Sunday, 31 July 2016

I'm deaf now going blind...

Jo Milne, who has Usher syndrome
When 10 million people from all over the world watched a YouTube video showing Jo Milne’s sobbing response to her new cochlear implants, most assumed they were a deaf woman’s tears of joy and elation at being able to hear for the first time.

However, the truth was a little more complicated. They were also tears of anguish and relief because Milne knew she was gradually going blind, and if the implants hadn’t worked she may soon have been imprisoned in a world that was both silent and dark.

That shaky amateur footage, filmed on a mobile phone by her mother Ann in the audiologist’s office, became one of the world’s most watched internet videos of 2014 and catapulted Milne, now 42, into high-profile charity campaigning.

“Most viewers of that YouTube video won’t have realised the real reason behind my reaction to the cochlear implants,” admits Milne, from Gateshead. “As a deaf person, I had always used my eyes to communicate, and the thought of totally losing my sight was truly terrifying. 

Most viewers of that YouTube video won’t have realised the real reason behind my reaction to the cochlear implants.  “The way I describe my sight, it’s like seeing the world through a letterbox or a tunnel that is gradually getting smaller and smaller. 

Please fasten your CI Seat belt...

Abandoning BSL...

In the drive for more and more introspective academic focus, and the 'Deaf Way',  via BSL and its grammatical structure, is there any point in pursuing a purist form of UK sign form simply to enhance a cultural aspiration, that does very little to enhance the practical skills of deaf people to work in, and more effectively communicate in the mainstream of things ?

The main point seems to be the focus on 'Grammar' and even Signed English or Sign-Supported English seen as some 'challenge' to culture and to deaf people.  Only recently ATR posted a vlog up about the research into developing signs that equate with the modern world and higher education, but they had to use English Grammar to do it.  More obvious was the fact current BSL did not have the people or the signing systems in place to formulate or develop a signed education for deaf children, it is still 'work in progress'.

Much is made of criticisms deaf are not supported in mainstream, some is valid, but the problem is not just funding that, but actually finding the professional staff able to do it.  Deaf haven't this in a deaf school, let alone in a mainstream one.  The fact most deaf have no chance of making University tends to be blamed on support, when Universities have already stated, the issue with deaf students is LITERACY, and that literacy is based on the English grammatical structure, simply because that is how coursework operates.  What point would their be in a BSL oriented coursework to enable deaf in mainstream where it isn't in use ?

Migrants who come to the UK fully expect and know they have to get to grips with English or they won't work, yet, deaf assume using sign alone isn't an issue, only that business won't learn it. The question is do we waste time developing the deaf grammar/signs version whilst the mainstream version continues its own way ? This would very obviously continue to disadvantage deaf from progressing in the world.  

I don't think claims of Audism and Discrimination's, are going to hide the reality the deaf are getting more introspective, and taking their eye off the access/inclusion ball, to pursue a dream, whilst the mainstream are getting more global and have little will to alter to suit them.  Even if some do, the lack of deaf support defeats it, and the in-depth knowledge of English and its grammar is going to be a continual stumbling block..

The deaf problem is an inability to separate a social medium from a practical and necessary mainstream norm, they need to get with. I sign, I need a terp, they must provide etc.. this is simply not going to happen, and business/commerce is not going to alter the way it functions just to suit a sign user.  Savvy English aware hearing people will sideline them immediately.  It all goes back to education and the insistence BSL grammar should be respected and prioritised over English.  Does not the fact 63% of UK deaf are unable to get a job ring any alarm bells ?  It isn't just deafness, but the communication mode and the lack of English awareness.

Does not University and other Higher Education concerns, that deaf aren't literate enough to do coursework ringing any bells ?  Should we automatically empower deaf to higher education, then, spend the first few years undoing 16 years of wasted deaf education to teach them the basics of grammar they need to work and to study ? OK so deaf go total BSL use very inventive academic signs etc (It would take 25 years at least if you had the people), and another 25 to train up the staff, but would there be any deaf schools in 50 years in the UK ?  It's more likely we will all end up reading text instead. 

If deaf can be truly bilingual then this has to start day one, and without demands for an alternative to what everyone else uses, has to come first.  Most of these 'demands' come from a  sector of people for whom inclusion is already relative.  Are they not obsolete anyway ?

A strange research ?

What is strange about making it easier for CI provision to those that want them ?

Saturday, 30 July 2016

'Unfriending' Facebook pests...

Connecticut Lays Off Dozens of Sign Language Interpreters

The state will no longer be providing sign language interpreters.

State officials have laid off more than two dozen interpreters in an effort to close the budget deficit.

Members of the deaf community are voicing their concerned that the layoffs could make it harder for them to access much-needed interpretation services. People who are deaf or hard of hearing said they rely on the state's interpreters, especially for things like legal matters or dealing with paying bills. 

The state has argued that the cuts would likely not harm access to services, as there are still interpreters available in the private sector. The layoffs are expected to save the state $1.2 million this year.

But many in the deaf community said this is part of a wider statewide trend aimed at cutting back on services to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Union officials or the Department of Rehabilitative Services could not be reached for comment.

NHS failure putting deaf lives at risk

Most NHS services look set to miss Sunday's deadline for introducing a new Standard that could save the lives of deaf people.

Deaf Charities says it is concerned that services have not done more to meet the deadline. From Sunday, deaf people should have better access to health services. This includes sign language interpreters being provided and patients communicating with services online and via SMS.

Many deaf people are currently forced to walk to their GP surgery to make an appointment because they cannot use the telephone. When they do get to see a doctor they are often told no interpreter can be provided. They then have to struggle by passing written notes or trying to lip-read.

Deaf group hold march in protest at council cuts

A deaf support group with an uncertain future after council cuts has held a protest outside the authority’s offices.

Enfield Disability Action’s (EDA) deaf project has had its £43,000 funding from Enfield Council stopped – half its budget – leaving it running on reserves as they try to find a backer, and survive after 20 years helping deaf people live day to day in the borough.

Over 60 people took part in the march from Chase Gardens war memorial to the Civic Centre, via Enfield town centre, where a petition signed by 1,000 people since April was handed to a council officer. The group want the council to reconsider the cuts, and work more closely with deaf people on future service provision.

Mary White, manager of the deaf project, said they are still waiting for a remote interpreting service - interpreters on personal computer screens at the Civic Centre and major libraries – to be set up, despite the council promising it would be running by January 1.

She said: “Deaf people know they can come to us and straight away we can help them, that is the service they want to keep. With all the benefit changes coming, they will need that service even more.

“We see new clients every day, and people who have used us for years. We are trying to carry on but there is not a never-ending supply of money. Once the reserves go, we don’t know.  “The protest today is only a small number, a lot of people are on holiday, but we just wanted to show ourselves. 1,000 names is not bad.

“People trust us, we are a safe place they can come for advice. The problem is the deaf community don’t have a voice.  “We help with things they do not find easy which you or I take for granted. Say for example you lost your bank card – a deaf person could not call their bank to cancel it, but we help them do these things.”

Rajeswari Gopalakrishnan, who is deaf blind, has used the EDA since 1998, and the service also helped support her 19-year-old daughter Chandrika, who has cared for her mother since she was 13.

Chandrika, who lives with her mother in Palmers Green, said she could not have coped with the last six years without the group’s support.  She said: “Trying to juggle school and work with mum’s disability was always very challenging, the support they have given me, you cannot put a price on that. Children should not be left to deal with this alone, but that is what will happen.

“I am disgusted with how the council have handled this. We have sent emails to Cllr Alev Cazimoglu, the member for health, and had no response. It’s like they do not care, it is really very hurtful.  “Today there were lots of people taking pictures, cars beeping as we marched, we handed out lots of leaflets. It was nice to see, it felt like we were heard.”

Friday, 29 July 2016

Pokemon Go encourages unemployed...

Deaf Culture and Groupthink...

Doing the social media rounds.....What is 'Groupthink' ?  Is this why Deaf Versus deaf exists ? why deaf awareness is a biased failure, and creates divisions ?  It's rather unnerving the similarities !

Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. 

Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints by actively suppressing dissenting viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences.

Groupthink requires individuals to avoid raising controversial issues or alternative solutions, and there is loss of individual creativity, uniqueness and independent thinking. The dysfunctional group dynamics of the "ingroup" produces an "illusion of invulnerability" (an inflated certainty that the right decision has been made). 

Thus the "ingroup" significantly overrates its own abilities in decision-making and significantly underrates the abilities of its opponents (the "outgroup"). Furthermore, groupthink can produce dehumanising actions against the "outgroup".

Antecedent factors such as group cohesiveness, faulty group structure, and situational context (e.g., community panic) play into the likelihood of whether or not groupthink will impact the decision-making process.

Groupthink is a construct of social psychology but has an extensive reach and influences literature in the fields of communication studies, political science, management, and organisational theory, as well as important aspects of deviant religious cult behaviour.

Groupthink is sometimes stated to occur (more broadly) within natural groups within the community, for example to explain the lifelong different mindsets of conservatives versus liberals, or the solitary nature of introverts. However, this conformity of viewpoints within a group does not mainly involve deliberate group decision-making, and might be better explained by the collective confirmation bias of the individual members of the group.

The future of sound

The future of sound: KOAR Bone Conduction Bluetooth headset delivers audio to your inner earHave you ever listened to music through bone conduction? It sounds like science fiction, but the legendary Beethoven (who was deaf) was known to use this method of listening by biting down on his composer’s wand, which was touching the piano as he played.

An updated version of this technology is available in the KOAR Bone Conduction Bluetooth Headset, a high-end set of headphones delivering crystal-clear sound directly to your inner ears. For a limited time, you can grab a set of your own at 48 per cent off from Pocket-lint Deals.

KOAR’s patented transducers bypass your ear canal to deliver sound straight to your inner ear. The sound is transmitted through vibrations via the bones of your face, sidestepping the outer and middle ear (where the eardrum is located) and directly stimulating the inner ear.

To sign or not to sign? That's the question facing deaf children..

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. "And we have chosen to accept that Sophie already identifies as being deaf and we're comfortable with with, she wants to go to the deaf university, to Gallaudet and we're very proud of that."

Children who are deaf learn, without sign language. Other children who are deaf, or hard of hearing, are on a different educational path, where sign language is much less visible. At the Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech, which has five locations across the country, all of the students use sound amplification devices, including cochlear implants and hearing aids. Clarke School teaches listening and spoken language, but not sign language. Instead, they learn to listen and speak, with the goal of succeeding in mainstream classrooms alongside their typically hearing peers.

Generation Deaf...

Dr. Joe Vandermeer
But, will they be next generation cultural deaf ?

"Turn that down before you go deaf" is a common phrase parents use on their kids, and according to experts those parents are right.

Dr. Joe Vandermeer, a physician from Lakeshore Health Partners, says kids who listen to loud music are experiencing hearing loss more than ever before. The World Health Organization is warning that more than 1 million young people are at risk for hearing loss from personal audio devices, concerts, even mowing the lawn. That's why some are calling the millennials Generation Deaf.
We see it all of the time: teens and adults walking along wearing headphones or earbuds, tuning out the real world. Sometimes, the music that is drowning out the sounds of everyday life can be literally deafening.

According to Dr. Vandermeer, our ears are like microphones plugged into our brain, and when our music is too loud, those microphones can break. "It comes down to how loud your things are and how loud you're listening to them," Dr. Vandermeer said.

"Now everybody has MP3 players with their entire library of music and streaming music services plugged directly into their ears," Dr. Vandermeer said. "They are exposed to a lot more sound and options for loud music and loud noise sources than a lot of generations before this. There's some evidence that adolescents and kids who are listening to a lot of music are showing signs of hearing loss in high frequencies."

Good Vibrations...

Ruth MacMullen who was born Profoundly deaf, is pictured with her Clarinet at York St John University, York..25th July 2016 ..Picture by Simon Hulme
She plays the clarinet, sings, listens to music and chats on the phone, but Ruth MacMullen was born profoundly deaf. Catherine Scott finds out how.  Ruth Macmullen was 18 months old when doctors confirmed she was profoundly deaf.

“My parents were told I would never learn to speak or hear anything, but my parents pushed back and said they wanted to give it a go,” says Ruth now 28. “Looking back it was a bit like living your life under water. I could hear muffled sounds but that was it.”

Ruth’s mum taught her to speak and when she was eight and said she wanted to learn a musical instrument her ever supportive parents said ‘good idea’.  Her mum set about researching the best instruments for a profoundly deaf person to play and discovered that the clarinet was ideal because of the amount of vibration.

“I always loved music and really wanted to play an instrument,” says Ruth. “Some people might have tried to put me off but my parents really encouraged me. I really enjoyed the clarinet getting to grade six and even playing in an orchestra.  “I have been brought up to believe that if I want to do something then I should give it a go. Music has been no different.”

But growing up she did find being a deaf person in a hearing world at times very frustrating.  “I went to a mainstream school and I wore really high powered hearing aids ,but I was frustrated at not being able to do all the things that the other children could do,” she says.

“I do think it has had an effect on me. Growing up and getting through the teenage years is hard enough, but you don’t really want to be different, being deaf made me stick out.”

And so when Ruth was 13 she was given a cochlear implant.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Deafness is not a learning disability ?

Subject Genius, Phil Rowlands, Why children struggle with maths: part 3
But, there was another research project that suggested the signs aren't there to advance academically, let alone tutors who are aware of them, so where will the expertise come from to teach deaf children, what they need to know ?  Is it not an issue of sign still having not enough depth ?

The head of policy and research at the National Deaf Children’s Society explains some of the biggest barriers that deaf children face and what schools can do to help.

The Article:

Deafness is a not a learning disability. Despite this, only 36 per cent of deaf children achieved five GCSEs (including English and maths) at grades A* to C in 2014, compared with 65 per cent of other children. This is unacceptable and indicates that too many deaf children are not getting the support they need in mainstream education.

Part of the problem is that deafness is a low incidence need. More than 77 per cent of school-aged deaf children in the UK attend mainstream schools where there is no specialist provision, and in which they may be the only deaf child enrolled. That’s why local authority specialist education support services play such a vital role in employing visiting teachers of the deaf to advise mainstream schools about how they can improve outcomes.

Failure to provide this advice means that deafness can often be overlooked because mainstream teachers simply don’t have any understanding of the needs of a deaf child. Often these children are nodding their way through life without really understanding what is being said and missing out on vital early development.

Using hearing Tests to ID Autism.

Some people with autism may have problems processing sounds"A hearing test is being hailed as a revolutionary technique to spot autism years earlier than current methods can," the Mail Online reports. The test is based on measuring how the inner ear reacts to sound.

But while the test shows promise, the headline is premature. The study the report is based on only looked at boys aged 6 to 17 years old and was not used to diagnose autism spectrum disorder.  In the study, 35 boys with autism and 42 boys the same age without autism had a range of hearing tests.

The first tests measured their ability to detect sounds at different levels and frequencies. All boys had the normal range of hearing.  But other tests used to measure the ear's ability to process and distinguish between similar sounds showed boys with autism had a 25% smaller processing response to sounds in the mid-range.

The researchers say this could make it hard for them to discriminate between sounds – for example, similar vowel sounds in speech.  The processing tests – using a measure called oto-acoustic emissions – are regularly used to screen newborn babies.

The hope is they could also be used to look for difficulties in sound processing in line with those found in these boys with autism.

Developing Academic signs...

Technical language and terminology can be a stumbling block for keen science students who are deaf or hard of hearing. A Swansea lecturer is helping to bridge that gap with a new glossary of specialist words, and will talk about her work at September's British Science Festival in the city in September. 

WORDS like "abrasion", "magma chambers" and "chemical erosion" prick up the ears of geologists. Depicting them in sign language is a different matter, according to Swansea University lecturer Dr Rhian Meara.

She is helping to compile a geography and geology sign language mini-dictionary as part of a wider initiative to help deaf students and teachers.  The aim of the BSL (British Sign Language) Glossary Project is to develop academic terminology, and has thus far resulted in glossaries for chemistry, physics, biology and astronomy.

Dr Meara, who does a lot of geography and geology lecturing in Welsh, began learning sign language as a hobby and came to wonder how deaf students were catered for.

Researching the matter online she got in touch with the Scottish Sensory Centre, which runs the glossary project, and a plan of action was formulated.  Dr Meara works with a deaf focus group to develop new BSL terms to cover topics including rivers, glaciation, weather, maps, and geographic information systems (GIS).

Each new term is filmed, along with a signed definition or explanation. They will then be available on the BSL Glossary Project website and on a new app which is being developed.


Wednesday, 27 July 2016

ISL 'recognised' in Ireland.

This has echoes of the EU declaration of 'recognising' BSL, yet 8 years on there are still huge difficulties empowering deaf with it. 'Recognition' without legal 'teeth' means it's a slow battle, fought one person at a time.

Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly says legislation introduced by Fianna Fáil in the Seanad and published today will assist members of the deaf community by giving Irish Sign Language full and proper recognition.

The ‘Recognition of Irish Sign Language for the Deaf Community Bill’ will empower the deaf community by placing sign language on a statutory basis.

Senator Daly commented, “This legislation will ensure Irish Sign Language is designated as a native and independent language. It recognises that the language is used as the primary means of communication by over 5,000 members of the deaf community in Ireland.

“Designating sign language as a native language will empower the deaf community by permitting it to be used in legal proceedings and it will require TV broadcasters to have subtitling. 

Australia: 1st TV series for deaf/HI children aired...

Australia’s first television series designed to help deaf and hard of hearing children develop early literacy, numeracy and communication skills is being aired on ABC2.

Education Minister Kate Jones said the Department of Education was the driving force behind the new Sally and Possum series.  “The 30 episode series is designed for children aged four to eight years who use Australian Sign Language (Auslan) as their first language,” Ms Jones said.

“Deaf and hard of hearing children can face major communication obstacles and the television series supports our commitment to inclusive education and universal access to a kindergarten program in the year before full-time school.

“The series was locally produced in collaboration with early childhood teachers of the deaf, experts in early childhood language and literacy and members of Queensland’s deaf and signing community.  “We have given the ABC exclusive unlimited free to air television broadcast rights for three years.”  Ms Jones said Sally and Possum uses play-based learning techniques to boost early literacy and numeracy development.

“The programs include an Australian English voice-over to enable siblings, carers and friends to also enjoy the production,” she said.  “The first series focuses on pre-reading concepts for younger children.

“It covers concepts such as ‘up and down’, ‘hot and cold’, and ‘smooth and rough’ through narrative, play and exploration in a kitchen and backyard. “The second series targets children aged from five years, helping them to develop early reading skills.

“Both series use engaging characters, bright colours and every day environments familiar to young children, along with special guests such as Kindy ambassador, Jay Laga’aia.

“A Sally and Possum website has been developed to compliment the series and will soon include two integrated and mobile Apps to help children build on the concepts featured in the show.  “Brisbane-based video production company Khemistry produced the series in collaboration with early childhood teachers of the deaf, experts in early childhood language and literacy and members of Queensland’s deaf and signing community.”

Ms Jones said the Queensland Government had invested $2 million in the ground-breaking series.

iplayer trialling live subtitling...


The BBC is trialling the use of subtitles on live programmes watched through its iPlayer, an innovation it says is a world “first” for any major video on-demand service.  Initially limited to PC and Mac computers with Flash, the service will eventually be rolled out to smartphones and tablets and connected TV platforms.

According to the broadcaster around 20% of all on-demand programmes viewed on BBC iPlayer are watched with subtitles, suggesting “huge demand” exists for the feature to be extended to live content.  Gareth Ford Williams, head of accessibility at the BBC, said: “The BBC is already a world-leading provider of accessible services– but we know there is always more to do.

“We want to ensure our content and services are accessible to everyone – and this trial will give viewers who are deaf or hearing-impaired access to even more programming than ever before.”

Instant messaging for Deaf & Blind Bank customers

Positive: Barclays has launched an instant messaging service for deaf savers
Banks are at last starting to improve their services for deaf and blind customers.

Money Mail has regularly exposed how poorly some banks look after customers with disabilities, who are often forced to wait hours in branches for help.

This week, banks launched several initiatives to make everyday banking easier for deaf and blind customers.  The Post Office has launched 2,500 talking cash machines for blind and partially sighted savers. A customer plugs earphones into the machine and a voice prompts them to enter their PIN into the keypad, which is in Braille.

Barclays has launched an instant messaging service for deaf savers. The service allows customers using online banking to click a button on their computer screen to connect to a Barclays employee rather than being forced to ring the bank.

A box will appear on screen and they can type in their request. The messaging service is initially being offered to customers with hearing disabilities, but could be rolled out to all customers.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

You are disabled, you just can't see it...

Via the usual skirmishes that occur on social media, one commentator was clashing very strongly with a culturally deaf person who posted 'Deaf aren't disabled' and got a lot of hostility from others deaf who disagreed with him after he was stating 'Deaf pride leads to a Deaf fall, you don't speak for us as deaf people.. and are damaging our image and misleading support systems via a totally biased awareness campaign.. that has no relation to us at all..'

He went further and listed the 'myths' and realities of the 'Deaf' images including:

(1)  Deaf needed special education approaches. (Because they are disabled)

(2)  They need special schools. (Can't function in mainstream)

(3)  Have acknowledged learning difficulties.

(4) 40% of deaf children have mental health issues. (A known disability)

(5) Deaf adults can't function adequately in a hearing world without hearing support (Interpreters). (Help, support isn't empowerment).

(6) They near all claim disability welfare support, exemptions, priorities etc. (Deaf are disabled when it suits them !)

This angered many.  Clearly not accepting all that was 'empowerment', 'access' or enabled them, was anything less than disability oriented.  The 'I am not disabled' view came mainly from those who feel cultural via their deafness, live in their own community etc.

But it's explained the disability term was based on LOSS (Hearing loss), NOT culture, and how that affects the individual, and the degree of support needed... if you never heard then disability would probably not be felt as your norm. You can do everything except hear, but are still  ignoring the fact the world revolves around that, not your deafness.... or even what you need to cope with it...

Without acknowledging the validity of either Deaf or deaf as a term, there is little doubt, that losing your hearing after a former hearing and educational background, (or when a sudden loss happens), then the term disability really does apply. The conundrum via the mainstream, is entirely based on the visual, what they see is what they think you are. 

If you are a deaf person who uses sign language every day, uses interpreters, went to 'school for the deaf' etc, then that image, is all.  But the perception remains an issue....It may well be a wrong perception but the general image is you rely on 'help' and very visually via support.   It's an issue of awareness, that is based on two definitive areas existing, that aren't classed differently..  

If you are someone who went from hearing to HoH to profound deaf in both ears, there is absolutely no doubt, it disables, and very possibly for life.. sensory loss is a serious issue, and a real disability that is universally recognised. It is not taken into account your level/abilities of managing that loss, as this varies person by person, not, sector by sector.    Loss really does disable, when the reality is you may be isolated, depressed, or lonely, and have huge difficulty of communicating, why would you go into denial to fit an 'image' or someone else's perception ?

What is worse, is that some deaf people attack others who struggle with hearing loss, because they feel it is negative and reflects on them.  Using the very unfair terms like 'get a grip' etc.  In some, its an arrogance borne of contempt, because they have a language, a culture, a community and are deaf, and don't see why it should bother you, just because you are deaf or losing your hearing.  'We cope, so you can..'.  It can suggest you are negative about what they are, so undermines their confidence and own image of themselves.

It tends to cut both ways, as too much highlighting of one form of approach and lifestyle gets attached to everyone else deaf and then support suffers, as priorities emerge based on that misunderstanding, and because those who are suffering via loss, lack the will or capability to get what they need.. 

'D'eaf may well be different to 'd'eaf in some eyes but mainstream and those who have lost useful hearing still don't buy it, what they see, what they experience, challenges it.. 'deaf', and 'HoH'  are 'living proof' deafness/loss disables. So culture becomes a sticking point of access and need as the non-cultural areas rejects their claims... What works for you won't work for me, so I don't buy that..  If I have to, I will oppose it
for that reason.

Hence the basis of Deaf V deaf.

UK Government attitude to disabled a disgusting travesty..

As if the murder yesterday by a sole Japanese killer who "Wants disabled dead."  wasn't depressing enough.  

The UK government’s response to a major House of Lords inquiry into the impact of the Equality Act on disabled people – in which it appears to have accepted just eight of 55 recommendations – has been branded a “wasted opportunity”.

The cross-bench disabled peer Baroness [Jane] Campbell, who was a member of the committee that carried out the nine-month inquiry, said she was “bitterly disappointed and angry” with the government’s response.

Disabled campaigner Doug Paulley, who gave evidence to the committee, described the government’s response as a “disgusting, disingenuous travesty” which “offers absolutely nothing whatsoever and treats our experiences and evidence with complete contempt”.

The committee’s report concluded, when it was published in March, that the government was failing to protect disabled people from discrimination, and that laws designed to address disability discrimination across areas including access to public buildings, housing, public spaces and public transport were “not working in practice”.

It also said that government spending cuts were having “a hugely adverse effect on disabled people”.

The Deafened....

Now and again I look at the UK's only deafened site (The NADP), and there is nothing at all there for deafened people, just a constant advertisement for every other charity but theirs, the sole thing they seem to do is set up surveys no-one participates in.   

As a deafened person myself, I was forced to outgrow them after the first 2 weeks, mainly because there wasn't a single aspect of their support that was relevant, or accessible to me as a deafened person, so I was forced by sheer necessity really to Do it for myself, (perhaps that is their point !)    The fact the sole response was 'We will direct you to yet another charity that is actually non-specific to deafened.'  was debilitating, stressful, and pointless.  What are we to think ?  

A 'dedicated deafened charity', had to refer us to one that wasn't. Like telling a  sign user, they could 'try' accessing a hearing charity instead that didn't do sign.  Why would we endure stress trying to educate another area, when they claimed to be it ?  That it was mainly older people going on stately home tours, further depressed us.  It's OK for the odd few that signed up for that, but what about the rest of us ? If you were a younger person there was nothing.

ATR does worry there are people going deaf who just don't now where to turn, as there seems a dearth online of any viable activity, charity, or group that specialises in our sector that is valid or even operational.

Who are we ?:

Deafened people are apart from the 'Deaf & HI' remit (Which is rubbish and discriminatory, as well as abused daily anyway), and need to be treated as a '4th sector' that has very different needs and support supplied to them, as well as a nation-wide set up that is dedicated to speech/Cued/lip-reading/text support as a basic. 

How do we cope ?:

After 50 years we still don't have what we need.  The fact our area has its own specialisation via text, (Not lip/Cue-reading), gives us the means to keep up with hearing on a more than equal basis in a general sense, but on the ground we suffer horrific neglect as systems are unable to provide that text or lip-spoken support we desperately need, because the demand isn't seen, due to no-one raising the awareness....  Anger also ensues when systems and charities suggest we should use sign language instead, because there is plenty of that access about.  But they neglect to tell you the sign area has an aversion to text...


Whether it is a system meet, a doctor appointment, a dental or optician or just an usual 'open' meeting socially, lack of text or lip-spoken access, totally prevents my participation and interaction. You get reduced to 'reading all about it,' elsewhere.  Of course we deafened text aficionado's know about technology, unfortunately systems do not ! and health areas will not cooperate because of obscure privacy guidelines.  So we sit there in ignorance and hope for the best ?


We can read of Dr's and medical, hospital staff wandering around with ipads to help diagnosis and link to X rays and all manner of equipment to help them, but, they cannot use an ipad to simply communicate to us..  Any media coverage shows medical staff sitting at desks and computer, again we don't get to access them as a means of communication either. There are also countless mobile phone applications that could help too, but again NOT used, for fear of breaking 'privacy' or even 'secrecy'  laws, even when the cost is next to nil....


How does it work ?  The deaf BSL user has access to remote interpreting in the health area and that is OK, but deafened/HoH asking for text isn't ?  Also we find public informational videos contain BSL but, no captions.  Social media mirrors that...

What do we need ?:

What we need is a dedicated deafened set up (Not necessarily a Charity), that directly empowers US.  The tools are there, but the will to use them is not.


Such is the mess the UK legal system is in, the palantype/S2T operator, the lip-speaker, or the BSL Interpreter CANNOT be used as a witness to any support they give you, you take that support completely on trust, and hope you have a good memory, because you cannot quote, what you believe was imparted to you as a fact.

None of your support can guarantee what they impart to you, it is based on what YOUR academic, memory, and understanding is,  not, theirs. Neither do they guarantee they remember what was said to you 10 minutes ago, let alone days or weeks later. Do you remember every word you imparted yesterday ? So no you cannot refer back, you have to get it right EVERY time, or pay the piper.

It is unusual the BSL using deaf person has no awareness of the status of their support, but deafened certainly have to be aware of theirs !

Monday, 25 July 2016

We want our terps back !

The deaf community is converging at the capitol to file a complaint in an effort to get interpreters their jobs back.


Deaf discrimination High Court case..

Deaf discrimination High Court case
A woman hoping to be Australia's first deaf juror is having her discrimination case heard by the High Court in Brisbane this afternoon.

Gaye Lyons, who is profoundly deaf, took action after being excluded from an Ipswich District Court jury in 2012.

The 60-year-old alleged she had been discriminated against by the Queensland Government by the refusal to provide her with an Auslan interpreter so she could perform her civic duty as a juror.  The retiree, who at the time worked for Deaf Australia, has been in a four-year legal battle to win the case.

She sued the State in the Supreme Court of Appeal in 2015 and lost.  So she took the matter to Canberra, winning an application for Special Leave to Appeal to the High Court.  The unprecedented case will determine if the hearing-impaired have the right to serve on a jury or not.

Drunken Tutors at Deaf Academy...

Raising the temperature on social media as areas clash over poor supervision at deaf schools and young deaf girls being put at risk of sexual exploitation.

Children at a school for the deaf were mishandled by staff, allowed to misbehave and engaged in sexual activity, a whistleblower has said.  Devon and Cornwall Police are now investigating the claims made against Exeter Deaf Academy. 

Three staff members have been suspended, but the school would not confirm this. The academy said it would act "quickly if it is found that any improvements need to be made".

Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education signSources from the inquiry told the BBC they received a letter from the whistleblower detailing claims which included staff drinking alcohol on residential trips. It is claimed the drinking led to a lack of supervision of students who engaged in sexual activity.

Some Comments:

#1 There were issues in Donaldson's Scotland too. I would think deaf or any other boarding school, have a duty of care to their pupils regardless of age. My partner attended one in her teens, and some of the stories she related to me were horrific abuses of some teen girls, a sort of common acceptance they were there to be used. 

#2  The legal age is 16 - so if it was to happen between two people over 16 and they both consented (and both weren't under restrictions in relation to capacity), who are the school to deny them the right to make their own choices (and others to judge them for it)? The care system is all about person-centred care nowadays; where the actual person is the person in the driving seat rather than the "institutionalised" system that came before it. It's a difficult quandary to be put in, because we've all been young and had feelings.

#3  A 'contentious' issue, is a sector of deaf teens have learning difficulties, are isolated from the mainstream, hearing peers, scrutiny, and usual norms, so more easily taken advantage of. It isn't a straightforward issue of 'age of consent', a number of factors down to the way deaf communities operate contribute to accepting things others would not.

#4  I've always been against deaf schools anyway for the very reasons this topic raised. There needs to be much wider scrutiny of the 'deaf norms' masquerading as cultural ones. This would take place in a wider integrated context. Where there is isolation and separatism these things will continue.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Pros And Cons Of Receiving A Cochlear Implant

Deaf culture
One woman's view of the dilemma of choice. " I was treated as the Public Enemy No. 1."

When my mother asked me in the fall of 1990 whether I wanted to get a cochlear implant, I said yes, terribly curious about the thing called sound that people made such a fuss about. I barged into this thing as many 6 year olds would, with more exuberance than understanding. All I really knew was I was going to hear ... something.

The landscapes of cochlear implants and Deaf culture were different back then. In the early 90s, multichannel cochlear implants were a new technology and few auditory professionals had the faintest idea of how to deal with it. The National Association of the Deaf — one of the most prominent Deaf advocacy groups in the United States—  lambasted the FDA approval, alluding to culture genocide (a position that it has since changed). The debate set off a furor of media attention and public discussion of Deaf culture and medical ethics. It was a bedlam.

As I rolled into that operating room, I was blissfully oblivious to the anger and confusion that surrounded that little device that was about to be surgically inserted into my body. As the anesthesia sent me off to sleepy-land, I didn't know how many hours would go into training, how it would affect my relationship with the Deaf community and Deaf identity, and how speaking and listening would continue to be effortful even 25 years later. Nobody knew. It was a new frontier.

The word regret has never occurred to me, but the word cost has. I paid a price — both figuratively and literally (those things don't come for free) — but it was a price I was willing to pay. Not everyone wants to pay this sort of price.


If each hour I spent on training and "incidentals" were worth a quarter, I would surely have sunk thousands of dollars on this thing. Not chump change.

Despite what those YouTube videos of deaf babies hearing for the first time suggest, hearing isn't a light switch you can flip on and presto, you understand spoken language. The brain is an incredibly adaptive organ, capable of forming new neural pathways and synapses in response to new external stimuli, such as the introduction of sound. This phenomenon called  brain plasticity, however, isn't instantaneous or necessarily easy. As we age, the formation of such neural pathways takes longer and requires more effort.

Not only was I a bit long in the tooth at six, neurologically speaking, but I had never heard before.....

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Pokemon Go: The last word...

Family Sign Language...

One to one time is a great opportunity for your child to learn about feelings and emotions, which can be hard to explain. By using drawings you can make them easier for your child to understand and deal with. 

Using signs, speech and facial expressions will help to teach your child about different emotions and grow their vocabulary. When they understand the signs they will be able to express themselves better because they will know the correct way to explain how they feel.

New rules to protect deaf in high-stake settings...

To ensure deaf and deaf-blind have the ability to communicate effectively in high-stakes situations like court proceedings and medical…

Subtitles now required for TV broadcasts...

TELEVISION stations are now required to use subtitles in all their broadcasts for the benefit of hearing-impaired viewers of news and current affairs programs and entertainment shows. 

The legislation that requires television networks to use the closed captioning system has lapsed into law as Malacañang took no action on the legislation 30 days after it was forwarded for enactment on June 20, Sen. Grace Poe said yesterday.

Republic Act No. 10905 or The Closed Caption Law, which obliges television stations to use the subtitling system that transcribes spoken lines and describes nonverbal elements in television programs, will take effect 15 days after publication.

The use of the closed captioning system is already widely observed in countries such as the United States, where viewers have the option to turn the feature on or off. “One of the objectives of this legislation is to provide our hearing-impaired access to news, entertainment and information in promoting their welfare,” said Poe in a statement.

The former chair of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) is the principal author of the measure as chair of the Senate committee on public information and mass media in the last Congress.

She said giving the hearing-impaired access to television programs would fulfill the Philippines’ commitment to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2008, which states that “there should be full accessibility and recognition of the linguistic and cultural identity of persons with disability.”

In introducing the measure in 2014, Poe cited data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, which places the population of hearing-impaired Filipinos at 1.4 million as of 2009. Of this number, 241,624 are deaf, 275,912 are partially deaf, while more than half a million have limited access to information as they are hard of hearing.

The law requires “all franchise holders or operators of television stations and producers of television programs to broadcast or present their programs with closed caption options.”



Hearing loss (And a slight case of Autism)..

Brisbane's Mathew Townsend is looking for work and says employers discriminate against a person with a hearing disability.A lip-reading Autistic, with 2 masters degrees who has been rejected for 1,000s of jobs.

Brisbane's Mathew Townsend has two degrees, a Masters degree in environmental management in sustainable development from the University of Queensland and a Bachelor of Environmental Science from James Cook University.  He completed them in 2012 and 2016 respectively.

Brisbane's Mathew Townsend is looking for work and says employers discriminate against a person with a hearing disability.  Brisbane's Mathew Townsend is looking for work and says employers discriminate against a person with a hearing disability. He is 25, well spoken, has completed a three-month internship with Telstra helping to deliver the National Broadband Network, and is what you could call quietly determined.

Mr Townsend has presented papers at three national conferences. Kevan Carter, Telstra's senior risk and compliance specialist, remembers Mat favourably when he worked with Telstra between July and September 2015.

"He did an internship with us. I found him most helpful and I was able to give him work to do and off he would go and delivered it on time... I found him most helpful actually."  Mat Townsend cannot get a job - and he has applied for "thousands" of jobs. It is more of a story because Mat is hearing impaired and has a slight case of autism.

He believes employers are discriminating against him because of his hearing disability.  "It's a social attitude," Mr Townsend said. "It's a really negative attitude."   Mr Carter said working with someone with a hearing disability had not presented a communication problem.  

"It just made you think. When I asked him to communicate with someone, I made it clear to the person that they had to speak clearly and succinctly and if they were in a room – allow him to read their lips."

Deaf Australia spokesman Kyle Miers – using an interpreter on the National Relay System - said discrimination was "sadly very common for people with a hearing disability."

He said while unemployment figures for Australians were not yet available, "in the United States it is in the high 70 per cent." "I know of many who have obtained masters, doctorates and still can't hold a job simply because he or she is deaf," Mr Miers said.

Friday, 22 July 2016

UK Legal Profession won't support Disability/Deaf Rights.

After reading how Americans take their discriminators to task we can't help but feel envious, even if not approving of the USA sue-everyone approaches.  

The UK needs a fully disability - oriented legal system of support, especially given wholesale abuses by the DWP (Welfare), Social Support, and Employment areas regarding rights, and where deaf and disabled suffer huge disadvantages, despite 3 equality Acts and the Human Rights law. Most of the UK system is still apathetic, and non-approachable, despite being the sole areas really where the access and equality law can be applied.   As we know outside the 'system' it's non-applicable...

Free universal legal aid was removed by the Tories, denying all but the rich and famous from fighting their corner. 98% of all cases taken up ignore the deaf and disabled, concentrating on ethnic/gay/religious areas, where lawyers feel they can better make a case to win...  

Even the much-vaunted European Union were unable to tackle the DWP on our behalf, or the human rights court able to prosecute abuse of disabled in the UK, they expressed the right exists, but the UK won't enable it, and the EU didn't prosecute it.   

The UK approach is 'divide and rule'  Exploiting the loophole 'each according to need', which then prevents any sizeable opposition forming.  You can fight your corner, you can't fight or support anyone else's.  Of course you against the system the odds are heavily stacked against. Maybe utilise social media (which they aren't bound to listen to), or a petition (which the state won't read unless 2m are signing it), even then aren't bound to act upon.

Disabled/Deaf are told if you are on benefits etc then you can apply for legal aid, but there doesn't seem to be any cases being taken up, because lawyers say it isn't worth their while relying on a state payment, and the qualification rules make it near impossible to claim.  Having attempted to utilise disability advice centres/CAB et al, none were willing or able to find a legal set up that would fight your corner on a no-win, no-fee basis and very few, if any lawyers, willing to offer you free advice, or act on it for you. 

We did look to the RAD but they were a conundrum in that their 'trained' deaf legal staff charged too and didn't have full access themselves, even to train up, the 'glass ceiling' prevented them getting the qualifications they needed.

It was based in England nowhere else, so non-accessible outside a very limited area indeed. Then we read deaf there could not make any sort of a living and left. Crazy just don't cut it. I'm no fan of the sue everyone set up in the USA, but envious even deaf and disabled get support from hearing lawyers there, and put out accessible vids...

First responder: Comms with Deaf & HoH.

New sign language interpreting rules take effect in Michigan

Michigan Supreme Court.JPGA Michigan Supreme Court justice and state civil rights officials called attention Wednesday to new rules establishing specific certification levels for sign language interpreters to work in courtrooms, hospitals and other settings.

The regulations, which took effect July 7, outline skill levels and training needed for interpreters who must be provided by judges, attorneys, physicians, mental health providers and others.

"These extremely important medical situations or legal situations must have key, effective communication. Deaf, deaf blind and hard of hearing people ... have a right to that," Annie Urasky, director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights' Division on Deaf, Deafblind and Hard of Hearing, said through an interpreter after a news conference at the Hall of Justice, which houses the Supreme Court and state Court of Appeals.

Urasky said there is a misconception that it is up to the deaf or deaf blind to have an interpreter when lawyers, doctors and others must legally provide the accommodation.

The new rules provide for three standard certification levels — one for non-complex meetings and educational classes, another for moderately complex situations such as government meetings and health care and the third for legal proceedings and psychiatric evaluations. The tiered system is a recognition that not all interpreting assignments are the same, Urasky said.

Officials said those needing an interpreter can visit the Michigan Online Interpreter System and find those who are certified at different levels.