Friday, 21 December 2018

Looking for deaf curators

Looks like they don't expect BSL to last....

How many read the signs?

How many Used the  Captions?

Keep calm and include everyone...

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A decent article with a broader approach to awareness than most we read, undone a little by using the term Deaf 'though!  What needs to be done is NOT using the term 'Deaf' to describe people with hearing loss.  This switches emphasis AWAY from them.

Contrary to stereotypical community perceptions, not all hearing impaired people are simply deaf as a post and unable to hear anything, and most certainly, they are not stupid or dumb!  Government, big business and private enterprises tend to ignore the fact that deaf and hearing impaired people are clients and customers too who need equal access to services, goods and support, but sadly a majority of service providers have no policies, procedures and practices in place to meet even the basic needs of hearing impaired people.

Deaf people have interests, likes, wants and of course, money to spend too just like everybody else. Congenital or acquired, there are varying degrees of deafness: mild, moderate, severe, profound, and complete, or total.

Common across the spectrum of deafness is that: many have trouble hearing and discerning sounds; they find it hard and struggle to understand clear speech; they have difficulty engaging in conversations, communicating and interacting with other people, and being understood; they find it very hard and exasperating to engage with people in public places; they will turn the television up and often avoid talking to people on the telephone.

You probably wouldn't be able to spot a deaf person in a crowd, but there are both subtle and obvious signs that a person is hard of hearing.

Hearing impaired people might ask you to repeatedly say something over and again; their voice could be considered loud and their speech might sound 'funny' to you; they'll insist on texting you rather than talking on a phone; they might appear to be rude by staring at your face; they might appear to have ignored something that you have said or an instruction that you have given; they might cup their ears or utilise subtitles; you might spot a hearing aid; you might notice them signing, or they will just simply tell you that they can't hear you.

Community, communication, participation and social interaction are paramount social norms which are the mainstay of any society; unfortunately though, government entities, big business, commercial enterprises and service providers, the community, and family and friends are generally oblivious and inconsiderate to the difficulties faced by deaf people.

Deafness is a disability fraught with negative experiences and discrimination associated with erroneous community perceptions where hard of hearing people are denied the same courtesies and equal accessibility to services, goods and support as any ordinary person would expect.

All too often, hard of hearing people become marginalised and isolated; more so because many without hearing difficulties can't empathise, let alone understand the many frustrations faced by those with hearing loss on a daily basis.

Mouths are covered, backs are turned, faces are masked, kettles are turned on, televisions are blaring, fans and air conditioners are on full, background noises mask conversations, car windows are open and shopping centres and restaurants - with all their hustle and bustle, and screaming children - well, they're are a bloody nightmare!

Notwithstanding the fact that people with an unaffected level of hearing are often referred to foreign client and customer service call centres and complain that they can neither hear, nor understand what is being said to them, no thought is given to the plight of the hard of hearing and deaf people who are alienated and discriminated against, occasionally ridiculed, patronized, and even mocked.

Little thought is given to the reality that a deaf person cannot hear the whisper of one's name being called out in a crowded medical surgery; that they can neither hear, nor understand public announcements at public venues, public transport hubs and at airports where there is significant background noise; that they can neither hear the voice of a customer service officer in a crowded retail hub, nor hear the hello of a passing friend in a crowded street; the voice of a loved one in a noisy public environment, or the ever tender I love you of a lover whispered in the ear.

Some of those difficulties faced by hard of hearing people include getting service at shopping centres where background noise is all around and diversionary; at coffee shops where conversations are loud and many, and where espresso equipment is constantly being used; at railway stations and public transport hubs where ticketing offices are often screened and traffic abounds; at airports where announcements are repeatedly quick and the content lost to a noisy environment, and at take away establishments where crew members talk and serve quickly amidst clanging dishes and cutlery.

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

How the UK removed lip-reading choice.

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In the wake of Sign Solution getting negative feedback on BSL only access, and about poor captioning dedciation for BSL output, a leading UK charity has advertised their non-inclusive approach as a way forward too.

Well  SignSolutions is an area that provides... sign for cash. It makes a living promoting BSL.  As a reader said:

The question here really is, did deaf people ask for this?  Or did a sign language organisation decide to supply this service because they thought deaf people ought to have it? (and of course, they get paid for supplying it). The fact is that there are far greater numbers of oral/lipreading deaf people in a hospital and they need every bit as much help. But strangely enough, they don't get it.

As regards to lip-reading/spoken access, there is no record of any UK area providing it, or UK systems designed to support it on any sort of organised basis. We know BSL people refused to include that too, mostly on the grounds speech is 'oralism' and insulting, even offensive, to the deaf.  

It can be clearly argued lip-readers are being dumped out of it, regardless of views on its effectiveness.  Which raises the question why bother teaching it, when there is nowhere they can effectively utilise or get support for it?  

Between this biased approach to captions and a blanket non-inclusion of lip-speaking, this allows huge awareness of hearing loss need to be consigned to the bin in the pursuit of populist sign approaches, most haven't asked for, and really the UK's leading hearing loss charity should be refusing to air or support such output on the grounds it challenges awareness and distorts it, while oppressing other deaf people who prefer to lip-read or speak.

It also suggests the UK's leading Deaf school that uses oral tuition is being undermined too by removing choice on access provision.  Less than subtle assaults on oral tuition to encourage more signed approaches, again that aren't going to happen.

Perhaps ATLA or the AOHL would like to respond on the issue of lip-reading access? Or have they abandoned it too?

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Advocacy! Decisions, decisions!

Differentiating on choice options. Use remote interpretation? or demand people-centric support? Looks more like Deaf versus technology. Technology will replace the terp on the street simply because of sheer non-availability of them for all. Of course, systems see VRI as a much cheaper option too and let's face it, access is cost-driven not rights driven anyway.   I would never use such a system because I prefer text and feel VRI is not helping me that way.

We have seen much evidence the past few years of supportive systems switching access to alternatives that remove the 'man/woman' in the middle or indeed removes text access in favour of the sign access. In part, VRI is more welcome, as it forces the situation and people to relate more directly to you. I don't think VRI works well because centralisation of support tends to be poorly adaptive to the deaf user, and such centralisations tend to establish a one size fits all approach.  Deaf receive no training on how to use VRI support, it is not a case putting one on a screen and assuming it is the same as having one there in real time.   Deaf can get confused.

A lot of deaf signers use terps to avoid directly dealing with the situation too.  Most don't really know HOW to use an interpreter, a particular area also relies on a terp to help them make decisions too, which is borderline illegal and not in the deaf interest.  There doesn't really appear to be a body as such monitoring how a terp interacts with a deaf client or to set proper rules.  No-one is monitoring VRI help case by case or indeed person to person support...  

So much trust in a terp being neutral may well be not the right Assumption at all.  Terps well know about limitations of understanding with clients and step in to assist.  Few will state 'I'm sorry I don't feel the client is following at all..' because the terp feels it reflects on them.  There are numerous concerns deaf cannot follow VRI support effectively. Also, concerns systems are saying we can't get a local terp so take it or leave it.

Self esteem and advocacy for SSD.

Monday, 17 December 2018

The disabled and benefit denials..

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I think it silly they re-assess on a situation that cannot change e.g. people deaf for life, blind for life, unable to walk, unable to communicate, have terminal health issues etc.

The UK welfare system argument seems to be, that as medical, social, technological, legal progress advances, then the old arguments about access and support are no longer valid.  E.G getting financial help because someone provides no access or support for you has been 'undermined' via the suggestion laws now exist to enforce that access for you, but the reality is the issue of forcing precedent, area availability, and basic staff available.  

Welfare awards only work if awards match the COST of buying in that support, because outside the established system there is no real onus or way to demand others provide it because access laws insert 'reasonable' into the terminology of rights, ergo it is 'unreasonable' to offer access in a listed building if it alters or changes the reason for its listing, also, there is no parity existing between welfare awards and the actual costs of that support.  In some cases the reverse!  In that BSL demands for employment and further Uni/college support, exceed by double the amount they could ever earn.

This raises issues in that welfare arms are saying 'compensation' is no longer the right way to allocate welfare, and lower awards are just 'pocket money', but the real issues as stated are that the awards never meet the cost of help.  Compensation also needs an area to 'blame' for your issue. Welfare systems say they should not be paying for what is a legal right anyway, so it is up to the disabled or deaf to instigate their legal right.  

This is dangerous territory for the disabled and deaf as it is an 'argument' where legal rights can be used to prevent support being provided when we know the legal approach is not working.  Local Authority provision can and is, simply withdrawn altogether and are, because there is no money to pay for it, but the welfare agencies say this has no bearing on your legal right to it or any obligation on them to give you the means to pay for it.

Direct Payment (A welfare system designed to offer selected severely disabled areas the finance to buy in help direct), rejected deaf applicants.  However legal challenges are not possible in most cases because the state took away the right to subsidised legal support (Legal aid).  This is the state cutting the vulnerable out of it, as legal aid should be our right and any costs paid for by those who refused to obey those access laws. Deaf and disabled are headed off at the pass.

If most welfare is purely an antiquated system of compensation, and a poor compensation at that, it is not a pathway to access or support either.  It also reminds us again, service/sign interpreting provision is against the 'client' having control over who pays them.  They don't want us as 'employers' they don't trust us, and say we lack the capability to manage it, and its too random.  Non-signers have no system set up to demand help with. There are examples of BSL employment support grants/allowances being cut or have a cap put on them, and no longer covering support wages forcing deaf signers back into unemployment and out of further education.

Some areas can refuse to offer access on the grounds it is financially impossible (LA's, even charities e.g.), or even they have no record of anyone disabled asking for such access.    One can have some empathy with a few employers under the cosh for access where the demand is simply one based on the legal and not on the actual demand by people.  Some semblance of common sense has to exist. We need to pick our fights.

Many complaints are access areas being blocked by 'alternatives' being offered, that discourage choice, so instead of demanding a ramp for a wheelchair user, the area offers you a telephone number to call instead, they are still 'technically' offering you 'access'. Moving the goalposts constantly.  Recent concerns were aimed at Sign Solutions offering narratives instead of captions to signed output that also 'comply' with the access law but in essence, blocks captioning others need and that comes from our own area.  There is no black and white rule to use.

As regards to defining IF the deaf are entitled to welfare, many assaults are taking place via assessments convinced deaf don't have a point to make, because all sorts of aids and options are available now.  The blind in the UK were told they had no clear case for support to go shopping, as they could go online to do that e.g. They were told basically they had no inherent right to leave the home and claim support.  The deaf also obtained free public transport options in areas, via the terms 'issues with mobility' there are demands for deaf now ceasing to qualify for this welfare 'perk', after deaf students were reported to be saying its extra beer money for them.  Deaf had claimed they needed help to travel etc..

We can forsee a time when welfare depts state the deaf are no longer entitled to financial support at all, just because they cannot hear, and the issue of communication support is legal, and no longer welfare based.   The upsurge of deaf and HoH campaigning, where many are actually rejecting the term disability when applied to them, further enforces the welfare view of no entitlements by default.  Didn't we just state we aren't fitting that criteria?

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Do deaf need emotional support dogs?

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ATR has avoided using pictures of dogs because it detracts from the actual topic.  The alternative views on deaf and HoH from social media most never look at!  This time it's asking us to sign a petition for more emotional support trained dogs for us in addition to those that are 'hearing dogs'.  I've NOT included the petition because I don't agree.

#1 I fully support the need for Emotional Support pets to be recognised and a proper training scheme set up for both the pet and owner. My dog is always the first to realise that i am feeling down and makes his presence felt to say i'm here for you. I have trained my pet dogs to a high standered since a child because an untrained dog can be a danger. I would sign your petition.

#2  Yes I have a cat whose 18 now but if ever I'm more unwell than usual and in bed, he knows and gives me more affection.

#3  I don 't really go with emotional support pets. We should be including and helping vulnerable people not giving them dogs instead. People who struggle with inclusion and communication or have MH issues should be given treatment and support. At the end of a very lonely day, dogs are poor conversationalists. 

#4 It's the 'lady with 10 cats' thing, those that prefer animals to people. There is no answer to this because many people with social issues prefer something that makes no demands on them and approves whatever they do or indeed don't. It's a furry opt-out.

#5 They should be used along side treatment and support not instead of it.

#3 Not sure, people who need/use animals to get by will struggle with people. I'm all for those who want pets but there is a real difference between social exclusion and non-participation that a dog won't solve for you. You just get dog/cat lovers et al ganging up and opposing for reasons that have NOTHING to do with social problem-solving. Dogs in hospitals even horses! because people are lonely, but they still go home and still lonely after. People need people.

#6 Our Phantom got my partner out of bed, and outside, even on some of his worse days. They'd go off, my partner would take his camera at my urging, and they'd go wander. My partner would almost always come back in a better frame of mind. He took some Amazing photos too! Oh and he is getting medical, and psychological, help too. My partner can just about handle talking to 1 or 2 people, but going out to places where there are more than that just doesn’t go. We are thinking possibly Asbergers, he fits quite a lot of those signs/symptoms. So as for "social problem solving" Phantom was a great help, keeping my partner close and being there for him like an anchor.

#3 The same thing a hearing dog would do or your average pet. It's a retreat from dealing with your problem.  Can you please justify an emotional support trained animal? and HOW it actually helps the person to include themselves socially?  It's going the doggy way again as it always does...  I don't think pet lovers are able to or want to justify these animals at all, of course, they don't have to as pets, but I think DO have to for a particular reason of training.  There are overtones of deaf having social-mental issues some areas will object to and such dogs identify them with.  E.G. Many don't agree with 'hearing dogs' because they don't feel them justified as they are for the blind as 'working animals'.  

#7 This is really about mental Health issues NOT hearing loss. Try SANE or MIND

The Pantomime in the Dark...

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Samuel has been to several pantos, but being blind, he has not always been able to follow all that was going on. This year the tables have turned. 

He will be the star of a panto – the first of its kind – where all the audience will start off on the same footing: none of them will be able to see anything. Every person in the audience will have to rely on their other senses while in pitch darkness. The ‘magic’ will be taking place in a 3.5 by two metre cubicle in the adjacent room, where a cast of four actors will be performing some 30 different characters. 

Despite its name – GawGaw a Panto in the Dark – it is not a horror performance. Script writers and directors Marta Vella and Vikesh Godhwani wanted to provide the audience not only with a completely new theatrical experience, but also a Maltese fairy tale that not many have heard of. The story was inspired by and influenced by Samuel Farrugia, who lost his eyesight to cancer. The 13-year-old provided the scriptwriters with a very detailed description of the GawGaw – a person who transforms into a monster and roams the streets terrorising people on Christmas Eve – which also happens to be his birthday. 

“This is a world’s first panto in the dark that uses binaural technology, which creates a 3D stereo sound sensation for the listeners, making the spectators, who will have headphones on, feel as if they are in the same room with the performers,” Ms Vella noted. “Except for people who are completely deaf, accessibility was not an afterthought, but the actual starting point of our panto. We wanted everyone to be on a level playing field.” Most of the time, people with visual impairment are provided with audio-descriptive performance. 

A narrator would explain what is happening on stage, meaning that the blind person sometimes misses out on the singing and dialogue. For Samuel, who is keen on drama and theatre, this is a once in a lifetime experience for a 13-year-old. He hopes the panto in the dark becomes an annual feature so that people “can walk in the same shoes of a visually impaired person – if only for an hour”.