogram itself once its auditory system begins getting the proper nerve stimulation.

3. People with hearing loss will understand you better if you speak loudly.

False. I titled my book about hearing loss Shouting Won’t Help. It won’t. Shouting distorts the mouth and makes lip reading difficult. Speak in a normal tone of voice, look at the listener and articulate clearly.

4. Your primary care doctor will tell you if you need hearing aids and refer you to a specialist.

False, mostly. Studies show that only between 17 and 30 percent of primary care doctors do even a cursory hearing screening, even with elderly patients. Almost none do a full hearing test.

5. Providing a sign-language interpreter is helpful to people with hearing loss.

True, but only to a very small proportion of them. Of the 48 million Americans with hearing loss, only 500,000 use sign language. But because signing is a visual expression of deafness and because plain old hearing loss is invisible, the perception is that most people who can’t hear are sign language users. And they’re not.

6. Classes in sign language can be very helpful for those with severe hearing loss.

True, but only in the way that learning the basics of any language is helpful. The truth is, to become fluent in sign language as an adult is very hard work. American Sign Language is a complex structure of images and letters.There is no direct translation of spoken English to signed English. This makes it especially difficult to learn later in life.

7. People with hearing loss can read lips.

True, to some extent. Some of us do it much better than others. Nevertheless, when speaking to someone who is deaf or hard of hearing, always make sure they can see your lips.

8. Hearing aids don’t work. Better to hold out for a high-tech cochlear implant.

False. Hearing aids work well for most people with moderate to severe hearing loss, and they are considered far more effective than a cochlear implant for these people. Experts recommend a cochlear implant only when hearing aids are no longer effective. If you’re holding off on getting a hearing aid thinking you’ll simply jump to a cochlear implant when necessary, don’t do it. The longer you delay getting your hearing treated, the harder it is to correct.

9. Hearing loss is most common in the elderly.

Wrong again. Hearing loss is most visible in the elderly because this is the group most likely to have severe hearing loss and to wear a visible hearing aid. But 65 percent of those with hearing loss are under the age of 65 and 60 percent are still in school or in the workplace.

10. The only way to treat hearing loss is with a hearing aid or cochlear implant.

False. A hearing aid may be effective, but it’s expensive, averaging $2,400. For some people a $300 consumer electronics device called a PSAP (personal sound amplification program) sold over the counter may be sufficient. If your hearing worsens, you can then move on to a hearing aid.

11. If hearing aids are needed, my insurance will cover it, right?

Unfortunately, no. Some insurers are beginning to include hearing coverage in their plans, but the majority of private and company-sponsored plans do not cover hearing aids for adults, nor do most state Medicaid programs or the Affordable Care Act.

12. Medicare understands the challenge that hearing loss poses to healthy aging and pays for tests and devices.

Hahaha. So wrong. By statute — which would have to be changed by Congress — Medicare does not cover hearing aids or services related to them.

Father teaches deaf daughter how to speak

Trần Khương (sitting) has patiently taught his daughter (standing), who has hearing and speech disabilities, to communicate normally. 

Seeing Trần Khương and his daughter, Trần Lê Khả Ái, talking happily to each other, it is hard to believe that they have been through an arduous 19-year journey.  Trần Khương has made Ái, who suffered from hearing and speech disabilities, into a girl who can hear and speak.

Moreover, Ái will soon graduate from a high school for able-bodied students, and sit for an examination to enter the university like other teenage girls. Behind her achievements are the endless efforts of her father who has patiently taught her how to speak and has accompanied her in her studies over the years.

Twenty years ago, Khương left his hometown in Quảng Ngãi Central Province to settle in HCM City, full of hope for his family’s new life and aspirations for his new-born daughter.

However, his happiness did not last long when he discovered that 20-month-old Ái did not behave like any other toddler her age and did not respond to even the loudest noise. In fear, her parents had her checked up in two children’s hospitals in the city, Nhi Đồng 1 and Ear Nose Throat Hospital, HCM City. They were shocked on being told that their daughter suffered from a hearing and speech disability.

“I was very disappointed on realising the painful fact that all of our daughter’s dreams and future had been shattered,” Khang recalls.

Refusing to accept this as their fate, Ái’s parents took her to all the recommended doctors in the hope that they would help her hear and speak normally.

Time flew, but the 30-month-old girl was incapable of uttering a single syllable. However, the hopes of Khương and his wife received a boost when they accidentally learnt about the programme of early intervention for deaf and mute children.

A hearing aid cost as much as five taels of gold at that time. They sold the Honda Cub motorcycle, their most valuable item, for one tael and borrowed the rest from their acquaintances to purchase a hearing aid for their daughter.

“As long as there was opportunity, we would not give up,” Khương says.

Sign language: Still a real issue in deaf awareness ?

The skirmishes still rage between signing deaf and non-signing deaf people and others with hearing loss.  The belief that only the issue of sign access is the main gig, has been repeatedly opposed by activists in the Hearing loss areas, and yes, there are quite a few of them, now using the same campaigning tactics deaf culture used to promote their need, and, starting to oppose sign campaigns that fail to include others.

Recently a deaf person complained the signed access was failing to provide real access, and need more support to follow sign on TV screens, also expressing concern that seriously undermined deaf education.  Discussion suggested BSL in fact lacked any depth, and was passed off via the argument 'Deaf people take in the 'concepts' so still get the detail, of what is being interpreted' clearly a number of Deaf BSL users did not agree, and said they needed explanations about the translation in sign.  Most was not being done BY deaf people but by hearing who had different and superior academic English skills to them.

Basically, a 'signing English narrative', they wanted a clearer and more detailed signing approach.  Current signing was making too many unsubstantiated claims, many deaf were struggling....

The debate widened, and some wanted to criticise the BSL dictionary, claiming it was only 60% or less accurate, and the rest of the 'signs' were manufactured by the creators of that dictionary, as they went along.  When they ran out of signs, they started to emulate the basic English dictionary approach of using one sign to mean a number of different things, following the English grammatical method..

However, deaf tended to take things very literally, and context can be an issue, so the signing looked totally out of place with the subject matter, in educational settings real problems emerged, where tutors hadn't the signs to explain properly and reverted to text again to fill the signing vacuum.  If we take TV output, there is no decent lip-speaking or Signed English at all. When lip-readers insisted BSL TV output provided this, it was deemed discriminatory at deaf signers for whom speech is difficult (Ignoring those who could speak but would not). 

There was no concession by providing lip-speakers just the same.  The same programs faced the wrath of deaf when it was suggested captions/subtitles be removed ?!?  So clearly there IS an understanding signing wasn't enough.    They are told at lip-reading classes to go home afterwards, and hone skills by watching TV, but it is impossible, it's totally impossible to do that with signed youtube output expressly designed to exclude them as a cultural 'right'.  There is no 'in' but a demand you sign first.

Dedicated TV programs for 'deaf people' refuse to provide lip-speaking access in defence to a minority who use sign language or an even a greater 'majority' of them having to rely on captions to follow the sign.  It is clear to the most amateur of signers, that on-screen signing isn't relaying exactly what is being said, always the 'excuse' is "Sign is conceptual medium...', or 'Deaf can fill in the gaps themselves via educated guesswork..'  Guesswork ?  'Edited highlights ?'  Absolutely not.  How do you fill in the gaps with hardly any details included ?  What you see isn't always what you need. A proposed 'tests' to see exactly what format/s were most effective were also attacked by cultural activists.

Current 'Cultural' battles show an increasing demand for the removal of captions from signed output, painting more and more deaf people into a corner and isolating them even further. Some USA/UK 'news' channels revel in the fact they aren't caption accessible, so who is exactly being informed ? and about what ?    It's a cultural extreme with a bottom line of 'deaf & dumb' again, but dressed up as language need/norm, to make it more acceptable a proposition.  A culture of silence.  All deaf sign, all deaf don't speak.  Completely demolishing the bottom line of deaf awareness and deliberately misinforming hearing learners of sign language we are all literally, 'Dumb/Mute'.

The no subtitling/captions 'demand' is being increasingly supported by hearing interpreters, the internet, health systems, 999, deaf activists, local authorities, and charities too. Choices, needs, and indeed rights are being carved up to empower specific areas at the expense of the rest.   Ironically, 'loudest voice' wins.  Signers themselves are being deprived of access/information from fellow deaf, because of an inability to follow regional, media sign, plain poor signing, or ethnic signing, and a determined refusal to offer any assists.... because they fear captions destroy sign.  People will read first, then ignore the signing.

We should be demanding total communication approaches by all areas.

We should definitely be opposing signing only output, if only to empower those who sign.  Person by person, country by country, area by area, all offer considerable variation of skill and degree, there may or may not be a global deaf community, but it isn't one with a common access form and once you start laying down any sort of a norm, they oppose.  It's an issue increasingly being based on some Deaf 'elitist' approach that suggests if you don't use sign you aren't deaf, another bottom line of awareness discarded for the deaf extreme.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Could this change your life ?

Deaf Role Models: Influences...

Deaf individuals often experience barriers such as negative attitudes, prejudice, and reduced accessibility in school and work environments. 

The purpose of this article was to explore the unique contributions role models can provide for individuals who are deaf. We reviewed and summarized findings from role models research and identified four key themes across the literature. 

Our findings suggest that role models for deaf individuals seem to influence personal development that positively impacts achievement in academics and employment.

Only 1% use ASL ?

A woman dreaming (Shutterstock)

They don't need to, they can read minds.....For certain members of the deaf community, dreams are a rare time when communication is easy.

From solar-powered hearing aids to sign language translation devices, today’s deaf community have many tools and options that make communication much simpler than it once was. Nonetheless, during waking hours, being unable to hear in a world driven by sound remains a significant challenge. Lip reading is more difficult and less accurate than popularly believed. And while the use of American Sign Language (ASL) and cued speech has increased, they are still only used by a small fraction of the U.S. population.

But in some dreams, deaf people find they don’t need lip reading or have to worry whether people know sign language. In many of their dreams, everyone knows ASL or communicates through a sort of telepathy where everyone simply knows instantly what everyone else is trying to say.

“I never actually see people signing or speaking,” Gabriel Paulone, a student at Washington D.C.-based school for the deaf Gallaudet University said in an email. “It is as if we use extrasensory perception (ESP). It is like we share similar language without having to say something.”

Paulone’s experience is not unique. According to many of the people in the deaf community interviewed for this story as well as those who’ve posted on online forums like Alldeaf and Reddit’s /r/deaf, effortless, telepathy-like communication is a common occurrence in the dreams of those who cannot hear.

Andrea, a Missouri social worker who posts on Reddit as LanguageVirus, said that while she was born able to hear, no one has spoken in her dreams; she’s simply able to know someone’s meaning.

“I can’t even imagine hearing in dreams,” she wrote in a Reddit post about how deaf people dream. “Can’t even wrap my mind around it. It’s as strange to me as I imagine not hearing in dreams is to the people who do.”  There’s no accurate count of ASL users, but even a high estimate of two million ASL speakers amounts to about one percent of the 231 million English speakers in America. 

Friday, 27 May 2016

Captions in the Classroom...

Deaf SMS: Emergency help...

This video contain no captioning sadly, yet is about texting to police.... (Notes below are by ATR taken from their site.)

What to do in an Emergency (Deaf SMS)

How to send a emergency SMS message:

Text to the number 999 which emergency service you need e.g. POLICE, FIRE, AMBULANCE OR COASTGUARD.

In the text include some details on the following:

What has happened
Where the problem happened
Where you are
The name of the road
House number
Buildings nearby to help people find you (e.g. church or supermarket)
What happens next?

You will get a reply in about two minutes.

The message may ask you for more information or say that help is coming.

Send the text again if you get no reply after three minutes.

Try to get someone to help you if you cannot send a text. 

Grad student wins CART support case...

boozle-DeafTeacher-2358.JPGAfter nearly a year, East Brunswick High School teacher Richard Koenigsberg has won his battle against the district over a request for hearing assistance at graduation.  Koenigsberg, a 30-year veteran of the high school, had a simple request: for the district to provide him with a CART reporter at the June 16 graduation ceremony.

The CART reporter, or Computer Assisted Real-Time Translation reporter, offers a real-time display of text typed by a stenographer. Koenigsberg doesn't use American Sign Language (ASL) but instead reads lips, and he has normal verbal skills.

He said hearing isn't an issue when he's teaching his sociology and film classes or during one-on-one meetings. It wasn't even an issue during staff meetings with multiple speakers because the previous administration worked with him, he said.

But when the administration changed four years ago, they were no longer sensitive to his "being profoundly deaf," he said.

Deaf woman Jailed

CHEEK: Sarah Woodward asked a 99--year-old victim for paper to write her begging noteA deaf woman preyed on elderly residents, including a 99-year-old war veteran with dementia, giving them handwritten notes pleading for money. 

Sarah Woodward knocked on the doors of pensioners in Highercroft and Infirmary, Blackburn, claiming she had a new baby and needed to pay heating bills.

She also promised to pay back one victim but never returned. However, Preston Crown Court heard how the 37-year-old, who admitted three counts of fraud by false representation, did not have a baby and was in receipt of welfare benefits.

Woodward had also been jailed for a similar offence in 2014 but in that instance she had attacked her victim.

Di Marco: Is he attacking parental choice ?

A lot of people don't realise the major support base for Di Marco is via the very extensive USA Gay/Transgender communal areas not grass roots as such.   Wild claims of 'World support' for his views carries no basis in fact.  Firstly there is no denying a deaf individual succeeding on a dance floor against determined hearing opposition has to be recognised properly.

I'd much prefer people succeed in other areas where it really counts.  In changing laws, attacking discrimination and establishing rights that really do treat everyone equally.

As is the American way, that success is used as a platform for raising deaf awareness and rights, it's a system the UK has never effectively managed itself with any success, because of the Brit reluctance to recognise success, then act on it.

The USA deaf make anything connected with deaf people viral as soon as they are able, this is the American way of doing things, it started with Marlee and then onto others... the Brits either ignore, are apathetic, or at best undermine achievement, Brits are uncomfortable with success..  I make little comment on 'celebs' myself because the very term is abusive, most have no star quality at all from what I can read or see.  Even being a total loser can make you a 'celeb' it seems.  I'm a fan of those who worked at it and really do have that 'star' quality.
Two points in a recent blog negative about Di Marco's VIEWS on education were, despite complaints, issues long discussed and disagreed with over the years by us all, he said nothing new about them, tending to playing to the gallery of deaf people, worried about educational approaches and growing main streaming, and as ever there is no such thing as bad publicity..

The blog which was taken out of context as usual, was about 'Deaf' desire to overrule parental choice in education, or, that systems were not offering exclusive signing approaches at all, and keeping deaf children unaware of 'culture', this won't gel where it counts.   In the UK what works is used, TC (Total Communication), is the assumed norm.

All options are open, there is no 'exclusive' signed approach, as this could actually deny choice, could lead to tiered subsystems of deaf educational approaches, and would affect children's educational outcomes by creating have, and have nots. 'Each according to need' is written as a base line, this is the right way. 

The end game is of course integration (Not assimilation), how else can deaf relate to the hearing community, if they stand apart ? Equality demands they integrate.  If they don't attempt it, but live in 'parallel' instead, then what point equality ?  It would be impossible to attain, this in reality would limit deaf children's own futures.

The old chestnut suggestion parents are 'denying' deaf children the sign they need, is yet another historical dig the deaf extremes keep using, that e.g. parents are either ill-informed of options, or just determined to make hearing people out of deaf ones.  This too alienates the deaf community from those in the driving seat, the hearing parent. We have these debates in the UK too as mainstreaming advances.  Basically it is an attempt to stop the demise of dedicated deaf schools which are/were the base of deaf culture.  

The USA has a numerical supremacy of deaf support and their laws are differently applied too.  The nearest equivalent we have is Scotland which is utilising the USA approaches quite successfully.  Wales has no group or area of any note to do that, England appears disinterested in it, maybe Ireland will follow Scottish approaches.   

But basically the Brit approach is slow, and mainstreaming is written in stone now, some areas have no deaf schools at all, Wales is one of them, some other deaf schools (Like those in the Scotland/USA), have been plagued by abuse stories, this tends to focus the system on erasing stand alone or 'isolated' approaches to deaf education where abuses are easier to hide. 

What Di Marco has done is opened that old can of worms again.  It is a consistent failure of deaf awareness in essence, where they still do not believe they can succeed or advance unless (A) They are all signing, or (B) All together, and all the time.  (C) Allowed to operate independently of the mainstream as and when they choose.

The obsession and opposition or oral approaches is also unfounded and negative too, and just triggers negativity at deaf people who speak and encourages anti-hearing views, which we don't support.  A G Bell ? get over it, each approach has a part to play.

Di Marco also comes from an area with little or no hearing background at all, so really is in no position to comment on the pros or cons of a non-signing background at all. While this resonates with profound deaf who sign, they are still a minority, even in the deaf world. I think Di Marco's background is around point 2% or a lot less.   Basically you have to have had experience of Hearing and being deaf to comment on what is 'best', Di Marco has none of that experience.

9 out of 10 deaf have none of his background either.  The only area able to offer a balanced view via being hearing and deaf are those that acquire it at different stages, not those who never had hearing at day one.  Whilst it is true they don't have experience of being deaf first, neither has Di Marco experience of being hearing first.  Each area has a valid and experienced point to make.

ATR Feels his 'demands' won't carry any further than those deaf extremes and disaffected deaf,  who oppose anything oral or spoken, certainly parents will not be told how to bring up own children regardless of his views.  We applaud his media actions and dancing successes, but feel he should leave important educational issues to those more qualified to offer clarity to it.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

The Deaf Society...

Deaf In your face...

People who are deaf are usually born deaf or become deaf in infancy and do not feel a need to integrate into the hearing ...
Recently I attended a multi-sports day for deaf kids organised by Deaf Sports Australia and DeafACT.  What stood out most about the event was the quiet. There were no whistles blowing, half-time sirens, barracking parents or competitors screaming "Pass it to me!"

Just the sound of kids striving to win and laughing with delight. Such Deaf community gatherings are essential in small cities such as Canberra where deaf and hard of hearing children attend mainstream schools rather than special programs.

Being deaf in rural Australia often means almost never coming into contact with people who are like you. Kristy Serafin, who travels in the Yass and Goulburn regions teaching deaf children, points out that her main job is to help her students socialise with others.
Deaf children are significantly more likely to be depressed, obese and diabetic than their hearing classmates. 

It is also not uncommon for them to be wrongly diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or found to have learning difficulties when in fact they are suffering from isolation and awkwardness. Many deaf kids say, "We sound like retards when we talk", and so shut up altogether.

Not long ago deaf people were systematically marginalised and disparaged. From the late 1800s until the mid-20th century, an oralist movement in deaf education policy argued that sign language – derided as manualism – was not really a language at all. The best thing for deaf people was to lip read, speak and be "normal". It was an impossible ask that left most deaf people without any language competency. For doctrinaire oralists, this only further proved that deafness was a deficiency that should be eradicated.

Thieves steal 4yr olds CI...

Indiana police are hunting for a thief who stole a four-year-old's hearing device, just hours after the deaf boy received it.

Sora Coate, of Columbus, got a cochlear implant for his left ear last Tuesday, allowing him to hear in both ears for the first time. He already had an implant in his right ear.

The excitement for his family was short-lived, though, when overnight, someone broke into their car and stole a backpack that had both cochlear implants and other essential equipment inside of it.

"He was given the gift to be able to hear just earlier that day, and that night, they all got taken. My heart is broken for him," Sora's mom, Laura Coate, told NBC affiliate WTHR.

The thief also took a portable DVD player, Columbus police said. "Most likely the person who did the theft had no idea what was inside the bag. The items would be of no use to them. They were fitted for the little boy," Lt. Matt Harris, a spokesman for the Columbus police department, told NBC News.

The cochlear implants and their parts cost about $10,000.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

11 things you should know...

When I attended the Summer Slam Poetry Camp at Gustavus Adolphus College last year, I walked into a group of 30 campers knowing absolutely nobody. 

After that first day, I was so overwhelmed by all the conversations going on around me that I couldn't understand, and frustrated with myself for not knowing how to effectively communicate the fact that I'm deaf. I would tell people, but they didn't really seem to get it. 

So, the next day, Sierra DeMulder (camp counselor and two-time National Poetry Slam champion) instructed us to write a "Ten Things" poem, and I saw that as the perfect opportunity to express my thoughts to the rest of the campers. It was an absolute rush to perform this, and everyone at the camp was so, so lovely.

An Actor's lot...

Photo: Andrey Popov/ShutterstockIs not a happy one.....Being a hearing-impaired actor comes with its challenges, but none as difficult as trying to source government funding for discreet hearing aids. I discovered this last year when I was subjected to a drawn-out battle that made The Hunger Games look like a nice bit of downtime.

I started to lose my hearing aged 18 and now wear hearing aids in both ears. I cannot hear anything without them. Since I began working as a professional actor, I have worn in-the-ear hearing aids as I felt that the behind-the-ear models supplied by the NHS limited my opportunities on stage. I didn’t want the roles that I could audition for to be restricted due to the lump of plastic behind my ears.

The government’s Access to Work programme exists, according to its website, to provide you with funding to "help you do your job if you have a disability or health condition". Unfortunately it seems that the government, much like my late Great Auntie Maureen, does not really see acting as a job.

I discovered this in 2014 when both of my hearing aids broke in quick succession, leaving me struggling with an old pair of behind-the-ear hearing aids. At that time, the acting work wasn’t bountiful and I was skint. I couldn’t afford to replace my in-the-ear aids and needed some urgent financial support. So I turned to ATW in the hope that it would pay for new aids to allow me to continue with my work.

If I had been an office worker, I suspect the application may have been quite straightforward. 

Deaf and daft with it !

When people ask us how much can we hear, what is the subtext that goes with that question ?

You often get the old chestnut that not only do they ask what you can hear, but directly relate your response to what you can understand.  This is more serious an assumption, as this can cast doubt on your intellect and ability. 

Given the approriate access format we are as good as anybody else. The world is full of negatives for us. Why this link with deafness to understanding ? I've got qualifications I have forgotten about and exam passes, apparently quite a good Mensa score as well, but, being able to prove I'm not stupid seems to be ignored because I don't hear. 

What can you hear is directly connected to how intelligent you are. If someone asks you a maths question aka what is 28 multiplied by 13,  (*It's 364 !)... or how do you spell cognitive, and you do not hear the question properly because the format wasn't right, or you could not lip-read the word adequately...then the assumption is you have learning difficulties, even issues of mental health, not hearing loss.

Look online to see how hearing loss and deafness is seen by those with effective hearing.

'Deaf to the world' (An inability or even a desire to hear.)

'Deaf Ears'  (Hearing loss allied to people who refuse, or have no intention to listen, but the linking of the term TO deaf people that cannot hear, could suggest they aren't deaf just being difficult, or unreasonable.)

'Politics of the deaf'  (Hearing loss linked with a determined refusal to take in any point made, despite being told, again could suggest the deaf are being obstructive.)

'Deaf and Dumb' (With hearing loss, comes stupidity !).

'Deaf as a post' (Unable to hear but likened to a lump of wood, mostly aimed at older people and anyone deaf, hearing people have issues communicating with, sometimes as a joke, used as a term of annoyance and frustrations with us..)

'Fall on deaf ears'  (Hearing loss applied to people who have no intention of listening but have none).

'None so deaf as those who will not hear'  (Again linking deafness to a refusal to listen)

'Turn a deaf ear' (Hearing information, but totally ignoring it, and yet again suggesting deaf either cannot, or will not listen to what you say.)

'In one ear, out the other'  (A refusal to listen or understand !)

Although these terms are aimed mostly at HEARING people, the assumptions, are that is applies to what Deaf people are like. A relentless stream of adages and sayings that put down people with hearing loss, passed down generation to generation. Aligning hearing negative traits, directly to the deaf. 

Deaf awareness, it cannot compete with this can they ?

Monday, 23 May 2016


Where is the budget for Deaf Health Interpreting ?

"If there are budgets for interpreting in other languages, why aren't there budgets for interpretation for a deaf parent ?"

Midwives, students and healthcare professionals have called for improvements in antenatal and childbirth services for deaf families, at an event organised by Kingston University and St George's, University of London.

The Deaf Nest Project conference was run by final-year midwifery student Paulina Ewa Sporek, founder of the Deaf Nest Project, and created an opportunity to discover more about the issues that affect the deaf community.

Attendees heard from deaf charity representatives, hearing and hard of hearing healthcare professionals, and deaf parents who shared their personal experiences of the barriers they have faced during pregnancy and post-natal care. One mother told her story of being left distressed, trying to lip-read her midwife as her husband received bad news about her pregnancy.

Event Chair, Dr Jacque Gerrard, Director of the Royal College of Midwifery, described ‘huge gaps' in equality of support to deaf parents or parents with deaf children. "From some of the stories that we've heard, health services say they don't have budgets for British Sign Language interpreters – but if there are budgets for interpreting in other languages, why aren't there budgets for interpretation for a deaf parent."

A New Beginning...

Re-starting my channel based on talking about Deafness/deafness and being hard of hearing to educate hearing people. I will still be doing other videos but this is what I want to do.

[Thanks we appreciate the captions].

AV-UK: It's loud shirt Day June 17th...

Loud Shirt Day

I think I have one everyday ! Auditory Verbal UK is holding LOUD Shirt Day on 17th June: its first ever national fundraising and awareness day.

The charity is asking people to wear their loudest clothes to raise funds that will help deaf children and their families access an auditory verbal therapy programme. Participants can download a LOUD fundraising pack from the campaign page on the Auditory Verbal UK site as well as create a fundraising page.

The campaign is supported by a number of celebrities, including Usain Bolt, Matt Lucas, Daniel Radcliffe and Paloma Faith, with schools and businesses, as well as individuals taking part.

This is the first Loud Shirt Day for deaf children in the UK. Loud Shirt Day was first organised in Australia ten years ago by charities supporting deaf children. Over the past ten years, it has helped to raise awareness of deafness as well as funds to support listening and spoken language programmes for young deaf children across Australia and New Zealand.

Anita Grover, chief executive of Auditory Verbal UK said:

Many people don’t know what impact deafness can have on a child and how it can make it more difficult to make friends, enjoy school, and communicate with your family. Fewer people know that with the right support, deaf children can overcome most of these challenges. Loud Shirt Day is raising awareness of what deaf children can achieve and supporting our work at Auditory Verbal UK with the families of young deaf children.

Can you eat LESS noisily ?

Louise Windsor is now able to tell her husband off for eating too noisily after a cochlear implant meant she is now able to hear for the first time A downside of having a CI.....A mother-of-three who was born deaf is now hearing for the first time thanks to surgery - and is already nagging her husband for being too loud.  

Louise Windsor, 41, from Bristol, has spent the last four decades in virtual silence. But after having a cochlear implant, she is now able to enjoy the sounds of birds and music but admits she gets irritated by other things. 

Mrs Windsor, a dinner lady, said: 'I can hear birds outside, I can hear an aeroplane and even my dishwasher.  Louise Windsor is now able to tell her husband off for eating too noisily after a cochlear implant meant she is now able to hear for the first time 

Louise Windsor is now able to tell her husband off for eating too noisily after a cochlear implant meant she is now able to hear for the first time   'It’s emotional hearing my husband’s voice. It has changed my life.

At first it was hard and took a while to get used to people talking but now I can hear most things.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Deaf Youth Job Search

Deaf Festival..

Deaf Kiwis to share excitement of the Olympics..

That's the reality deaf and hard-hearing New Zealanders have had had to deal with, but thanks to new technology being readied for the Olympics, it could be an issue of the past.

A high speed voice activated captioning system will see commentary at the Rio Olympics posted on free-to-air coverage with only a few seconds delay. Wendy Youens from Able Captioning Service says the new technology will also feature ambience to really immerse people in the action.

"So there'll be sound effects like crowd cheers or commentator yells – that kind of thing that brings people closer to the action."
It's a welcome feature for deaf Kiwis – CEO of the New Zealand Deaf Foundation, Louise Carroll says all sports fans deserve to be in on the excitement.

"It's no joke watching everyone else have fun and sitting in a room just watching everyone else. "I don't know about everyone else's husband but mine is sick and tired of me saying to him, 'What's happening. What did they say?'"

The national deaf association is now filming a fundraising video to help recoup costs.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Why Brexit ?

As the vote approaches in the UK Referendum "IN, or OUT of the European Union), here are some comments from the 'Leave' campaign.

We don't get what we signed up for 40yrs ago. Then, there was just 6 member states, since then they have added 22 others and we have 22 times the issues to face. Now we have Asia coming in....

Germany encouraged unrestricted refugee/migrant access to their 'no borders' set up, then complained it was swamped with over 1,000,000 of them, German women were assaulted by migrant gangs.   Migrants aka refugees who left their womenfolk and children behind to face IS alone...  Many were not refugees, they saw an opportunity to gain free access to Europe by posing as them.  Syrians were joined on their marches, by itinerant polish and Romanians etc who dumped their papers and adopted Arabic instead to fool border guards...... 13,000 are due to be repatriated from Denmark, except the EU forbids it.

3 eastern bloc countries had to close their borders, and put troops and barbed wire there, Brussels objected, and the European Union after encouraging this madness, deserted Greece leaving them to cope alone.

We are paying Turkey £3B a year to keep the migrants where they are, we have no guarantee they will do it, and Turkey has 10% of its population supporting IS.  The Turkish government has closed down free speech, TV stations, radio stations, arrested political opponents, and the Turkish armed forces are bombing and shelling the Kurds who are fighting IS. 

Turkey also acts as agents for selling IS oil pilfered from Syria.... and acts as an effective conduit for terrorists and arms smuggling. 

Turkey is a threat to the free world...

The UK's proposed veto on Turkish EU Entry, won't stand, but the EU members who vote for, will, despite the rules total unity must be a condition of entry, Brussels manipulates the rules to suit Germany And France....

All this is in violation of the conditions by which Turkey can join the EU.  The Turkish PM called the EU bullies for demanding democracy first and  legislating for an anti-terrorist Bill.  Responding we will open our borders and flood europe with 2m more refugees unless we get our way.

12m Turks say they will move to Europe once they get admission.

The EU is powerless to enforce own directives, (except apparently with the UK !).  Germany and France control Brussels.

4 countries that joined the EU, went to war with each other shortly after. 

The UK PM stated if the UK leaves the EU, Europe will descend back again into war.  Apparently we are the only country able to prevent the EU imploding, how ridiculous is that argument !

The UK cannot make own laws if they stay in Europe, president Obama said that was fine, if it keeps Russia in check !  Apart from the huge amount of arrogance and disinformation, the UK has no influence whatever in europe, it's PM came back empty-handed after Germany said no, to giving the UK back its own law making powers, 26 other European 'states' backed them against the UK.

The UK establishment has responded by publishing 280 'scare' stories warning what the effects will be if we vote to Brexit. Maybe the USA better re-think IT's trade deals with this ridiculous federalist state, given the same rules will apply to them.

American politicians were hypocritical in advising UK voters to stay in the straitjacket that is Europe, not one would advise the same deal for their country.

Our Health service will collapse, unless we leave the EU, the pressures on health, education and social/welfare services aren't sustainable now.  Migrants are setting up migrant-only establishments and refusing to immerse themselves in the British way of life.  The EU gave them that right.

The EU demands £millions every day in  'donations' from the UK, mostly to sustain their top-heavy and faceless bureaucracy, of unelected law makers, none of whom were democratically elected or even known to most people.

The UK, props up 13,000 families in Europe via our own welfare benefits system.  In most part none of them have ever set foot in the UK, worked here or paid any taxes here.  UK people cannot get welfare in EU.  An attempt to stop this happening was voted against (Mostly by EU countries benefiting from it).

If Europe is such a great area, then why are they migrating here for work ? "Spain and Greece are bankrupt and have 40% unemployment.  So where are the 'positives' (apart from being first line of defence for the USA), for us in the UK ?

France/Germany are dependent ON Russian energy sources. Does the USA seriously suggest they would sacrifice that energy to support them ?  

France also threatened the UK with allowing illegal migrants to flood the channel tunnel, unless we pay them money, we are being blackmailed by fellow 'members'.

In 10 years, the UK faces a further 2m migrants to enter the UK.  At that point the UK could collapse under the weight of them.  Unlike the USA the UK is a small Island and cannot physically cope with that number.  We would be like the Islands of Greece, outnumbered by migrants in our own country, and, like Greece left to it by the EU.

The UK will be a staging post for terrorist attacks on the USA.  

Why would any sane voter stay within that Union.  Maybe we should look again to the USA, didn't a Union war result ?

Friday, 20 May 2016

Deaf awareness: Don't panic !

Modern Deaf Culture...

Interview with Nancy Otte

Nancy Otte, is a Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing who is herself an oral Deaf person. 

Her mission has been for all Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and hearing people to understand and respect each other, giving freedom for all to be and do whatever works best for the individual, whether signing, speaking, using hearing aids/cochlear implants or not, whether being in a specialized school for the Deaf or attending mainstream schools...

To sign, or not ?

Sophie and her mom Samantha Zawislak. (Elizabeth Fiedler/WHYY)The invention of cochlear implants and other technologies have given many deaf and hard-of-hearing adults and children the option to hear. What, then, becomes of sign language?

When the world gets too loud—because of fireworks, or just to take a quiet break on the weekends—8-year-old Sophie knows what to do.  "When it's really loud, I just take the magnet off," she says.  She's deaf and has had a cochlear implant that's helped her hear since she was a year old. But she knows by moving that magnet she can stop the device from bringing her sound.

More than 1 in 500 children in the United States is born deaf or hard of hearing, making it the most common congenital sensory problem in the country. Technological advances, like Sophie's cochlear implants, now give many children the ability to hear and communicate with spoken English from the time they are babies.

Sitting next to her on the couch in their living room, Sophie's mom Samantha Zawislak says getting her daughter a cochlear implant, which requires surgery, was a difficult decision.

"We didn't ever want our daughter to think that she's broken or not complete somehow," Zawislak says. "[But] There is this really neat technology that if you're the appropriate candidate and if you do it soon enough, children who are deaf have access to sound and can use their voice if they choose to speak."

Sign language is a vital means of communication for many members of the deaf and hard of hearing communities. Sophie can hear now and make her own decisions about how to communicate. 

Even though her parents sign to her, Sophie responds to them in spoken English. When her mom asks why, Sophie explains that they can hear, so she wants to speak. 

Zawislak says she wants her daughter, who attends the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, to have the power to define her own identity.

"Ultimately at the end of the day that child's going to grow up and find out who they are, and it might be hearing, it might be deaf," she reasons.

SSE first access for BSL users...

Executives look on as the first video sign call is made from an SSE call centrePerth utility SSE has become the UK’s first energy company to interact with deaf customers online using sign language.

The new service, which is being provided through SSE’s customer contact centres in partnership with SignVideo, is aimed at improving the customer experience for those who communicate using British Sign Language (BSL).

“Service providers like SSE need to think hard about how we can make life easier for all our customers and this new service means the 150,000 people who use BSL in the UK can now choose to contact us, live, using this new service,” customer services director Gareth Wood said.

Jeff McWhinney of SignVideo said: “So often deaf BSL customers are overlooked in customer services provision and face challenges because of that oversight. SSE is the first energy provider to recognise that a step change is needed.”