Saturday, 1 September 2018

Open letter to Jim Fitzpatric MP.

Image result for Jim fitzpatrick MPTo Jim Fitzpatric MP re Deaf Education.

I have read about your desire to introduce debate regarding deaf children's education (As a deaf adult myself), and would like to offer a few questions regarding what is the thrust of this debate (The aim?), bearing in mind regional approaches to deaf education aren't a 'UK' norm.

For example, Wales has own assembly and own approaches to education, and NO deaf schools.  When we read about 'debates in Westminster' it is never made clear that certain issues,  and responses to them, do not relate to other areas.  Most deaf areas/charities publicise online, and this is never made clear.  Hence it can be assumed it relates to all.

As regards to issues of deaf children's education, primarily that issue revolves around inadequate support for the deaf child to be included alongside hearing peers.  Consensus by parents and the state aim is inclusion, and not specialist schooling except for the more seriously impaired deaf, there are other issues of oral V signed support in education too, including recent lobbies for a BSL GCSE which cannot be made viable..

What we read is not parental views mostly, but BSL lobbies.  If we stand back and look at what is required/needed (Not preferred, as a preference is not a defined need in a child), what we see via poor support is insufficient trained staff to do that, combined with a reluctance to pay for it.  At adulthood in some areas e.g. 1 translator for a 100 deaf, the reality often ignored is most deaf do not rely on sign language anyway.

I would urge you to address the issues of culture versus education which is very strong.  Whilst most educationalists and parents would be primarily concerned with communication, deaf lobbies are concerned primarily with the assumed cultural aspect instead.  It would appear their primary aim is an eventual Stand-alone BSL  immersive approach.

Currently, and regarding adult support, interpreting is losing ground because of fees for services being challenged by the state/DWP and the nature of Deaf support which is free-lance and not organised or subject to accreditation and monitoring of approaches except by own hearing bodies, who are resisting a national set-up and 'normalisation' of Deaf support, a free-for-all in essence..    

You could also bear in mind the majority with deafness and hearing loss who are not sign users, have no national/regional support at all.  Bear in mind 'Deaf' lobbies are not including these children either, there is a potential issue of 'tiered' support and localised approaches that can create issues between deaf children and others.  It could well mean deaf 'have and have-nots' in education.  An inequality of real support, a type of support that is one size fits all, and applied via a postcode approach.

With the Deaf and the Member of Parliament lobbying for support, the basic reality OF that support is not being recognised. It becomes a job with no viable wage.  There are no drives to ensure qualified training and support for the deaf is any priority.  Staffing BSL demands in education currently aren't possible at this time. 

The BSL approach needs to be addressed in regards to future adult outcomes.  We are all aware of the very poor deaf child support but need to bear in mind, that the drive to right that inequality, does not drive the deaf child and future adult further away from the inclusion processes and it is able to function in a world that is primarily, hearing and non-signing, not deaf.

I feel this sober and factual realisation/message is being buried under a groundswell of cultural demand, and urge the Member of Parliament to approach such a debate with this in mind.  As we all rightly accept the child must come first, and the parental wishes, and that education is that pathway to a future of inclusion, acceptance, and communication approaches, really need to be taught with that in mind.

Yours Sincerely, in anticipation of a reply.

ATR

Friday, 31 August 2018

Hearing Loss Stats...

Dance On!


Audrey Tyrrell, who was fitted with her first hearing aid when she was just six weeks old
A six-year-old deaf girl became an award-winning ballroom dancer after learning her skills from Strictly Come Dancing. Audrey Tyrrell, who was fitted with her first hearing aid when she was just six weeks old, took up dance lessons as a toddler but struggled to hear the teacher. 


Instead, the tenacious youngster from Dovercourt in Essex turned to the hit BBC show to perfect her technique. Audrey, who has loved Strictly since she was four, was diagnosed with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) when she was a baby. 

The condition makes it difficult to hear someone talking nearby if there is background noise. Some sufferers may be sensitive to loud sounds. But Audrey hasn't let her hearing loss hold her back.  She used her lip-reading skills to understand what Strictly judges told contestants before studiously noting down their comments to improve her own dancing. 

Her mother Tracey, 39, said: 'Strictly Come Dancing is definitely where her love for dancing has come from. She watches it as though she is going to be on there.' Tracey, who is also a big fan of the show, said Audrey was so inspired by watching the celebrities compete that she asked her father to dance with her at home.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Leading HoH/Deaf charity distorts access campaigns.


Member Comment:

This article is solely about signing Deaf people. It has been written entirely from the assumption that all deaf people need sign language.  This is not actually what people are asking for and there is no point in giving them things they do not need. That's the worst kind of patronising charity.

The true fact is that for many years now there has been a drift away from sign language outside the deaf community. It still remains the lingua franca of the Deaf world and that isn't a problem. It's only when over-enthusiastic people start getting carried away that there are problems and these are reflected on the rest of us. We have to endure seeing earnest discussions for providing a tiny minority with what they demand while ignoring the vast majority for whom these provisions are of no help at all.

What the ordinary deaf person needs is not just access to a BSL terp but a large number would benefit from lipspeakers, notetakers, STTR, loop/infra/radio systems and other things of that nature. The number of signing Deaf in this country and in Wales is absolutely tiny. It is dwarfed out of sight by the much larger number of profoundly deaf oral people.

It would be nice if the principal deaf organisation purporting to represent us could get their facts right?

ATR Comment:

The relentlessly 'piggy-back campaigns HoH charities promote that actually do NOT promote HoH access but something else entirely is distorting access rights for most of us.  

Thinly-veiled suggestions they are a 'Deaf' and a 'HoH' group with a remit to match to cover up lack of any fairness or real awareness is patronising.  AOHL has lost out to cultural campaigns and is tagging on to them to stay in the public view, by suggesting everyone needs sign and little else.  They don't justify to HoH how it helps them in any way. Their own acknowledged member base is HoH and non-signing.

Basically this a corporate charity staffed by hearing people, with a business arm selling services and equipment to us all, and jumps on any bandwagon to get a profile.  In reality, HoH have been deserted by this charity and the Deaf left years ago. They are alleged to have signed up to a non-oppositional stance, and to not criticise discriminatory decisions by ministers, who have deprived 300,000 HoH welfare support, and held responsible for 110,000 UK deaths.

Parents with Hearing Impairment.

Parents with hearing impairment from Raising Children Network on Vimeo.

Maybe CODA's are bilingual, the parents aren't.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

ENT Open day...


Michelle Johnson, a highly specialised audiologist at FGH is organising the open day
Do the profound deaf USE audiology services? You would think they at least know the hearing loss difference.


Michelle Johnson, 37, a highly specialised audiologist at Furness General Hospital, said: “We want people to know these sort of services are available and they provide vital support. The services we have coming on the day are massively essential to people with hearing difficulties or deafness.” The event will be held at the Cumbria Deaf Association in Duke Street, Barrow on September 20 from 3pm and is open to deaf or hard of hearing families as well as professionals involved with them 

BSL GCSE and the DoE...

Image result for GCSEs
Dear ATR


Thank you for writing to the Department for Education.

The government recognises the cultural significance of British Sign Language (BSL) as the first or preferred language of an estimated 70,000 people in the UK.

The Government is open to considering a proposal for a BSL GCSE and would welcome a proposal for consideration at the earliest opportunity. If the proposal meets the expectations for GCSEs and a BSL GCSE is ready to be introduced in this parliament, the government will then consider whether to make an exception to its general rule that there should be no new GCSEs in this parliament.  

Introducing a BSL GCSE is different from making it a national curriculum subject. The national curriculum, introduced in maintained schools from 2014, was designed to reflect properly the body of essential knowledge in key subjects, while leaving teachers scope to use their professional judgement to design curricula and offer additional subjects that meet the needs of their pupils - which may include BSL.

In addition to meeting the statutory duties to teach the national curriculum, maintained schools are free to teach any other subject or topic they deem relevant for their pupils, as part of the school’s wider curriculum.

As part of our commitment to improving the service we provide to our customers, we are interested in hearing your views and would welcome your comments via our website at: 

http://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/8IW1A/

Yours sincerely

Margaret Akintayo.

ATR:

BSL WON'T be a core subject of GCSE's.  Any such inclusion would have to be an exception but still have to conform to current curriculum/teaching norms.  The DoE 'May' consider is pretty vague a response, and isn't an acceptance of a BSL course at this time.  Whilst the DoE is recognising preferred communications for some deaf it still has to take into account the majority who don't, thus to avoid 'tiered' educational approaches, bias, and lowering of current standards..  It is in effect just saying OK, some deaf use BSL.  

'Immersion BSL' in education, which ATR asked the minister about was left unanswered.  Current systems (Official), say there is no leaning towards any single primary communication approach in deaf child education.  This follows the 'Each according to need' policy.  (It has to be flexible to meet all deaf and HoH children's needs).

English literacy will still be a primary requirement. 

ATR has pointed out on many occasions (As have the relative deaf charities and BSL lobbies), that there is inadequate support or trained staff to make such a class effective at this time, at best the classes would be randomly sited, not a UK norm,.  There is insufficient back up in classrooms in the mainstream at present, also no agreed BSL norm approach settled on as yet to use as a basis of teaching.  There are still issues of regional sign usage and acceptances, any set class on BSL would require the Deaf to accept a norm that can be used nation-wide.

It would at best, reflect current random BSL approaches in LEA and other class tuitions for hearing, (there are no sign classes for the Deaf). Each current hearing class appears to have own norm, often using different approaches to the college run coursework (which is primarily not BSL but cultural/history approaches).  Most cultural references are also not in a visual form but in hefty tome's printed in academic-speak.  There are still primary issues of there being no valid sign for many terms.  

Many were tried out (Some claim invented to fill space by un-academic deaf), in the original 1992 dictionary of BSL which was later panned by the deaf themselves  Other references are on a medical/clinical overview of deafness and loss, which deaf reject as material.

The minister could not be drawn on questions ATR asked regarding the GCSE suggestion, e.g. if culture would be included as part of an BSL advanced tuition.  Teachers of the BSL have no organised cultural academic approach to use at present.  Not everyone is happy with the dictionaries/programs of BSL either which are not allowing for a norm to be established or are being developed by proper academics and accredited.  The Deaf appear to be accrediting themselves via own rules, but hearing coursework going own way.

The minister would not be drawn to answering the most vital questions, although an e-point was listed to respond to, it failed to respond to ATR.  The overall 'image' is that the appropriate words have been used to placate the BSL lobbies but on an official level suggests that lobby would have to alter BSL approaches to conform to the national curriculum norm, which the Deaf were unwilling to do.   Also, any decision deferred ad infinitum, at a very minimum not until a new government (2012), has been elected, as changes to GCSE's are not allowed in this parliament.

Deaf want BSL taught with culture in tandem.  The Minister has said she would prefer that the class (After meeting curriculum rules), concentrates on communication and bilingual qualifications.  The Deaf won't be allowed to dictate own approaches in UK schools.  Looks like only a free-for-all would exist at best and only in areas of high deaf concentration.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

To CI or not CI who answers that question?

Image result for Cochlear Implants
Responses to a parent of a deaf child worried cultural deaf are telling her her deaf child will suffer with a CI and won't have any friends when it grows up if it can't sign..



#1 I think emotions need to be taken out of the decision, you have to balance the CI op with the reality of profound deafness for life and all that entails. Whilst much is made of cultural approaches it hasn't enabled their education or job advantages, its created a group of people convinced mainstream is out to disadvantage them. It's easy to blame discriminations, but giving a child every chance would be what influenced my decision, not a deaf community or even a language as such given its incompatibility with the mainstream.

#2 While it is remotely possible all these signing deaf will attain deaf nirvana and each have own translators etc it is not going to occur in our lifetime or our grandchildren so have to address the now. CI's Don't make you hearing but they are an answer when aids don't cut it. Is the state going to provide? or the deaf community? neither are doing much at present. And who decides? the parent, the Dr or the Deaf community? 

#3 The decision is critical time-wise, once children rely on sign they will have difficulty using anything else. The communication is set and alternatives or even assists will get ignored, many suggest deaf education needs a real change of direction, and to address immersive sign approaches. I think day 1 is when the decision must be made. My own preference is that decision gets made by the parent no-one else, they are our children. 

#4 Children with CI's even adults can still sign if they want to,  they are still deaf, the argument is more 'political' than anything else, parents must look quite rightly to future outcomes and have to balance them up. Do you really believe a deaf community can replace a parent or should?

#5  If deaf kids only sign they have no accessible futures, they need alternatives taught at day one and immersion signing stopped.  There are alternatives to sign, multiple assistive devices etc, and each and every one should be a basic part of teaching to a deaf child.   Anyone promoting a total sign approach is depriving a deaf child of a real future with any sort of choice.  Even an interpreter for every one of them is no answer.

#6 (ATR)  From my experience what I was told by deaf educationalists (UK), they don't concentrate on sign use but try any and all means to offer alternatives to give the child the most options they can.  However, a combination of cultural lobbying, and even human rights usage is forcing sign as a primary means of educating the deaf child as a 'cultural right'.  Parents are in a quandary and often don't know what best works with own child, it may be their first ever experience of someone deaf so they bow to professionals.  

Professionals are under assault from the culture too as are medics.  Recent UK campaigns are demanding BSL GCSE' etc.  Essentially sign use is seductive to a deaf person, it takes the stress away from having to oralise or speak or lip-read, a great impetus to stay with sign use, further on when they struggle with it, interpreters act as middlemen/women also taking away impetus to make singular efforts to communicate outside signing areas.    


Parents naturally don't want children stressed or unhappy, but, stress is life you cannot avoid it, and in certain situations drive the individual to find alternatives they would not usually.  Are we really helping that child by restricting it to one way of communicating? A  format everyone else doesn't use?  There are forms of 'blackmail' used in that the deaf have a right to be with own, but is it nature?  or nurture?   Are we just creating a lifetime of dependency?


There is no deaf background whatever with 9 out of 10 deaf families.  In essence, you are priming the child to have difficulty communicating to you and the world outside in the end.  All options should be on the table. forget the 'preference' debates, as, preference is not synonymous with either need or, ability. 60% of deaf never get a job that lasts or EVEN a regular job if they are sign reliant, that is the (UK) reality.  

Do we accept the argument deaf children really have no other option? we shouldn't, as there are oral schools that use little or no sign at all, there are lip-reading approaches, body language tuition etc etc, just because deaf purists hate it, is no reason to deny a child that option.  At the end of the day the child matters.  It is difficult these days to argue these points because of cultural lobbies that are very strong within their community, but parents need to be aware that choice does exist, nothing is written in stone, but we need to to re-write current deaf education and put an end to activist interference in it.  Our kids, not theirs.

A right to Offend.

The HoH Diaries....

Deaf Irish Community attacks poor access to Pope.



Given the Pope is the leader responsible for the world's largest paedophile ring, do we really want to know what he says unless it is a grovelling apology and a list of names and people to hand over to the police? Deaf need to understand it isn't just sign that is missing here, deaf children were raped and attacked too.

Members of the Irish deaf community have accused RTÉ of having “virtually ignored” it, and Irish Sign Language (ISL) interpreters, who were working at the Pope’s visit last weekend. 

A protest by members of the deaf community is due to take place outside RTÉ studios around the country, including at its main Donnybrook studios in Dublin, and at its Cork studios, at 4pm this Thursday, over the controversy, confirmed one of the group's spokespeople, Cormac Leonard. 

A protest may also take place at RTE's Limerick studios, Mr Leonard added. It has also led to the birth of a social media awareness campaign on Twitter, entitled #StopHidingISL.

Monday, 27 August 2018

Gallaudet receives Gun threats.

Misleading BSL Campaigns go into overdrive.


Rhyan Berrigan
People who are deaf or have hearing loss still face barriers in their everyday lives, a charity has said. Action on Hearing Loss said big arts and entertainment venues are providing British Sign Language interpretation, but that smaller venues and cinemas could do more.


The charity is calling for a scheme to recruit more professional interpreters to be brought back. More than half a million people in Wales are deaf or have hearing loss. And here are 7,200 British Sign Language (BSL) users - but fewer than 100 fully qualified practitioners. 

The Welsh Government said it had supported training to increase that number. Deaf access to NHS progress 'too slow' 'More help needed on deaf employment' Councils told to mind language barriers Rhyan Berrigan, a civil servant from Llanbradach, near Caerphilly, has been deaf since birth and uses BSL. 

She enjoys the theatre, gigs and cinemas. "I'd like to say it is getting easier compared with 10 years ago," she said. "But if you have a show with a run of 20 nights for example, only one will have an interpreter, so you don't get much choice. "You've got to go on that one day, or miss it completely." 


ATR COMMENT:

There is so much misleading information in this latest charity news item ATR is forced to respond.  ATR has already published Official Welsh (Health) assembly statistics which was 'supplied' BY the AOHL which quoted totally different numbers.  ATR suggests the AOHL is manufacturing numbers to launch campaigns and quoting areas that are neither deaf or use sign language.  Outright abuse of the Deaf & HoH remit.

Take one example from the above item:

(1) More than half a million people in Wales are deaf or have hearing loss.

NO, there are 1 in 6 with hearing LOSS, only 2,400 approx would be the area assumed (But not identified), to be signing.

(2) There are 7,200 British Sign Language (BSL) users in Wales.

Not.  Only 1,100 were listed as regular BSL using, in the official census of Wales.  Suggesting less than 1 in 7 of all severe/profound deaf.  The defining question of actual usage and reliance wasn't asked.  There is a difference between 'knowing BSL' and actually relying on it, as this would include hearing people.  Need is defined by demand.

(3)  There are less than 30 BSL terps.

Not so. 47 were listed on their sites in Wales, the bigger issue is funding them, they are leaving the support area because of system attempts to set up a proper system of BSL support and a 'normalising' of wages, which the BSL Terp says is rounding DOWN their pay, this they say, makes the work non viable, when you take into account recent government caps on absolute limit to BSL welfare supportIt also undermines the way BSL terps work, i.e. as 'freelance' workers. Need is defined by demand.

What AOHL did not include were any statistics on the 500,000 Welsh with hearing loss and THEIR requirements.   ATR can save them the trouble, there aren't any!  So who is the biggest 'Loser' here?  The BSL reliant deaf? or the rest?  Even the dubious juggling of AOHL statistical gathering, suggests the majority of HoH are losing out, and not the BSL user.

Perhaps the biggest and misleading statement is at the start,  'half a million 'deaf' and Hard of hearing', there aren't half a million deaf/Deaf, we can suggest there are half a million hard of hearing.   In-depth and complete surveys have never taken place on the degree of hearing loss, (Other than at NHS/ENT), Or, communication needs support since health areas are clinical assessment areas, not support defining areas, but primarily because the DP law prevents anyone asking.  

We DO know the amount of Welsh deaf/disabled seeking system support is 13,000 or so, these are statistics held by the relevant and supporting local authorities, and that includes all disabilities seeking system help and is not confined to the deaf.  

Wales has no system-dedicated deaf-support service, it is reliant on charity.  It has no Deaf schools either.

You have to ask the basic question, will training up 100s of BSL terps do anything to assist the majority with hearing loss, the area included in this campaign?  Will it provide bums on seats at Art venues?  It is an AOHL/BSL promotion that has nil to do with the HoH who do not sign, let alone who attend Deaf Arts programs. AOHL has failed even to identify BSL users who would attend IF the access was there.




Sunday, 26 August 2018

Scottish thought police lose the plot...


Coming to a confused focus-group near you. Will you tell them to get a life or shall I? O'D'd' on Haggis again or is it 'Hag-gess'?  (Whatever!). 'Trans-stupid' spring to mind.


Use of pronouns.

If you know someone who wishes to change the pronoun by which they are referred (for example from she to he), try to understand it is very important to them that you respect this, even if you initially find it difficult to consider them that gender.  Deliberately using a different pronoun for the person will be experienced as offensive, judgemental and hurtful.

Most trans people will use the most common pronouns, ‘he’ and ‘she’, to refer to themselves. However, some people may use the gender neutral pronouns ‘they’ and ‘their’ in the singular sense. You may also meet a trans person who uses less common gender neutral pronouns (such as ‘zie’ or ‘hir’) but these are currently mostly used online.  In place of the gendered titles of address (Mr, Miss, Mrs, Ms), you might see the use of a newly created gender-neutral title of Mx.  More commonly people may just opt not to use any title. Once someone has let you know their pronouns and title, it is really important to try and get them right as much as possible, even if they are new or unusual to you.

If you are speaking briefly with someone and you are unsure how the person would wish to be addressed, then it is usually best just to avoid using any gendered terms than to risk insulting them by guessing wrong.

Shit Happens...