Wednesday, 5 December 2018

What is a Lip-Speaker?


More vitally, WHERE are they!

This is Access...

Why Deaf and HoH cannot follow speech effectively.

From an HoH site demolishing the myths of effective communication advice. Perhaps the near ultimate in realistic advice?

"I must be an exception.  If I cannot follow I tell them immediately and what I found was at the start, it was my OWN fault and not other people's because I kept bluffing I could lip-read better than I actually could and kept nodding when I didn't hear or lip-read what was said.   

What I did was then utilised alternatives to lip-reading/sign language since these modes are the main issue with many near or deaf, relying on skills they DON'T actually have.  Sometimes it works, more often it fails, then when it fails you have to revert to more effective means to follow.  I've reverted to a pencil and paper, used my phone as a text medium etc.  

Most importantly I did what most of my peers don't usually do, and tell people at the start if it is obvious I am not getting what it said despite my nods then use plan B or even C.  Even I am not infallible and resort to the nod on occasion but I am aware of it and let others know, I don't get embarrassed about stating I didn't really get that.  Most hearing people know what we are missing it's us that don't, we kid ourselves.  If we carry on nodding we get people frustrated and annoyed when you still haven't understood the question despite nodding assent.  

80% of communication issues we face are down to our own pride, and not wanting to look foolish, this just means we look silly anyway because we signalled we did follow.  The definition of the 'nod' is yes, we follow.  So the key is to be absolutely honest with yourself first.  I've lost count of Hearing aid users insisting their aids work if you adopt the stat position of 'face me, speak clearly...'  and all that incomprehensible conditioning first, and when others do, it STILL didn't work, it's no use then blaming other people.  

I tell them using my preferred/alternative method tends to work 90% of the time. We have to show we can compromise and have the ability, more vitally the WILL to do that, being intransigent or dogmatic is pointless.  We need many options to follow speech there is no single mode that really works so you have to adapt to survive. What you don't do is nod and run.   Meetings etc you plan ahead first, don't just turn up hoping to wing it.  You could be sitting well away from the speaker and not able to follow at all. I demand a front seat every time.   

Sign requires knowledge hearing don't have, save that for a deaf club if you attend one of them, or rely on an interpreter, however, UK law does NOT enable support for you if the situation is not within the system not even 'open meetings' by Local authorities etc.  

As regards to lip-speakers, or even paid text support, there isn't a UK  system to use.  Lip-reading demands speaking skills most don't really have, even using a lip-speaker isn't really taught to those that get them, and they have a 20-minute rest rule, whereas we as users have to concentrate for hours.  If it is too much for them it is too much for us.  Both modes really demand a situation that is already primed to make maximum use of perceived skill, sadly out there, and on the street, is NOT one of them.  Even supported venues for deaf can mean 60% still not really following.   It's usually a system whereby these deaf use a 'Chinese whisper' system, but is fraught with major issues of lack of detail.

Obviously, there are assistive technologies you can utilise and should be anyway, but utter reliance on them should also be avoided if the image is you staring at a screen and not the person speaking it's rude.  It also establishes a barrier at the start.

It's a prime debate with deaf using interpreters the suggestion the deaf are taking little or no notice of who is speaking and the general view they could be sitting at home and doing that or in a club and not bother going anywhere.  The analogy being if you can watch a TV programme with text and it doesn't interfere with an ability to follow, then so should sign support, not interfere either, maybe the deaf need to address that, and appreciate how others are viewing that aspect.  Hearing say the barrier is the visible terp on screen, its deters and detracts from the TV visuals behind the terp.  

Not helped with no agreed size/placing on our TV screens.  Using up to a third of screen space should be avoided, ideally, an '888' option for signed access should be the norm.  You can turn off subtitling but not sign.  No doubt cries of discriminations go up, but addressing the practicalities of how deaf view things and how the hearing do, needs some sort of compromise.   Maybe technology has the answer.

Just make communication easier on yourself, however, opting out of hard to follow situations should be avoided, as it can become a habit, stress, is life, we get just as stressed sitting around unable to follow, using  'downtime' to relax is often an excuse too because you don't monitor how much of it you are doing, or the real reason you are doing it.  It can be easy to just self-isolate. You need to find ways to follow and manage difficult situations, not avoid them.  We can all sit at home following life on the internet or phoning everyone, but that isn't real people in real time and is not improving your own personal communication skills.

Some areas suggest 'testing' the HoH and Deaf to determine what really does work for them viz-a-viz deaf/hoh and hearing access.  We test babies at birth for hearing loss, but from then on, no real rigorous tests and tuition to ensure they communicate better to adulthood and beyond.  We need a proper tuition of communication skills to replace the randomness of UK approaches that don't have any qualification requirement for the actual grass root learners.  Ironically hearing people DO need such qualifications.  They don't actually determine the level of sign skills in the deaf and should be doing, neither is there a system to address those who attend lip-reading tuition with no bottom line either..  

No one could approach a job that way, certainly not a serious sensory issue. You wear glasses to see you, you don't keep the same ones all your life despite your eyesight getting worse.  Stronger hearing aids only serve part of the issue and reliance is not really on as hearing loss, can and really does render them useless, then you are stuck with no effective means to follow.  It's no surprise so many older people are the main ones suffering this problem after years of HA use. Or, that it is too late to help them and no system exists anyway to head deafness off at the pass.

Deaf and HoH should still have to re-train to maintain skills, be it sign or Lip-reading, literacy is still an issue too, but it is not a system or approach those with hearing loss adopt to own communication, they leave education and adopt the position, demanding facilitation/support and rights via others, but you will remain always a 3rd party, and you are up the creek when support isn't there, but what point? if there are severe limitations to making effective use of them?"

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

MS: Live Captions/Subtitles for HI.


Microsoft (MSFT) on Monday announced that it’s bringing live captioning and subtitles to two of its biggest products, PowerPoint and Skype. Set to coincide with the United Nations’ International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the move will facilitate communications between users with hearing difficulties or who speak different languages. 

 I was able to experience the new communication features during a recent visit to Microsoft’s massive Redmond, Washington, campus. It worked incredibly well, offering seamless, real-time captioning that kept up with every word spoken in the room. That became a problem when it was translating Spanish to English and I began speaking in English, but that’s to be expected. 

 Of course, Microsoft isn’t the only company working on or offering accessibility features for its consumers. Apple’s (AAPL) iOS lets individual users configure playback and captioning, and can read content out loud for those who have vision issues. There’s also a guided control feature that lets parents or caregivers ensure individuals with autism or attention and sensory issues stay on task by disabling the Home button, as well as portions of the display to limit accidental inputs. 

 Building for accessibility Microsoft’s accessibility team is run by Jenny Lay-Flurrie, the company’s chief accessibility officer and someone who understands how important such features are for users. As someone who’s been nearly deaf her whole life, Lay-Flurrie also stands to benefit from the captioning features coming to PowerPoint and Skype.  

Why are Deaf unable to access Public Entertainment?



Why Are Deaf People Still Being Prevented From Enjoying Public Entertainment? 

If no one holds services providers to account over their legal obligations, there really is nothing to dissuade them from continuing to ignore the needs of deaf and disabled people.

Think back to a time when you purchased something, it could be a product or a service, and you were left feeling royally shafted by the experience? Go on, I’ll wait… Got one? I can think of a few, but my most recent was a visit to one of those swanky London restaurants; the sort of place where you can tell that the only word on the interior design plan was ‘ambiance’, and all the bar staff have names like Atticus and Dax. 

The menu was thrilling, but the vegetarian options were scarce. When the waiter came to take our order, I chose one of the dishes and requested to have it without the meat. Not an unreasonable request in this day and age, right? When I was younger, the only vegetarian option available tended to be mushroom *insert sauce of your choice here*, so I became pretty comfortable asking restaurants to tweak their menu slightly. 

I have honestly never had any pushback until the swanky London restaurant. Anyways, long story short – they refused, I left, I complained, they apologised, and I got an offer of a complimentary meal. All was right with the world. But I won’t lie, it was tedious and time-consuming and by the end, I was exhausted from having to have such a big fight about something that was so small. Now, imagine you had to have that fight periodically, and for your whole adult life. Decades of tedious and time-consuming fighting to achieve something that was so ordinary that everyone else took it for granted. 

You go to the cinema and the sound isn’t working properly, so you can’t continue watching the film. It’s annoying (you bought popcorn already!) but the cinema apologises, and they give you some freebie tickets. When you go back the next time, it happens again. And again. 

Monday, 3 December 2018

Is Deaf support really Necessary?

Related imageOur weekly look at trawling social media deaf issues, including signing deaf relay support and interpreting.

#1  "Old fogies like myself will recall it is why the text relay Typetalk in the UK failed, near every call they hung up on you!  Ditto with minicoms really, where they played Vivaldi at you for hours..   

#2 I avoid relay systems because they aren't necessary unless you are illiterate, even deaf signers aren't that."

#3 "Yes, near every area has a website and e-mail access, systems do too, and even local tradespeople have a mobile you can text to, I've not used sign support for years... and feel more empowered than I have ever been."

#4 "It is time the deaf re-appraised 3rd party support and a blind acceptance a lifetime of reliance is inevitable, take control of your own life.. we aren't a job creation system for hearing people."

#5 "In employment 3rd party support is a death wish in regards to being hired, they will assume you cannot function without it.  yes we can refer to the law, but they will still find a way to block you.  You have to show you are more than your hearing loss and not carry it about like a latter-day albatross, employers have no time for the politics of deafness, they just want proof you can do the job."

#6 "A recent blog I read a deaf woman was turned down over a 1,000s times for a job, it wasn't actually stated if she needed support to participate in an interview, or what kind, which is what I wanted to read. you can't help feeling the actual approach and format wasn't included for some reason.  We didn't know WHY employers turned her down except SHE said it was because she was deaf."

#7 "We make a rod for our own backs by declaring we cannot communicate unless other people facilitate that, that's just making yourself unemployable."

#8 "I think sign relay systems are more about cost-cutting to health systems, and a recognition there will never be enough sign interpreters anyway, and/or some sort of deaf-cultural/political stance, cos those Deaf never talk communication, only preference and rights, then don't use it for either when they get it except to claim it still isn't working."

#9 "We have a right to support, but, do we all really NEED it in many areas?  There are alternatives to use, so the choice seems to be reliance on others...so much for empowering us all!"

Deaf Village (Ireland).

Deaf Village Ireland from Deaf Village Ireland on Vimeo.

ATR Apologises to readers who now find the video isn't there due to a European internet directive, so the USA can't watch it here.  It's a puzzle as ATR is within the EU!  Shortly after posting they pulled it it's all European bollox.  Here is the most recent I can otherwise find.

Deaf Stereotypes



Forgot to include: All Deaf Sign. All Deaf demand signed education. All Deaf belong to the deaf community. All Deaf include and respect others with hearing loss. Most Deaf do not require captioned access except within the system. 

Some glaring omissions.  Including the stated 'Deafinitions' not being identified as pure unadulterated propaganda about their idea of own stereotyping being disguised as a culture.

Mental Health and Hearing Loss

Deaf can do what we can't!



I want to spread a message to all the people in the community who has dreams or something you’re passionate about, it’s a struggle that we live in a world where there’s no equality with the hearing world but it doesn’t mean that you should stop doing what you love doing! Enjoy the video! 

Been working hard on this project for a few months now and I’m so grateful on this project that I came up with. All your love and support will truly appreciate me! LIKE and SHARE to our deaf community!! To the deaf talents in the video where many people in our community look up to, to feel inspired and happy for what you do! Don’t ever plan on stopping and keep going!

Sunday, 2 December 2018

The Stork V Genetics.



In the wake of the recent controversy sparked by the supposed first ever genetically-edited humans, many have raised qualms about utilizing genetics to modify our species.

However, genetically selected babies have already been readily available in the US and around the world for years, and a company is even hoping to now use the technology to select for intelligence. Amelia’s family enrolled in a study that is deciding the DNA of babies, as researchers explore whether gene-mapping one day should become a part of newborn care. 

In 1977, the first human in-vitro fertilization (IVF) was carried out, and an entirely healthy baby was born. In the decades to follow, millions who couldn't conceive naturally have benefited from the procedure, where the sperm is injected into the egg in a test tube. However, the sequencing of the human genome, fully completed in 2003, opened up a whole new can of worms. We were know learning which sequences of DNA (which mutations) corresponded to fatal congenital diseases. Eliminating those mutations could mean saving millions of lives. Today, DNA editing technology simply isn't their year. 

But for years, many have been choosing to undergo preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), wherein IVF embryos are screened for mutations, and the healthiest one is implanted into the mother. This technology has been especially valuable for those who are carriers of rare genetic mutations that they don’t wish to pass on to their progeny, or to mothers above 35 years old who have a greater risk of chromosomal nondisjunction disorders (like Down syndrome). 

Of course, PGD has not been without its critics. While curing deadly, congenital diseases is one thing, the possibility of modifying our children to our liking raises many ethical questions. Where to draw the line has become a matter of fierce debate. For instance, Iceland’s campaign to eliminate Down syndrome (via fetal testing and abortion) has received criticism from many on the political right, including Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck, who have compared it to “eugenics” and called it “the death of humanity.” 

On the other hand, there have been cases of deaf parents stacking their odds of having a deaf child, or dwarf parents looking to ensure dwarf children. While some see this as promulgating a disability, others consider that stance “able-ist.” Although the above cases blur the line between health and disease, PGD has largely remained confined to preventing crippling hereditary illnesses. The technology could, however, allow interested parents to "choose" a child in their own image, of low stature or high intelligence in the not so distant future. 

Barclays Bank launches new/first lipspeaker service

Image result for BarclaysToday a Bank' tomorrow?  Who knows? maybe a viable support system to counter the flood of signed access we don't use?

Deaf or hard of hearing customers can now opt to have a lipspeaker interpret their telephone conversations with Barclays.

The system will use unique customer system markers and nominated phone numbers to ensure only authorised calls are able to take place. This new service was developed from direct customer feedback to ensure all customers have access to telephone banking services  In a UK banking first, Barclays has today announced a service where Deaf or hard of hearing customers will be able to have their telephone conversations with the bank interpreted by a lipspeaker: (a hearing person who can provide communication support by being easily lip read).

With over 11 million people in the UK experiencing hearing loss, these developments will make sure all customers are able to access telephone banking services more easily.  Once a customer has set up this service, a unique marker will be attached to their profile and they will be able to use a lipspeaker to have conversations with Barclays telephone bankers.

Customers can opt into the service at any time by letting Barclays know they use a lipspeaker and providing a nominated mobile number for telephone banking. Once set up, customers will be able to access the service by calling Barclays on 03457 445 445, between 8am and 9pm, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Through the use of additional security steps, the service can only be used in the presence of the customer, providing them with greater independence whilst reducing the risk of fraud.

For customers who aren‘t registered, Barclays also has a ‘Live Chat‘ facility within the Barclays Mobile Banking app, providing a secure instant-messaging service to help customers access their banking anywhere, anytime. Kathryn Townsend, Head of Customer and Client Accessibility at Barclays UK, said: ‘Barclays puts accessibility at the heart of what we do, and places a lot of importance on getting this right for customers. The introduction of this new service for Deaf and hard of hearing customers provides another example of where we have listened to our customers and made changes based on their feedback.‘

Ellie Parfitt, the Barclays customer who helped develop this new service, said: ‘It‘s fantastic to see that Barclays has implemented a new system for Deaf people like myself, who need to make banking enquiry phone calls through a lipspeaker. It gives us the freedom to become more independent and makes our banking experiences easier and more accessible.‘

A UK charity said 'Barclays is a great example to other organisations on the importance of accessibility. People with deafness and hearing loss frequently don‘t enjoy equal or convenient access to banking services, so services like this are a hugely welcome addition.‘