Friday, 17 August 2018

My communication, my choice?

Laudable but its horses for courses, intent on using a medium that needs 24/7 support to work outside own areas and conditions, suggests you need to learn alternatives as well, because most hearing won't sign to you, do not know it, so you are talking to yourself persisting that way, deaf need to understand too, meeting people halfway is essential or we leave, then we don't go back.   It's always others must conform to the signer, never the other way around or even trying.

Only when deaf accept they need to be truly bilingual and not distort the concept to mean all deaf sign instead, will they actually move away from the isolation and the non-access situation they are in, and yes those brought up in hearing/oral areas can usually communicate better because mostly they can cross that divide.  A situation that surely suggests the 'Deaf way' is the wrong way to equality, and mainstream is the way they should all be going.

I think the concept of 'born-again' 'Deaf' is a danger to harmony, and these people are the most prominent activists, messing up inclusion, and promising deaf what they can never deliver.  It's about control not liberating people. We soon found the old setups and 'signing community' are just enclaves where some deaf can actively avoid real interactions with us and near everyone else used to wider choices and option. 

I spend just 1 day a month within the deaf community because I don't need the restrictions it presents, it's an artificial environment. There are no other deaf around, and because a hearing background has literally forced me to find alternatives to the 'Deaf' way, I don't need it. It is the vulnerability and lack of social contacts that drive people towards these things, but we should be widening those options, not driving deaf to more isolatory ways of dealing with it, a prison doesn't change because you put up curtains to cover the cell barred windows.

Living in a Deaf bubble is avoiding the realities of the situation. I have deaf friends and hearing ones no big deal. I speak.  I never sought out 'like with like' options because late deafened don't have many peers or any systems to do that. I did find some deaf areas inflexible, mostly the predominant signing ones, but  HoH areas also presented some issues because they had the hearing advantage, even over us who were once hearing ourselves, their issue too is refusing to accept realities. They don't do anything until it is too late, these never integrate with deaf systems, and the systems don't cater for them anyway.  

I assume Deaf issues occur because being born that way, and having poor support and education systems they were left with no other options.  I didn't understand why deaf didn't then go on to further education and learn more communication options to help where all deaf together failed them by suggesting they don't need anything else.  They reached adulthood came to a full stop or left on a plateau where nothing ever changes much, because whatever systems and support they had before now no longer exist, they had to find own way, and were not equipped for it, deaf education was a complete misnomer in terms and a waste of time.  They were primed to lose and couldn't compete.

It is an issue, some deaf areas decided, that lauding inflexibility as a right has driven them further away from integration and inclusion, but I find this sad attitude exists primarily online and not much at grass root level where most including the born deaf, have moved onwards. Any 'Deaf' areas that demanded I must sign or would ignore me, I would leave, I'd never go back to it.  Who needs it.

I sign, I speak, I spend social time where I want, maybe these 'Deaf' activists need to undergo what we do, i.e. finding no-one to support you and no-one to include you, having to ignore the biased classwork, no dedicated social area, thus forcing the entire onus on yourself to find the way, most would then find the alternatives they need, or go under, its a great impetus although I wouldn't recommend it as the only way!   

I don't have issues with the sign, I have issues in some signer's inflexibility which is unnecessary and negative to others. We all know what follows pride.......

They asked young people deaf in the UK see what they said, and, hardly any signed either. 

Thursday, 16 August 2018

UK, guilty of disabled genocide [118,000] dead.

DWP confesses to contributing to premature deaths of disabled but vow to kill more.  

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has been forced to release updated Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) mortality statistics, in response to a Freedom of Information request from disability campaigner Gail Ward. 

The shocking statistics reveal that 111,450 ESA claims were closed following the death of claimants between March 2014 to February 2017. However, the DWP stress that “no causal effect between the benefit and the number of people who died should be assumed from these figures”. This is because the Department “does not hold information on the reason for death”, meaning they cannot be directly linked to any benefit problems faced by those claimants or whether some of these people had died after wrongly being found “fit for work”. 

The DWP has since been urged to update these statistics to include individuals who flowed off ESA after being found “fit for work” and who died soon after this time. The data also shows that more than 8,000 Incapacity Benefit and Severe Disability Allowance claimants died over the same period. 

Gail Ward told Welfare Weekly: “The fact the DWP know that disabled people are dying in such large numbers and refuse to adjust policy to reduce the stress on claimants and make sure the right outcome is 100% all the time, and with Universal Credit coming with such strict criteria, doesn’t bode well for the future for the disabled community”.

See and Hear (UK 2018).

The Village...

Brandy Watene-Paul in a still from The Village by Little Feat Films.
Members of the Auckland Deaf community have collaborated with local filmmakers to tell a story about Deaf culture in the Whau. A story of language alienation and friendship, The Village, follows Brandy, a young woman arriving at a Deaf school and experiencing the culture shock of full immersion into a sign language environment. 

 The film is a fictionalised account based on the experiences of the many hearing impaired youth who grow up in verbal environments, who only later discover sign language. It reflects the challenges and daily experiences of being Deaf and speaks to the participants’ desire that more people become fluent in New Zealand Sign Language. 

Brandy Watene-Paul, who plays the lead character of the same name, says she felt nervous at the start of filming and was worried about a breakdown in communication. But over time she felt herself become more confident. “I feel good about it and proud to share it, to show that we are equal and not separated from the world," she says.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Why is there a shortage of Sign interpreters?

Maybe the answer is much more simple, deaf aren't signing so much anymore?  The only thing that promotes more professionals is more DEMAND  for their services, 63% of all deaf still do not use interpreters, some never have, because they rely on hearing family or relations to do it.  Attempts to tell the deaf if they want more help they need to create a demand for it hasn't got far, most are lazy frankly, they just find it easier to let the hearing family take the strain of it all.

E.G. A young man in South Wales complained about lack of interpreter support to health and education he was 18 yrs old, when asked how often he needed one, he said 'I've never had to ask for one before, because my Dad/Mam helped me with calls appointments and all that, now they can't and I'm unable to follow. I don't know how to use an interpreter..'  The irony, is the main article pertaining to this issue was written by the BDA (UK), who opposed restrictions on family support to increase demand, thus, creating the issue themselves.  

We have to question 95,000 alleged BSL users and less than 15% using a terp anyway, to ask how, or what ARE they 'listening' with? With only 1 BSL terp alleged for up to 300 UK deaf, this suggests demand for BSL is pretty low anyway, directly challenging 95% of all BSL campaign statistics.  It certainly does not back up online BSL campaigns for more sign or more interpreter support.  With health/education areas relying on and encouraging deaf to use family to avoid support costs and the BDA doing nil about it because unprofessional family help is a right, what's the point or the answer?

Basically, family doing a  professional job without professional qualifications either, let the deaf down, leave them dependent and vulnerable, at risk, so do their charities, and as regards to individual rights, independence and own decision-making, forget it, you abandoned that when Dad/Mum/children/friends took over, they make the decisions now...... when they can't do it, what then? social workers? (the area deaf disposed of 18 years ago because they oppressed the deaf, and no dedicated deaf SW now exist).

The BDA answer? that old chestnut 'all deaf together' again DOH!  They just admitted Deaf don't want that, the clubs have near all closed.  We'd like to think the Deaf have moved out of that straightjacket but...

The Article:

Robert G. Lee is a Senior Lecturer in BSL & Deaf Studies at the University of Central Lancashire. He has noticed the dearth of interpreters:

“There are not enough interpreters and sign language teachers to meet the needs of the community, especially in rural areas there might be very few interpreters or teachers. London, Manchester and other big cities have a higher percentage of Deaf people partly because there are more services but there still aren’t enough interpreters in the right place and the right time. In a rural area there might be a more limited range of interpreters not all qualified to interpret the range of things Deaf people might need, so you might have interpreters good with community work but not legal work so if you needed a solicitor it would be difficult to find the right interpreter.”

Of course, this is true for everyone, cities have always had better public services and more jobs, hence only 6% of British people live in the countryside.

Robert doesn’t think interpreters are badly paid:

“Before I can teach someone to interpret they have to be bilingual and so we need to have a greater number of qualified BSL teachers out there teaching the language. I think interpreting is a fairly well paid job for the level of education required, but not hugely rich.”

Robert pointed out that the decline of Deaf clubs has made it harder for interpreters to learn the full range of BSL. This is because Deaf clubs tend to be attended by Deaf people from all age groups, but since the internet revolutionised social gatherings, Deaf people only tend to hang out with people their own age, limiting the vocabulary that potential interpreters can learn.

A spokesman for SignHealth confirmed that it was very difficult to book interpreters which suggests that there is a shortage.

According to the national union of British Sign Language interpreters (NUBSLI), wages for interpreters have been forced down by government policy. Their committee said:

“We do not believe that the perceived shortage would be the only factor in Deaf people not having access to interpreters, in fact it would be the national framework agreements the current government enforce on public services such as the NHS. These frameworks have forced interpreters’ fees, terms and conditions down to such an extreme that many professionals are unable to accept the work, not that they are not available or prepared to work.”

Logically, the ideal solution would be if the Deaf community all lived together in a few areas. That way they could maximise their political and economic bargaining power. Under first past the post, politicians have little incentive to pay attention to minorities unless they are concentrated in a few constituencies. Maybe that’s utopian and they shouldn’t have to, but those are the cards we are playing with.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

QMU Draft BSL Plan...

Consultation Section 4.6: Health (including social care), mental health and wellbeing We share the long-term goal for health, mental health and well-being set out in the BSL National Plan, which is: “BSL users will have access to the information and services they need to live active, healthy lives, and to make informed choices at every stage of their lives.”

Our Actions By 2023, we will: Take steps to ensure that mental health services (including wellbeing and counselling services) within the QMU are fully accessible to students who use BSL. This is particularly important given the statistic that deaf people are significantly more likely to experience mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. 

We will support this by ensuring: 

• all BSL users have access to all QMU support mechanisms for mental health and wellbeing. 

• all staff are invited to attend Deaf Awareness Training.

• all BSL users are aware of the services available and are directed to them appropriately. Raise awareness of BSL and Deaf culture and the needs of BSL users accessing health and social care. 

We will achieve this by: 

• continuing to develop opportunities for healthcare students to engage with BSL users following a successful pilot involving QMU students working with BSL/English interpreting students from Heriot-Watt University. 

• delivering specialist training for BSL/English interpreters on working with BSL users in health and mental health through the MSc modules on Interpreting in Healthcare Settings and Interpreting in Mental Healthcare Settings. 

• developing and delivering opportunities for all undergraduate and postgraduate students at QMU to undertake study on working with BSL users and the implications for their professional practice • as appropriate, making information available on accommodation and extra-curricular activities such as sports centre and SU events.

Deaf are more Intelligent?

Modesty forbids me to tell you my IQ... but surely the presence of more 'grey matter' does not indicate more intelligence, it depends how it is utilised.  Sure, deaf adapt to the fact a sense isn't there, but it hasn't yet proven that adaptation has improved direct communication to hearing all that much if the support and translation set up is anything to go by.   It ignores those that acquire deafness, their brains too adjust to sensory loss.

Should not increased intelligence also suggest captions help deaf to follow too?  Indian deaf people suffer huge literacy (Currently between 63% and 74%), issues, (hearing), with women being hugely at disadvantage with the lowest access to an education.  It is not clear what the true rate of literacy is with the deaf as they are concentrating on signed (ISL)  literacy not primary Indian languages proficiencies/compatibility or ease of access.

India has 18m deaf. It's part of the wider trend of separating deaf areas from hearing and setting own norms.  This may be viable in India by sheer numbers, maybe not so in western world areas where health and assistance/access/treatment and loss identification, is far more effective.

Broadband access insulting/inaccesible to the deaf..

Broadband customer services have been described as "insulting" and "inaccessible" to deaf customers, with campaigners calling for a change in the way providers look at accessibility. The Equality Act 2010 insists that all organisations have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for users with additional needs, while Ofcom requires all landline, broadband and mobile companies to provide a range of measures to allow disabled customers to access these services.

Deaf TalkTalk customer Andrew Arthur, who is deaf and has experienced first hand the lack of accessible customer services available in the telecoms sector.

Mr Arthur, 70, from Liskeard in Cornwall, started having problems with his phone line, which he uses to make calls via the Next Generation Text service (NGTS), earlier this year when the village phone system was hit by lightning during a bad storm.

After trying to resolve the problem from home, Mr Arthur attempted to get in touch with TalkTalk via its online webchat service. He was able to report the problem but upon receiving no response had to report the fault again a week later.

Two weeks after the problem was initially reported, a TalkTalk representative asked Mr Arthur to make a phone call in order to access the fault-finding service. Mr Arthur alerted them to the fact that he is deaf and asked for an alternative method.

“The best they could come up with was ‘can't you ask someone else to do it for you?’," he told Cable. "I thought this was pretty insulting and typically ignorant. I'm entitled to a reasonable adjustment but they just did nothing. Again, I contacted them and again they insisted that I had to ring them on a mobile before they would fix the line.”

Frustrated with the lack of accessibility and the ordeal that several customer service operatives were putting him through, Mr Arthur took the matter into his own hands and reported it to both the Equality and Human Rights Commission and to a telecoms ombudsman.

He added: “It's absolutely unbelievable that TalkTalk can get away with being so awkward and unhelpful. I thought that is what all these laws were designed to avoid. What I found astonishing was that in the 21st century a company the size of TalkTalk could be so ignorant about disability matters.”

Mr Arthur’s problem was eventually resolved, TalkTalk apologised and fixed the phone line but the overall issue doesn’t end here. There are others going through the same plight with other providers.

For deaf people and those with hearing loss, this means access to a Next Generation Text Relay Service (NGTS), access to emergency SMS and third-party bill management. NGTS is a service for those who are unable to hear or communicate verbally. It uses what is known as a relay assistant to convert speech into text and vice versa.  BT, Three, O2, EE, Vodafone, Sky and Virgin have taken it a step further and include a Video Relay Service (VRS) that connects customers to a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter.

While the providers are obliged to supply additional facilities for deaf and disabled customers, it appears not enough is being done to ensure they are up to date and fit for purpose.  Cable carried out an investigation into whether the current facilities in place are sufficient and what providers can do to improve them. We unearthed dated and hard-to-find accessibility web pages, and spoke to members of the deaf community who made it clear that quite often, some of the services do not work, or when they do, the customer is still asked to communicate verbally over the phone.

As part of the investigation, Cable tested the customer services accessibility pages of each of the top six broadband companies. For us, BT has the worst website for finding the accessibility features. Unlike the other providers, it doesn’t have an Accessibility tab at the footer of the page, nor are there any additional options on the Contact Us landing page. We finally resorted to a Google search of BT BSL and BT Accessibility. Once you find it, the page looks archaic and basic.

Broadband providers' accessibility pages for customer services are frustratingly hard to find on their websites Vodafone, EE, Plusnet and TalkTalk’s pages are very similar, but offer more information than those of BT – and are easier to find. In terms of format, the details given and general navigability, Sky has the best accessibility page. With the exception of Virgin Media and Sky, the accessibility pages of most providers merely present a token effort.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Deaf Health support (Scotland).

Image result for Fife NHS
How poor reporting distorts figures on access.  'many 1,000s of BSL users' (Actually 951, 159 who are children), the quoted stat is for ALL Scotland, not Fife. 

Fife NHS has yet to produce a breakdown of specific areas who used the translation service, or how often, or even if the family did it all.  Hardly possible to determine how many terps there are because most are self employed and unmonitored.  Free-lance BSL translators are opposing a unified approach to deaf access.  It led to huge welfare losses for deaf people in the rest of the UK as they refused to work with the DWP.  In health areas, or 999 the situation is similar, they are resisting an identified pool of deaf support or attempts to unify wages.

Hea2lth chiefs are trialling new electronic interpretation devices as demand continues to rise from an increasingly diverse population.

The service is used by those for whom English is not their first language and people with sensory impairments such as sight and hearing issues. Requests have increased for both community language and British Sign Language interpreters.

The translation team has also seen a significant rise in the number of requests from staff for longer and more complex interpreting sessions where adult and child protection issues are often factors. Director of nursing Helen Wright said the rise in demand had been considerable.

“We have a diverse group of people coming in and using our service,” she said. “Also, the promotion of the service, which is the right thing to do, has had an impact on demand. “It’s used by thousands across NHS Fife.

“It might be a family that comes into a session where English is not their first language, it might be telephone contact, it might be help with choosing a doctor. There’s a whole raft of things.” The service is part of a national action plan to tackle inequality around access to health and social care.

The increase in demand has prompted the health board to start talks with Fife Council to see if a joint service could be delivered more cheaply. It has also changed the criteria for face-to-face interpreting to help manage appointments. “It doesn’t always have to be face-to face,” said Ms Wright. “In some cases technology can be used and we’re looking at that in some GP practices.  “There’s a lot of work going on and that continues.”

As a public sector body, NHS Fife has a duty to comply with the Equality Act (2010) and must demonstrate actions to eliminate discrimination and foster good relations between different groups.

Staff receive equality training and relationships have been formed with local equality groups, including Transgender Fife, Young Carers and the deaf community.

Deaf churches for Deaf people?

Worcestershire Royal Hospital chaplain Reverend David Southall
So, instead of addressing poor access to the main event, they want to create isolated deaf-only churches instead? 

Why is every 'cultural' response to poor access/inclusion just an excuse to segregate the deaf even more?  Deaf suffering the Greta Garbo syndrome need to change their priorities. It would ONLY work in concentrated areas of the deaf population and would not offer access to deaf elsewhere.  'Deaf-Only' areas have to be blocked, they deny access, discourage the disenfranchised to move outward,  and encourage deaf extremism,  creating more martyrs.

This has emerged a situation because the church is no longer able to access deaf clubs, they are closing everywhere.  Church attendances are considerable lower than deaf club attendances are.

The Article (Which was accompanied by a  very patronising remark about 'allowing' some hearing in to translate for them).

“Why doesn’t Worcester have a Deaf Church?” That’s a question that has been buzzing around my mind for a month or two now. But on Wednesday I had the fantastic privilege of meeting with Rev Susan Myatt, who is the first deaf minister in the Baptist Union of Great Britain.

Susan runs some Deaf Churches in Staffordshire and I had the chance to hear from her about the work she is doing. Her stories were inspirational and amazing. But at times it was horrifying to hear of the way that deaf people have been treated in and by the Church. In her churches, the language is British Sign Language. And the leaders of the church are deaf, and the congregation is deaf with a few hearing people (for whom they graciously employ an interpreter).

“But is there a need for a Deaf Church?” you ask. Well, that is like asking if there is a need for a Polish church for a group of Polish-speaking Christians.

[Yep, no need for them either!].

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Woman With Hearing Aids....

Michelle has started work as a cleaner after taking part in the Work and Health Programme
Gets a job after being unemployed for 5 years.

The job?  Cleaning floors part-time!  Worth it?  This is UK government 'policy' of getting people back into paying work?

'It's a start to make a better future for myself' - deaf woman supported into work after five years unemployed. Michelle has started a part-time role as a cleaner after taking part in the Work and Health Programme through Jobcentre Plus

Michelle is deaf and wears hearing aids in both ears, which affected her confidence and self-belief.  Her work coach Natalie suggested the Work and Health Programme run by Standguide and Michelle started attending weekly and gained the support of an employability advisor and a health advisor.

After Natalie discussed a part-time cleaning vacancy with Michelle, Standguide helped with the application process and also arranged a work trial. Although at first nervous, Michelle attended the trial and the employer was so impressed they offered an immediate job to start.