Saturday, 1 December 2018

Deaf Culture/Politic

MS Translator Versus Streamer

Deaf Children not reading enough.

[ATR is unsure if the App is helping to read, as it scans text and then the child reads the signs, how does it encourage the child to READ the text?).  Also is the app using BSL and NOT the English grammar the books are written in?

Deaf Children Shouldn't Miss Out On The Wonder Of Books – With This App (The StorySign app is available in Android stores on 3 December. ). They Won't How can we keep all kids reading, especially at Christmas? By Amy Packham There’s something magical about the moment you tuck your child into bed, ask them to choose a book and enter the world of storytime together. 

It’s a bonding experience like no other – and one that plenty of families take for granted. Deaf children often miss out on this bedtime ritual altogether. And because of that lack of early reading, 70 per cent of deaf children arrive at school already behind on their development, according to the British Deaf Association. 

The BDA estimates that 48 per cent of deaf children who speak and 82 per cent who use sign language are reading below their age level. At Christmas, a time where there are so many magical stories, this couldn’t be more poignant.  Deaf children struggle to read because they find it difficult to match words with sounds or signs. 

On top of this, they may also find it hard to concentrate on reading for long periods if they don’t understand, miss out on conversations contextualising words, or lack the support they need to learn sign language, says Jessica Reeves, campaigns manager at National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS). In 2017, City University of London released research that found the British education system is neglecting the needs of severely and profoundly deaf children – over half of the deaf children in the study who communicated using spoken language and four-fifths of those who signed had reading difficulties at least as severe as those faced by hearing children with dyslexia. 

With 90 per cent of deaf children born to hearing parents, early intervention is crucial for families during the critical period of language acquisition, according to Aine Jackson from the BDA. Deafness is not itself a learning disability, and there is no reason why deaf children should not develop at the same pace.” What is being done at the moment to help them? “In short, not enough,” says Jackson. “78 per cent of deaf children attend mainstream schools with no specialist provision in place. Deafness is not itself a learning disability, and so there is no reason why deaf children should not develop at the same pace.” 

Friday, 30 November 2018

Struggling with SSD...

Should we wear aids to hearing all the time?

You need to wear assistance aids ALL your waking time, then it becomes second nature. There should be no opt-out choice especially for children during formative years and education, or you can never make it up.

Twins go Bilingual?

Zack and Dylan who were diagnosed as profoundly deaf at birth
When their newborn twins were diagnosed as profoundly deaf, a Bath couple doubted whether they would ever hear their sons talk at all - let alone speak two languages fluently.

Twins Zack and Dylan were born in 2011 in New York and just days later failed their newborn hearing tests. It came as a huge shock to mum Deborah Pezzuto and her husband Alessandro. Mrs Pezzuto said: "We could not believe this could have happened to us.

“Being a hearing family, we did not know sign language, we did not know what to expect and being an Italian family living abroad and we questioned whether Zack and Dylan would be able to learn more than one language. "We were concerned that exposing them to two languages would be too much for them and put them under unnecessary pressure.”

Medics in New York told the parents that cochlear implant surgery in the first six months of their lives combined with auditory verbal therapy could give Zack and Dylan the opportunity to learn to listen and speak. Two years later the family moved to the UK after hearing they could continue therapy with charity Auditory Verbal UK. It was at the charity’s offices in Bicester, Oxfordshire, that Deborah and Alessandro heard their son’s first words.

The mother, who runs a life-coaching business, recalled: “During a challenge session, our therapist had been trying to get the boys to say ‘dog’ and had ended up saying, ‘well, maybe next time I will bring a different type of [toy] dog, you don’t seem to like this one.’

“But, as we were leaving, I turned to speak to the therapist and one of the twins said ‘dog’. It felt like a miracle. "They were around two years old and from there it really sped up. It was amazing.”


Thursday, 29 November 2018

Audism for the politically Correct.

I blame Paddy Ladd and that beard personally! Deaf activism fights back with Audio!  I'd suggest they master captioning, inclusion,  and subtitles first. Expect not that which you do not provide yourselves.  Is attacking people who don't know what you are talking about, a practical proposition?  or just a 'Deaf' rant at perceived but unsubstantiated critics of the deaf.  Produce proof. Meet the hearing get their side.

Deaf are many things...

Unfortunately, inclusive and easily accessible are not parts of it... with lack of captions it is just 'learn a sign'.

Supporting students with hearing loss...

Wednesday, 28 November 2018


Megan Lannert has five children, three of them were born 100 per cent deaf. However, with cochlear implants, you wouldn't know it.

With the exception of Dad, everyone in this family has some form of Waardenburg Syndrome.  "Layman's term, it is a mutant X gene that is in the system, so it's hereditary," said Lannert.   Waardenburg has multiple symptoms, like different colour eyes. However, the most notable symptom is hearing loss. William, 11, Lexi, 9, and Gabe, 4, were all born completely deaf.

It's hard to tell with their cochlear implants though. Lexi doesn't really need to know sign language because her implants allow her to hear pretty well. Which in turn, has allowed her to talk. "I like art and math and science," explained Lexi.  Her older brother William has the same type of technology, just a less updated version. He got them when he was two.

"Emotional and scary for him, he screamed his head off!" said Lannert. "You go from two years of hearing absolutely nothing to wow, hang on, wait for a second what is that? That's somebody's voice!" The technology is not a perfect fix and that's what Megan Lannert wants others to understand. "He struggles every single day, whether it be in a classroom, whether it be even sitting here in this setting," said Lannert.  All three of her children with deafness have to process what they hear.

"Where we sit here and have a typical conversation, they have to sit there and think and their conversations might be much slower than ours," said Lannert.  "And I'm always trying to concentrate but I can't because my friends are so loud," explained William.   Luckily, Bluetooth technology has come a long way. With it, the kids can hook up to electronic devices like phones or even a teacher's microphone at school. Of course, there are also applications you can download for the devices as well. 

"It has a GPS tracker," explained Lannert. 

Accessible Shopping...

Ableism and Hearing Loss.

Sadly the access via text is very poor and littered with issues, are we disabling ourselves by not insisting on a higher standard in accessible output?

Holy Grail found?

Martin Phillips, founder of Desifa which is launching the Hearclear app
A revolutionary new app is being developed in the Tees Valley to help deaf people communicate over video calls. Hearclear has been described as Skype with text and uses its software to create subtitles of conversations as they are happening during a video call. 

The idea is the brainchild of Martin Phillips, who founded his company Desifa in Sadberge after realising his wife was having trouble communicating with their son when he moved to the US. Mr Phillips said: “I thought, there has to be something around but having looked around there was nothing. Most of the solutions for people who are deaf or hard of hearing is speech to text on a landline or streaming into hearing aids through Bluetooth – but you can’t have a family conversation as the other sounds are wiped out. 

“None of them were terribly satisfactory, so phone calls to Josh, my son, and to other members of the family were quite stressful as unfortunately, my wife has problems hearing deep voices, such as male voices. “Having realised there was nothing around, I started looking at how we could make a product to fix that. I had a chance meeting with Steven Tinkler, who is now on my team, and we have been developing it since.” 

The Hearclear app allows people who are hard of hearing to speak to family and friends over its video call technology. The two co-founders both have family members who struggle to communicate using video phone call apps, which gave them the inspiration to create the product. By combining text with the app’s video features the duo believes they can improve conversations by reducing misunderstandings that can take place when only text is used. 

Explaining how the product works, Mr Phillips added: “What happens is you make a video call, then you get an automatic transcription of what is being said. “You only hear a very small amount of what is said. Over half of what you understand is through gestures and tense, so through the app you will also get the ability to see what is being said.” 

Deaf woman rejected 1,000 times by employers..

A deaf woman is desperately searching for a job after being knocked back for more than 1,000 positions. 32-year-old Kellie Wilson says her job hunt has been so gruelling because bosses reject her as soon as they realise she’s deaf. 

She says having so many job applications rejected has knocked her confidence, and that she fears she’ll never find her dream position because of her disability. Kellie suddenly lost her hearing when she was just four years old and relies on lip reading to understand people. 

She says she’s absolutely sick of being rejected, despite having a range of experience, having previously worked as an administrative officer, legal assistant and finance assistant. Kellie, who lives in Richmond, North Yorkshire, once worked as an assistant at notorious jail HMP Wakefield in West Yorkshire, from 2004 to 2009. Since then, she has had a number of temporary jobs secured through a local job agency but the longest time spent in employment has been nine months, while the shortest was four days. 

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Britain's leading deaf charity riven by warring factions

Image result for really not interested in the Deaf alker
A blast from the past, and a watershed for grassroots inclusion, but, has inclusion really advanced with UK Hearing loss charities? or did they just move the goal posts and re-define and re-brand themselves as something else entirely? As regards to 'warring factions' it still goes on, doesn't it?

To the UK BSL deaf he was a hero or martyr, to the realist a sadness a chance to bridge the real divides didn't happen because of vested interest.

From a British Newspaper in 2000:

"Several thousand deaf people are expected to march in London on Saturday to promote awareness of British sign language (BSL) and call for its official recognition as the equivalent of a spoken tongue. The Federation of Deaf People, which is organising the march, says BSL is in more common use than Welsh, Cornish and Scottish Gaelic combined.

The federation has been set up by Doug Alker, former chief executive of the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID), who this week also publishes a book setting out his version of the momentous events surrounding his departure from the charity in 1997.

At the time, the charity said he "wanted the freedom and time to tackle issues close to his heart". But Alker, whose severance deal included a two-year vow of silence on events, now says this was far from the truth. In a bitter and outspoken attack on the RNID (Now AOHL), leadership - in particular, chair David Livermore - he claims he was victim of a palace coup for moving too far and too fast towards a deaf people's agenda. 

The significance of this is that Alker was the first deaf chief executive of the RNID. His appointment in 1994 was hailed as a watershed in the world of disability charities. But, according to his account, he soon became mired in the long-running feud between "oralists" (those who believe deaf children should be exposed to the conversation and discouraged from signing) and advocates, like himself, of BSL.

In the book, Really Not Interested in the Deaf?  Livermore is portrayed as sympathetic to the oralists. He is accused of manoeuvring to oust Alker and replace him with James Strachan, the current chief executive, who is also deaf but comes from a very different background to Alker.

Alker's departure in 1997 triggered outrage on the part of some deaf activists, who forced an extraordinary general meeting of the charity but failed to defeat the leadership. Many activists are said then to have drifted away from the organisation.

One of the saddest episodes in the saga, as the book recalls, was the involvement of police at the apparent instigation of the leadership. Officers visited a house being used as a mailing address by a self-styled "RNID action group", collecting support for the emergency meeting, and seized correspondence that was allegedly then handed over to the charity. Alker writes: "The RNID's involvement of the police against its own deaf members had a chilling effect."

Alker, 59, is now based in Lancashire, where he is working to attract young deaf people to the federation's rights agenda. The RNID says it is unable to comment on his book without seeing it, but points out that he worked for the charity for 10 years in all and that it shares his goal of official recognition of BSL."

At least it isn't Vivaldi......

Monday, 26 November 2018

G+ to go...

If it was a software glitch why not sort it, not remove the entire site?   Just fess up, and state it was a commercial decision and the data breach didn't really count!

Google+ is shutting down due to massive data exposure. Google today announced through its blog that the company will soon shut down the failed social network for consumers. 

“As part of its response to the incident, the Alphabet Inc. unit plans to announce a sweeping set of data privacy measures that include permanently shutting down all consumer functionality of Google+, the people said. The move effectively puts the final nail in the coffin of a product that was launched in 2011 to challenge Facebook Inc. and is widely seen as one of Google’s biggest failures.” 

Described as a “software glitch,” third-party developers between 2015 and March 2018 were able to access “private Google+ profile data.” However, Google found “no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug, or abusing the API, and we found no evidence that any Profile data was misused.” “The profile data that was exposed included full names, email addresses, birth dates, gender, profile photos, places lived, occupation and relationship status; it didn’t include phone numbers, email messages, timeline posts, direct messages or any other type of communication data, one of the people said.

Echoes of the Empire

Image result for Wales Assembly
And deaf think Brexit is what it is all about!  ATR posted complaint and concern to the UK's (Debatable!), leading and premier Hard of hearing and occasionally Deaf charity.

ATR:   "Can the AOHL start devolving its website to reflect the devolved government of the UK?  Brexit apart, the AOHL must be the sole charity left in the UK that has failed to recognise devolved assemblies, and, devolved approaches to our access/health and support.  ERGO 

Wales are frustrated forever reading of events/campaigns in England, and English made decisions on English support, being suggested as Welsh ones too, which led on 4 occasion Welsh deaf commuting to Westminster to lobby for access which was the domain of the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff, not London and organised BY the AOHL, which was another photo shoot PR job for AOHL, knowing deaf don't read the bottom line but will turn up for a fridge opening..  The Deaf, as well as Charities, act as if Devolution never happened.  The result? nobody is lobbying the appropriate areas, so progress doesn't happen.

While AOHL occasionally notes things happen outside London/England, the relentless and singular approaches carry on as if it is the same situation now as 1911. We are not really interested in issues from areas that are not relevant to Wales, we can watch TV or buy a daily paper for that or even go online..  We are also annoyed that AOHL insists we contact England AOHL/HQ with regards to raising and contacting re Welsh issues and indeed the alleged localised contacts of  'AOHL CYMRU.'   A misnomer in terms. WHY, is there ONLY one website?

The debacle of failed AOHL involvement in Cardiff and elsewhere is legendary too and failing to function because the Assembly refused to fund deaf access to sensory committees, then AOHL pulling out because they were fed up providing it for free, yet, AOHL then 'rewarding' the Assembly for 'deaf awareness' you could not script it.  What access there is/was to the Assembly for deaf people, came not by wasted meetings by AOHL at the assembly, which was a blatant PR scheme to get funding and Kudos, but individual deaf and HoH lobbying outside for it.

Image result for welsh dragonDeaf and HoH are being crowded out by the AOHL and by the Assembly who refused to allow grass root input after they requested it choosing only to debate amid themselves.  We in Wales want a devolved AOHL site to mirror the devolved governing reality and a 'people's' representation at the Assembly, not charitable vested interests which we have already abandoned both as representation, and, as members.  Charity Commission statistics tell the real tale.  

AOHL Cymru must be a stand-alone option, not some archaic 'offshoot' of colonial London.  Since Brexit, the whole Welsh support system of the deaf and HoH has collapsed in apathy, and in disarray, and allegations AOHL colluded with welfare agencies in removing deaf financial support and signing a non-oppositional clause to the cruel cuts we suffer.   All this, despite the promises of access in 2005, we still don't have it for health or care.  We need autonomy to get things moving again and deaf/Hoh/Deafened are not happy with the approaches AOHL are taking with little or no localised input.  That is despite in-fighting and bias in access campaigns amid ourselves which fuel the view, representation is better it left to charities who at least offer a direction of sorts, instead we got Deaf V HoH setups, it's time grassroots put  a stop to it all.

On at least 6 occasions to my memory raising issues with AOHL Cymru had to first go through AOHL London, WHY?   Why set up a regional annexe and put non-regional contacts up?  Also, should not funding for AOHL be redistributed and lobbied for 4 ways too?  In Wales we know what our own priorities are, just as Scotland and Ireland do, stop patronising us please.  The empire doesn't exist any more.  We have 300,000 with hearing loss here still not getting health access or support or even a voice, so what IS the AOHL for?  It certainly does not represent either the welsh deaf and HoH areas, of 10m with hearing loss in the UK, less than 20K are members of the AOHL and most of them NOT deaf either.

Systems refer to AOHL, and not the people on the ground regarding what is needed, and AOHL is the sole supplier of 'statistics' which they can manufacture at will because nobody else does it.  When queries are raised re AOHL claims to those systems, they refer you back to AOHL again, its and chaotic and biased approach to hearing loss, and funding centralised away from the areas the money is raised for.  Time to devolve charity methinks or better still start invoking the access laws we already HAVE.  We have the rights already so why is it taking in excess of 30 years for AOHL or the Assembly, to recognise that?'

Sunday, 25 November 2018

From the Fringe.

Image result for Mental health support for the deaf
With access to mental health support issues. ATR is not convinced some deaf want support at least not the ones who DON'T need it anyway, but who are quite happy to demand types of access that make help more difficult to apply for their more vulnerable peers.

In the UK We had one group of cultural deaf insisting medical staff not only sign but have awareness of deaf culture via Milan etc, which I think is just making for more issues with deaf mental health.  

Your average deafie on the street knows or cares little about the 'oral-sign wars', of  the1880s they live in the now.  I cannot help thinking culture is beginning to be entirely negative for many deaf people. E.G. Where the UK rejected Deafhood as a mish-mash of incoherent ramblings, and the 20thc version of the Emporers New Clothes written in some obscure dialect, the USA grabbed it with both hands and sold their own version e.g. and they still cannot make it comprehensible.   

What is important is effective communication between Dr and Patient, everything else is a red herring.  E.G. To see able deaf with skills to communicate other than sign and/or able to bridge areas of communication to turn around and then stop doing that in the name of culture and demand sign only cultural only approaches, I think is undermining access for everyone else as systems attempt to accommodate them, mostly they can't.  It is as if these Deaf are determined to be martyrs and for a cause they can't define.

Meanwhile what constitutes mental health is the deaf seems to be up for grabs, because deaf are confused about what communication skills they need as opposed to listening to those who tell them to state a preference instead, regardless if practicable or viable.  More martyrs emerge.

The UK has many mental health support areas, most of which the deaf do not attempt to utilise, but instead demand 'conditions' from the medical staff diagnosing them that has little to do with mental health or communication but something else entirely, with all sorts of demands for 'specialisations' in deaf awareness that appear to change via who is asking for it.  In response, health professionals are opposing translators in the room via some vague interpretation of the Hippocratic oath leaving deaf patients unable to communicate or the Consultant. Still, there is always culture!!!

The Deaf world has no unity of approach on their own 'chosen/preferential' communication approaches, no signing normal standards and a determined opposition to compromise anywhere.  Increasing demands for Deaf-Only systems, run on 'cultural' grounds is chaotic, not really supported, and random too.  Most is driven by financial advantage and individual Kudos, and not practicalities.

What we see are hearing welfare/support workers standing IN for a Deaf patient because the signing is too ineffective to effectively diagnose.  This has meant many deaf patients being sectioned, drugged out of it, and isolated from family support too.  Cultural adherents need to start concentrating on effective communication, not own versions of it. 


Not Makaton, Not BSL but Lamh?

Do the deaf children need more confusion given the disablement at day one isn't just deafness?  A video went viral showing the reaction of a young boy to the actor Rob Delaney signing a bedtime story on the CBeebies channel.

Delaney wasn’t using British Sign Language – he was using something called Makaton. Here in Ireland, we have our own version of Makaton. It’s called Lámh, and while it’s based on Irish Sign Language, it’s a different form of signing. The team behind Lámh welcomed the excitement about Delaney’s CBeebies appearance, saying they hoped it would encourage Irish children’s television to feature Lámh.

“Lámh is a manual or keyword signing system for children and adults with intellectual disabilities and communication needs in Ireland,” explains Mary Cullen, manager of Lámh Developmental Office.

It’s a signing system as opposed to a sign language. Irish sign language is the natural sign language of the Deaf community in Ireland and has evolved naturally as a language – it wasn’t set up or created by anyone. While Irish Sign Language (ISL) is a complex language with grammar and a huge vocabulary, Lámh is different. It’s mainly for children and adults who have intellectual disabilities, to help them with communication. It is not strictly for people who are hearing impaired in some way. 

“Lámh was created in the early 1980s – it is a system of a small number of signs that are less complicated [than ISL],” says Cullen. She explains that it’s a system, rather than a language like ISL. 

Deaf boy’s campaign may force introduction of sign language

Image result for GCSE in BSLThe UK Government may introduce British Sign Language (BSL) as a GCSE thanks to one calculated deaf schoolboy. Daniel Jillings, 12, launched an online campaign for change – and the education department is taking notice.

The Department for Education (DfE) will now consider making an “exception” after Daniel’s family launched a legal challenge, saying the lack of a General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) duration in BSL may be “discriminatory and unlawful.”  GSCEs are a qualification earned in a specific subject, typically taken by high school students aged 15–16, to qualify for the final two years of high school.

“There are many foreign language GCSEs available but as a Deaf BSL user, I cannot achieve a GCSE in these because of the speaking and listening exams,” Daniel wrote on his fundraising page. Daniel’s mother has consulted with lawyers who believe the lack on a BSL duration may equal discrimination and be against the law.

The addition of a BSL duration would allow deaf children like Daniel to take an extra language in lieu of the ones they are presently excluded from and will allow different students to learn BSL – making the community more inclusive of deaf people as a result.  Previously, the DfE has said no new GCSEs would be introduced within this parliament, but it appears the UK public may witness one of those (quite common) backflips due to public pressure.

ATR: As regards to any confirmation from the DfE, they are still saying it may 'consider' in the future, there is no time-scales set and no promise of a BSL GCSE debate as yet.  Those BSL areas suggesting a BSL norm at day one of education are not going to get it.  This request is for 15-16yr old deaf youths.  

ATR does not believe there is much point to this given the mainstream is still unwilling to accommodate BSL use and the supportive area to empower BSL use isn't there, or teachers trained, which means a class for GCSE may well not be viable either.  Would we just see GCSE classes with just 2 or 3 deaf in them? and only in areas able to provide the staff to make it work?  This article came via Wales (UK), which has already, a dire shortage  OF BSL support on the street.

There are also challenges on BSL teaching where teaching staff of BSL lack the appropriate teaching qualifications of the curriculum.   This is just opposed on cultural grounds, where advocates want to dispense with the grammar side of English, which means the young deaf would be better signers but still unable to access the college/Uni tuition because of issues reading the coursework.

Doctor hears again after 30yrs deaf.

Professor Hamilton with his cochlear implant
A doctor's hearing has returned after 30 YEARS of being profoundly deaf A new hearing world has opened up to the 60-year-old thanks to new cochlear implant.

After helping heal patients despite being profoundly deaf, a Devon doctor can now hear again. For nearly 30 years professor Willie Hamilton was able to continue his career by lip-reading and relying on his wife or colleagues to help with phone calls. Professor Hamilton now enjoying the sounds of Dartmoor with his wife Ali.

Now a new hearing world has opened up to the 60-year-old thanks to new cochlear implant. Prof Hamilton said: “I always explain my deafness when I met patients, but now for the first time in 29 years after not hearing a thing, I can hear. “It’s just the people who have to listen to me that now have to suffer.” His hearing loss began after qualifying as a doctor in 1982, and with the help of hearing aids he was able to continue living a normal life. 

However, following a cochlear implant, a deep-seated infection in 2000 meant his hearing deteriorated further. Despite surgically successful re-implantation in his ear, the infection had damaged the inner ear causing further hearing loss year on year. 

Lip reading became Prof Hamilton’s way of communicating, together with FaceTime video calls and having colleagues who could take calls for him. In November 2017, he received his life-changing cochlear implant and he describes the first phone call he made without the need of a translator or visual aid to lip read as having felt ‘amazing’.