Monday, 29 February 2016

Dog Power...

'Emotional support' at last someone has it right. (Pet might have been more accurate)...

At the Supermarket.....

The Blind photographer...

Brenden Borrellini was born completely deaf and with limited sight that developed into complete blindness. His disability presented many obstacles for him growing up but with a lot of hard work and help from the Special Education Unit at the Cavendish Road State School in Brisbane, he became the first deaf and blind student to finish his high school education and to attend University.

In 1989 he was nationally recognised and won the young Australian of the Year award for his academic achievements. But Brenden didn't stop there.  It was after moving from Brisbane to Mackay that Brenden met Steve Mayer-Miller, Artistic Director for Crossroad Arts, a local organisation that develops opportunities for people with a disability to access and participate in the arts.

Steve says that the whole idea of photography for somebody who is deaf and blind was completely new to him. He had worked with deaf people before and blind people before but the combination of the disabilities was uncharted territory.

After showing Brenden the buttons on the camera he very quickly took the initiative and started taking pictures. A blind photographer... How does that work?

Steve wanted to start giving Brenden feedback on the photos he was taking so he worked on a structure where Brenden would receive objective, technical and subjective feedback about the photographs he was taking. Using a device that converts text to braille, the people working with Brenden are able to give him their objective view by explaining the photograph in detail.

Brenden then receives the technical feedback using photography language like composition, light, shutter effect and depth. Then the subjective interpretations of the photograph the emotions that each person felt so Brendan would get three different points of view.

What is Brendan seeing?

This question led the group to research devices that would enable a two dimensional photograph to become a three dimensional photograph so that Brendan could also be able to interpret the textures in the photograph. The aesthetic of photography was never really the goal. It’s more about the experience of taking a photo rather than the resultant photo itself.

The process is helping break Brenden’s feelings of isolation caused by his disability and connecting him with his community.

Hearing Loss


Hearing loss, also known as hearing impairment, or anacusis, is a partial or total inability to hear. An affected person may be described as hard of hearing. A deaf person has little to no hearing. Hearing loss may occur in one or both ears In children hearing problems can affect the ability to learn language and in adults it can cause work related difficulties. In some people, particularly older people, hearing loss can result in loneliness. Hearing loss can be temporary or permanent.

Hearing loss may be caused by a number of factors, including: genetics, ageing, exposure to noise, some infections, birth complications, trauma to the ear, and certain medications or toxins. A common condition that results in hearing loss is chronic ear infections. Certain infections during pregnancy such as rubella may also cause problems. Hearing loss is diagnosed when hearing testing finds that a person is unable to hear 25 decibels in at least one ear. Testing for poor hearing is recommended for all newborns. Hearing loss can be categorised as mild, moderate, severe, or profound.

Half of hearing loss is preventable. This includes by immunisation, proper care around pregnancy, avoiding loud noise, and avoiding certain medications. The World Health Organization recommends that young people limit the use of personal audio players to an hour a day in an effort to limit exposure to noise. Early identification and support are particularly important in children. For many hearing aids, sign language, cochlear implants and subtitles are useful. Lip reading is another useful skill some develop. Access to hearing aids, however, is limited in many areas of the world.

Globally hearing loss affects about 10% of the population to some degree. It causes disability in 5% (360 to 538 million) and moderate to severe disability in 124 million people. Of those with moderate to severe disability 108 million live in low and middle income countries. Of those with hearing loss it began in 65 million during childhood. Those who speak sign language and are members of Deaf culture see themselves as having a difference rather than an illness. Most members of Deaf culture oppose attempts to cure deafness and some within this community view cochlear implants with concern as they have the potential to eliminate their culture. The term hearing impairment is often viewed negatively as it emphasises what people cannot do.

The SubPac...

A tool used normally by DJs to feel intense bass without doing long-term hearing damage will now be used by deaf and hard of hearing at Williams Elementary School to experience music in a different way.

With a grant from Illinois Alliance of Administrators of Special Education, these Eastern Illinois Area of Special Education (EIASE) deaf and hard of hearing students now will have a way to experience and follow along with music in class without the need of hearing.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Fast Food and the Deaf Customer...

Should more people learn how to sign?

Our columnist argues that sign language should be added to the national curriculum.
The article shows a fair amount of ignorance, if awareness should be raised, it should be all embracing and inclusive of everyone that has a hearing loss, regardless of how they communicate, not, over focus on just one area.  

It makes more sense and practicality to make people aware of the majority with hearing loss who need help, not the minority.  A columnist argues that sign language should be added to the national curriculum.  ATR disagrees..

How this quote is true: “Deaf people can do anything apart from hear.” We all come across some quotes and we pause for thought and then we forget about it. However, this sums every individual deaf person, young and old, up. People perceive us to be naive, stupid and fragile, like a box full of precious china simply waiting to be rattled around and then dropped. Yet we are in the 21st century, where anything is possible.

Technology has developed, language has been opened and minds have been exposed. Voices have been given to those who choose to have one and acceptance has tided over to those who choose not to have a voice.

Since last month’s article, I received an email from one of my readers speaking about the association with deaf identity and raised an excellent question: “Why not introduce deaf identity as a part of the national curriculum in primary or secondary education?”

We have seen a little surge in the past 20 years of hearing people wanting to learn British Sign Language, either to head down in the professional career track of deaf relations such as interpreting or communication support workers or just for casual use to communicate with a deaf friend.

Statistics show that we come across a lot of deaf people in our services from hospitals to even administration, yet most people are left feeling embarrassed that they couldn't communicate with those deaf people after the encounter.

In the Welsh and Scottish national curriculum, Welsh and Gaelic is a major part of the education system and is used as a spoken language in their schools. Yet they are a language minority like British Sign Language and are recognised as an official language.

Not true, Welsh has been around a 1,000 years in one form or another, BSL, less than 50.  On March 18, 2003 the UK government formally recognized that BSL is a language in its own right

Police Join Forces with the BDA....

police scotland 2Police Scotland has demonstrated its commitment to working alongside the Scottish Deaf community by holding a partnership event with the British Deaf Association.

The “Access to Justice” visit took place at the West Lothian Civic Centre on Wednesday 24th February.  The aim of this was to improve accessibility of criminal justice systems and identify how we can continue to develop justice services, which are inclusive for everyone in Scotland.

This event was arranged in conjunction with the BDA’s 125th Anniversary celebrations.  The group attended the West Lothian Civic Centre where they got a tour of police custody procedures and discussed their experiences of police services.

They were also given an input by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscals service and given a tour of the Sheriff Court by the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service.  After the tour a Q&A session with all partners including the Scottish Legal Aid Board, took place.

This allowed those in attendance to raise any concerns or seek clarity on issues relating to the criminal justice system and its relationship with the Deaf community.  In addition to interpreters there was a number of police officers and staff members present who have BSL skills allowing a great opportunity to engage directly with attendees.

Superintendent Jim Baird said: “We were delighted to assist in the British Deaf Association 125th anniversary celebrations and facilitate the Access to Justice event at Livingston Civic Centre.

“In addition to being shown police processes and procedures delegates shared their experience of access to justice and identified barriers to the Deaf community.


Saturday, 27 February 2016

Drop Inspirational Porn....

In this 2013 photo, former President George W. Bush and Starkey Hearing Technologies CEO Bill Austin give out hearing aids on a Starkey trip in Tanzania.Yep, quit the promotion of 'inspirational people' with hearing aids.  No more Heroes....  Hang on a minute, don't sign users use frequent examples of 'Deaf' people who sign who succeed 'despite the odds' too ?  Be it Starkey, A G Bell, or National Deaf charities they are ALL at it, because no-one gives handouts or support unless they can sell that 'bravery'...

A Starkey Foundation Super Bowl event intended to give away free hearing aids, left some families feeling exploited and illustrated the ongoing tension between the nonprofit and the deaf community.

The Star Tribune reports on the event, which was held the day before the Super Bowl and drew a crowd of hundreds, including several celebrities, to watch Starkey Hearing Technologies' Bill Austin and others fit deaf children and adults with hearing aids.

But some of the participants were turned off by the experience, the paper reported, saying they and their children were presented as hard-luck cases who needed to be rescued by Starkey. The California Association for the Deaf called on the Eden Prairie-based nonprofit to change its marketing practices, which it called "inspiration porn."

Some volunteers also noted that Starkey didn't have enough sign-language interpreters, which meant that its hearing-aid workers couldn't communicate with the people they were fitting. In a statement, the foundation said that it tried to “ensure a positive experience for all,” and didn't get any complaints at the event itself.

The Starkey Foundation, which is linked to hearing-aid maker Starkey Hearing Technologies, donated more than 200,000 hearing aids last year. But its relationship with the deaf community has been strained, even in Minnesota; advocates say Starkey isn't involved in the community and refuses to sponsor events by deaf organizations.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Deaf Reach School....

Deaf Pride....

Tattoo to show this girl is deaf in one ear..

If you’re deaf in one ear and you’re tired of having to remind people which one they can talk in, this is a pretty near solution.  This girl had a tattoo of the speaker icon with an X to tell people to stop trying to talk to her in her deaf ear.

The image was uploaded by Imgur user raingoose with the caption: ‘Since I’m deaf in one ear I thought this was a friendly way to tell the world not to talk to me from the left’.

It has since been commented on more than 12,000 times, with many people sharing their own ways to tell people which is their hearing ear. One said they got just the one ear pierced – ‘if you can see the earring, then I’m hearing’, or ‘one ear’s hear, the other ear’s huh?’.


Others said they should try to switch her on and off again to see if it would reboot her ear and bring her hearing back.

Less wise.

Improve hearing aid battery life by 80%

An 8th grade student may have made a discovery that could save people who wear hearing aids significant money.

Ethan Manuell is an audiology patient at Olmsted County Medical Center and wears a hearing aid in his left ear. He began a study, with the help of his audiologist, Mary Meier Au. D, looking into the effect wait time has on hearing aid batteries, which is the time between activating the battery and placing the battery in the hearing aid.

To activate a hearing aid battery, users need to remove a sticker on the battery which allows oxygen to mix with zinc-oxide inside the battery. Manuell did tests to see if waiting a little longer before putting the battery into the device would make a difference. What he found was if users wait 5 minutes after pulling off the sticker, the battery will last 2-3 days longer, which is significant considering batteries usually last anywhere from 2-7 days depending on the model.

“The more energized zinc you have, the longer it lasts. So this discovery I made, if you wait five minutes, it improves the battery life by 80%,” explains Manuell.


Only a small percentage of patients who might benefit from cochlear implantation actually have access to this technology. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 360 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss (>40 dB) and that the vast majority (∼80%) live in developing countries. 

There is very little data on the severity of the hearing loss or the age of those affected; however, the WHO estimates the prevalence of profound deafness in the world to be approximately 11.7 million people with roughly 30% of these because of congenital causes (3.9 million). 

This figure probably underestimates the actual prevalence, but it does correspond well to estimates derived from infant hearing screening data (∼3.5 million births with profound hearing loss). 

Data from key cochlear implant manufacturers suggest that the number of implants to date is close to 500,000 with roughly one-third of these in children. This means that only 4.2% of patients who could potentially benefit from a cochlear implant have received this technology. This disparity reflects a much larger gap in hearing loss services in low-resource environments where many affected children receive no services for their hearing loss.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

What Katie (Middleton), did next...

Tips for lip-reading

Police Safety Workshop

Thinking of a CI ? Go for it !

Not being able to hear music was UCLH patient Liz Arendt’s greatest loss when she became deaf. Although she wore a hearing aid, could lip read, communicate through email and text, and had a Hearing Dog to alert her to the doorbell or smoke alarm, nothing could compensate for the sound of music.

The retired physics teacher promised herself that if she could ever hear again, she would fulfil her dream of going to Glyndebourne. Since having her second cochlear implant in 2006, she has been to numerous concerts and operas, and visited Glyndebourne at least half a dozen times.

“I can now hear music perfectly - even tunes I didn’t know before I went deaf,” she says.

Liz is sharing her story to help mark International Cochlear Implant Day. The Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital, part of UCLH, is one of several implant centres celebrating how this technology has changed the lives of patients who have severe to profound hearing loss.

Around 10,000 people in the UK have a cochlear implant, including children who generally have two. However, fewer than 10 per cent of adults who are severely or profoundly deaf and who would qualify for a cochlear implant on the NHS have one.

Liz, 71, from St Albans, was profoundly deaf in both ears. She had her first implant in May 2004, and the second in May 2006, both at the RNTNEH.

“Because of the cochlear implants, I can lead a normal life again like a normal fully hearing person. If anyone gets the chance to do this, I would say go for it.”

Happy Birthday Tree House ..

One the very few really independent deaf/HI Facebook sites in the UK, accept no alternatives. They don't accept sponsors and have the best moderation of any facebook site for HoH. Bias NOT allowed !

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Deaf Community Centre at risk of closure in Limerick

Deaf Community Centre at risk of closure in Limerick cityThe Deaf Community Centre on O’Connell Street is “unlikely” to be operating by the summer, should its funding situation remain the same, according to one of its directors.

Director Haaris Sheikh said that because the DCC is not State-funded, it has been relying on “small pockets of funds to keep it going since 2006”, and that it will face closure in April or May if it does not receive ring-fenced funding from the Government.  His comments follow a meeting with some of the Limerick City election candidates on Monday evening, when the DCC outlined its wishes for the future.

Proposed plans included the full recognition of Irish Sign Language; secure funding for DCC, and ratify and implement UN Convention in relation to those who solely communicate through sign language.

When lip-reading works

It’s a well-know that many of those who are deaf converse through lip-reading. But have you ever stopped and thought about just how hard that can be?

In a video produced by Little Moving Pictures, one woman, Rachel Kolb, perfectly articulates what it feels like to experience a world that you can’t physically hear.

The video shows a range of people speaking about every day experiences. Each story is subtitled. But as their stories continue, the subtitles begin to blur until they completely vanish and the audio fuses out until the video is completely silent – with only lips moving on the screen.

But as people talk faster, the lips become pretty much impossible to read – seriously giving us an in-depth look into what those without the ability to hear have to focus on every day.

Rachel also highlights the fact that speech is not just movements of the lips and sound. It is accents, it is people’s mumbles, the way some may cover their mouths when they talk – the list is endless. All things that many of us unknowingly take for granted.

Rachel describes lip-reading as ‘putting together a puzzle without all the pieces’.  She said: ‘There have been times when I’ve questioned why I even try to lip read.  ‘To wade through this swamp, when I could just use sign language.’

She compares the use of sign language to being in a different world – a world filled with ‘rich expression and culture.’

But for Rachel, when lip-reading works, she feels something that she thinks sign-language cannot offer her all of the time. ‘When I focus on one legible face, and launch into a conversation, something clicks.

‘Right then, I feel something extraordinary. Human connection.’

Why are HoH hiding their needs ?

Via a debate on a HoH site in the UK, why aren't HoH in need ? or asking for it ? given 4m have a hearing aid, and 3m won't wear them and in denial ? The issues of what means do we use and where, also present endless angst and hair pulling.  If you add false issues of identities, we are faced with too many barriers we have set up ourselves.

(Ctd)  ATR has a point. In Australia during the 80s Deaf Pride had a huge impact and led to strong Deaf Societies, and Auslan sign language and interpreting access enjoying higher profiles through increased funding. In comparison our equivalent HOH services are not nearly as well funded or organised. 

But things are beginning to change. Some of our Deaf Societies are offering live captioning alongside interpreting services, more online content is being captioned, and organisations such as Deaf Australia (a hard core pro-Auslan group) are even including the HOH in its planning documents. These organisations are beginning to understand that the HOH community needs to be supported because these potential clients are numerous and there is cross-over where people like myself learn Auslan later in life and become involved in the signing deaf community.

I agree that HOH people need to improve advocacy - in the signing Deaf and hearing communities. But I also agree that being divisive is not smart. Collectively signing deaf and HOH people have a louder voice.

For the record, my wife uses Auslan and Signed English, my Mother is an Auslan interpreter and I am currently learning Auslan, and we share a very close connection with our signing Deaf community. In fact I refer to myself as Deaf-oral because I believe all deaf people (signing Deaf, HOH, late deafened) need to reclaim the word deaf. We might communicate differently but many of our access needs are similar.

(ATR)....I'm impressed with Australian output, and indeed, cover it quite a lot on my blog, the Philippines too are very good at providing captions in English, the USA and UK are a different kettle of fish. You have a stance in these countries, that captions spoil sign promotion so most grass roots and a high number of vloggers simply refuse to caption. 

A lot of us sign, HI/HoH deafened etc, but we don't share a cultural vision with it, it is a tool, an aid to communication, the issue is not its use, but where to use it.... Like most who can sign I don't have a preference for BSL but signed English. HoH provision reflects its demand, next to none. It's been discussed many times why this is so, my own view is denial and stigma affects HoH far more than it affects people deaf. My partner is 'cultural deaf' uses sign language and nothing else to communicate, done the deaf school thing all her friends go to deaf clubs and socialise and really the only 'hearing' people she really interacts with are her children, or her interpreter support. 

She will never integrate with mainstream in any real terms. As a deafened person (Whatever that means), I see myself in a real battle between languages and cultures, and access.... as the twain is determined not to meet. I don't approve of BSL classes or lip-reading classes, because as we all need text, lip-reading and visual means to follow, the tuition should reflect that, I've no time for propping up a false 'preference' that may well not suit my need anyway, and a lot with hearing loss are depressed and prone to mental health issues, 40% of deaf children have mental health issues, is a sobering statistic, it isn't all fun and games being Deaf, and a culture isn't enough to address what is happening, neither, is a loop system. 

Once we accept the realities, then we move forward, given HoH aren't moving anywhere, it's a real concern. I think HoH need a wake up call, millions are in denial and making excuses they hardly need anything. An invisible disability, AND HoH doing their best to hide it ? makes no sense.

WFD driving forward technology advances...

We are proud of our ongoing partnership with World Federation of the Deaf and appreciate your kind words, Colin! We look forward to continuing to work together to fight for equal rights for deaf and hard of hearing people worldwide.

Fire safety for Deaf & HoH

What Wikipedia Can't Teach You About Deafness

The Wikipedia entry on deafness will give you the definition, signs and symptoms, causes, diagnoses, prevention, treatments and more. These are all from the medical perspective of being deaf, with a small "d", and doesn't show you the full story of a Deaf person, with a capital "D".

What's the difference between deaf and Deaf? (Don't know, do tell us !)....

People who are "deaf" usually don't associate with other members of the deaf community, usually don't sign, strive to fit in more with hearing people, and identify their hearing loss in medical terms only. (Erm ..... wrong !).

People who are "Deaf" identify themselves as culturally deaf and have a strong Deaf identity. They usually come from a School for the Deaf, are fluent signers, and are heavily involved with other Deaf people, clubs, and events. These Deaf are proud of their Deaf Culture and believe they are not "broken" or need to be fixed by the medical community.

(Wrong again, my country has no deaf schools).

What is Deaf Culture?

"Deaf culture is a set of learned behaviors and perceptions that shape the values and norms of deaf people based on their shared or common experiences."

(So we are all the same ?)

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Coffee shop post goes viral...

Is it just ATR or are Deaf easier to please these days ?

Girl pretends to be deaf to put off advances...

This is the moment a woman used sign language to ward off a stranger after he approached her in a nightclub and attempted to put his hand around her waist.

In a Snapchat video which emerged online this week, the woman - wearing a white vest - appears to be dancing with a friend when the man approaches her and flings his arm around her. 

She immediately turns around and offers sign language - to which he holds up his hand and backs away.   The video has now been viewed more than three million times, and has sparked a heated debate after the man seemingly dismissed the young woman because he believed her to be deaf.  
A man approached her grabbing her around the waist and she replied by using sign language. The video was captioned: 'When "I've got a Boyfriend" fails, you have to pretend to be deaf'

A man approached her grabbing her around the waist and she replied by using sign language. The video was captioned: 'When "I've got a Boyfriend" fails, you have to pretend to be deaf' The clip, named 'When "I've got a Boyfriend" fails, you have to pretend to be deaf', shows a woman dancing in a club when a random man approaches her and grabs her around the waist.

The woman immediately pulls back and then begins to sign several words to him. 

5 perks to being Hard of Hearing

3 ways deaf order a meal....

AMC in Blind discrimination action..

A class-action lawsuit has been field against AMC Theatres, claiming the chain makes it hard for blind people to enjoy going to the movies. 

According to the lawsuit, AMC offers audio-description devices to blind customers. But, those listed in the lawsuit say the devices are often unavailable, have a low battery, or play the wrong audio descriptions. The lawsuit also claims AMC staff sometimes hand blind customers devices intended for those who are deaf. 


£250K BSL Frauds in the dock..

Falkirk Sheriff CourtA deaf couple will face trial next month accused of mounting a four-year scam to defraud taxpayers of nearly £250,000.  It is alleged Andrew and Caroline Thomson submitted bogus claims for sign language interpreters they did not need – including one for a business trip by Andrew to Las Vegas – and employed a company which they themselves owned to supply them.

The husband and wife, who ran on-line interpretation services for the deaf, are said to have formed a fraudulent scheme to obtain funding, to which they were not entitled, to pay for British Sign Language interpreters under the Government’s Access to Work Scheme.  At Stirling Sheriff Court on Tuesday, lawyers for Andrew Thomson (51) and Caroline Thomson (52), of Stephens Croft, New Carron, Falkirk confirmed the couple maintained their pleas of not guilty to all the allegations.

Solicitor Murray Aitken, for Andrew Thomson, said any trial was likely to take “at least three to four weeks”.  Addressing the couple through a BSL interpreter provided by the court, Sheriff William Gilchrist ordered them to appear at a further procedural hearing on March 15, before a special jury sitting scheduled for March 29.

A third of gigs give 'no access information'..

music concertA third of live music events have "no access information" on their websites for deaf and disabled people.

That's according to a report from the charity Attitude is Everything.  It asked 280 mystery shoppers about experiences at 386 UK gigs and festivals.  The charity's findings suggest 60% were put off buying tickets because they couldn't find details of things like wheelchair ramps and hearing loop stations.

The charity explained: "For disabled fans, the first barrier to accessing live music typically happens before they've even purchased a ticket. "Audiences are unlikely to attend live music events unless they know their diverse range of access requirements can be met."

According to the most recent DCMS Taking Part survey, deaf and disabled people are now estimated to make up 15% of all live music attendees in the UK. Attitude is Everything Chief Executive, Suzanne Bull, said: "Digital has revolutionised the live sector and how music lovers buy tickets, find information and share their experiences.

"A lack of decent online access information websites has become a constant source of frustration to millions of disabled fans."

Monday, 22 February 2016

Deaf Karaoke....

Hearing-impaired youth ‘mocked’ at SkyTrain...

FILE PHOTO, 24 HOURSTransit Police have arrested and charged a 46-year-old woman from Surrey in relation with a pair of alleged violent assaults on SkyTrain.

Police said that on Feb. 17 a woman and a senior man were assaulted after intervening in the apparent “mocking” abuse of a group of hearing-impaired youth at Royal Oak Station. A group of young students who were deaf and hard-of-hearing boarded the train and began communicating to one another in sign language. 

The woman moved very close to the group and began to mock the young people who appeared nervous and frightened. It was then that the two people intervened and were allegedly assaulted. 

Tamara Dawne Robertson has been charged with two counts of assault.

Multilingual Mexican priest...

Originally from Mexico, Father Luis Fernando speaks Spanish, English and Cantonese.

He also knows Chinese sign language.

Father Fernando is the parish priest for St Monica’s in North Parramatta where he says mass in both Cantonese and English. But the journey to become multilingual started many years ago. When he was 18, Father Fernando joined a seminary in Mexico City with the aim of becoming a missionary and spreading the word of God.

“Mexico is a Catholic country, 83 per cent of the population are Catholic,” he said. “You can assume pretty much everyone knows the church, knows the gospel, knows Jesus, so I always thought what happens when Christians are not the majority?

“I was sent to finish my theology studies in Hong Kong, where 6 per cent of the population are Catholic.” Father Fernando demonstrates Chinese sign language at St Monica’s.  But first he had to travel to Los Angeles in 1992 to learn English for eight months, “just to get me ready to study Chinese, as I was studying Chinese in English,” he said.

“When I was studying in Hong Kong I was asked to work with the Cantonese deaf community, then I picked up sign language as well.” For six years, Father Fernando worked as a chaplain for the deaf in Hong Kong, before arriving in Australia in 2006. “I came to St Monica’s, where 40 per cent of the congregation are Chinese,” he said. “I’m the first non-Chinese that’s a chaplain for the Chinese (in this parish).”

At first, Father Fernando admitted he was worried about whether his English would make the grade.  He was reassured when a parishioner told him he had a lovely accent. “Hopefully I’m bringing in a bit of Mexican culture,” he said. “We have so many social issues, but ... Mexico is all about good company with friends and family.

“We don’t have much, but with what little we have we try to make it count.” Father Fernando said he saw his role as about creating connections and helping people.

“At the end of the day, to create bridges around people is important,” he said.

Lawsuit seeks improved 911 for the deaf

A federal lawsuit filed last week aims to improve access to 911 service for the estimated 82,000 Arizonans who are deaf or hard of hearing, and although the only defendants named are State of Arizona and Maricopa County officials, the plaintiffs’ legal counsel says other counties and cities are expected to be added as defendants.

Currently, residents with hearing or speech problems can only seek help from a 911 call center by using special equipment or a relay service, which allows the user to type or sign a message into a device that is reviewed by someone at a relay service agency, who then passes on the message to a 911 call center.

A complaint filed Feb. 11 in U.S. District Court in Phoenix states the process (often referred to as TTY or TDD) is cumbersome and time consuming. It also requires the user to be where the device is or to have landline phone access or an internet connection, which significantly limits a disabled person’s ability to request help in an emergency.

In several states, another option allows anyone with a wireless phone to send a text (SMS) message to the phone number 911. However, none of Arizona’s 911 call centers are capable of accepting such incoming text messages, resulting in the sender receiving a bounce-back notice that the emergency message could not go through.

That happens, according to the lawsuit, even though the nation’s wireless providers (such as Verizon, AT&T and Sprint) can transmit those text messages because the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires that capability because of “the unique value of text-to-911 for the millions of Americans with hearing or speech disabilities.”

The complaint, which was filed on behalf of several Arizona residents by the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), says disabled Arizona citizens are at risk because officials with responsibility for emergency call systems have not updated their technologies to be able to accept text-to-911 messages.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Not many tutors talk and sign...

Ashburton-based talk and sign language tutor Carol Smith plans to teach in Timaru as there is no-one else qualified who is doing so.Then they complain deaf have issues lip-reading........ Growing up with a profoundly deaf mother and a hard-of-hearing father forced Carol Smith to learn sign language from a young age. She has turned that early learning into a career.

Smith, who lives in Ashburton, plans to teach the language in Timaru once a week over the year.  Sign language became an official language in New Zealand in 2006, alongside English and Te Reo Maori. Smith and her twin sister were born prematurely. Both have impaired hearing.

"It was not picked up until we were three." An older hearing brother was the one relied on by her parents to answer the door or the phone, she said.  Signing to communicate with her mother in public was embarrassing.  "I remember when I was 10 and into my teens and people looking at my hands. For Mum it must have been even worse."

When her mother attended school, she had not been allowed to use sign language in the classroom, and could only use it at playtime.  "She had to lip read and feel the vibrations (with her hand on someone's throat) for letters (of the alphabet). It was really hard."

Smith is able to talk as well as sign, which is an advantage when it comes to teaching the non-hearing impaired.  Parents or school teachers of hearing-impaired children and those who worked with stroke victims and in resthomes found it a useful tool to learn, she said.

"Not many tutors talk and sign."

Deaf inmate not entitled to support....

A deaf former inmate is not due compensation for alleged lack of services provided by the Department of Correction during three prison stays beginning in 2010, a Superior Court Judge ruled on Monday.

Earlier, the Delaware State Human Relations Commission awarded Robert Ovens undisclosed damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs regarding a complaint that the Delaware Equal Accommodations Act was violated during his incarceration at Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown, court papers said.

Sussex County Resident Judge T. Henley Graves found, however, that an earlier Superior Court decision determined that prisons were not a place of public accommodation and reversed the decision to award Mr. Ovens.  “A correction facility clearly does not fit within the statutory definition of a place of public accommodation [pursuant to Delaware’s Equal Accommodations Act],” Judge M. Jane Brady ruled in Short v. Delaware, which was included in the papers laying out the case before Judge Graves.

“Correction facilities are designed specifically so that those people hosed inside remain inside, and so those people outside of them are unable to gain access.”  With that established, Judge Graves noted that “The Commission erred in declining to follow the leading authority on the issue of whether a prison constitutes a place of public accommodation. …

Kenya to host 1st all Africa Deaf Games

Kenya Sports Federation of the Deaf chairman Peter Kalae during the interview at University of Nairobi. 

He says the Government has been slow in giving them a go ahead to host Olympic games for the Deaf here in Kenya, Nairobi.

Kenya will host the first All Africa Games for the Deaf between April 18 and April 26. Announcing this yesterday, the Kenya Sports Federation of the Deaf President Peter Okumu Kalae confirmed that 10 countries have so far confirmed participation. “More entries are streaming in and we expect more countries by end of this month,” said Okumu, also President of Confederation of African Deaf Sports (CADS). 

A full-fledged All Africa Deaf Games 2016 secretariat has been set up at the Nyayo National Stadium KNSC offices under Charles Nyaberi as the Chief Executive Officer. The continental Deaf sports head elaborated that the week-long extravaganza will see African deaf athletes compete for honours in athletics, football, futsal (five-a-side football), handball, volleyball, basketball, badminton and table tennis. 

Kenya’s deaf athletes set the world ablaze in 2013 when they stunned better-endowed countries to win 16 medals (six gold, five silver, five bronze) at the World Deaflympics Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria. Kenyans also hold four world records for the deaf. Daniel Kiptum holds both the half-marathon (1:04:24) and full marathon (2:11:31) world records, while Buxton Menjo holds the 1,500m record at 3:48.69) and Simon Cherono completes the world beaters’ list with his record in 5,000m (14:02.90). Nyaberi said the Local Organising Committee has been constituted and sub-committees set up to oversee preparations for the Games.

Saturday, 20 February 2016


A mobile app developed by an 18-year-old high school entrepreneur in Poland is set to become a major missing link in communication for deaf people.

The app, called Five, allows deaf users to create a sign language for chatting and messaging on their smartphone or iWatch. While there are largely universal sign language standards for deaf people at international events, sign language is not uniform. Much like in the spoken language, there are hundreds of different sign language “dialects” around the world.

“Currently, there are no messaging apps for deaf people because I think that the majority of entrepreneurs don’t know about the problems of deaf people,” said Five CEO Mateusz Mach. “… Eighty percent of deaf people can’t read or write even the simple messages because they don’t hear the internal voice which you hear during reading of, for example, [a] book or magazine.”

5 things that piss ATR off...

Blogs that post.....

(1) 10 most annoying things deaf people say.

(2)  10 most annoying things hearing people say.

(3) 15 most annoying things deaf people do.

(4) 15 most annoying things hearing people do

(5) UK bloggers repeating them till our eyes bleed.. because they have nothing else to say.

At least ATR has cut it down to 5....

HandHelp - Life Care / the worldwide emergency app...

So much sign love they do it twice over every time.... a curious format for a vlog for deaf. Switching from a signer already in the corner of the screen, then repeating it full screen ?

Lost Spaces..

Lost Spaces - Promo from VS1 Productions on Vimeo.

A sequel of Lost Community, the documentary film highlights the one year ‘Lost Spaces’ project focusing on the struggles on the members of the Deaf Community in Bristol.

Deaf Village: Lottery Funding.

OneNote Learning..

Discover how Learning Tools for OneNote helps you author content if you have difficulty spelling or using a keyboard. Jeff Petty, from the accessibility engineering team, shows how Learning Tools for OneNote can also help people with low vision or a learning differences like dyslexia, as it can provide high contrast reading views, narrate text and break complex words and sentences into smaller parts.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Welcome to the RAD.

Africa Oyé to film sign language message

On March 18, two sign language interpreters from the annual Liverpool festival Africa Oyé will film a message about the festival at FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology), to be shown to the deaf community online. Africa Oyé will be the first music festival in Liverpool to have such a signed message ahead of the event

Africa Oyé had on-stage interpreters for the first time last year, and want to take their accessibly one step further this year and have a message recorded in sign language (BSL, ISL and possibly ASL) ahead of the event, that can be shown online for the deaf community.

VRS for Hertfordshire.

With an explanation (Sort of), by a newspaper as captions were not included.

The Video Relay Service enables deaf residents to video call the council via a free link on its website. The video initially connects to a sign language interpreter at SignVideo, who then phones the council’s customer service team and relays the message.

Cabinet member for adult health, Colette Wyatt-Lowe, said: “It is very important that we offer all Hertfordshire residents equal access to information and support in line with the Care Act 2014.

“It’s estimated that around 18,500 deaf/hard of hearing people live in Hertfordshire. SignVideo will enable them to make enquiries about council services in a quick and easy way.”

Sabina Iqbal, team manager for the council’s sensory services, said: “As a deaf BSL user I know how important it is to connect with the council services easily without barriers and the SignVideo provision is a step in the right direction.”


Thursday, 18 February 2016

Teacher slaps toddler deaf for wanting food

A hungry two-and-a-half-year-old boy was allegedly slapped so hard by a teacher for asking for food at his older siblings' school during a mid-day meal service that he has lost his hearing. Doctors have confirmed that the minor has suffered "at least partial loss of hearing" after the incident which took place in Mansukhpura, Bah, on Wednesday .

The boy, Rajat Singh, had on Wednesday gone to the government school where his three older siblings Rohini Singh, Radha Singh and Rohit Singh study. During the mid-day meal he sought food from teacher Raghuvir Raghuvir, who then slapped the minor as he was "not a part of the school".

"My son has lost his hearing ability in one ear," said Rajat's father Shyamvir Singh, "Rajat is yet to enrol in primary school but he wanted to attend class with his brother and sisters. He was hungry and asked for food, when Raghuvir slapped him hard on the face. The slap caused Rajat's ear to bleed. Later we found out from doctors that he had partially lost his hearing ability."

Rubbishing Shyamvir's claims, the accused teacher, Raghuvir, told TOI: "Shyamvir is not telling the truth. The child was normal till the end of school. The matter was sensationalized after the child reached home."

He has admitted slapping. How it that one can slap anyone and get away with it.
Sujaya He said, "I did slap Rajat for wandering around the school ground alone, where stray dogs could have attacked and hurt him. The blame for that would have fallen on me for being negligent."

​Community Trust signs commitment to improve access to services for deaf community

Deaf Charter 3.3After having their noses put out of joint from being defeated on the withdrawal of hearing aid provision !  

Representatives from Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Partnership NHS Trust have signed up to a Charter pledging to improve access to health services for deaf, hard of hearing and deaf blind communities in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

The signing, which took place during a workshop event for the deaf community, is part of a commitment by the Partnership Trust to personal, fair and diverse services when providing health and social care services and employment. 

The workshop event, organised in partnership with Autism and Sensory Support in Staffordshire (ASSIST), provided an opportunity for the deaf community to learn about how the Trust will work with partners to improve access, experience and outcomes for deaf people in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

The Charter, developed with support from Staffordshire based charity DEAFvibe and derived from the British Deaf Association (BDA) British Sign Language Charter, sets out five pledges and commits to:

1.Ensure access for deaf people to information and services

2.Promote learning and high quality teaching of British Sign Language and lip speaking skills

To AOHL or not to AOHL ?

That is a question ATR often asks itself, having the stance of non support for deaf or HI charities.  Most fail to misunderstand why ATR would not want to support an area that helps deaf and HI people ?  

Basically ATR views charity as a privatisation of support, hence no longer a right but subject to 'market forces' and suffers state interference and neglect of the moral and ethical right to empower its deaf and disabled.

To be fair ATR has to at least observe the workings of charities to get perspective, so with this in mind ATR attended an AOHL open day of information  in Cardiff, Wales.

One felt like a fish out of water initially, there being on the face of it few if any deaf  people in attendance, although a  fair amount of those with hearing aids, and useful hearing.  You are left in little doubt who the charity supports... and who supports them.  Lots of leaflets to be handed out.  The nitty gritty came when there was an informative lecture by 3 areas of the Welsh AOHL.  The CEO giving an overview of the day, an audiologist, and two BSL users who are part of hear to help.

Problems instantly emerged, because the audience primary support to follow was the loop, despite an palantype screen there providing text access.  The loop failed to work despite frantic adjustments by the Hotel staff, leaving most with hearing aids unable to utilise the T option on their aids...  Thus unable to follow the information given out.  The AOHL CEO was angry and lodged a complaint at the Hotel hosting the day.  ATR suggests  they look into own technical supply areas and make for alternatives of the loop, which he admitted had failed numerous times for AOHL open days, so should have allowed for that.

The Audiologist did a passable job of explaining how the ear works, not so much on why research has failed to find a real alternative, despite suggesting interesting times are ahead re the cure.  I did talk to him afterwards asking why e.g. hasn't research really progressed on cochlear hair regenerations, since, we were promised in 1997 a cure for that was due in 5 years (2002), and didn't happen despite rats being 'cured', and why weren't human trials then commenced ?  Apparently research as moved to stem cells but they are unpredictable at present and needed to be specifically targeted to the ear, not allowed to run free in the human body system with unknown results.  (I dunno a new head of hair would be fine with me...!)

Hence human trials haven't even started yet, and given at least 10 years trial and error (!) has to take place first, we still have some time to wait on that area a leading cause of most deafness.   In asking the question after the lecture, a number of problems emerged, again me being deaf forced, to rely on lip reading in what was apparently a very noisy room. 

This suggested the way AOHL ran their open and information days were neither effective or accessible if you had a hearing loss that was severe, profound or, you relied on a hearing aid, as there was no loop and no interpreters in the information area !  This was a glaring faux pas for a charity set up to provide access and support for our sectors.  In retrospect a pity, because although struggling to get direct info from the relevant areas there, there appeared to be quite a lot of very useful info and help there, but if it isn't reaching those that need to use it, it will fail...

I've no doubt they will still use their media to suggest it was a glaring success... it costs them enough to pay these spin merchants !

By far, the 4 or 5 deaf signers out of a 100 others with loss had the worst end of it because apart from the information lecture no terps were present leaving deaf to lip-read or not..  Next to ATR was an elderly gentleman with apparently no hearing of real use and wearing 2 hearing aids, it was left to ATR and another gentleman who used BSL to assist him to follow what was going on as the loop had failed.  

As a person with deafness I felt the approach of the AOHL was less than good enough given their core support was not enabled, nor, supported when the loop failed.  Whilst it was no fault of AOHL the Hotel loop did not work, they should have ensured back up in the eventuality and sought out those having difficulties and moved in to help, it is their CORE purpose.  ATR refers back-to setting up real time alternatives for visitors to follow or,their information won't travel, simples. The plethora of hearing there also belied AOHL's status.  I would have liked to see more effort put into enabling people who attend AOHL meetings/information days, they are ensured the ability to follow, its basics really isn't it ?

The BSL area of the AOHL which supported deaf people with all sorts of issues from autism to Diabetes, didn't really inspire a parent of a deaf man there who stated it was impossible to get his son  on an AOHL program.  He was quite angry about it and asked who are they supporting ?  It was explained the AOHL support area was dependent on local authorities paying AOHL to support and they were cutting everything.  So AOHL may be a support provision but it is private and funded elsewhere. The deaf son stood up using BSL explaining the DWP and job centre on noting he was deaf stopped communicating to him despite the fact he had attained skills to do jobs he had applied for, but had encouraged the taking on, of an inexperienced hearing person to do the job he had applied for.

AOHL appeared to not want into these issues and the CEO stepped up mid debate to defuse the question.  Said it was about employemnt/DWP out of AOHL's hands, but AOHL was setting up some cooperation in Wales with the DWP, it was pointed out ATR had already attended Cardiff DWP/PIP open days and no deaf person or AOHL had put in an attendance but ATR itself who offfered an overview  HERE.  AOHL is simply touting for funds to support issues the state is duty bound to provide anyway. 

AOHL also stated it was representing deaf and HI everywhere in Wales, which had 500,000+ with hearing loss, but there was no mandate given to them, and no grass roots are at the Assembly with them.  No welsh charity has anywhere near 5,000 suporting them, let alone 500,000.

For the day ATR felt it was a real failure by AOHL to address basic communication access requirements for visitors and grass roots attending.  Having no support to ask questions rather defeated AOHL's point.  Lots of glossy bumbf but very little help to interact with staff who had different specialisations at each point, indeed ATR's query re online tuition and support was very difficult to get over and eventually I was given an e-mail to put the query forward myself, instead of getting an answer there and then.

News: AOHL the online table/information person had no idea what was.  I pointed out in fact AOHL put up charity blogs there !  It seems there is PR approach and a technical approach, and I got the PR version who was unable to answer the query and had no support for the person asking the question..  I was left with the view whatever the answer was, it was going to cost me money.  I'd be very interested to get response from HoH there with hearing aids and how they felt their access was,perhaps they are more easily pleased to be sidelined than deaf people are ?