Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Scots drive for Autonomy post Brexit ?

Scotland have suggested they have own dedicated deaf TV program.  It is an interesting concept, no doubt driven by a Scottish resurgence in deaf campaigning.  Although ATR itself has also suggested such a system for Wales, and Ireland already has own program.  Such a version in Wales lacks any real support at all, localised TV in Wales of any description is being dumped for mass 'national' output, and Wales no longer has a signing or HI lobby of any kind, unless you count charities, and we don't, because they won't lobby for us on a rights basis.

It's SEE HEAR or bust for us ! (We went for bust, because its just a self-indulgent platform for BSL luvvies in London).  It would have gone years ago, but some misguided sector demanded the inclusion was a right, even if it had no audience ! ATR asked the BBC via an FOI, what the audience figures were for SEE HEAR and the reply was "This program is part of the BBC's inclusive legal obligation,  viewing figures are irrelevant..."  I said 'Where is the 'Disability' program then ?' no reply.

It isn't clear what such a Scot-centric deaf program would be like. So far it is a suggestion without a design or format, but looks exclusive BSL-based..   It's an interesting concept, but what will that content/format be ? SEE HEAR lost its way, and its audiences,  trying to be BSL centric and was forced to be more inclusive of other deaf after numerous complaints about its deaf club quizzes etc. 

The main complaint was as usual about the reluctance to include deaf or the HoH who did not sign and not part of culture, who after all were the majority, it was mooted the BBC remit made it clear they should be all inclusive as a 'protected' program, and SEE HEAR had been abusing that.  BSL areas disagreed, it was a cultural requirement, with a specific language access need.  

HI disagreed again, citing the furore BY deaf people against SEE HEAR removing captioning, which appeared to suggest sign wasn't the primary access deaf were using. SEE HEAR in mitigation said 'HoH don't want to know us, and not interested in our output..'  Precisely ! But they still didn't include.

Are Scots also bound by that same equality remit ? More so from what we read of the Scottish BSL campaigns. Unfortunately as SEE HEAR tried to include others, (Mostly via the realisation the viewing figures were really dire),  the BSL sector stopped watching, uninterested in output about non-signers or non-cultural issues.  The BBC saw this, knowing the couldn't drop the program, they instead started shunting the program away from prime time TV to the midnight hour and dead zone viewing.

It is a risk strategy to include  all areas of hearing loss, charities could flood it, or even campaigners who feel BSL isn't an inclusive area, and could mount campaigns on it, (Deaf V deaf ?). which could create conflict on screen.  So they settled for obscurity and jobs for the boys instead.

By far the biggest complaint at SEE HEAR was its own patronising of deaf people, constantly doing items about how deaf people could do quite normal things like hearing people.   We complained what difference did being deaf make ? Signing doesn't mean you cannot ride a bicycle or run a marathon, nor does wearing a CI or hearing aid, it just was embarrassing. 

Attempts to link SEE HEAR to online for immediate responses, was opposed on 'technical' grounds, a huge opt out, as such issues presented no problems to hearing input... basically, it was because presenters risked negative feedback as did the program, and live too.  It's text forum was full of criticism and SH was forced to take it down.  SEE HEAR lacked the presenters and informed moderation, capable of adjudicating such a suggestion.

I applaud the Scots BSL sector on their progress, but I don't see any desire for HI inclusion or cooperation on such a program, without a real desire to include.  Why stop at a BSL program ? how about autonomy from 'UK charities' to hand over to the Scots their localised areas ? AOHL/BDA Scotland etc, Wales already asked for an Autonomous AOHL/BDA Cymru free from London control.   They were refused outright, despite Wales voting to Brexit.

The Brexit decision, must appeal to the Scots to go it alone.... I think I'd be struggling to find deaf issues to cover frankly. Sign will always be a very minority form of deaf access, most prefer text now, and captioned TV output has zeroed minority viewing.  Can it compete with online ?

The root of all issues is the conflict of bias and awareness. Although a Deaf and HI remit is a norm, and a legal requirement,  two very distinct areas exist, and they cannot resolve it, so loudest 'voice' wins..

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