Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Research into the Deaf audience in the UK

Image result for BSL zone
Came across this report on BSLTV viewing on the AOHL site (C/O Cornish Andy).

They are still trying to bump up stats on BSL using deaf.   Still using the term 'deaf' ambiguously (the report went from 15K 'Deaf' to 188,000 'deaf' e.g. 'because they are deaf too' and to suggest the case for more BSL access and recognitions.  It all feeds into the 'all deaf people sign..' At those points ATR felt the report started to lose some credibility , and became an outright plug for cultural bias and sign language.

The BSL/Sign Zone trust came to Wales, for a fact-finding and awareness tour.  In Sign Zone's case, hardly anyone in Wales had watched it...  It was a revelation in many parts, and there was a clear divide via age regarding viewing audience, with young people more likely than anyone over 50 actually tuning in to watch BSL output.  The local deaf club found only 3 young people out of the 40 who attended the sign zone gig who had seen the program. At Cardiff only 9 people turned up to listen anyway.  There were issues regarding online access etc, few deaf used their phones to access the net to watch BSL, older deaf had no computers to do it, nor wanted them..

It was put to Sign Zone they were the best of a very poor accessible deaf media bunch in regards to access, because they captioned more, but the BSL content still deterred HoH and non-signers from actually watching, as it does BSLTV.  There was no drive to make HoH or other deaf aware at all. There was anger main TV media had refused an HI alternative to BSLTV, giving priority status to a BSL 'minority' and seeing no issue pigeon-holing a priority to some deaf and not others.  Wholesale abuse of the Deaf & HI remit is rampant. 

ATR did feel non-signers had been short-changed in access terms because the funding for BSL output is based on inclusion, and we do not see that happening at any realistic level.  Some felt captioning wasn't access, on the grounds there was no HoH content of note.  It tended to mislead on what the access actually was for, or for whom.  Why should a BSL culture run awareness in TV media output, when they were obviously being exclusive ?

In reality dedicated BSL output can be seen as determinantal to real inclusion, and to equality, as it provides a cosy 'Deaf Space' alternative for them, and deters effort to be included in mainstream.  This caused huge problems for deaf actors e.g. pigeon-holed to token appearance in mainstream to 'lecture' on BSL awareness,  and having to rely on 'disability arts' for work, which of course further marginalised them from mainstream who viewed them as 'one-trick' ponies and unable to manage mainstream approaches and inclusion. 

Disability Arts was a misonomer in terms re inclusion because of the very narrow field of people included, and an even narrower audience range.  The output tended to centre in major cities, and with some sort of 'in crowd' of Deaf luvvies and clique's, remote even from their rural peers, who would anyway be mostly unable to access what they are doing.....

What is attractive about BSL TV are the plethora of 'jobs for the BSL boys and girls..' another detriment to moving into mainstream and a closed approach to media access, indeed even employment in mainstream media. It was much like old Australian TV where the same actors worked on everything, because there was no-one else..   

Initially, ATR was against BSL TV for that reason, a lack of any real diversity at all.  There was a diversity of BSL people, but no diversity of deaf people. We still do not think inclusion can be attained by isolating deaf away from mainstream to do their own thing on a BSLTV show instead, it just looks like a neat way to avoid engaging deaf people in the main event.  A sideways move to exclusion, and the systems pandering to the 'Deaf World' thing, which is the cultural achille's heel, to move them over and away from mainstream viewing.  

The law may well say they have to be included it doesn't say how media has to do it !  Hence most BSL access only takes place after midnight in the UK. We think BSL was sold a pup, and one with 3 legs....  We don't see BSL deaf as wanting real integration, because they get too much support to stay as they are.

If you got a good deal going, why knock it ?  The only niggle is they need to stop riding on the statistics of others... Lies, damned Lies, etc...

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