Saturday, 5 January 2019

More CI's for the UK deaf?

Hundreds more people with severe to profound deafness are expected to be eligible for cochlear implants each year, due to updated NICE guidance. 

The update comes after a review of the definition of severe to profound deafness which is used to identify if a cochlear implant might be appropriate. Meindert Boysen, director of the Centre for Technology Evaluation, said: “The appraisal committee listened to stakeholder concerns regarding the eligibility criteria for cochlear implants being out of date. 

Upon review, it was concluded this needed to be updated. “The new eligibility criteria for cochlear implants will ensure that they continue to be available on the NHS to those individuals who will benefit from them the most.” Severe to profound deafness is now recognised as only hearing sounds louder than 80dB HL at 2 or more frequencies without hearing aids, a lowering of the previous threshold. 

A cochlear implant works by picking up sounds which are turned into electrical signals and are sent to the brain. This provides a sensation of hearing but does not restore hearing.

ATR:  A preliminary request for responses to this sent to the 7 Welsh trusts has so far remained negative, in that at least 3 of them have no plans for more implantations, and indeed are providing less of them due to severe cuts in funding provision.  Readers should also take into account the 4 regions of the UK operate independently re their provision to each other, so could well mean getting a  CI depends on where you live.

Friday, 4 January 2019

New Technology Guru for UK Disabled.

The government’s recruitment of technology and product design disability champions represents a new chance for those seeking opportunities regardless of disability. The UK government has revealed it will be recruiting a new technology disability champion. 

The announcement was made to coincide with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD 2018). The champion will use their influential status as a leader in the tech industry to raise awareness of the need for compatibility of mainstream products with assistive technology. The assistive technology sector currently contributes £85 million to our economy and has enriched many disabled people’s lives across the world. 

But many mainstream businesses are still missing out on disabled people’s custom by failing to design technology with their needs in mind. The new champion will join the existing 14 champions who are already driving improvements to the accessibility of services and facilities in a range of sectors, including banking, music and tourism. 

“There are nearly 14 million disabled people living in the UK, and our world-leading tech industry must ensure that it is capitalising on the spending power of their households – the Purple Pound – worth £249 billion every year," says Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work Sarah Newton. “I want tech companies to be a force for good, ensuring inclusion is a fundamental component of the design process so that disabled people can benefit from the latest innovations.” 

Deaf Club creates books for visually Impaired

Members of Lurgan Deaf Club have created specially designed tactile books for local children who are visually impaired. Front row Blathnaid and Eibhleann Girvan, their mum Eleanor with Nessa. Ann Sterritt with her son Ben, Connal and Meadbh Bustard with Cara. Second row Alison Rooney Sensory Disability Team Manager, Adele Magill social worker, Jill McKeown Artist, Eilish Kilgallon Community Access Worker for Deaf people, Una McConville Social Worker, Back row Pat McAteer Specialist Services Manager, Southern Trust Beverley Lappin Social Worker, Kath Byrne Lurgan Deaf Club.
Members of Lurgan Deaf Club created the specially designed tactile books for the children who have described them as ‘amazing’. The group wanted to use their time to produce something that would be of value to others. 

The Southern Trust’s Sensory Disability Team identified three children who would benefit from the books and worked with their families to understand the children’s interests. Artist Jill McKeown then worked with the Deaf Club members to produce three bespoke books, one for each child. Jill said: “I found this a very interesting project to work on as we had to consider all aspects of communication. 

As we were working specifically to meet the needs of three individual children we really wanted their experience to be special and are delighted with the feedback we received. It was lovely to hear the books have given the children such a positive experience.” Eleanor Girvan mum of Nessa said: “The different textures and colours and shine really stimulated Nessa and she really enjoyed the book.” Ben Sterritt’s mum Ann added: “The book is amazing and a lot of work has gone into it. Ben loves it – he loves feeling the shapes and texture and enjoys when I read it to him.” 

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Helping the Deaf in Hospital.

Deaf and being in a non-signing family...

Petre Dobre, BSL Trainee Director, Macrobert Arts Centre
Not an issue.   The experience of growing up a deaf person in a hearing, non-signing family; learning to dance to such a level he was in the finals of the TV programme Romania’s Got Talent and, after an international cultural exchange trip with Solar Bear, he took the enormous step of moving to Scotland to undertake actor training at RCS without knowing British sign language. 

He excelled in all of these. When we recruited Petre to this director traineeship, we had little understanding of how hard it would be for a deaf person to work in an office environment for the first time, and how the medium of written ­language which we all take for granted is so specific to the spoken word. We have learned a great deal about how someone who is deaf experiences the workplace and every day we grow our understanding a little more under Petre’s patient but honest guidance. 

Reading this article, I ­realise what a tremendous task we gave him in asking him to tell you his story in written English. All the facts are detailed but understandably only a little is captured of the person we have the pleasure of working with. This introduction is my attempt to give you some sense of Petre’s ­personality and the person we have the pleasure of working with. Julie Ellen (artistic director, Macrobert Arts Centre). 

Peter writes: I was delighted to be selected as Scotland’s first British sign language director trainee at Macrobert Arts Centre in Stirling, a one-year traineeship partially funded through Creative Scotland’s Year of Young People fund. Deaf and originally from Romania, I came to Glasgow three years ago to join the BA Performance in British sign language and English programme, the first of its kind in Europe, at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Hearing Meet Deaf

I suppose the unasked question is why they didn't before?  So OK why is it a novelty deaf meet hearing kids?

More sign language on TV?

Image result for SKY News sign output
TV channels suggest they would rather not, and fund instead, alternatives online, or move signed output out of prime time TV slots to early weekday viewing (So working deaf would have to record it), or the graveyard shift.  Critics suggest it is because of the inherent nature of sign promotion not being inclusive enough.  One of's recent blogs was a plea for the universal right to captioned access, but with no mention of extending that rule TO ASL or BSL output.  Read on:

"So far as the BBC's sign language availability goes I cannot help thinking they could so simply help those who could benefit from more access to on-screen sign language. I think we all know about how the BBC's news channel provides sign language from 1pm Monday to Friday but apart from this the only content I'm aware of is provided way into the wee small hours. 

Perhaps it might be an idea for the BBC's news channel to provide sign language access to viewers whenever they are broadcasting the same content as they are showing on BBC 1 or 2 irrespective of the time of day. For example were the BBC to be covering a Royal wedding or similar item of interest to the Country they could have the item shown without S/L on the regular channel 1 or 2 and the news channel carry the same with S/L, it would be possible wouldn't it?"

"Sky News tried sign language and had to remove it after 1,000s of hearing AND HoH/Deaf complaints for differing reasons. Television has no real system of awareness, and treats various areas to inclusion to suggest they are inclusive.  However, this hierarchy of inclusion isn't cutting it as they respond to populist media areas e.g. trans people etc, who aren't disabled as far as I know.   We will only be included when viewers see a disabled person on a TV program and not think that IS inclusion, but, the norm.  

However, some disability areas are not playing the game and using TV exposure to push own area agendas,  BSL areas ONLY adopt this approach, they use culture as a blunt tool to push the message, to me this is an instant turn off, and defeats the whole idea of inclusion and reduces deaf/hearing loss appearances to tokenistic micro-seminars on awareness where no one questions if it is the right awareness, representative, or even accurate.  

The point about BSL TV is that they ALREADY Have priority access to funding and exposure far above that of disabled people, whose dedicated TV program was removed.  BSL TV has two, both paid for by disability funding.  As a deaf person my gripe would be regardless of the format used, the content is entirely irrelevant to me, and that is a serious issue as I am concerned, the non-inclusive nature of the signed output, being used to promote issues of hearing loss.  

Deaf people of the cultural persuasion do not understand inclusion and equality in the real sense, it is all highly introspective and relevant only to themselves.  Their online social media is a virtual 'closed shop' where a discussion is pretty much not allowed that suggests all is not what it seems, and vested interests are protecting own ideas of equality...  They campaign singularly and on specific types of access.  When you have a number of areas doing the same thing, then inclusion becomes entirely relative."

Monday, 31 December 2018

2019 from ATR

Lip-reading a defective format?

Related imageFor all but the few.... More realistic responses to ATR's original post on lip-reading approaches in the UK from social media. Starting with one response thanking ATR for the candour and honest debate on lip-reading...

"So interesting to read this and it makes pretty depressing reading to be honest. I’ve become progressively deaf over 35+ years. I am now profoundly deaf and without lip reading skills my life would be pretty miserable. As an illustration of the potential, there is in lipreading my score in a recent test wearing HA’s but NOT lipreading was 0% word/sentence recognition. 

My score WITH lipreading was 98%. Not saying everyone would gain that advantage but a more structured system of education for the deaf and in particular, the more severely/profoundly deafened could make a huge impact on the quality of these people’s day to day lives. Cut off from interaction with others deafness so often results in isolation and desperate loneliness. Thankfully, technology is now coming to the aid of the deaf and for that, we should be grateful, yet there is already an amazing tool available which, properly taught, can transform people’s lives. 😁"

"Yes I did cover the issue at a few points regarding HoH/deafened issues and why they do not appear to be all that worried about access or, support as much as the sign user.  As you suggested technology has apparently filled that support gap without a need to acquire face to face skills.  I had hoped the post was not seen as an assault on lip-reading itself, but so many factors need to be in place to learn and use it effectively I don't see there.  As you also suggested (And I also covered some time ago), there is suggestion isolation is replaced or countered with technology, it's not a view I entirely share or entirely support, mainly because I feel people need other people and interaction by remote isn't that.  The strength of the signing area is their communications rely entirely on face to face and with other people, they have a community and meet up area etc the HoH do not have, or apparently, need now, despite we read people still feel isolated. "

"Technology, doesn't really work with those with full hearing as we often read their interactive communication skills with other people is suffering, so are their children's.   It's a society by proxy.  ATR tried many attempts to do surveys of the HoH and non-signing areas to no avail at all, apart from nobody doing surveys except the bored, clearly, HoH/deafened have found alternatives to sign language and lip-reading.. the jury is still out that is what is happening."

"I think the ability to lip-read relies too much on tuition that doesn't encourage those who need it, or teachers with training who can devote the time to it.  Yes, there are excellent lip-readers around, but most, are hearing!  Or indeed they have the technology to do it.  Which I suspect is the next gizmo we will get offered... then get accused of spying on people!

Related imageAs we saw, most have some useful hearing, indeed the tutor ads suggest that is necessary to acquire the skill (Which I suspect is an acceptance they cannot help those without it).  One query I asked the teachers was, 'What happens, when e.g. a pupil, loses ALL useful hearing, and they can no longer rely on that 'in' ?'  Teachers respond with "We encourage pupils to remove aids and practice.." Which they never told me when I went, and peers said they don't do it either, huge almost total reliance was on using the hearing aid, they didn't really want to be 'deaf for a day' to hone skills.     The survey response (Such as it was), is that they do encourage those with residual hearing to remove aids etc and practice because they know hearing loss is mostly a progressive thing.  I said this doesn't happen does it?  It didn't when I attended the classes.  We change to text-based technologies and still don't lip-read or adopt sign language.  

Many students were missing the point entirely, or, were afraid to risk removing the aids.  My own parent had panic attacks when the battery failed.  The point being the lip-reading skills being hugely dependant on aid support, meant pupils were unprepared when aids no longer worked for them. Of course, residual hearing requirement and the problems of tackling the trauma hearing loss has presented, complicates the lessons, as does the 'mix' of young and the elderly, not really working.   The latter an increasing issue, given so many younger people are suffering hearing loss now, it's no longer an old age problem alone.  Awareness areas need to replace that image of an old codger with a hand cupped to the ear and join the 21stc....

It's a bit like, watching sign language with captioning really, in that 99 out of a 100 of us would ignore the sign and read the captioning instead, its a bugbear with sign language users and awareness, in that, it is why  they often refuse to caption signed output for that very reason, they know we don't watch the sign.  Text is pretty much King as we are concerned."

Sunday, 30 December 2018

ANYTHING but sign language?

Image result for Lip-reading files!ATR's response to HERE on lip-reading.

"The thing about lip-reading is that with most being older people, the skill is more difficult to acquire, and like everything else you need pretty ideal situations for it to work effectively which don't exist in real time.  Street-wise tuition is still in its infancy, so no 'real-time' situations and how to deal with them.

By far the biggest drawback to lip-reading is the tuition of it, (Which is hopelessly chaotic and nobody takes it seriously), notwithstanding, those most deaf are frozen out of classes by the more able with hearing, of course, the total lack of any UK system to support it, makes it pointless except for those more able to hear something. Lip-reading mostly demands some sort of effective hearing class-wise.

BSL has a national support set up,  BSL interpreters can often be lip-speakers too, albeit few if any of them operate in that respect AS lip-speaking support to HoH etc.  Like most awareness advice, it totally relies upon specific circumstances for it to be most effective, and often understates the ideal circumstances for it to work.  

The 30% thing often quoted by signers to justify SIGN use, is always misquoted, the 30% figure applies to HEARING people too, in that nobody understands 100% of everything, sign usage was stated as near 5% or less effective outside its support area and effective circumstance, so lip-reading still appears a more effective deaf format to have. The primary 'attraction' of lip-reading is it suggests you are more independent you can dispense with the middleman.  I like the idea of the DWP accepting the 30% statistic lol but they don't adjust the welfare awards for the 70% you can miss they!

I did notice with lip-speakers they have a lower limit on timed support, usually, 20 minutes max, and they need a break, whilst sign users claim their help can continue for hours and requires little or no effort to follow.  All these claims offer a lot of negativity towards lip-speaking and its application, and facts often get lost, not least sign fails too after a time.  

I found personally those with serious loss are unable to make use of a class on lip-reading because the tutor cannot concentrate on those needing the most help, classes then polarised with those with better hearing on one side and the near deaf out of it and told to seek social worker support instead.  This is utterly ridiculous because a Social Worker will have no language assist short of a pencil and paper to build upon to help.   

Those rejected pupils abandoned lip-reading altogether, full well in the knowledge the Social Services would at best direct them to deaf clubs or even advise them to go back to a lip-reading class again to face more failure and stress.  Nobody is really tackling the issues.  The high drop out rate of those most deaf, is most evident less than 3 weeks in.

This to my mind suggested those needing lip-reading help are just not going to get it, or even utilise a free class.  It's also a fallacy to my mind a teacher of lip-reading can teach up to 12 or 15 people and expect ANY of them to master it to a useful degree given the issues involved of age etc.. You would need one on one and lengthy tuition to make it work, and that isn't currently available or possible.  If a teacher is faced by someone who has NO effective way of following speech, is struggling on a psychological level too, then this defeats the tutor approach immediately, they can be out of their depth, such individuals would stop a tutor in his or her track.

What little I acquired was by sheer pain and stress really, self-tuition via trial and error and having a  quiet hour every day for a scream or two.  The 'attraction' of lip-reading continues unabated, mainly because of sheer denial, those who have severe loss will still try to lip-read or make use of useless hearing aids, use technology ANYTHING rather than be ID'd as deaf. Clearly, there is a deprived sector of people with hearing loss not buying the sign message at all.

The situation whereby a lip-reading class is viewed as some sort of 'hobby' class, and great! if you can learn, no bother if you cannot, as there is no qualification to attain either, makes the whole thing a lottery not to be taken seriously."

10 things you need to know about lip-reading.

Related image1. There appears to be no scientific basis for the frequently quoted claim that lipreading is only 30% accurate. If you think about it, there are many differences in time, place and ease of understanding. Two lipreaders conversing together would get 100%. Nobody can lipread in the dark. 0%. It isn't even a ballpark figure.

2. There are specialised interpreters called Lipspeakers. They are people who are trained to repeat English in such a way as to be very easy to understand. Mostly you get every word but occasionally they may paraphrase to keep up. They can be booked, for example for your PIP assessment if you don't sign. Quite often they are BSL terps as well although the two skills are separate.

3. Lipreading lessons are available all over the country but because it is so specialised you may have to travel some distance to find a class. There is some doubt about whether these are helpful but people do ask for them quite a lot.

4. If you have some hearing then lipreading and your residual hearing will work together to give you a much better comprehension rate. Any amount of hearing however small adds to the picture of speech that you are getting. It all adds up and it is a good reason for using hearing aids. Put it all together and your life is much easier.

5. You can lipread the TV if the picture is clear enough. A large screen TV is easier than a small one. Now you have an excuse for getting that 60 inch job. News programmes are good lipreading practice because the newsreaders are trained in speaking clearly and they usually face the camera all the time.

6. To maximise your lipreading potential try to make it easy for yourself. For example in a lecture get right down the front, close up. Nobody likes to sit in the very front but you have the best excuse in the world.

Try to arrange things so that you are face to face with other people in a good light. The worst place in the world is a dark nightclub with a band playing in the background. Try and pick a table with a candle...

7. People will forget. Oh yes, they do! Even your children will forget to face you and speak clearly. Try to be patient and not throw things at them.

8. Deaf people are usually able to "speak without voice". This is a peculiarly deaf thing and essentially it is 100% lipreading, no sound. Deaf people learn at school to turn off their voice and speak soundlessly. Very useful in a deaf group for making sarcastic remarks about hearing stupidity.

9. Lipreading is often done by hearing people. It isn't a specifically deaf thing. For example, many rock musicians are quite good lipreaders because they learn to talk despite the ear-shattering noise. Many factory workers rely on lipreading because of noisy machinery. Hearing people often talk to each other through a closed window like a phone booth. A lot of hearing people watch each other's faces. That is lipreading.

10. When you make an application for PIP remember that the DWP does not regard lipreading as a reliable means of communication. If you put on your form that you are 100% reliant on lipreading, as many profoundly deaf people are, then you will be treated as if you cannot understand at all. This scores you points because you cannot communicate "safely, repeatably, to a good standard, in a reasonable time for most of your time."

App interprets baby cries for deaf parents.

Santa finds deaf boy's CI for Xmas...

A doting mother has shown the moment her meningitis survivor son received cochlear implants from their elf on the shelf. Ben Farrimond, 13, almost died when he contracted meningitis at just 10 months old and has since been left profoundly deaf due to the condition. 

To assist his hearing, the teenager wears two cochlear implants which enable him to have almost perfect hearing. But after he lost one of his £3,500 (about $6300) implants on December 16, Ben was left in disarray and unable to hear out of his right ear. However, when he woke up on December 19, Ben was shocked to see his elf on the shelf had ‘found’ his ‘magic ear’ and returned it in the form of an early Christmas present. 

“Ben was with his grandparents laying wreaths at the cemetery when he lost the implant whilst messing around with his brother,” Ben’s mother Samantha, from St Helen’s in Merseyside, said. “When he came back for dinner later that evening I noticed that the implant had gone and immediately I went into a panic. “We immediately went and searched the cemetery, but didn’t find anything for two days. “Luckily when we returned on Tuesday night, I managed to find the implant and quickly hide it so that Ben didn’t see it, as I had an idea. 

“Then the next morning, when he ran downstairs to see what the elves had been up to, Ben was so shocked that his ‘magic ear’ had been returned and couldn’t believe how magical it was.”