Thursday, 31 January 2019

Impatient Customers lack empathy with HoH staff.

Amie Bodkin (right) and her sister, Mia
A retail worker who is hard-of-hearing has spoken out against inconsiderate customers who are not sympathetic of her disability. 

Amie Bodkin works in a store in Bluewater and often encounters people who fail to realise why she may be struggling to hear or understand them. She spoke out after coming across a viral video of a deaf man being refused service at a drive-thru simply because he was deaf. 

The video shows the man, Brandon Washburn, attempting to place an order at the Taco Bell drive-thru in Kettering, Ohio, by using his phone screen to present his order. He is told by the server that it is "against company policy" to take his order, who goes on to threaten to call the police on Washburn. The incident was recorded by the man’s girlfriend, and the employee was later fired by Taco Bell. 

Responding to the video on Facebook, Amie said: "I never usually post my views but as someone that is hard of hearing, I find this incredibly frustrating. "Being deaf or hard-of-hearing is hard enough without being refused service because of something you can’t help." The 21 year-old from Worcester Close, Istead Rise, often takes orders both face-to-face and over the phone in the shop. She said: "As part of my job, I frequently have to take people’s names and contact information for some of the services that we provide and sometimes I do struggle with understanding what customers say as I can sometimes mix up the sounds of various letters and numbers. 

"As crazy as it sounds, some letters and numbers sound alike to me and I have to ask once, twice or three more times to check I have gotten it right. "There have been incidents where customers have gotten frustrated with me and tutted, sighed or rolled their eyes and speak to me as if I was stupid. "I try exceptionally hard every day at work trying to keep up with everyone else and it is extremely exhausting. 

Airline discriminated by refusing to write things down for the deaf couple.

A deaf couple said they asked for help from a Delta agent, but police were called instead
Makes a change from refusing to sign at them I suppose!   A deaf couple accused a Delta Air Lines staffer of discriminating against them by refusing to communicate with them in a way they would understand - in writing. 

Instead, the couple said, the staffer rolled her eyes, the situation escalated, police were called, and they never got on their flight. Socorro Garcia and Melissa Yingst have threatened to sue and said Delta should train its employees on how to communicate with deaf passengers. In a statement, Delta said: "We have reviewed the situation with our Detroit team and continue to work with these customers to better understand what transpired. 

We take situations like these very seriously and as part of our culture of continuous improvement, we are using this as an opportunity to learn." The dispute happened at the Detroit Metro Airport on Sunday night, when Garcia and Yingst, who were in Detroit for the National LGBTQ Task Force's Create Change conference, were heading home to California. The women said they had initially been told they would be able to sit together, even though their assigned seats were apart. At the gate, they tried to communicate their request using an iPhone, but the agent kept talking and refused to write anything down, the couple said in a Facebook video recounting their experience.

Jobsense or Nonsense?

Image result for ATR jobsenseThe recent response to concerns about AOHL financial viability.  ATR has received some assurances of no cuts to its current provision in East Wales and indeed a new 'service' called 'jobsense' was announced, but 'restructuring' recently announced by its CEO appear to contradict this. Ergo:  "I don’t think it’s appropriate to use voluntary fundraised income to subsidise the responsibilities of the state,"

Dear ATR thank you for your post.

Yes, we can reassure there are no planned cuts to support available in Wales. To reassure we are planning to support more people across Wales and will be launching a new ‘Jobsense’ service. This will support people across East Wales into employment and is funded through the Welsh Government and European funds.


ATR Response:

Perhaps AOHL could consider closing it's London office HQ? which take up huge amounts of money away from its funding, as cost of living and sky-high London costs are prohibitive?   This would be more realistic usage of AOHL funding I feel, as would 'devolving' AOHL itself to reflect the political and assembly UK realities?  

AOHL Cymru e.g. could be a stand alone set up, as could AOHL Scotland etc....  AOHL must be the sole charitable area that has failed to recognise devolved assemblies, and it is an issue because as we know support systems for HoH are devolved to.    

Can AOHL add 'tags' to video updates to identify WHICH areas they are talking about? and whose responsibility and area it covers?  It is not always clear what area they are talking about.  The nature of the viewing beast is assumption few take the trouble to investigate or validate the news they read.

We had a farce recently where some Welsh HoH actually commuted to London to lobby over one issue, (Including 2 AOHL members!), via people assuming a post pertaining to an NHS change in England applied also in Wales too because they read it on the AOHL London-centric website, and because AOHL's only website is there, it is assumed all such info applies everywhere else.  Whilst AOHL has website 'links' to local areas (Wales, Ireland and Scotland aren't local), the reality is most do not seek those links out.  There is concern 'regional areas' of AOHL aren't making local decisions, but support and care directions are dictated from London, often overruling local AOHL Staff recommendation and defined the localised need, AOHL appears to be dictating what that need is by itself..

Many care and health services for the deaf and HoH AREN'T run via London or Parliament any more.   E.G. most welsh assembly guidelines for deaf and HoH care and support in health are 'advice' only and depend on various trusts to include, (or  as posted to ATR recently via a welsh assembly health minister), ask they 'honour' their obligation to our rights, and they can't or won't because of other cost demands on the Welsh NHS, and despite access laws.  

AOHL withdrew active participation in the all-party set up, it was/is getting nowhere, and there was no support for the deaf who went unless they provided their own.  AOHL responded by rewarding the Assembly with awards congratulating the staff there on access provision.  You could not script it, and far be it for ATR to suggest, it was a cynical ploy to engender more funds, as deaf were unable to get any identification of the staff who 'qualified',  curiously the data protection act was used so they could not be identified, so what was the point?

(1)  What is the official breakdown of London HQ costs?  Wages? rent? staff? etc One rather fears this situation has rambled on since 1911 when benevolence was king/queen and is dated,  it no longer reflects the current state of the UK political reality nor has for 15 years.  

(2) Has the AOHL reclaimed money spent on migrants settlement cost, as this is free now?  

(3) Current financial position of AOHL.  Income £40,060,000   Spending £42,719,000.   It's the financial approach of Micawber, and they are warned about viability.  This also suggests cuts are inevitable, you cannot keep spending more than you get.  Something has to go.

(4) Can AOHL explain plans to move areas and expertise to Europe?

It is reassuring the AOHL is getting involved in work support, but the law is already there to ensure we are treated fairly isn't it? and it ignores fact the government has CLOSED job centres and running employment approaches via welfare allowance rulings instead.    

ATR was asked, will we all be attending AOHL job-centres?  No, They aren't job centres, they are proposed 'advice areas' probably suggested because CAB and Co weren't supporting deaf and HoH via lack of funding, and the Welsh BDA was unqualified to advise their own deaf and excluded HoH anyway.   ATR asked the BDA for comment and hasn't had a reply as yet, with regards to how many deaf unemployed there are, given current rivalries we probably won't get an answer..

The AOHL in assuming its moral high ground as 'non-political' is defying realism and practicality, as well as telling a few 'porkies' because they got itself involved in EU issues of migration, and refused to oppose attacks on the rights of deaf and HoH by our own government to ensure they kept the funding coming in..  The AOHL CEO stated this week, "I don’t think it’s appropriate to use voluntary fundraised income to subsidise the responsibilities of the state,"   So, what is 'jobsearch'? The AOHL, in essence, operates APART from the mainstream of our deaf and HoH support/communal areas.  It pretty much does its own thing as some sort of 'support area' which systems pay them to provide, via need the AOHL itself defines.

ATR could also suggest the AOHL no longer pursues hearing aid cleaning etc and uses funds to ensure deaf and HoH get what they are already promised by a legal agreement and by no less than 4 equality laws.  Not least because it is deterring membership and belief, as well as ignoring the fact the NHS has that responsibility.  This is a real way to make difference.  If only to stop apathy towards what AOHL provides otherwise.  ATR feels AOHL are constantly bailing the government out and being opportunistic,  instead of attacking them for withdrawing that help, blocking deaf and HoH rights, and still hoping funding will keep going in for that. AOHL is part of the solution or part of the problem, isn't it?   Again,  the AOHL CEO stated this week, "I don’t think it’s appropriate to use voluntary fundraised income to subsidise the responsibilities of the state,"

AOHL aren't really paying for jobsense and, to be fair, all 'EU funding to the UK' is money re-sent back to the UK from billions we send there to trade with them (Minus the redistribution fees),  which raises the point will jobsense support funding continue When we leave the EU?  That funding could dry up. The UK government as we know, won't finance it is why they appealed to the EU fund.   We really need to target who is creating the issues.  AOHL may have applied for that funding. We are unsure it is was researched for practicality or for viability, or just another attempt by the AOHL to create jobs for themselves. Of real concern is the fact they haven't the staff yet to set it up and still trying to get such staff (who will need quite professional qualifications if it is to work, and still doesn't take into account DWP approaches, which will be neutralising anything they try).  

Last year with huge welfare allowance issues taking place, East Wales deaf and HoH, had to rely on the RNIB, because neither the AOHL or the BDA were able or qualified to help.  It's rather late in the day to have a  stab at it.  Jobsense seems to be going ne
f the funding cake that is disapperaing fast.  It's just a never-ending begging bowl and pointless mess, that benefits few if any of us.

Monday, 28 January 2019

When CONNECT'ing isn't.

Sharing Experiences...Sinead & Daithi from Chime on Vimeo.

No narrative, no captions and the C.O.N.N.E.C.T acronym s a misnomer in terms.  Are they aware such output is highly misleading the general public?  Providing access for... hearing and signers only?

Family Support Services

Family Support Services from Chime on Vimeo.

What a shame raising awareness and providing access via subtitling or captioning was not included so we can follow what is being said by this 'Public Information' video.  It is a shame toeing the cultural line means access is for the very few only who can sign when near all parents are hearing and don't.

Deaf-Blind and Independent.

Hey! Today's vlog I talk about deaf blind and being independent and keeping that independence. Were all different but where the same.

Deaf and Blind.

Deaf ATW in BSL.

AOHL in financial trouble?

The disability charity (?) Action on Hearing Loss has put in place a financial turnaround plan after concerns were raised about its future solvency. Its recently published accounts for the year to March 2018 show that the charity had an income of £40.1m but spent £42.7m. 

It is the fifth time in six years that expenditure has outstripped income at the charity. The accounts show it had about £1.3m in free reserves – just over a week’s running costs – in the year to March and trustees had to renew a £3m revolving credit facility with Lloyds Bank. They also agreed to sell its remaining investment portfolio to help generate additional cash. A note from the charity’s auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers says that "material uncertainty" over fundraising income and other conditions cast doubt on the charity’s ability to "continue as a going concern". 

Speaking exclusively to Third Sector, Mark Atkinson (left), who was appointed as chief executive of Action on Hearing Loss last October, said a robust financial recovery plan had been agreed with trustees and they were confident of steadying the financial situation over the next year. "We are having to address some fundamental challenges, not just for how we stabilise our income but also how we grow our income in the long term," he said. 

"There’s real pressure on liquidity and our dependence on the revolving credit facility with Lloyds Bank." The recovery plan includes selling a number of assets, including the charity's head office in Islington, north London, and relocating some staff, including most of its finance team, to its office in Peterborough.

Signing activist turns on baby CI videos... again!

Why the lack of acceptance, basic ignorance, and attacks on choice, is defeating deaf cultural aspiration.  It's nothing to do with 'inspiration' at all, any more than showing a signing baby is.  Or are videos of signing babies 'porn' too?

‘As a society we have continually failed to provide Deaf children and their families with enough resources and support for their language development.’ I want to talk to you about porn. No, not that porn. I’m talking about inspiration porn. 

Coined by the disability activist Stella Young (who gave this incredible TEDX Talk), inspiration porn happens when a disabled and/or Deaf person is reduced to a one-dimensional being for heart-warming pleasure and as inspiration for everybody else. Inspiration porn isn’t new. Back in the day, it was Tiny Tim in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. 

Nowadays, all sorts of inspiration porn is being blared, non-stop, on our social media feed: the prom queen who gave her crown to a girl with Down syndrome, and ‘Your Excuse is Invalid’ memes, and this high school senior who gave his friend with William’s Syndrome a toy cement truck. So these inspiration porn videos in your social media feed keep you entertained for a few minutes and make goosebumps prickle on your arms. What’s the big deal? Though it doesn’t appear so at first glance, inspiration porn is damaging to the disability and Deaf communities in so many ways. 

The narratives espoused in inspiration porn are almost always created by able-bodied people, depriving disabled and Deaf people of their right to create their own stories and decide how they are perceived by the rest of society. And not surprisingly, these narratives often paint a distorted picture of reality for disabled and Deaf people. They promote stereotypes and misconceptions, and fuel negative societal perspectives of disability. With inspiration porn, you are never getting the whole story. 

You see a moment frozen in time in a single snapshot, or a few minutes captured on video. Yet it’s these brief glimpses stolen from disabled and Deaf people’s lives that dominate the narrative and determine how we’re viewed by the rest of society. Think about that. Whole lifetimes, the experience of entire communities and millions of individuals, reduced to a few moments. Take my favorite example of inspiration porn: ‘Baby hears for the first time.’ Odds are, you’ve probably seen one of these videos before. A Google search returns nearly 40 million results, including this video and this one and this one. There’s even this compilation video that lasts 16 minutes. 

Sunday, 27 January 2019

State of the Welsh NHS approaches to the deaf and HI (2019).

Image result for CI's in WalesGr┼Áp Iechyd a Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol Health and Social Services Group 

Dear ATR

Thank you for your e-mail of 6 January addressed to Vaughan Gething AM, Minister for Health and Social Services regarding the figures of cochlear implants and access for deaf and hard of hearing people in the Welsh NHS.  I have been asked to reply on this occasion. 

The following numbers are for all implants carried out in Wales (Paediatrics implants are carried out in Central Manchester for north Wales patients). 

                                                   2016/17 2017/18 2018/19*       
                                                      Adults 43, 31, 24 
                                             Paediatrics 13, 12, 12,
                                                      Total 56 43 36 
                                *the position as of the 31st of December 2018 

With regards to access for deaf and hard of hearing people in the Welsh NHS, there is a legal duty under the Equality Act 2010 to ensure that reasonable adjustments are made to deliver equality of access to healthcare services for disabled people.  This duty is anticipatory and requires public bodies to be proactive in making adjustments to ensure all access and communication needs are met.   

The Welsh Government’s commitment to tackling the difficulties faced by the sensory loss community when accessing healthcare services is rooted in the expectation that healthcare organisations should develop accessible information policies to address the communication needs of people with sensory loss.   In recognition of the difficulties faced by patients with sensory loss, the “All Wales Standards for Accessible Communication and Information for People with Sensory Loss” was launched by the Welsh Government in December 2013. 

The purpose of these standards is to ensure that the communication and information needs of people with a sensory loss are met when accessing our healthcare services. They provide guidance to NHS staff on how to ensure patients’ information and communication support needs are met, which would include text support or lip-reading support, as well as BSL. 

All Health Boards and Trusts have put in place implementation arrangements to deliver on the standards to ensure all services are accessible and available including the deaf community through the communication medium of choice.   

Thank you for writing on this matter. I hope you have found my reply helpful. 

Yours sincerely,    
Christopher Maton Government Business Team 

[ATR extends many thanks to Mr Maton for is help].

The question seems to be that the 'unequal access' with regards to the Deaf and the HoH is down to supply and demand and that the BSL user is making the majority of demands for support on the Welsh NHS, despite being the minority.  As ATR did not ask for a specific FOI request for lip speaking/text usage at this time, as we wanted CI comparisons with the rest of the UK. 

Quite obviously as it is down to individual Trusts, ATR would have to contact them all because there are discrepancies on statistical gathering, specific questions not asked because deaf and HoH stats are often inclusive AND exclusive of either sector, it was a question asked of the all-party sensory committee and got no answer.

ATR will pursue options shortly to ascertain what, if any, demand has been made for lip-speaking or text assistance to the Welsh NHS.  It could explain why Welsh NHS systems are using public Information output randomly in video e.g. that contains little or no access for the two areas described, aka to include lip speaking and text.  As they are obliged to 'anticipate' HoH formats,  this does not appear to be happening at all, it is just captions sometimes and sign all the time. Obviously, hospitals, charities, and GP's have different stats, that may or may not be included within the NHS whole.  It's a minefield of misinformation at present because there is no set approach to gathering facts.

It would appear BSL being likened to a different language, also gives them a higher support priority because the Assembly links their cause to the Welsh language right of inclusion.  An issue ATR suggests distorts access issues.

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Pioneering Parents.


Purpose of the project. This project is funded by the Wales School for Social Care Research. The Centre of Sign-Sight-Sound in Colwyn Bay, Dr. Christopher Shank at Bangor University, and Dr. Anouschka Foltz at the University of Graz are running the project. The main aims of the project are to identify what kinds of parenting classes would be useful for Deaf parents, and which existing English-language parenting classes could be adapted into British Sign Language (BSL). Project timetable. If you participate in the project, you will take part in an interview. 

We will schedule the interview at a time and place that is convenient for you. The interview will be video-recorded. Risks and benefits. There are no foreseeable risks. We hope that this project will help us to develop and offer more parenting classes in BSL in the future. Confidentiality. Only practitioners and researchers at the Centre of Sign-Sight-Sound, Bangor University and the University of Graz will have access to the videos. We will make the information from the interviews available to the public through publications and presentations. This includes quotes and summaries of the information in the videos. 

No parts of the videos will be shown to the public. You will, therefore, remain anonymous. We will not mention your name or any other information that could identify you in any publications or presentations. Any quotes will be anonymized so that you cannot be identified. All data from this study will be stored and presented anonymously. Participation is voluntary. Your participation is voluntary. You can refuse to participate in the project, and you can withdraw from the project at any time. You don’t need to give us a reason and there will be no negative consequences. 

If you want to withdraw from the project, please contact Sarah Thomas at the Centre of Sign-Sight-Sound email: office 01492 530013 mob: 07715671010. 

Instructions. If you agree to participate, we will ask you some questions about yourself and your thoughts about parenting classes through the medium of BSL. Ethics: The project has been approved by the ethics committee of Bangor University’s College of Arts and Humanities. Participant’s signature: The researcher has informed me about the project and answered my questions about the project to my satisfaction. I know that I can withdraw from the project at any time and that I will remain anonymous. I

 agree to the interview being video-recorded. Signature of participant: Date: Researcher’s signature: I have informed the participant about the project and answered his/her questions about the project. I informed the participant that s/he can withdraw from the project at any time and that he/she will remain anonymous

Breaking the language Barriers with Microsoft.

Disability Inclusion Is ‘Good Business’

disable business
Despite Low Awareness, It is in the interests of corporations and leaders to support and nurture the talents of disabled individuals, agreed a panel on the business case for disability inclusion at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. 

Panellists agreed on the clear economic case and return on investment for disability inclusion, as part of the value proposition of a business, and recognized the imperative to create a new global standard for workplace disability equality. Stakeholders must recognize “the power that business brands, leaders and platforms can bring to change,” said Caroline Casey, founder of business inclusion company Binc. 

There are 1.3 billion individuals with disabilities worldwide – one in seven of the global population. A total of 80% of that number acquire a disability between the ages of 18 and 64, yet disabled people are 50% less likely to have a job. “Disability, collectively, is the most marginalized group of people in the world,” said Casey. 

The case for disability is a case for business, participants argued. Multiple studies have shown that disability inclusion in the workplace results in higher revenue, net income and profit margins, while the cost of disability exclusion in OECD countries is an estimated 7%. “We see the financial benefits, the benefits of attracting great talent,” said Julie Sweet, Chief Executive Officer for North America at Accenture. 

“We believe it’s really important to be focusing on invisible disabilities,” she said, which accounts for 80% of disabled individuals. “If we don’t have a world where everybody is included, then we’re touching the basic fabric of humanity,” said Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer (2009-2018) of Unilever, who also runs a foundation for the blind. “People with disabilities are humans, and it could be you tomorrow.”

Do deaf and disabled feign own awareness?

Image result for wheelchair wars
More social media debate triggered by complaints originally on "if the wheelchair user has more right on the street than anyone else"  after elderly people complained they were being rammed from behind and shouted at, and HoH being pushed and shoved.  

That for some reason turned into a deaf issue via HoH complaining about chair-using disabled arrogance and attacks on dogs for the deaf versus the blind dog validity.  There seems an undercurrent of conflict not being debated properly, which isn't healthy.

I've spent 45 years examining awareness of disabilities, probably one of the few examing our own attitudes to it.  Since equality, acceptance, and inclusion become a set of buzz-terms, the reality is more angst and more 'difference' and less of it all.  There is a view only we know what the issues are because we live it, but it is all relative and individual and no help to the man/woman in the street who wants a simple answer to 'what exactly do you all want/need?' because no one size fits all it gets very random indeed and undefinable, indeed competitive amid disabled themselves.  Awareness then fails miserably.  Most accept it is a mish-mash of confusion and bias now and we need to go back to basics or forget it.

We can AS deaf or disabled people be totally ignorant or uninterested in issues the mainstream faces and can become unduly self-focused on own rights without compromise.  Mainstream doesn't have it all their own way, and there is no magic formula to invoke the 'coke' advert as any norm.   The UK has a 'name' and widespread self-belief in themselves for helping charity and the underdog but has little or no understanding of their issues, is mostly patronising, and the awareness emanating from disability areas is too random to be applicable to all.  

Image result for paying lip service
You have the conundrum whereby the system then pays lip-service to it, and the laws, and the disabled themselves and their charities going off in a different direction altogether. I have more and more empathy every day with people who aren't deaf disabled trying to work out what exactly the deaf/disabled want and how on earth it equates with the mantra of inclusion,  What we see is the mainstream abandoning the whole thing with 'live and let live' instead, less hassle.

The 4 major UK laws 'empowering' the right to equalities, don't work, the disabled/deaf areas want more that don't. The problem is setting precedent all can benefit from but you can't, you can only set your own.  The sign language-using deaf community, e.g. are determined to have equality, but only on their own terms which they demand everyone else must accept, including their right NOT to be included in areas, have own schools, own way of being taught, own language approaches.  It means non-deaf cannot move freely within their world or, vice-versa.  Equality on specific terms, is that real equality if it tends to not include others?  Can they integrate if they have no desire to do that? or be forced to by the inclusive remit and laws?  

Image result for checkmate
One suspects the rights issues have all fallen foul of the basic fact we all want to do own thing and if that can mean not having others around you don't want or cannot get on with, so that's OK.  The issue is to what degree this is being practised,? then it can become some sort of self-imposed isolation with 'benefits' but only for the few and integration and inclusion becomes non-starters by default.  Human nature trumps rights, equality and inclusion.  Checkmate.

A lot is based on the fear too much 'inclusion' would decimate the signing community, and they need each other and their systems to maintain it and their culture.  They point out, their support areas and charities already accept this and campaign on that basis, indeed areas can oppose alleviation of hearing loss and can label it an assault on them as people and some sort of 'genocide aimed at their core members, its a desperate sort of defence.  Deafness is them and without it no community, a crude but simplistic assumption that ignores other people's view of things.  Including those in their own community.

Image result for inclusion
Cochlear Implants e.g. were a  primary target for such areas, and in part still are. To protect sign language and awareness their perceived primary communication medium, they will oppose subtitling and captions too, because they feel (And there seems some consensus), viewers won't look at the sign but read the words instead and then sign awareness fails. It is viewed as a right too.  Few people realise that 'diversity' within disabled/deaf areas mean they have the right to do their own thing, including not using sign language.  Then it is all defensive and inclusion is sidelined. 

Thursday, 24 January 2019

You're Joking...

Image result for deaf jokeThe parents of a 6-year-old boy had thought him deaf and mute. He had never spoken a word. Finally, one morning at breakfast, out of nowhere, the boy says "Oatmeal's cold." 

Mom and dad look at each other in disbelief; finally, the mom says "Son, all this time we thought you couldn't speak, why did you speak now?" The boy looks at them and says "Up to now, everything's been OK."

IDS in desperate attempt to prevent closure

Update: Template Letter for public representatives from Irish Deaf Society on Vimeo.

Irish deaf in an appeal to protest at funding withdrawal by the government.  Is it not time the deaf community started to look after itself?  and not rely on interpreters, support workers, carers, local authorities, friends, families, own children, charities, and lottery freebies?  HoH do not get funding nor do their clubs get subsidised.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Its all about inclusion innit?

Some are still complaining deaf and HoH aren't being considered for deaf and HoH roles.  But a recent UK blog, with no less than 32 charities behind it (!) insists it is discrimination.

Bias and vested interest seem to be the point, going by their 'support' which included no less than 9 theatrical charities for the deaf and a site run BY one of the contributors..  but it's very little to do with actual access or inclusion as by default, dedicated BSL and cultural media is non-inclusive and specialised.  Deaf and HoH playing deaf and HoH roles is stereotypical typecasting, so they are confining themselves.  Do they think adding a few HoH charities validates it all?   80% of charities have no viable membership and a perusal of people running them seems to suggest they are often one and the same people.  What inclusions are they really on about? and, have they identified a fee paying audience at all?  as near all their ouput is subsidised via disability grants given via the 'Deaf & HoH' remit rule.  

It's just making output for themselves and including the 10m with hearing loss isn't even a consideration, since using captions and an occasional hearie keeps them in compliance with the funding rules appears a bit cynical, but with totally unrelated content it is a con act to promote a sign culture instead.  They already have the largest slice of the funding cake and media inclusion.  It is disproportionate to the core sector of those with hearing loss.

What are they actually suggesting? mainstream invent deaf and HoH parts so they get included?   Only allow actors who have a hearing loss can take on such a role?  Poor old deaf artists, you aren't viewed as being able to do anything else by your own people.  According to one main charity in the UK, this is discrimination against hearing/HoH and other deaf (And it's a charity NOT included in this site's listing of 32 biased supporters).  Is anyone asking the people who buy the tickets?  Or those that create the theatre and the Arts?  It's a minority within a minority output and the only way out of that is to stop navel contemplation.  Diversity is just the ultimate cop-out.

They need to ask themselves why mainstream investors in the Arts DON'T feel such output is worth their while, and after all it's their money, not a handout from charitable funds, and nothing at all to do with discrimination as alleged.  If they know nobody hearing is going to turn up to watch such output why would they pour money into it?  They, AREN'T a charity.  It needs such deaf artists to prove they can do more than just play themselves as they are unrealistically demanding.  Those roles only will exist in minority output and only as long as the funding is there.

Are you anti-disability?

ATR does feel it isn't as simple as minding your D's, d's, ists and isms! There are people who don't feel disabled are the same as them and go on often very visible examples.  Of course, the way you approach that image is the issue.  We all suffer from being wary of things we don't understand.

The idea there is some 'perfect' able-bodied example to offer comparisons is the problem as the trend today is everyone is equal and the playing field should be viewed as completely level. Disabled don't really understand 'able-bodied' have issues too and they don't get all they want or deserve either it may be easier to try that's all.  Unfortunately, skill levels and ability play a major part in deciding that.  With the best will in the world, you don't hire someone with lesser ability just because of their inherent right to apply or an access law says you must.

I don't think it really helps to suggest everything we say or do can be viewed as negative and intended that way.  Ignorance pretty much rules, and with regards to deaf people, there are alternative and accepted views on how their issue (Deafness and loss of hearing), may or may not be viewed as a disability, so you have the mainstream confused because they don't really see how one person deaf sees it as a non issue and another feels their life is ruined by it, or the one size fits all is valid.

I think in terms of disability the key here is LOSS of a sense or part of the physiology, and those born without it to start with will not see it as any different.  It doesn't help to find new ways to suggest mainstream is down on the disabled when disability is undefined or even the concept opposed from within the areas of those with them. We get the conundrum whereby even those born without some basic issue will claim they are being got at too because subconsciously they buy into their issue disabling them so they can respond on that level.

We aren't all the same, and we don't believe everyone wants that either. It kills aspiration and progress.  I can think of nothing worse than everyone on the same level and doubt it is even possible for those with a disability or those without one. Where skills are equal of course.   The hashtag culture has a lot of negativity and fuels difference and people's attitude towards it.  You can be anti/against another person's view without it being viewed their disability or non-disability is under attack, the problem is people ignorant of the difference, or having a polarised view on things, we can therefore, agree while we aren't in any unison, you cannot expect anyone else will be.  If they see one deaf person doing this and another doing that, can we force them to choose which is the most valid? 

We are damned if we do, damned if we don't use the right terms, but these terms change daily....  The real issue, is a disability (Indeed deafness and the people with it),  become an entity in themselves and a 'breed apart' by default via their own unity of approach towards attitudes, then we are borderline 'us versus them' which is entirely unhelpful to either area.  What happens is 'each to his or her own' initialising the default position, so any level playing field then becomes relative.

I can play!

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

The play's the thing

Image result for the play's the thing
Representation” almost seems like a buzzword in the modern era when it comes to the entertainment industry. However, the lack of representation of some minority groups remains an issue that must be confronted. As someone with a hearing loss,  I am sad to see that so many non-deaf or hard of hearing actors are cast in a role portraying a deaf and hard of hearing character, as there are so many deaf and hard of hearing actors who could play the part. 

Fortunately, there are films that cast deaf and hard of hearing actors. In the 21st century, non-documentary films where deaf and hard of hearing actors actually played deaf and hard of hearing characters. One day, I hope this list can be so much longer."

Does ATR agree?  It doesn't, typecasting springs to mind, even a basic acceptance all deaf actors can do is play deaf parts, which must be doing them a gross disservice and no wonder they are scrambling to portray themselves instead of getting out there in the mainstream complaining they are being sidelined and broadening their skills and art so it isn't an endless, token inclusion or rights message.  Surely a deaf person using sign language is the ultimate in stereotyping, and a false one at that.  Disability inclusion is awful and the deaf or disabled actor is on a loser as soon as they get involved, playing the system game of making what is perfectly ordinary a format something 'heroic' or brave.

Search options online are mostly flagging up ASL output not British, honing my search TO UK deaf actors threw up a few adverts for dedicated cultural deaf output in London, and complaints they weren't getting enough support or funding for that, little or nothing about deaf actors playing hearing roles, just complaints they cannot represent themselves AS deaf people,  Of course, bums on seats count mostly, regardless if you are deaf or not.  Making minority output for minorities can only be funded by disability grants because they don't make a profit.  Unfortunately, such minority output is in, the city, and most outside are unable mostly to see or support it. Its a happy band of indulgent deaf luvvies in London doing their own thing mostly, and definitely playing the card of disability to get the money.  Of course topicality and alternatives to sign are not used or explored, except silence being used, nobody deaf is silent!

The jury is still out. Cultural deaf output based on sign language is a minority viewing even amidst the signing deaf who prefer captioned hearing output.   Ask them what their favourite output is it won't be signed output.  Near all media signed output in TV e.g. is heavily subsidised because it can never make any money on its own and because the equality law is more heavily used there, but the viewing figures are near un-recordable.  Without the inclusion law, you would not be seeing the signed output, but are the deaf actually watching it?  

It doesn't matter! because its a right of access, but despite that right deaf are switching off.  BBC/ITV/C4 all try to get it off-screen/online at prime time, and have to a large extent succeeded by offering deaf (But not the disabled), a subsidised channel or show to be shown somewhere else or at hours most people are in bed asleep.  Its sold as 'supporting the deaf community' but out is still out of prime time, and the BBC's response areas have removed deaf feedback altogether because they objected to what was happening., and replaced it all with 'OUCH' a disability-led and sanitised non-entity that toes the BBC line. Of course, all work for the usual and non-representative suspects.  It is sad to see the Deaf bought into the scam, and did not hold their ground, but, work is work I suppose, even if hardly anyone watches what you do!

Maybe the actors are confining themselves, yes they can sign, but finding films, plays, theatres or people to invest etc where that is an intrinsic part to play requires investment and viewers, HEARING ones, and they haven't the wherewithal or desire to do it.  COLG we are told broke the FILM mould by making a deaf artist appealing to hearing people. But, it's been done and very little has since to capitalise on it in the UK.  It also requires some film mogul prepared to take a risk hearing will look at it.

Of course, focusing ON a deaf person means adopting the default position of minority cultural output again, in essence, their own format has defined them, if they had other skills, showed versatility, and the real diversity of communication options they have, they would not be unkindly described as one-trick ponies by the sceptics. I do recall a lip-reading actor portraying as a deaf person in a hearing TV show that got plaudits from the hearing viewers, that was then criticised heavily by peers, because she did not use sign language and they went at her lip-reading too. 

'Deaf people would do this, not that..' etc, so they were undermining their own diversity and demanding their own stereotype, instead of supporting what was a success. One suspects there is this vociferous minority within a minority too purist to enable deaf to break the mould, also centred and probably endorsed by the select little band of deaf luvvies for whom the deaf play is the thing...... with BSL of course.

Herts CC's new BSL Video relay for BSL users.

USING AI To teach sign language

In schools all over the world, children sit in classrooms and learn a new language. Most options available for students are Spanish, German, or French. One such language that often gets left in the dark is Sign Language. 

Approximately 10 per cent of the population is either deaf or experience hearing loss and roughly 4,000 people are diagnosed with sudden deafness every year. Sign Language is difficult to learn and even harder to teach because it utilizes a combination of mouthing, facial expressions, body posture, as well as hand gestures to communicate. 

But all of that may change with the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) into the mix. Stephanie Stoll, a PhD candidate in computer vision from the University of Surrey, is currently collaborating with colleagues on a software that will allow people to teach themselves sign languages in an “automated and intuitive way.” In its current version, the software can analyze how students sign in Swiss-German sign language and then deliver feedback regarding handshape, location, timing, and motion. 

Stoll believes that they are the first to attempt any kind of assessment on signing. Moreover, they want to develop a system that can give users evaluations of their progress and correct mistakes. Learning Sign Language is categorically more difficult because it can’t be read or written down. To combat this, the team at the University of Surrey developed a computer game that shows a video of the sign and then records the users’ performance of the sign for evaluation. 

AI technology is utilized in every facet of the performance assessment. A convolutional neural network (CNN) pulls information from the video to view the user's upper body posture. The pose is then transmitted to the hand shape analyzer where an additional CNN examines the video and pinpoints hand shape information at each point of the video. Those shapes are then delivered to a hand motion analyzer called a Hidden Markov Model (HMM). This particular AI technology compares the reference model to the user attempt and produces a score of how well the gestures match. 

Everything the AI does is behind the scenes so that the only thing the user has to focus on is learning. Currently, the software is only compatible with Swiss-German Sign Language.

Monday, 21 January 2019

HoH, a lost cause celeb?

Image result for lost causesAs one American with hearing loss stated: "The HoH really need a thing of their own, but there is no solidarity or direction here."

Well, the UK is different to the USA in most respects re deafness and hearing loss, and has no campaigning HoH lobby as such either.  The last time we saw anyone marching in any strength was in support of 'Deaf president now' in 1980s London, which was put down to having fine weather and a day out, and sense enough to ignore the demand for a 'UK  Gallaudet' as well.  Look how the USA version turned out.

What exists is one or two leading Deaf and Hearing loss charities providing 'advice' on hearing aids and promoting with no real dedication a bit of lip-reading, and 52 others not really with any viable aim or direction.  A charity a day keeps non-interest at bay.  The Deaf are still on about access with strings attached.  

There is no actual unity viz a viz the 'Deaf and HoH' remit at all.  we don't have unity with the UK disability movement either because areas of deaf culture don't want that label as it conflicts with cultural aspiration.  HoH areas DO consider themselves disabled by deafness and loss, but most don't make a point of it, so signers can keep dreaming their dream and HoH get what they can.  Most use the remit as a matter of habit, or simply (or rather cynically), to get funding, but no drive to embrace the inclusive aspect at all. UK charities are all polarised into signing and non-signing areas and have been for years.

The only people using the Deaf and HoH remit are the systems because sitting on the fence is less aggravation.   It was a twee remit invented by charity and the system to encompass people with hearing loss, and to try neutralising rights arguments, the system was determined to be inclusive even if the Deaf and HoH weren't, but unable to carry it through,  and long before the rise of the cultural ideal became a crusade of some sort.  Some health and support areas redefine hearing loss, culture, and deafness 11 different ways, whilst online there exists just two, and to the exclusion of e.g. deaf-blind except using Helen Keller as an unrelated ASL icon of some sort, because they had no-one of their perceived own to ID with.  If Keller had been hearing she wouldn't have been mentioned presumably.  Then along came Ms Marlin with a lesser version of God.

ATR has discussed at length what do HoH WANT? and got no real answers as such.  Apart from people like ATR trying to fly the flag of support, real equality, inclusion, and access against a groundswell of ignorance, apathy and sheer bias, it seems a total acceptance the signer goes one way and the rest tolerate and ignore it to go their way is the norm. No one knows what the eventual outcomes will be, except perhaps more divisions and disruption.  A lot would be comparable to Canute.  

It is mooted the HoH have found the cure, and now use technology as access so no longer require as much support or help, of course, aversion or disappointment with deafness, sign, or culture cannot be aired as such, so its each to his or her own and the signer now has a clear run at the cliff edge of  cultural inclusive processes, which will probably see them all exiled online or in enclaves blaming everyone else for giving them what they asked for.

On reflection, the HoH never had a support system or a communication support norm of any kind anyway. What charities that do exist are wall to wall advice areas on clearing wax out of your ear, and changing your HA batteries, and hardly if ever note access, inclusion, or rights is an issue or hearing loss is.  There was some half-hearted attempt at Makaton, but lip-reading is treated as mission impossible, hearing aids, CI's, BAHA's, captions, subtitles, and phones rule.   Unless the HoH found their own medium and level they had none, with 9-10m HoH, next to none would embrace sign or culture which tells its own story. 

A lot believe the 'Deaf' protest overmuch, but hell if they want glorious isolation that's their choice, but don't drag us along, and use your own statistics not ours.

Facebook Kicking People Out of Groups Who Don’t Participate?

Image result for IN or out ?I doubt it. The rule here is to NOT join, or vet closely  'closed' groups if you can, as they are comprised of people who agree with each other and a clique generally so you won't be allowed to challenge a point even if it is valid, they will close ranks against.  

Censorship on the net is rife and widely operated this way. Initially, the idea was to close groups to prevent spoilers and trolling, a valid aim but it evolved into the 'closed shop' and with too many moderators lacking any qualification to run a site, they become samey and the deluded mods become 'lords of own manor' enjoying the 'power' fo kicking people off-site or selecting only 'yes' people and those adopting the position of the site, inclusion doesn't apply on the net, because it cannot be enforced.  Deaf sites almost created this set up to initially protect the lesser able deaf being swamped by hearing input or the more able deaf view dictating how things are or should be.  The 'Pro-Deaf' sites are a travesty of democracy and wholesale bias as a result.

So we get polarised areas unable to accept realistic debates etc and each attacking the other in isolation.  Pro-charity, versus anti-pathetic stances etc, and pro-BSL/ASL against just about everyone who isn't.  If this is inclusivity and balance I'm a banana.

A lot just want to sound off to people in the same situation as they are, to get sympathy, break isolation, but they never get around to solving the original issue much, because the misery gets all-encompassing, and people enjoy too much complaining to each other it becomes a norm to preach to the converted,  Sites can fold if someone enters being aggressive about that and the mod allows alternative views in.  Mostly because the old retainers of the sites, and those with a blatant own agenda, are finding themselves exposed to realities they joined the net to avoid or don't want to listen to.

The net has created more issues than it will ever solve, and the nature of its use encourages more isolation, more extremism and more aggravation and bullying, there are hardly any 'open' sites that can cope with two people disagreeing with each other regardless how balanced it is.  'Disharmony' is the new black and an excuse to revert to the accepted status quo.  

Facebook is only interested in sites they can sell advertising too, and contentious sites do that for them,  hence a reluctance to kill that golden goose,  low-level area sites don't do anything for their profits.  The more people that participate in a site, the wider the FB selling area, it's quite cynical but, we don't pay anything for FB or twitter so hardly in the running to dictate.  FB also knows if they charge for their service people won't pay and go to other areas instead.

It's mooted FB is now just for oldies.  The only answer is to stop using facebook and have own site, then Facebook has no control over what is talked about, who joins in, or who doesn't.  What we lack are people with an ability to moderate, any fool can set up a site, not any fool can run it properly.  FB can be zeroed if we simply don't use their medium because then, they lose revenue and have to listen to us. We aren't passives with no control unless we choose to be, but the lure of something for nothing and a platform to talk bllx is all-consuming sadly.  We finally find people as inactive and pointless as we are, but 300 idiots is still 300 idiots.

ATR could easily do the same, follow anything and everything, and support whatever, but, why would we do that?  The site aim is individual as is the owner.  You cannot help but think those desperate to attain 'followers' and 'likes' are people who by default would not get them any other way except online and from people the same as them they are living the 'dream of inclusion' but without actually meeting people or demanding it in person.  Then surprised they aren't getting it. Inclusion is adding a digital signature to a petition no-one reads, or agreeing 'cest la vie' to every issue to avoid giving it real thought, and/or, avoid being honest in case the clique moves against, or you find out you really are a racist or homophobic or think the others on that site are stupids and easily led.. but that is life.

There are also claims many active FB and Twitter sites are being run by their own site clique's in that once someone challenges them to the point of a ban, they get blacklisted from the rest, cyberbullying.  ATR at is visible proof of it happening.

Facebook isn't kicking people out of groups bad moderation is.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Sorting out assistance dogs.

Pig brain crazy news 2018ATR deciding not to tread warily with dog lovers and suggests public areas and retail outlets perhaps DO have a case in banning some assistance animals. Note: NO doggie images are included so that people at least attempt to read about the issue! Read here to see what the issue really is! 

"There is no clear law regarding admitting dogs, or, the awareness we don't just have dogs, Why the wider and wider inclusion of assistance animals to include the deaf and those with no visible issue has meant business wants a clear identification process and licences introduced. 

The health and safety law also conflicts with the access law so needs sorting out. When in doubt, business finds it easier to ban to protect themselves, it is far from clear who is liable if or when an assistance animal causes injury or annoyance to others, disabled are resisting allocated areas, claiming it is discrimination. The UK has also identified opportunist pet owners taking their animals into shops and restaurants falsely claiming they have an issue when they don't. 

Some public areas opposed the deaf, on the grounds they should not have their dogs admitted as they are not trained to support as the blind dogs are, thus non-essential assistance animals in that respect. Deaf respond with 'They are psychological/emotional support animals' and staff have no idea what that means.  They can acknowledge a 'deaf dog' alerts a deaf person to a doorbell or other sounds, but fail to see how that makes them eligible to enter food areas in the public domain.  

For the deaf does this mean they are claiming admittance because they have mental health issues? a hidden disability? or, because they are deaf and cannot leave home without a dog?  Some kind of registration process, monitoring, and a definitive ruling is essential to validate, to get rid of the confusion, else the door is literally wide open to anyone with a dog.

Do not other customers have rights?  apparently not, which is another issue, as other customers may be allergic etc...  Should we be insisting assistance dog owners carry public liability insurance too?"