Saturday, 25 January 2020

Researching deaf reading abilities.

I wonder if there is a distinct difference approach?  between DEAF and Hard of Hearing attainment, it would be an error to assume 'like with like' as even a few more decibels holds a real key to attainment (As does reliance on non-standard ASL grammar approaches).  As we are aware the USA has just a single Deaf University where such statistics can be be done with accuracy and state by state, each USA area has different approaches?

So you need TWO surveys.  One hopes a neutral survey/research is undertaken without reference to the D/d being used randomly etc and correct identification of those surveyed.  In the UK we don't usually link Hard of Hearing WITH members of the 'Deaf' community as they are two very different sectors, the old 'Deaf and HoH/HI' remit is obsolete.  

There has been contention and criticism in the UK of researchers being led by the D/d thing but declared statistics then NOT differentiating when it comes to fact/identification who they are.  The UK got 11 million stats attached to deaf people when that was a Hard Of Hearing statistic NOT a deaf one, and the official 'Deaf' stats are changed every time it is printed, anything from 15K to 150K!   It is being allowed via 'inclusion' laws who officially are not drawing lines (i.e. NOT recognising the D/d thing, only in that people can hear or they cannot), as a result.  

UK BSL activism was attacked for distortion and bias of research.  Apparently exploiting the fact there are border-line hard of hearing who are deaf and who may even use some sign to suggest they are one and the same as the 'Deaf' community and culture, not just those border-line but a statistical 'carry on' to suggest ALL the same by inference, if not open declaration.

We could suggest the facts will still reveal poor literacy of English within the 'ASL Deaf' world, which will only lead to more of the 'blame' game instead of addressing WHY it happens, which is probably down to chaotic 'hashtag and activist-led' approaches to deaf education.    There are no immersive sign approaches in the UK, some areas of the UK have no deaf schools either, there is no real evidence this has impacted on deaf literacy getting worse, indeed, it has improved considerably with mainstreaming and inclusive approaches.

There are constant challenges to BSL being an 'in' to English too or deaf sign users being really bilingual. As ATR reported recently there is still a UK reluctance to empower BSL in the classroom and this is paying off for the deaf child via increased literacy stats.

Friday, 24 January 2020

USA Census

LNKI. What are the questions regarding deaf people and sign usage? degree of skills? daily or occasional usage etc? In the UK census a simple question was do you sign and it failed to identify who did, or how effective it was for the deaf, the question was 'loaded' by signing activist language groups to omit actual usage and reliance facts.

It meant a census statistic later released showed deaf claims to be false on BSL use/need or deaf attainment of it. I am assuming USA deaf were consulted on exactly what questions are asked and with detail?

Charity moving from support to campaigning?

ATR.  A recent charity article, poorly sourced it seems, as only the NDCS actually campaigns for all children with hearing loss, NONE of the other UK charities are inclusive but 'A or B' supportive via db loss or sign usage.  In short, campaigning is pointless unless INCLUSIVE.

As regards to successfully installing a BSL GCSE we have yet to see it, and the NDCS actually is unsupportive of BSL as immersive deaf educational support because they are bound to respect parental choice by law.  The UK's leading charity on hearing loss the AOHL refused to engage in rights campaigns claiming charity law forbids it and closed down forums that advocated it on their websites social and other.  AOHL also recently offered up all their deaf care support options to privatisation opting out of deaf care, they want to concentrate on the deaf cure now.

The BDA refused to offer ANY inclusive support other than to BSL users only, and operates in secret and places legal gags on its members, it appears to be financially struggling and unable to keep trustees too.  Charity itself exists only by people throwing money at it, and joe public is reluctant to give money to areas (Like the 'Deaf'), who claim they have no issues, and Joe Public themselves are to blame for everything if they do encounter them. Few if any charities include actual deaf people as employees, AOHL offered to pay migrant resident fees for EU workers hearing.  As the NDCS has found out social media responses are not agreeing with the NDCS of late either.  Probably down to BSL areas demanding stand-alone specialist systems making inclusion and care policies difficult to formulate.  

We have to ask at ATR just what will they campaign FOR? and for WHOM?  The Hard of hearing have no campaigns and haven't for 10 years at least, so will they just go for BSL things and alienate parents of deaf and HoH children?   As long as we see a balance of campaigns it will be fine, but nobody so far has managed to engage at all with the hard of hearing, how will they manage to do what everyone else has failed to?

It is interesting reading this article from the 3rd age site, who actually withdrew feedback options on that charity site after criticisms it was an old boys network for retired or unemployed corporate hearing seeking a job and an OBE from the queen while advertising jobs deaf could not qualify for.

The Article:

"Instead of unilaterally deciding on campaigns and simply expecting people to support them, our campaigners want us to be partners and co-creators in this movement

The 2019 general election was a huge opportunity for the charity sector. It could and should have ushered in a new era of charity campaigning. We had an unprecedented ability to understand how people were engaging with us and the issues they cared about, and we had powerful digital tools ready to engage and support them.

But instead of grasping the opportunity, we pulled our punches. We played it safe. We rehashed the same old classics: single-issue “manifestos” and well-branded e-actions. We asked prospective parliamentary candidates to show their support, and they, hungry for any opportunity to gain more votes in their marginal seats, willingly obliged.

All this happened at a time when what our supporters really wanted was to share our values and be offered a place to take action on the issues that mattered to them. By doing everything the same way we always have, we missed the seismic shift happening around us.

While we were in coalition meetings, new movements formed around us, engaging and supporting fellow campaigners. The growth of the incredible grass-roots movement for disabled children and children with special educational needs, the Send Community Alliance, is a notable example. While we churned out long policy reports and bemoaned the status quo in the media, opinions were being formed in closed WhatsApp groups and by passionate parents creating new networks in private Facebook groups.

While we were knocking on the door of Number 10, policy was being made in local communities by borough councils, clinical commissioning groups and PTAs, not just in think tanks and policy units.

This can’t continue. We need an approach to campaigning fit for the times we now live in. The Victorian model of charity has evolved a lot over the years, and it’s continuing to reinvent and reshape itself.

At the National Deaf Children’s Society, we’ve been speaking to parents and young people to find out what they want from us. We’ve discovered that the people who support and campaign for our causes are starting to think differently about what they want our role to be.

Rather than unilaterally deciding on campaigns ourselves and expecting people to support them, our campaigners want us to act as a partner and a co-creator. They want to draw on our evidence, expertise and budget to help them achieve what matters to them.

Meeting this challenge means turning our organisations inside out. We need to give individual campaigners the ability to direct our resources, taking a lesson from the incredible success of Greta Thunberg – or, in our case, Daniel Jillings, the 11-year-old boy who successfully campaigned for a GCSE in British Sign Language.

Deaf who cannot sign to get Help?

Image result for Jeanette ArnoldThe London AssemblyQuestions to the Mayor.  [Peabody index 2019 (2)].
Peabody index 2019 (2)
MQT on 2020-01-16
Session date:
January 16, 2020
Question By:
Jennette Arnold OBE
Labour Group
Asked Of: The Mayor


According to Peabody’s latest report, 9.3% of disabled Londoners are unemployed, compared to 7.6% on average. What are you doing to address this?


Peabody index 2019 (2)
Answered By: The Mayor
Date:  Wednesday, 15th January 2020.

I am committed to doing what I can to help tackle London’s disability employment gap and am implementing various initiatives to achieve this.  To improve employment outcomes for disabled people I have match funded the devolved DWP London Work & Health Programme taking this £70 million government programme to £135 million.

Through the devolved Adult Education Budget, I have introduced full funding for first qualifications in British Sign Language for Deaf Londoners up to and including Level 2.  My £71 million ESF 2019-23 Programme aims to support more than 5,000 disabled people into training and employment. The next round due in the Spring will include £6.5 million of support for 16-24 years olds who are either NEET or have SEND.

The Start Up, Step Up programme, part-funded by ESF, will support 138 budding entrepreneurs who have disabilities. My Good Work Standard will also support disabled people to access and progress into better quality jobs and aligns with DWP’s Disability Confident scheme.

We are also looking at how to offer more work placements across the GLA Family for Londoners with learning disabilities through TfL’s Steps into Work programme.


ATR contacted the labour representative Ms Arnold and the Lord Mayor, and asked the question, but (A) Both failed to respond and (B) ATR was unable to identify the deaf sign illiterates this money is aimed at. Why would other disabled need to attain BSL qualifications? Social media posted the same questions:-

"Why is the Greater London Health authority and Lord Mayor having to fund sign language lessons for deaf ADULTS and other disabled (?), who haven't attained level 2 BSL? What on earth were these deaf being taught in a deaf school?"

"Do deaf actually KNOW what level their own signing is? It is stated 69% are nowhere near level 4, deaf mentors/carers only required to gain level 2, Hearing terps not required to gain any mental health specialisations. The majority of over level 4 BSL signers are hearing not deaf, they outnumber deaf people 2 to 1."

"It seems the idea is to enable a sufficient sign QUALIFICATION attained BY the deaf themselves so that their job prospects improve? but, employers say level 1/2 is basically illiteracy and a level 2 in a system his business did not use was pointless,  would they be able to utilise signed support?"  

"I attend a deaf club every week and the sign levels with deaf people there seem pretty poor.  Social signing is nowhere near the academic requirement or at a level deaf can advance employment options with, and explaining detail is a struggle, but they appear convinced it is the same thing for some reason and 'everyone should sign to them'."

"Are deaf (Children or adults), required to gain any level of sign qualification in education (Formative or Adult)? We know hearing children have numerous exams on academic attainment and marked as regards to their communication effectiveness from day one, but it seems the deaf are not having to prove they have enough sign language skills they need to utilise help.  The culture won't cut it with employers."

"London is said to contain near 20% of all UK sign users, where do the numbers exist for a sector of that 20 % unable to attain even level 1 or level 2 BSL?  The basic question not asked is how such low levels of sign and English are being identified? Is it job centres?"

"Learning level 2 would not be viable to attain a skill to do anything other than sweep floors in London lets face it!"

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Origins of Sign?

Five major lineages and a handful of minor languages (Polish, Russian, Afghan) helped produce today's variety of sign languages. Pictured, the various lineages that produced today's plethora of signing varieties
Linguists have long studied the origins of human speech, with two centuries of research dedicated to unravelling the birth and evolution of human dialogue. 

Researchers from the University of Texas claim sign language has been far less studied, despite being 'at least as ancient as speech'. Justin Power, a PhD student at the University of Texas in the US and first author on the study, said: 'While the evolution of spoken languages has been studied for more than 200 years, research on sign language evolution is still in its infancy. 'Much of what we know about the histories of contemporary sign languages has come from historical accounts of contact between deaf educational institutions and educators. 

'We wanted to know if a comparison of sign languages using contemporary and historical sources could shed light on how European sign languages have developed and spread around the world.' The study, published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, assessed a total of 76 sign language 'manual alphabets'. Manual alphabets are forms which signers use to spell written words using a sequence of hand shapes. These are known to date back as far as the 17th century following the creation of educational institutions for the deaf during the European Enlightenment. 

Five major lineages and a handful of minor languages (Polish, Russian, Afghan) helped produce today's variety of sign languages. Pictured, the various lineages that produced today's plethora of signing varieties. Five major lineages and a handful of minor languages (Polish, Russian, Afghan) helped produce today's variety of sign languages. Pictured, the various lineages that produced today's plethora of signing varieties Evolutionary biology and linguistics techniques were applied to the various languages to find any similarities between them. 

These subtle similarities and relationships were then used to map out their evolutionary lineages. This allowed researchers to create a physical map of where and when sign languages spread across Europe and then around the world. For instance, the researchers found the influence of French Sign Language on deaf education and signing communities in western Europe and the Americas. In addition, the team was able to trace the dispersal of Austrian Sign Language to central and northern Europe, as well as to Russia. 

Mr Power said: 'The network methods allow us to analyse in detail the complex evolution of complete lineages, manual alphabets, and individual hand shapes. 'Integrating these methods with our research into historical manual alphabets gives us a powerful framework for understanding the evolution of sign languages.' 

This article originates via Texas USA, but isn't supported globally.  While deaf developed basic signs based on mimicry, it was HEARING people who worked at creating a bona fide 'language'. The USA also declared uni-sign did not exist nor, was sign able to carry over effectively in different countries and as explained via Martha's vineyard, it was unsustainable once closed communities developed options to move out.  Sign (In the UK anyway), still hasn't been proven, as the BSL dictionary lacks 70% of necessary signs and contains next to no academic ones.  USA 'experts' are still trying to decipher Paddy Ladd's explanations which contained no sign explanation at all because the signs aren't there..