Having watched AOHL (Cymru), recent Zoom offering I feel compelled to respond to it.
I have to disagree with a number of AOHL statements made regarding lack of BSL to Boris/English COVID updates, as early as March 18th he was on screen with a BSL terp explaining the lockdown, and I published the link to it here and on social media at the time.
There WAS a breakdown as regards to not informing deaf BSL access was already there on the BBC news channel, but have to say when informed of that access later and on-screen, not only by myself but on screen later on the BBC1 channel, campaigners chose to ignore it and decided to campaign on the basis there was none instead.
As regards to lack of BSL online, also not true, a number of charities including the RAD and SignHealth as well as many individuals went to social media giving a breakdown and daily updates as well in sign language. The prime question was why the dedicated BSL channels of BSL ZONE and SEE HEAR chose not to do their part? It was very late in the day before the COVID penny dropped for them and only after criticisms. They are both funded to educate and inform the BSL deaf and failed, choosing to cover trivia instead and standing by watching the prime BBC media doing their job.
Maybe we should withdraw funding for those areas? Of course, many elderly deaf/HoH don't go online, so perhaps that is an issue AOHL can address as to how you get them to do that? I can point out to an around wales videoed survey undertaken at the time by the BSL Zone (who visited near all major deaf club in Wales), only to find few if any deaf had heard of them. Cardiff being the least interested with just 9 people turning up. A lot of deaf are not regularly online although they have iPhones and such because they tend to use them only to contact each other or family.
Much is made of poor BSL access and is unfounded in reality, the major COVID campaigns were about lip-reading not BSL, although there was no background to the demand for that lip-reading access or if it applied to BSL users, or just the HoH who mostly rely on that. What we did see were 'Deaf' demands for face mask removal at NHS staff, which was never going to happen.
There was and still is ample BSL access to health areas, obviously, a lot is currently by remote, and it seems there was some reluctance in certain BSL areas to adopt remote interpreting. What I didn't really see was any great demand for HoH access, or campaigning for it, this is mostly down to the fact they adapted to text and technology possibly.
There are 'cultural' issues in that some BSL deaf still refuse to adapt or use alternatives even when they are able to, as some 'sop' to culture or the perceived language. I was surprised but found it welcome, suggestions there needs to be more Signed ENGLISH, (now all we need is SE teachers and Interpreters!), as BSL is a major issue of access, and HoH and others are reluctant to go with it because of cultural and grammatical differences.
It should be, but isn't, 'horse for courses', having said that most of us opted for captions and ignored BSL anyway so had access all the time. We can only assume the sign language user cannot read or doesn't want to and prefers to make their own access difficult. You adapt or go without they chose to go without in many cases.
The health and social care issue is split between the sign user demands and the needs of the rest of us. Far too many health areas are not offering HoH any access but BSL, a format they don't use. We saw much demand for clear masks and access for lip-readers, but no demand for clear speakers, so how does that work?
A number of NHS staff are almost impossible to lip-read with or without a mask especially some from BAME areas with beards or poor English, HoH and deaf patients have expressed these issues, then called racists, Why is that? A clear maks would still be no use and Interpreters can have difficulty following too. In reality, if you are a lip-reading patient or have issues with hearing loss and aids that don't really give you the access you need in full, there is none in reality to the NHS, this is a particular concern in Wales e.g.
Of course, this video is predominantly covering English-oriented output, and that in itself has created issues of misinformation, not only to the deaf, but, to the hard of hearing who live elsewhere also, who have been assuming updates on COVID on the BBC applied to the UK, I was unsurprised to hear some welsh TV sets were turned to BBC West which didn't cover BSL signed welsh COVID updates. I also noticed interpreters used BSL and not welsh signs. If there are regional variations the welsh aren't aware of them.
Not enough clarifications came from AOHL or anyone else that what the BBC was putting out in England was not applicable elsewhere. As we know Wales, Scotland and N Ireland all have different approaches and agendas as regards to updates and approaching the COVID issue. This is still the case.
I must express disappointment with the continuing over-emphasis on BSL, this is not a major format 12m of us ever use (And there aren't 12m in Wales, only 3/500K, and we don't KNOW how many rely upon BSL because there is no way to find out), but it is still getting 76% of all posts and campaigns, we can be forgiven for feeling 12m or 500K whatever, don't really exist.
In reality, there is NO 'national' access set up for anyone but the BSL user. AOHL we see as a predominant Hard of Hearing support area not a deaf or BSL one, which is the 'domain' of minority and mostly unsupported groups like the BDA or RAD and don't include HoH anyway.
What I have found during this epidemic is a lot of campaigns having little or no basis, simply because they chose not to really seek out information that was already there. The Initial TV updates were charts and statistics mostly followed by stay home, that was it basically, a turn off for hearing let alone the deaf.
ATR posted updates and links to BSL to all online sites It could manage to, including the mooted BBC ones and they ignored the links. By far it is NOT the BSL user who is deprived or lacking in either support or access, but the rest of us having to totally rely on text, who are now a 'community' of text users, and because lip-reading is a failure for most and lacks the wherewithal to teach via its classes, and countered, by BSL classes that encourage no speech to be used even amidst NHS care and support staff. What price lip-reading then?
AOHL tries to sit between two such stools and is obviously not going to succeed. It has been losing out to a few dedicated BSL activists despite its corporate approaches, and can apparently speak for everyone. Wales has near half a million with hearing loss, which on the face of it suggests next to none have any access at all.
'Seeing is believing' and not reality, in that hearing loss, cannot be seen and being deaf can, via sign usage. Again if AOHL needs a campaign or two it is to balance that out by concentrating on its core membership the Hard of Hearing and leave the BSL users to their own dedicated and specialist areas. Albeit it is agreed they are making a real mess of it so far, its their choice.
Apart from re-branding for RNID to 'hearing loss' but still retaining the D and confusing everyone, it now needs to take the next step and concentrate solely on the Hard of hearing instead. We would also like to see a lot more support for the deafened and acquired deaf who are stuck between some sort of ideological war going on between the deaf charities and the Hard of Hearing ones, which has seriously undermined access for them all.
The 'all deaf sign' is applied to all hard of hearing sign too, which suggests the HoH ae getting branded with some other sort of identification by default. The AOHL is contributing to the myth and needs to stop doing it.
To be frank, AOHL on this video does not come across as any sort of a BSL/HoH set up anyway, it comes across as very 'hearing' oriented and appealing only to those with useful hearing anyway. It should not be an issue to 'specialise' solely on the HoH area, which AOHL keeps stating is 12m people, but 12m the AOHL has no way of addressing at present.
As AOHL rightly stated its main 'strength' is in that the system tends to take note of what they say, but in regards to access or inclusion it is not a simple matter of stating we need this and that to happen when there is no real direction on what the need is for 12m with hearing loss or what support they actually need, loops? lip-speakers? etc, these aren't identifying any sector really. First, find your base then find out what they want. Then TRAIN them.
Most of us find nothing at all if we turn up at a clinic GP or hospital if we don't use sign. There were no actual statistics of ANY HoH demand with 7 health areas in Wales NONE at all for HoH they only held some statistics for the BSL users.
At one point 48+ BSL interpreters existed for the Deaf, and just 2 of them who also qualified as lip-speakers, text operators were invisible, allegedly only 2 of them with 6-8 weeks waiting lists which is actually zero access because you cannot wait that long in health terms, that transpired in zero demand then. We don't get access, because the support supply does not exist, then a demand cannot be seen either. Then 12m/500K become invisible again.
There are no viable records the Welsh NHS had any demand for the HoH. I just think the AOHL is grabbing at straws with the most obvious contenders, the sign users, rather than identifying its own membership, which means you are doing the BDA's job for them.
Address abysmal and non-functioning lip-reading classes and opt for a new set up that includes total communication and more individual tuition, since many attending such classes drop out a few weeks in because they cannot follow the tuition, this has a knock-on effect of deterring such potential learners of bothering to learn to lip-read at all, many approach such classes very much as a desperate and last resort, for them to drop out soon after means those in most need are the first being sidelined in favour of those still able to use an aid effectively.
Even that isn't helping the most to learn to lip-read a no qualifications are required and no skill level has to be met. IT suggests communication classes for those with hearing loss are treated as some sort of hobby course (Like flower arranging). There is no point in teaching lip-reading this way as it stands.
A dozen 'Zoom' videos are not going to address the chaos that is (Or rather not), hearing loss support, which is completely different to DEAF support, make the break, move on. AOHL is allied to areas like NDCS etc but even they are at odds with the cultural demands of the few who are disrupting the very thing they say they want, equality and access by default, not only for themselves but for us too.
We need a clean break so AOHL can concentrate ON the majority.