Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Having hearing loss in Wales....

We wonder how youtube selects particular images from videos of people with hearing loss that tends to focus on sign language users as the primary image when less than a 1,000 are sign dependent users out of half a million? 

Charities put the actual figure at 300K but having hearing loss and having issues of support and access are not really collated in Wales, neither are the statistics on sign use, we do know no deaf schools exist here.  The program was an informative one about Welsh people with hearing loss and includes oral speaking deaf and cochlear implantees but not the text dependent, or real issues hard of hearing are facing.

(Ben attends ATR's local deaf club, Hi Ben !).

Smart Caption Specs...

Advice Hub to close...

A grant will be made to raise awareness instead (Good luck with that!).  More jobs for the BSL lad's given HoH don't bother...

A visitor centre of a Shropshire-based charity dedicated to helping the deaf and those living with hearing loss will close its doors at the end of the month due to a lack of funds. 

The Hub which is based in the Riverside in Shrewsbury, will shut for good in a couple of weeks time. The Hub was entirely funded by donations which have not been sufficient to keep it open. Those clients who currently use the service will be told of other providers who can give support and advice and provide equipment maintenance. 

The Hub provided help and support and offered a range of services including hearing aid repairs, befriending and outreach work, deaf awareness training and British sign language classes. The Shropshire NHS Audiology team also visited three times a week to provide appointments to those concerned about their hearing. 

Better hearing is better than sign dependancy?

Image result for better hearingFacts appear to prove the point.  Jane R. Madell, a pediatric audiology consultant and speech-language pathologist in Brooklyn, wants every parent with a child born hearing-impaired to know that it is now possible for nearly all children with a severe hearing loss to learn to listen and speak as if their hearing were completely normal.

“Children identified with hearing loss at birth and fitted with technology in the first weeks of life blend in so well with everyone else that people don’t realize there are so many deaf children,” she told me.

With the appropriate hearing device and auditory training for children and their caregivers during the preschool years, even those born deaf “will have the ability to learn with their peers when they start school,” Madell said. “Eighty-five per cent of such children are successfully mainstreamed. Parents need to know that listening and spoken language is a possibility for their children.” Determined to get this message out to all who learn their children lack normal hearing, Madell and Irene Taylor Brodsky produced a documentary, “The Listening Project,” to demonstrate the enormous help available through modern hearing assists and auditory training.

Among the “stars” in the film, all of whom grew up deaf or severely hearing-impaired, are Dr. Elizabeth Bonagura, an obstetrician-gynecologist and surgeon; Jake Spinowitz, a musician; Joanna Lippert, a medical social worker; and Amy Pollick, a psychologist. All started out with hearing aids that helped them learn to speak and understand spoken language.  But now all have cochlear implants that, as Lippert put it, “really revolutionized my world” when, at age 11, she became the first preteenager to get a cochlear implant at New York University Medical Center.

“Suddenly when I was playing soccer, I could hear what my teammates were saying,” Lippert, now 33, recalled. “My mother practically cried when I heard a cricket chirping in the house. I couldn’t talk on the phone before. Now in my job at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Manhattan, I’m on the phone all day long. The implant has been a wonderful gift.”

Pollick, 43 and deaf since birth, lives in Washington with her husband and two young children, all with normal hearing. Her deaf parents determined that she learn to speak, got her a hearing aid at 6 months along with years of auditory therapy. A graduate of New York’s prestigious Stuyvesant High School and Wesleyan University, Pollick was in graduate school researching primate vocalizations when she got a cochlear implant.

She told me, “The earlier you get the implant, the more successful it is because the more auditory input the brain gets at an early age, the better the auditory skills you will develop.”

Still, many deaf people resist the current technology and insist that children with a profound hearing loss should learn only sign language. They reject the idea that deafness needs to be corrected. But, as Madell points out, only 0.1 per cent of the population knows sign language, and 95 per cent of deaf children are born to hearing parents, who then have to spend a long time learning to sign, during a period when children are normally learning to speak.

AI: How machines help us all?

The only issue we can see is that AI will be programmed by the unintelligent.   Personally what deaf person wants to spend time talking to a box of electronics? especially a USA one that has rather dubious knowledge of basic English... or the obscurity of signed 'English' grammar.  Let's not even start regarding regional/national differences...  The best use of technology would be to overcome hearing loss altogether.

Artificial intelligence often leads to speculation about how machines may displace workers. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella thinks we should talk more about how AI algorithms can expand the workforce now—by helping people with disabilities. 

“There are a billion people in the world who don’t fully participate in our economies or societies,” Nadella said, at the WIRED25 Summit in San Francisco. “Technology can allow them to fully participate.” Nadella, a WIRED25 Icon, nominated Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Microsoft’s chief accessibility officer, as someone who will shape the next 25 years of technology. 

Lay-Flurrie was born hearing-impaired, and is now profoundly deaf. She described a Microsoft research project that created a plugin for PowerPoint that can automatically add closed captions during a presentation, by transcribing a speaker’s words. People in the audience can choose to see those captions in their language of choice, thanks to Microsoft’s automated translation technology. “Artificial intelligence is going to just open up so many doors to us all,” said Lay-Flurrie. 

She was accompanied by a sign language translator who helps her understand what people around her are saying, so that Lay-Flurrie can respond with her own voice. She said automatic captioning is one example of how AI technology could help more people into the workforce. Another is software that can translate sign language to help hearing and non-hearing people communicate more naturally, she said. The unemployment rate of people with disabilities is roughly twice that for the rest of the population, Lay-Flurrie said.