Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Deaf-Friendly: Not HI Friendly ?

Image result for Deaf friendlyReading the UK's largest HI charity launching another round of rewards for business and other areas who are identified as 'Deaf Friendly', to encourage more to be accessible, poses a number of issues (As ATR pointed out). Notwithstanding, the charity in question is predominantly a HoH NOT a Deaf charity, so utilising cultural clout to promote 'Deaf' access at the expense of its own HoH membership needs ?? That invites suggestions of some hypocrisy.

"I think the criteria for being accessible to those with hearing loss needs to reflect more in an inclusive sense, to educate areas we do not all sign.  Drop the term 'Deaf' from the project.  It would seem so long as a few staff do a bit of BSL, this qualifies a company or other area as being accessible to all of us. I understand the idea of AOHL is to 'reward' these people to encourage them to support us all more ? How about a brickbat for those still NOT offering us access ?  Or even researching to see if the past claims still hold ?

There is a danger of rewarding non-access.  It does seem to ignore the fact we have a legal entitlement to that support anyway.  Rewarding areas that are then unable to identify what level that support actually is, (or where), seems a bit of a conundrum. I recall the AOHL rewarding the welsh assembly for access, (About 6 people did some BSL), they were not able after, to identify the staff we could use. Catch 22 the Assembly used the data protection act to refuse to ID them, when I insisted. In reality, areas with high staff turn over, cannot ID from one month to the next who can assist you.

The whole exercise seems to be to promote the CHARITY itself, who offer these areas awareness, often for a fee.  

E.G. A while ago, the Government insisted we can all use chemists/pharmacies to get health support advice (They can't, the BMA says they aren't qualified to do that). I went straight to BOOTS to test it, after they put a poster up claiming they offered not only a loop, but a sign accessible option. they had in fact neither, because initially the staff says no one asked for a loop so it was removed, there was a woman who did some sign lessons, but she had left 2 months before.

Questions: why is AOHL using the term 'Deaf friendly' ? is it because they aren't HI friendly ?  or that sign carries better publicity value ?"

Monday, 30 January 2017

Lloyds Bank trials British Sign Language translation

Image result for Lloyds BankNew technology provides innovative way of interacting with Bank literature.  Lloyds Bank has become the first financial services company to undertake a trial with Signly – a British Sign Language (BSL) translation tool. Lloyds Banking Group’s Innovation Labs trialled the technology to understand how Signly could offer an alternative option for up to 250,000 people in the UK who use BSL each day. 

Since undertaking the trial, the Bank is now looking to test the technology with a wider group of customers. BSL is a unique language with its own sentence structure and contains a number of key differences to both spoken English, and Signed Supported English (SSE). This means that for customers who use BSL as their first language, many communications are often hard tounderstand.

Signly enables customers to scan Signly-enabled literature on their smartphone which provides  translations into BSL through augmented reality. The trial incorporated Signly’s functionality into both written and online material, enabling hard of hearing and deaf customers to use BSL to understand the financial material they were being shown.

In addition to trialling Signly functionality, Lloyds Bank currently provides a wealth of ways for customers to interact with their bank. These include Text Relay and SignVideo, a signed video service which provides deaf customers with access to an online interpreter. For those with visual impairments, customers can access large print, braille and recorded literature.

Nick Williams, Lloyds Bank’s Consumer Digital director said, “We are always looking for new ways to support our customers and trialling this new technology is a great example. Alongside SignVideo, Text Relay and our interpreting service, Signly provides a new tool to make it easier to engage with the Bank. Improving our services to make them simple and intuitive for all our customers is key to removing barriers of financial exclusion.”

New Drop-In centre for employemnt help..

Deaf Killers but, what do we do with them ?

Image result for Jake Fairest, Georgia Fields and her former boyfriend Warwick TooheyThe fate of three deaf people who planned and carried out a murder in Melbourne remains unclear as authorities try to figure out whether they should be locked up.

Jake Fairest, Georgia Fields and her former boyfriend Warwick Toohey appeared in the Victorian Supreme Court on Monday, months after a jury found they had murdered a man by pushing him off a balcony.  Toohey, 30, has been in custody since 2015, while Fairest and Fields will remain on bail as prosecutors, defence lawyers and Justice Jane Dixon await reports about the suitability of custodial and non-custodial facilities for deaf people.

"This is a very unusual circumstance," Justice Dixon said on Monday.

"There probably hasn't ever been a case quite like it."

Prosecutor Christopher Dane QC said it was particularly concerning that Toohey has been in custody for a long period of time and believes his matter should be addressed as soon as possible "as a matter of kindness".  "It's a blight upon the state and it's our responsibility to get it resolved," he said.

All three were found unfit to stand trial for the 2015 murder of Robert Wright and were instead subject to a special hearing before a jury.  Toohey and 27-year-old Fairest are intellectually disabled while Fields, 20, suffers from atypical autism and has low intelligence.  In October the jury ultimately found they murdered Mr Wright - who was also deaf - by throwing him from the balcony of the second-floor Ringwood unit he shared with Toohey.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

The Needs of the many ?

Related imageA BSL act for Wales ? ATR is unsure a singular BSL act is the correct way ahead for all deaf people. 

We agree BSL users have rights as deaf people, but so does everyone else who is deaf, and we must include those with other degrees of hearing loss, to avoid a 'tiered' Law being used that gives rights of communication to one area but not to another.

The biggest issue facing Sign language access and laws were the reluctance of any other hearing loss area wanting to support it, without a proper Act being enabled that doesn't simply apply equality via one means of communication used, and real consultation with all deaf areas takes place.   An MP for Derby who attended a BSL lobby in Westminster 2 years ago said "I was the only person there asking if other deaf would be included, I was very concerned my HI constituent needs were just being completely ignored, not even there being represented.  I was left with the decision I could not support the BSL Act as it stood..."

There are records in England and in Scotland regarding BSL Acts being implemented, in that concerns were raised by non-signing deaf and HI they were blatantly ignored, even BSL lobbyists insisting it is about signing deaf and culture no-one else... and was not suggesting they were ignoring the inclusive aspect of support, or, that consultations on equality for those deaf and with hearing loss were being ignored, but they could not demonstrate they had consulted anyone else.    It was suggested 'If HI want access they must fight for themselves..' which was not viewed helpful and certainly not inclusive.

We still see that consultation takes place within deaf clubs, not outside them, who did not throw the debate on rights, inclusion, and access open to others with hearing loss to put their view.  There was no visible desire to offer a united approach to access.

The other concerns re a BSL Act were more on a practical and realistic level. Simply speaking, the infrastructure to offer signed education and support, doesn't exist to the degree an Act would be viable.   The professionals would have to be trained up first.  Deaf schools are barely viable now.  As we also read, take up of vocational Interpreting is going DOWNWARD not up.  At this time January 2017,  we cannot support the present BSL population.  

What we most fear is a random system of deaf support/Education, centered around bigger populations of deaf people concentrated in cities, to the detriment of those deaf outside it, even their own BSL-using deaf.   It also would be legally challenged via parental rights, as it doesn't take into account individual ability or choices.  It would still not offer support to non-signing deaf, or their deaf children.  We cannot support deaf in health e.g. and they are desperately trying to offer deaf remote interpreting instead against the deaf desire for that. 

There is a distinct lack of real consultation on access with all with hearing loss, indeed it is currently, Culture versus inclusion in action.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Herzlich Willkommen !

Related imageATR möchte deutsche Zuschauer begrüßen, die diesen Blog lesen. Wir schätzen Ihre Zeit und Geduld, da es überwiegend englischer Text basiert.

Die ATR möchte feststellen, dass ihre mangelnde Sprachkenntnis nicht über die Google Translation-Optionen überwunden werden kann. 

Wir haben es hier versucht, lassen ATR wissen, wie effektiv es für Sie ist. Entschuldigt, wenn es ein bisschen weniger grammatisch aussieht, als es sollte.

Grüße an unseren deutschen Gehörlosen von ATR !


ATR would like to welcome German viewers who are reading this blog.   We appreciate your time and patience given it is predominantly English text based.

ATR would like to state that its poor lack of German language awareness may not be overcome via Google Translation options.  we have attempted it here, do let ATR know how effective it is for you.  Apologies if it looks a bit less grammatical than it should.

Greetings to our German deaf from ATR !

Benvenuto !

Image result for Benvenuto !ATR vi dà il benvenuto telespettatori italiani che stanno leggendo questo blog. Apprezziamo il vostro tempo e pazienza dato che è un testo prevalentemente inglese base.

ATR vorrebbe affermare che la sua scarsa mancanza di consapevolezza lingua italiana non può essere superato tramite le opzioni traduzione di Google. abbiamo cercato qui, lasciate che ATR so quanto sia efficace è per voi. Mi scuso se sembra un po 'meno grammaticale di quanto dovrebbe.

Salutiamo il nostro sordi italiani da ATR.


ATR would like to welcome Italian viewers who are reading this blog.   We appreciate your time and patience given it is predominantly English text based.

ATR would like to state that its poor lack of Italian language awareness may not be overcome via Google Translation options.  we have attempted it here, do let ATR know how effective it is for you.  Apologies if it looks a bit less grammatical than it should.

Greetings to our Italian deaf from ATR.

Bienvenue !

Image result for french sign languageATR souhaite accueillir les téléspectateurs français qui lisent ce blog. Nous apprécions votre temps et patience étant donné qu'il est essentiellement basé sur le texte anglais.

ATR aimerait déclarer que son faible manque de connaissance de la langue française ne peut pas être surmonté via les options de Traduction Google. Nous l'avons essayé ici, laissez ATR savoir combien il est efficace pour vous. Excuses si elle semble un peu moins grammaticale qu'il devrait.

Salutations à nos sourds français d'ATR.

(English Translation).

ATR would like to welcome new French viewers who are reading this blog.   We appreciate your time and patience given it is predominantly English text based.

ATR would like to state that its poor lack of French language awareness may not be overcome via Google Translation options.  We have attempted it here, do let ATR know how effective it is for you.  Apologies if it looks a bit less grammatical than it should.

Greetings to our french deaf from ATR.

SIRI: Deaf problems (1)

The first episode of my new comedy series, "Deaf Problems"! Deaf Problems will just be short videos about different scenarios/situations that are common annoyances or problems for Deaf people in their daily lives!

Ranging from a dinner date with the table next to you fawning over "How beautiful sign language is", to the teacher who ALWAYS stands in between you and the interpreter.

Situations like that. Hopefully it'll shed light to these common annoyances so that people can both get a chuckle out of it and learn!

My name is Andy and I was born Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing and unable to speak, so sign language is my native language. I do music covers in American Sign Language (ASL), as well as tutorials and other fun series incorporating ASL! Sign Language allows a different perspective and experience in music, it truly shows the emotions and concepts behind the songs' meanings. 

Deaf Dictionary for India

Friday, 27 January 2017

Deaf get Trumped by Marlee...

Something we all decided to ignore in the run up to Trump being Prez...

With just a couple of weeks to go before the election, everybody and their grandma came out of the woodwork to accuse Donald Trump of horrific things. The report was that Donald Trump called deaf actress Marlee Matlin “retarded” to her face when she appeared on his Celebrity Apprentice show. 

She later issued a statement condemning Trump, but also admitting that this never happened.

The liberal website 'The Daily Beast' put out a story based on bullshit and conjecture accusing Trump of calling Matlin “retarded.”  Just in case you thought Donald Trump was insufficiently awful: He repeatedly called a deaf actress “retarded,” three sources told The Daily Beast.

Trump, who was accused of making sexual comments to Marlee Matlin, an Oscar-winning actress who once competed on Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice, also apparently had a habit of insulting, mimicking, and demeaning as mentally handicapped his star female contestant—all because she was deaf.

Matlin came in second on that season of Celebrity Apprentice and even the daily Beast acknowledges Matlin, “earned her fair share of compliments from Trump.”

Deaf Iraqi boy who faced deportation from UK

Is Germany so BAD a country to return to ?  I thought he was fleeing a war zone ?  More grist to the Brexit mill when even deaf people feel better off out of Europe !

How to communicate to Hearing People...

It's difficult for deaf people to understand hearing people and make friends. And it's also hard for hearing people to understand deaf people. 

But we all have to be more sensitive and try to understand each other. For example, hearing people may not understand when deaf people communicate using sign language.   We can try to teach hearing friends how to communicate with us using Sign Language and Lip Reading. There are no differences between the hearing and the deaf.

Another sign awareness thing, but good speech would help lip-readers too, or more patience with those who have hearing aids.  Sign alone won't provide hearing with access to most deaf,just deaf who sign.  Would it not help if the deaf used alternatives to sign initially ?   You have to establish a way in first. There are huge gaps in awareness where hearing people (And some deaf !), do not understand e.g. a lot of deaf have a good speaking voice, who suffer abuse from deaf and hearing alike, and get called fakers.

Learning sign takes a considerable time to master to hold a real conversation.   While most would make some effort to talk to a pretty girl, or a deaf child, they would perhaps NOT make the same effort to communicate to someone older or with a poor voice etc.  I spend every day of my life with hearing people who do not sign, I manage a lot better than those deaf who draw some line with hearing interactions unless they can sign at them, they must spend an awful lot of their life just with each other and not accessing the wider scheme of things.

When can we see an awareness video that covers the need of deaf people to widen their communication skills to make it easier for themselves ? (Without Deaf claiming discrimination or something).  If we all sit back plugging singular sign language awareness and making little real effort ourselves to cross the divides, it is not going to happen in many of our lifetimes.  There does seem a divide within the deaf world as to if they WANT wider inclusion if it means their 'community' is too accessible to hearing and others who do not use sign language.  It's a relentless fall-back system, deaf want access but on their terms, that is not how things happen.

Yes we should all learn sign, we should all have CI's, all have gene therapy,  or we should all lip-read instead, but it won't happen... There is a medical clock of research & Technology ticking away that may NOT require hearing to sign, they will use their phones or other means instead to do it, but this kills true interaction, and offers a barrier to the need to learn sign.  Can't help feeling progress is going to circumvent the need to sign.  Text has killed media sign need already.


(The Video is uncaptioned).  Who is primarily using this registration process for 999 Text assistance given BSL deaf refused to register because they claimed hearing did not have to ?  This service would appear predominantly to be a HoH provision, given only 15,000 BSL users are in extance (Last UK census), and there is no record required to determine what degree of loss you have, or, what communication means you use.

HoH were the sole sector who adopted the 'card' approaches to raise awareness,  another area BSL deaf refused to support.  It is not strictly accurate to declare (as some UK deaf bloggers have), it is a successful 'Deaf' line. No proof has been provided to support it.  2 weeks ago the dedicated BSL line to the State welfare arm the DWP/ATOS, stated they only got 741 calls in 15 months from deaf people, and 52% was from southern England only.

Sadly accurate statistics still do not exist re Deaf and hoH needs being met. It is still all 'think of a number'.  Not so much 'fake' news, but a gilding of the lily perhaps ?  

ATR recalls the Social Services in the UK declaring 'Only 2% of statistics should be recognized as identifying those in real need..'  DISCUSS.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

New gene-delivery therapy restores partial hearing

New gene-delivery therapy restores partial hearing, balance in deaf miceUsing a novel form of gene therapy, scientists from Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital have managed to restore partial hearing and balance in mice born with a genetic condition that affects both.

The new model overcomes a long-standing barrier to accessing hair cells, the delicate sensors in the inner ear that capture sound and head movement and convert them to neural signals for hearing and balance. These cells have been notoriously difficult to treat with previous gene delivery techniques.

The team's findings, published in the February issue of Molecular Therapy, show that the treatment leads to notable gains in hearing and allows mice that would normally be completely deaf to hear the equivalent of a loud conversation. The approach also improved the animals' sense of balance.
An accompanying commentary to the study appears in the same issue.

The investigators caution the approach is years away from use in humans, but gene therapy carries the promise of restoring hearing in people with several forms of both genetic and acquired deafness. Some 30 million Americans suffer from hearing loss, and every year about one in 1,000 babies are born with hearing impairment, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On their quest to restore hearing through gene therapy, scientists have long sought ways to improve gene delivery into hair cells. Previous approaches were only marginally effective as they reached one set of hair cells in the inner ear, but another subset—equally critical for hearing—remained largely impenetrable.

"To treat most forms of hearing loss, we need to find a delivery mechanism that works for all types of hair cells," said neurobiologist David Corey, co-senior investigator on the study and the Bertarelli Professor of Translational Medical Science at HMS.

To achieve that, the researchers used the common adeno-associated virus (AAV). The virus has been already used as a gene-delivery vehicle for retinal disorders but thus far has proven far less efficient in penetrating hair cells.

First ASL Phone Tree for Deaf People

Image result for Sorenson Bridge, the first videophone tree designed specifically for users of American Sign Language (ASL).Sorenson Communications, LLC, the company that revolutionized Video Relay Service (VRS) communication for Deaf people, introduced Sorenson Bridge, the first videophone tree designed specifically for users of American Sign Language (ASL).

Sorenson Bridge and its patented technologies were created as a way for schools, agencies, businesses and organizations that serve the Deaf to efficiently communicate in ASL, enhance the way they conduct business and strengthen the Deaf communities they serve. Sorenson works with these organizations to customize a phone tree menu for each organization's unique needs.

Until the introduction of Sorenson Bridge, Deaf callers had to navigate audio phone trees through sign language interpreters, a time-consuming and often tedious process. Now, with Sorenson Bridge, callers see and choose from video menus shown in ASL. Through the use of a keypad, callers select the option of the intended call recipient or department. For example, a caller may choose tech support, a receptionist or the accounting department from the visual phone tree menu. As ASL is the native language for most Deaf people, the visual phone tree is a welcome and empowering technology. 

As a part of testing, Sorenson implemented Sorenson Bridge at the Indiana School for the Deaf (ISD) and worked alongside ISD to customize a menu that would be convenient and intuitive for Deaf parents and vendors who called the school. 

ISD superintendent and CEO David Geeslin says, "Sorenson is a dream partner when it comes to collaboration for the benefit of students. ISD parents and staff who have made a call through Sorenson Bridge have remarked they can sense the positive energy of our students and staff and the values of Sorenson in supporting our educational endeavor for our students."

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Deaf Life.

Transabled: A Right to self abuse ?

The dangers of promoting cultural deafness ? (remember the deaf wannabees ?).

A new documentary has revealed a secretive community of ‘transabled’ people. They’re the people with fully functioning bodies, who are disabled by choice.  The men and women who say they have the condition claim they feel trapped in their able bodies, much like, they say, trans people feel born into the wrong gender.

The National Post reports that some have gone to extreme lengths to give themselves disabilities or to act disabled. One man cut off his right arm with a “very sharp power tool”, and now calls himself ‘One Hand Jason’, telling everyone it had happened in a tragic accident.

Another dropped heavy concrete slabs on to his legs in order to get them amputated. However doctors were able to save his legs from amputation, and though he now has a limp, he says he wishes to try again until they’re amputated.  People like One Hand Jason have been classified as ‘transabled’ — feeling like imposters in their fully working bodies.

The condition has also been known by the medical name Body Integrity Identity Disorder since 2013. “We define transability as the desire or the need for a person identified as able-bodied by other people to transform his or her body to obtain a physical impairment,” says Alexandre Baril, an academic who will present on ‘transability’ at a Social Sciences and Humanities session at the University of Ottawa.

“The person could want to become deaf, blind, amputee, paraplegic. It’s a really, really strong desire.”

Clive Baldwin, an academic at St. Thomas University, says he’s interviewed 37 people with the condition to date.  He says one 78-year-old man he spoke to claims to have lived with his ‘transabled’ secret for 60 years and never told his wife.  Most crave an amputation or paralysis, and one wanted his penis removed, Mr Baldwin says.

However many trans and disability activists have expressed reluctance to the idea. Feminist academic Professor Baril, himself trans and disabled, says: “They tend to see transabled people as dishonest people, people who try to steal resources from the community, people who would be disrespectful by denying or fetishising or romanticising disability reality”.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Facebook adds captions..

Facebook pulled the world back into the silent film era with its muted, auto-play videos, but its latest tool could make it easier to repurpose traditional clips. Facebook has launched a free, automatic video captioning tool to all US English Facebook Pages. TechCrunch and some other Pages only recently began seeing the quietly launched option, though Facebook responded to our inquiry saying it began rolling out the feature in October.

Powered by voice recognition software, it takes the hassle out of transcription while making it easy to edit the subtitles it suggests. That’s critical since our early tests showed frequent transcription errors. This is somewhat expected considering the tool is free and operated entirely by computers. And with time as Page admins manually enter corrections, Facebook’s system will surely improve.

Facebook launched auto-play video at the end of 2013. We predicted it would force video producers to create clips that make sense even with the sound off. Manually adding subtitles was the best way to do that for a few years.  Facebook first rolled out auto-captioning for video ads in February 2016, in an attempt to make its advertising channel more competitive with platforms like YouTube that always play clips with the sound on. The feature could potentially expand to user-uploaded videos but Facebook refused to comment on future plans.

For now, Facebook wants to help every Page adapt to the silent-until-clicked auto-play format. That way, users in public without headphones can fully understand videos they watch muted, and viewers can make a better assessment in the first silent seconds about whether they want to watch full-screen with sound.

When Page admins upload a video, they’ll see a “Generate” button in the video editor to instantly add subtitles, or they’ll see the “Generate” button above the video in the feed. Facebook breaks down the subtitles snippet by snippet, allowing you to review the suggestion, play back that segment to hear it for yourself, and edit the captions for accuracy before saving them to the video.

The Vlogging Intern: Deaf mentors


Monday, 23 January 2017

I'm Deaf

New Sign Language Service...

Do deaf prefer video relay to real Interpreters ?   

A new sign language service designed to make it easier for deaf patients is to be rolled-out across hospitals in Sheffield. A new sign language service designed to make it easier for deaf patients is to be rolled-out across hospitals in Sheffield. 

The Royal Hallamshire, Northern General and Charles Clifford Dental Hospitals will soon be the first NHS providers in the country to use the service on a routine basis, in the same way that telephone interpreting is used for spoken languages. SignLive works through a web browser on a computer or a downloaded app on a smart device and allows a direct connection to a qualified interpreter. 

It is readily available as and when it is needed meaning a that deaf patients will have speedy access to a signer to help them communicate with hospital staff. It also eliminates the need to book interpreters in advance and means that patient appointments will not have to be cancelled where a face-to-face interpreter isn’t available.