Monday, 20 May 2019

Defining hearing loss.are hearing aids a fudge?

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Are you wearing your hearing aid for fun?  Or just to fit in and for reassurance?  ATR explains the view.

"I used a hearing aid well beyond the point of it because it could still detect noise.  The fact the noise was not clear or understandable even, was immaterial as the fact I could HEAR something.  It saved a lot of heartaches really.  I know in some part I was fooling myself.  It's an issue 'Deaf '  people will never understand.  Some would say that wearing an aid that was no real help in understanding speech or music etc was pointless,  my own mother wore hers to the grave despite hearing nothing at all with it e.g, but it kept me this side of reason for quite a while.  

It gave me the time I needed to come to terms with going completely deaf and the trauma that created, which while most of us sadly never achieve 100%, but at least it allowed me to manage it to a degree.  The trick is to accept why you use an aid at all when its real usefulness as access is obsolete.  If it is to appear hearing you just fool yourself and get fool as a label too.

I'm not a born-again deafie or something, Seen that didn't like it too many become martyrs, saints preserve us all from those who have caved in to that hype and become martyrs to the cause.  You never really overcome complete hearing loss after formative years of hearing.   Anyone who says different is lying to you.  It's perfectly OK to miss what you had.  It was the suggestion from others even systems, that I needed to accept an ID change and a new social life yadda yadda, to save my sanity, that spurred me on, I was determined NOT to do that and be my own person.

If deafness did anything for me it was to examine who I was, warts and all, until that point I had only seen other deaf in the media and had nothing to do with them, and what I saw wasn't what I wanted.  of course, my background was pretty much part of it, 'Your issue, only you can solve it ...' sort of thing, that was instilled in me by my parents, also 'Get a grip' was pretty much the only advice you ever got.    My parents would have been very angry if I had sought help from the system.  Their initial response to my deafness was something perhaps few other parents would do, they opened greengrocers and put me behind the counter alone, sink or swim some would call it.

Basically, solving your own problems, it is what a shrink will try to tell you is the only way forward anyway, so cutting out the middle man at least saves the fees even if you are away with the fairies a while.  My hearing had already gone the way of the dodo, I was not going to blindly follow suit.  I think men have these issues worse, they aren't natural talkers or would tell their issues to other men, whereas women do this all the time.  Does talking make things easier?   I did wonder if that worked at all, because sharing issues can become an  'issue fest' and you can get bogged down with other people's problems and forget yours is still there, so when the talking stops you are still at base camp,  or maybe it doesn't even get off the ground because the primary problem is communication at day one, you would need to understand and be understood by others to debate the pros and cons of it all..

The prime issue is attaining where possible some communication effectiveness again, it is another vital decider what that approach is, forget what the pat suggestions are explore what options are there but don't restrict them, and don't opt or just one, most of us fall at that fence straight away.  I think managing hearing loss or deafness has enough challenges without adding more to them by wringing my hands and wailing why me? or turning on others to blame etc, it is satisfying up to a point to allocate blame elsewhere, and its part of the deal, but in the end the reality tends to catch up with you.  Blame isn't the cure.

The suggestion by others to sacrifice all I knew for an alternative social life or popular deaf culture did not really appeal I have to say.   The key was communication initially finding what worked, not what was available and seeing where that would take me. It took me 11 years to get there.  I proved the myth deafness was NOT a commonality between other cultures or even perceived ones, time acquired and defining my own ability level was.   Forget the 'awareness'  gigs it doesn't work for them either.  It's more a 'this is the way to cope with deafness...' depending on who says it or defines it for themselves, obviously that is not going to work for you because you, aren't them.

As stated earlier on, losing hearing forces you to confront yourself, it is at that point you define what your future is to be.  I cleared my own path, I have the scars to prove it.  I felt playing follow the leaders through paths they chose not me, and not the right way to do things.  I do fear the systems of 'support' such as they are don't help really, a one size fits all that is never really geared to all,  is a waste of everyone's time.  I tend to avoid cultural involvement its focus is too narrow.  Hearing loss is about that, LOSS, it's not about never hearing anything at day one.  Perspectives and approaches are entirely different, but it does seem the systems have not understood that at all, rendering awareness a complete waste of everyone's time."

Popeye said it better  'I yam what I yam'.

Move those Lips...

Whether they realize it or not, most people read lips to some degree. People with hearing loss read lips to a large degree – almost every time they are listening to or talking with someone. It can be a shock to discover, after developing hearing loss as an adult, that your partner, children and friends do not “give good lip” as I wrote about in a recent article. 

 It’s even more shocking when, after telling your loved ones about, oh, 6,423 times what you need for good communication, they still forget how to speak in a way that works for you. But is that totally their “fault”? It’s not easy to change a lifetime habit of mumbling or speaking too softly or quickly. Especially when the only person asking for a change is you, the one person in their life who has hearing loss.

In an internet discussion on how to stop mumbling, professional speaker Lisa Marshall says this about how to improve speech articulation: “Here’s the short answer. Use diaphragmatic breathing. Relax your mouth and jaw. Stand up straight and make eye contact. Open your mouth wider to speak. Enunciate every syllable. Do daily vocal exercises to improve your enunciation.” The long answer by Ms. Marshall looks at the reasons why a person may mumble or speak quickly or softer, including nervousness, not really caring about being understood, and/or lack of focus on the conversation. 

 People generally don’t speak as clearly these days as in older generations. In the rush to get our thoughts out, or the niceties out of the way, words are only partially pronounced. Wha? Howza family? Whatcha doin’? And this is spoken with lips held so close together that a piece of paper wouldn’t slide between them. Even the most sophisticated hearing aid can’t understand words or sounds emitted through a miniature blowhole. Perhaps people with hearing loss – myself included – need to accept the reality of explaining our needs over and over again. Just as there will always be days of frustration.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

When Sign doesn't cut it....

Subtitles are more than just words, they create a story, a vision, an understanding. They’re not just hugely beneficial for deaf and hard of hearing people, but for those with other disabilities such as Auditory Processing Disorder and those who English is not their first language... 

People are exposed to subtitles on a daily basis without realising they’re using them... social media videos are adding subtitles as a way of getting the message across to those who don’t play sound out loud while out and about. Cafes and pubs often have subtitles on TVs, public transport has scrolling announcement screens! 

The problem is we need subtitles to understand what’s being said, but we’re up against those who say subtitles are distracting - so we have no choice but to watch in silence not understanding what’s being said. We’re excluded from social outings such as the cinema because of the lack of subtitles.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Hearing aids that can read your brain.

An image of a crowd of people
But, can they clarify what you hear lol.    Hearing aids that read your brain will know who you want to hear If you have difficulty hearing, it can be tricky to make out a single speaker in a noisy room. A system that amplifies the voice you want to listen to could help. 

Imagine you’re trying to have a catch-up with your best friend in the middle of a noisy pub. Despite the distracting background noise, you are able to filter out the hubbub and can still hear all your friend’s best gossip. This so-called “cocktail-party effect” comes naturally to many of us, but for people who use hearing aids, coping with irrelevant noises is difficult and deeply frustrating. A potentially transformative new system, however, can work out who you want to listen to and amplify that voice. 

To understand the listener’s intention, it uses electrodes placed on the auditory cortex, the section of the brain (just inside the ear) that processes sounds. As the brain focuses on each voice, it generates a telltale electrical signature for each speaker. A deep-learning algorithm that was trained to differentiate between different voices looks for the closest match between this signature and that of the various speakers in the room. It then amplifies the voice that matches best, helping the listener focus on the desired one. 

The system, described in Science Advances, and created by a team led by researchers at Columbia University, was tested on three people without hearing loss who were undergoing surgery at North Shore University Hospital in New York. They had electrodes implanted as part of their treatment for epilepsy, meaning their brain signals could be monitored. The participants were played a tape of four different people speaking continuously. The researchers intermittently paused the recording and asked the subjects to repeat the last sentence before the pause, to ensure they were hearing it correctly. They were able to do so with an average accuracy of 91%. 

There’s one obvious drawback: the current system involves brain surgery to implant the electrodes. However, the researchers say brain waves could be measured using sensors placed in or over the ear, meaning the system could eventually be embedded into a hearing aid (although this would be less accurate). It could also be used by people without hearing loss who want to boost their ability to focus on one voice. Another difficulty is the time lag. 

It’s just a few seconds, but it could mean missing the start of someone’s sentence, says Nima Mesgarani, at Columbia University’s Neural Acoustic Processing Lab, who coauthored the paper. There’s an inherent tension between accuracy and speed at zeroing in on a specific speaker, he says—in other words, the longer the system has to listen, the more accurate it is. This issue requires further research to solve, but he says this sort of device could be commercially available in just five years. This study is just a proof of concept, but it shows exciting potential, says Behtash Babadi, at the University of Maryland’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, who was not involved in the research. “Within just a few seconds, someone using a device like this could silence everyone but the person they want to hear,” he says. “This work is the first to really solve this problem, and it’s a leap toward making this solution a reality."

They Work for us?

They work for some but it isn't us.   A recent debate in Parliament discussing deaf week noted no health system had published anything much about it or the access they do or do not provide for those with hearing loss.  

As usual, huge disinformation provided by the BDA and others was rife and the complete manipulation of statistics to include people who were neither deaf or sign using was pretty blatant.

The Labour MP Catherine McKinnell suggested there was little or no access for the BSL using deaf which was completely wrong, as the NHS recognises ONLY sign using deaf, there are no records available to suggest they have any system to provide for non-signing deaf or the Hard of Hearing.  Perhaps she didn't have her aid on.   E.G. Wales has 47 BSL interpreters providing regular daily access to the NHS, Deafened and HoH have no support workers, if they haven't family there is nothing.  We bought mobile phones, I suggest the deaf get some.

Claims of 150,000 BSL using people and even 85,000 daily BSL users has no basis in statistical fact. It's a distortion of the 'deaf' aspect, i.e. people who have profound hearing LOSS, not BSL using deaf.   Nobody knows how many rely on BSL even amidst deaf people,  the last census stated 15,000 stated they knew BSL, but, knowing sign and daily reliance and usage are a different thing altogether.

The BDA counted family hearing members, BSL learners, hearing support workers (Yep the deaf have them and mentors and..).  Whilst the EU published a list acknowledging visual 'languages' in 1988 and again 1995 and again in 2005, there was little legality attached to it in law and in UK education still isn't because choice has made it almost impossible to run a tiered system set up, it would also create an imbalance of supportive education.  Mainly because deaf schools are closing down.  There was a lot of hysterical nonsense regarding Linguistic rights, norms, etiquette, (Everything but communication effectiveness), but little or no statistics on BSL usage and effectiveness regarding re-translating to hearing people.

The BDA is always about culture and linguistic hoo-ha, it was never about clarifying the language or the grammar issues sign use presents, having said that the support IS there for them, we would all like to know how much is actually taken up?  As the alleged 87,000 reliant BSL deaf (and 70,000 randoms), have never used them if they had demand would have made access no issue.  The MP was reminded of the factual implications of the EU 'directive' on signed languages, in that implementing them all on a legal basis was not binding but down to individual providers and needs.  It was the BDA who declared Europe had made BSL a law of some kind because they hadn't read the EU 'small print'  or understood they had no power to force the UK to comply.

Much was talked about BSL, in fact ALL the talk was about BSL and deaf week, but the BDA had to use the numerical fact of non-deaf to bolster their claims of lack of support, which was grossly unfair to non signers, and they couldn't valid own BSL numbers either, it's all guesswork and since nobody keeps accurate records other than clinical, there is little way to challenge the BDA's claims either.  In reality,  the deafened and the Hard of Hearing would stand to gain nothing at all from any Improvement in BSL access.  The D/d thing distorts everything and parliament keeps getting confused who they are actually talking about.  Access to education, to Health or to essential emergency services for non-signers is mythical, since, if you don't sign that's you out.  What is 'deaf week' about?  Most deaf had no idea it was happening.

The deaf social area shortcomings, we read the MP attach blame and preach the BDA mantra of 'Hearing are to blame' when, there are no stats to back up deaf attempting to bridge divides, there is some fatalistic attitude 'Hearing don't sign so what else can we do?'  It's a bluff, its defeatist if it isn't, its a con act.  all their campaigns are to consolidate where they are.  Providing deaf counselling is costly because people like the BDA claim they need specialist BSL and culturally aware staff and one on one assessment, but the deaf use GP's with a terp daily and think nothing about it, you're confused?  Join the club.  So seeing a consultant demands a different approach?

The BDA demands culturally aware clinicians to assess them, and because people like the BDA re urging deaf to refuse using their own  BSL terps to access local areas.  What happens then is deaf and their issues 'deported' out of the area, and in mental health that can mean they often cannot return either, set apart from family, and friends.

There were claims they had to ask the family to make calls to arrange appointments etc, but, HoH have had to do this since day one.  The reality is most deaf 63% prefer to ask the family to make those calls rather than take the responsibility to make them themselves.  Near all Health and emergency areas have text access, and all deaf use text so why aren't they phoning?  There is even a BSL relay system they can use, again WHY aren't these deaf using the provision already there?   Because the BDA says they have a right to BSL only access? It's there.

All GP's are obliged to provide access, all they have to do is ASK.  They prefer to complain instead.    The MP shows a glaring lack of access availability, no doubt spoon-fed by the BDA and others it isn't there, has she even asked the NHS?  The counter Charity the AOHL the UK's largest hearing loss charity with 10 times more members than the BDA (And provided the specialist BSL care the BDA doesn't!), regularly recognises NHS access areas and is currently running their latest list of potential award winners for.... proving access and support to deaf and others.  Quit the hype and stop using ignorant MPs as stoolies for culture. 

You have been outed time to play fair.

Downloading subtiles from YouTube.

Deaf Awareness Week (For those who didn't know).

The whole week seems to be complete postcode-driven lottery by all accounts, with vast areas of the UK deaf and HoH,  being totally unaware it was happening.  Do they not understand deaf awareness has failed to advance our access for the last 15 years?  It's just charity PR mostly with the obligatory signer front of house.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Drop the signed access to TV (UK) ?

Image result for cpaiotng with BSL TV

Bound to cause contention but has this deafened poster a valid point?  Access for access sake?  We know rights overrule practicality as it is.  To caption or to sign?  No room for both?  A response to discussions about captioning in televised media, access? or just an unwelcome distraction?

Commentor #1.

"As points of interest I DON'T want sport captioned because the display of text means I lose 30% of the picture. There is an issue attached to weather forecasts too in that if weather map displays your area in the lower half of the picture you have to switch captions off or you won't see the numbers. Trying to avoid contention I don't want sign language on the screen, it detracts far too much from what is going on in the item, there seems no size norm and some translators are extremely distracting.

I have no idea if the user of that medium watches the TV or the signer frankly, it doesn't appear possible to watch both. Including both tends to make me switch off altogether.   Media in the UK puts that access to the graveyard shift, so I doubt deaf watch it anyway. There should be a '889' option for them or something, although I am told demand for BSL access in TV is almost non-extant from the deaf themselves except as some tokenised inclusion and plug for their culture which seems to result in them arguing the pros, cons, and ability of the user and medium.

It's more a 'we have a right to it..' than 'we cannot follow without it'. By far the worst in the UK is SKY rolling news, a complete mishmash of text all over the place it often makes programs viable only if you turn captions off. SKY removed sign too because hearing complained of the same problems we do.  Is BSL really necessary?  They must expect miracles from a solo translator to follow any storylines with more than 1 actor in it and, it is not even in their professed language or grammar?

Monday, 13 May 2019

Deaf Culture is it welcoming?

Obviously, some feel it isn't.  Is the pressure and nature of the Deaf cultural approaches oppressive toward diversity and anti-wider inclusion?  Another post not included here from the same site also stated attempts to 'assimilate' the deaf into the mainstream are discriminatory.  Do they want in or not? Or are they so lacking confidence in their ability to do so, and using cultural 'norms' as an excuse?

"I am hearing. I am not Deaf nor am I a part of the community. But I have been doing a lot of research about the Deaf community, and while there nothing wrong with the culture, there are some things that I wish the deaf community would stop. "

The things said in the Reddit post are atrocious, but this is something else. It's sad that on top of all the problems CryptoDeaf already has, he was driven to suicide because he wasn't deemed Deaf enough to others.

These aren't people that have disrespected the Deaf community like in the Reddit post, these are people just simply trying to find a place where they fit in. These comments came from a video called Bias In The Deaf Community | ASL by Youtuber Rikki Portner.

D versus d

Are there degrees of deafness? There are types/causes not degrees.  Either you are deaf, or, you aren't.   'Degrees' pertain to hearing loss (db), not deafness. Ergo... the definition of deafness.  In general, there are three main types of hearing loss: sensorineural, conductive, and mixed. There are also four agreed upon levels of hearing loss severity: mild, moderate, severe and profound.  Profound being deaf, hearing nothing at all.  

As regards to culture, this has no influence or effect on your ability or not, to hear.  It's a clinical or genetic thing even a disability depending on your own perception...  Of course, there is no 'Deaf V Deafened' we are different people, more integrated than the cultural side are because we don't tie ourselves down to 'Deaf' norms, educational approaches or communication options (Mostly because there is no support or desire to do so).

Deafened are 'Hybrids' in the loss world we can and do function inside or outside the hearing area or the deaf one, and even the hard of hearing areas,  we are the third alternative.    If only 'Deaf' realised this they could emerge from their own cultural straightjacket by taking our hard-won advice won via very difficult experience.  We continue to drive advances too.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Hearing Like me..

What deaf awareness really means to your charities.

Image result for Charity Profiting on disability

The Hard Sell.  And you thought it was actually about making mainstream aware of your need.

Deaf Awareness Week

Hello ****,

Time’s running out on our Deaf Awareness Week Sale. Get 10% off 10 bestselling products for hearing loss until 12 May.   Buy online or order by phone from our Customer Services team. And remember, every purchase helps fund our vital work.

Warm Regards,

Action on Hearing Loss Solutions 

(UK's leading charity for the deaf and Hard Of Hearing, and recently criticised for not making awareness gigs accessible).

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Aren't you Glad Deaf awareness week is nearly over?

Image result for you don't look deaf!
Deaf Awareness Week: 'You don't look deaf...' (thought I'd put a pretty face on knowing how the image is all, and nobody would care if she signed or not anyway).

I know I don't look deaf,  (Not even to other deaf at times),  with a face like mine nobody would ask, or expect I was anyway, (The poor impression of a nodding dog tends to be a real giveaway as NOBODY relates to everything), and since none of deaf week relates to the majority of deaf people or the those with hearing loss at all mostly, I'm always glad when the charade finishes.

No I don't look deaf,  so how can I tell people off who aren't aware I am?  Do I carry a label on my back? a card to explain? a tattoo 'I am deaf'on my forehead? or maybe throw a few signs out so they get an idea? (Not that it helps if they don't know any but...).   The fact 'gasp' I can speak OK just ends to get me accused of being a fake more than anything from the Deaf and from the Hearing.

Identifying the invisible has always been an issue by default, but so has the extreme reluctance of those with an issue you cannot see to self-identify either.  All part of my right, my culture etc...  Or hoping the will go away and cease stressing you out.  A quick perusal of deaf week plugs threw up a lot of telling statistics e.g. 63% was about deaf language and culture.  There was only 15% relating to alternative formats and options to that, the rest people plugging support and advice services for a nominal fee.

Supporting the deaf doesn't come cheap.  Supporting the rest isn't an issue we can't sell that support.

Xbox braille controller

Microsoft  has been leaning into accessibility in gaming lately, most visibly with its amazing Adaptive Controller, and a new patent suggests another way the company may be accommodating disabled gamers: an Xbox controller with a built-in Braille display.

As you might expect, it’s already quite hard for a visually impaired gamer to play some games, and although that difficulty can’t be entirely alleviated, there are definitely things worth doing. For instance: the text on screen that sighted people take for granted, documenting player status, items, onscreen dialog or directions — how could these be read by a low-vision gamer who might be able to otherwise navigate the game world?

In many circumstances, a screen reader is what a visually impaired person would use to interact with this kind of data, but often that text is relayed to them in audio form, which is far less appealing an option when you’re in-game. Who wants to have a computer voice reading off your armour levels and inventory burden while you’re trying to take in the ambient environment?

There are already some Braille display accessories for this kind of thing, but there’s nothing like having support direct from your console’s designer, and that’s what Microsoft has demonstrated with its patent for a Braille-enabled controller.

The patent was filed last year and just recently became public, and was soon spotted by German tech site Let’s Go Digital; there have been no official announcements, though the timing is favourable for an E3 reveal. That said, patents don’t necessarily represent real products in development, though in this case I think it’s worth highlighting regardless.

The Braille Controller, as it’s referred to in the patent, is very much like an ordinary Xbox One gamepad, except on the back there appears to be a sort of robotic insect sticking out of it. This is the Braille display, consisting of both a dot matrix that mechanically reproduces the bumps which players can run their fingers over, and a set of swappable paddles allowing for both input and output.

Friday, 10 May 2019

How to sign swear words...

New Zealanders discover Milan!

NZ was jokingly reviewed by Brits as 12 years behind everyone else, rather a revelation to see they are even much further behind than we thought.  Resurrecting the 19thc does not seem a way forward for the deaf to me... we are still trying to drag them out of the 20th.  Creating oppression when there isn't any relying on the experience of people dead 140 years ago doesn't seem relevant today.  Or the fact sign was really developed at that time.  So we have moved on, it's called progress.

E.G. Deaf schools closed because we are being INCLUDED, no bad thing (depending on where you hang your cultural hat.)  Erm.. supporting A G Bell won't win you plus points in the USA they hate the poor bloke, he's dead too but they won't let him stay dead insisting he still sneaks about haunting the system by offering alternatives to silence and sign language.  The ID crisis is self-inflicted because it is culture versus inclusion. Instigated by the abler savvy deaf who profit from maintaining deaf isolation and constantly updating the martyrdom approaches with paranoia.

Despite being made an official language in 2006, the history of New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) is coloured with discrimination, and its future is equally as murky.  In 1880, teachers of the deaf gathered in Milan, Italy to discuss the future of Deaf education. In the forefront of discussions was the existence of sign language.  Deaf schools in Paris, France had experienced great success with sign language, using Deaf teachers to teach Deaf students.

These teachers used a holistic approach to instruct students in sign language, anchoring their signs in real life objects and concepts. The approach was so successful that some students went on to become Deaf doctors or lawyers.  However, at the time, prominent US inventor Alexander Graham Bell had achieved great results with teaching Deaf family members to lip-read, and this approach was brought to the Milan conference with much interest.

In addition to this, the Catholic majority of Spain at the time felt that sign language was an inappropriate method to talk to God. They believed that to speak to and be close with God, one needed a voice, and sign language did not fit that belief. There was a perception that the sign language community was closed off from mainstream society, and this needed to change.

This all culminated in the Milan conference in 1880, which possessed merely two Deaf teachers, deciding to effectively ban sign language worldwide. Many Deaf people lost their employment, including Deaf teachers, and in some instances children were strapped or caned for using sign language.

Around the same time in New Zealand, the government established the first Deaf school in the Christchurch suburb of Sumner and made the decision to incorporate the ruling from the Milan conference.  Deaf children in New Zealand were required to be separated from their families and live at the school, where sign language was forbidden. Lip reading and speaking were the only means of communication allowed, but was not the only means that existed in Sumner.

Forbidden from signing in public, students would communicate through sign after dark in the dormitories, and this underground signing was what lead to the development of NZSL. Rather than quashing sign language, the conditions in Sumner in fact lead to the birth of a wholly distinct and unique language. After students left the Deaf school, there was a desire amongst them to create a Deaf space - a place where they could socialise, and sign. This led to the establishment of the first Deaf clubs, spaces for the community to gather and exchange experiences. The schools and clubs all fed into one another and made for a rich, developing Deaf community.

However, the present situation of NZSL and the Deaf community today is a far cry from the past. With Deaf schools closing and Deaf children forced into the mainstream, there is significantly less NZSL and Deaf culture exposure.

AUT Deaf studies lecturer Rachel Coppage fears that, given time, this could lead to the erasure of NZSL. She worries that with Deaf youth unable to easily access their culture, they can find themselves adrift and experiencing what she refers to as "an identity crisis", unable to fit in either the hearing or Deaf world. The fragmentation of the culture, and a declining Deaf population thanks to medical advancement makes for an uncertain future.

Innovations that increase digital inclusion for people with disabilities

According to the World Bank, as many as one billion people—15 per cent of the world’s population—have some form of disability, therefore find it difficult to use modern technology.
Innovations that increase digital inclusion for people with disabilities.

As many as one billion people—15 per cent of the world’s population—have some form of disability, with around three per cent suffering from severe disabilities, according to World Bank. For most of these people, accessing modern technology and all it has to offer presents a host of difficulties. Even something as simple as using a cell phone can be impossible. Global Accessibility Awareness Day (May 16) aims to combat that.  Launched in 2015, the day is designed to get everyone thinking and talking about improving digital access and inclusion for people with disabilities.

Braille keyboards/refreshable braille displays.

Nearly 40 million people in the world are blind, according to the World Health Organisation. A further 217 million have moderate to severe vision impairment, meaning access to modern technological tools such as computers and smartphones is not straightforward, and can sometimes be impossible. However, with the advent of braille technology—first keyboards and later refreshable braille displays—many blind and visually impaired can use modern technology that was not designed with them in mind. 

The latter technology works by converting the information on the screen of a phone or computer and translating it onto a specialized braille keyboard. With the advent of braille technology many blind and visually impaired can use modern technology that was not designed with them in mind. With the advent of braille technology many blind and visually impaired can use modern technology that was not designed with them in mind. 

Voice assistants.

The rise of technology is bringing about a frictionless world, where carrying out tasks is becoming less and less manual. Voice assistants like Siri, Alexa and Amazon Echo allow people to do everything from order groceries and taxis, call loved ones, send emails and look up information all without much movement at all. Voice assistants like Siri, Alexa and Amazon Echo allow people to do everything from order groceries and taxis, call loved ones, send emails and look up information all without much movement at all. 

While it is convenient for able-bodied people, it can have a huge impact on the lives of those with physical disabilities or those with physical functioning difficulties, of which there are 38.2 million people in the US alone. Voice technology has also expanded into the home, with the likes of Apple’s HomeKit and Google Home, meaning physical tasks such as controlling the heating, lighting, music and more has not only become digital, but also much more convenient. However, there is still a way to go for voice assistants when it comes to meeting the needs of those who have difficulties with speech and using their voice. 

Smartphone-ready hearing aids. 

According to the CDC, nearly 40 million adults in the US have trouble hearing and WHO estimates that by 2050, nearly one billion people will have ‘disabling’ hearing loss. Living in a world dominated by portable communication devices such as cell phones can feel incredibly isolating. However, technology has adapted to ensure people suffering from hearing loss are able to make the most of the latest innovations. Major technology companies have been working with hearing aid designers to ensure their devices are compatible with the hearing aids that people need to rely on every day. 

Video calling Smartphones.

Have grown from luxury devices to must-have basic essentials.  According to Pew, 2.5 billion people have one—digital communication has never been so integral to everyday life. However, people suffering from hearing loss for a long time couldn’t use the very thing that made cell phones so useful: making calls. The rise of face-calling, be it through Skype or Apple’s Facetime, allows deaf people to talk to family friends through sign language or lip reading, thereby opening up the fundamental feature of digital communication devices to them. 


Seattle has recently passed a law that will require venues such as restaurants, bars, gyms and even stadiums to use live-captions on their TV sets during business hours. This is where the audio on TV is converted into subtitles in real-time, opening up many more opportunities for people with hearing difficulties to enjoy modern technology. It even extends to the workplace, with the likes of PowerPoint introducing live captions and subtitles, allowing deaf and hard of hearing people to enjoy real-time subtitles during presentations. Google also revealed its own live-captioning service at its 2019 I/O, which will transcribe any audio or video including apps like YouTube and Instagram, and even videos the user makes themselves. 

 Assistive touch.

Assistive touch on smartphones like Apple and Android allows people with limited motor functions use products that require frequent and specific gestures like tapping, scrolling, pinching and swiping. Assistive touch allows people with limited motor functions use products that require frequent and specific gestures like tapping, scrolling, pinching and swiping. It also allows users to create their own shortcuts and gestures, as well as adapt how users interact with the screen, for example, changing how long you touch the screen for before it is processed as an action. This feature allows users to move across the screen without clicking on something until they are ready. 

Touch-free technology.

For some people, the use of their voice or most of their body is impossible. Stephen Hawking famously communicated, worked, lectured and gave interviews despite suffering from ALS, a motor neurone disease that left him almost completely paralysed.  He managed to do so through a computer created by Intel, which was operated using Hawking’s cheek muscle movements. Over time, more mass-market ready products and eye-tracking technology emerged, allowing people to control their computers and smartphones simply using just their eyes and head movements. Despite suffering from ALS, Stephen Hawking managed to communicate through a computer created by Intel, which was operated using his cheek muscle movements. 

Assistive apps.

It’s not just hardware that has evolved to be more digitally inclusive. Whole apps are dedicated to ensuring everyone, whatever their needs, can enjoy modern technology. Some even go further to help users not only get the most out of digital life, but also offline.  Apps like Be My Eyes connect blind or low-vision people with trained people who provide visual assistance through video calling. Other apps help colour-blind people by announcing the color to them or by playing music while retaining the sounds of their surroundings. Smart-glasses While Google Glass failed to make an impact on the mainstream market, its legacy lives on in companies like AIRA, which uses the concept of smart glasses to help people stay connected online and off. AIRA’s smart glasses were originally based on Google’s smart glasses designs. 

While Google Glass failed to make an impact on the mainstream market, its legacy lives on in companies like AIRA, which uses the concept of smart glasses to help people stay connected online and off. The company uses smart glasses to connect blind people with trained staff who can describe their surroundings to them. Other companies, such as NuEyes, have created smartglasses that help people with low-vision by doing things like zooming in, changing colour and contrast, reading out text and scanning QR/Bar codes. 

Gaming Controllers.

According to a US survey conducted by Electronic Entertainment Design and Research, 43 per cent of Americans use gaming consoles, while 52 per cent use computers as gaming platforms. The video game industry has never been more popular, scoring revenues pushing $44 billion in 2018—a new record. And digital inclusion in this sphere has never been more important. Navin Kumar, the director of Product Marketing at Xbox, revealed in 2018 that 14 per cent of Xbox gamers have a temporary disability, while eight per cent have permanent mobility limitation. Xbox released a new Adaptive Controller in 2018 that caters to gamers with disabilities. 

The controller is compatible with external joysticks, pedals and more. +10 Xbox released a new Adaptive Controller in 2018 that caters to gamers with disabilities. The controller is compatible with external joysticks, pedals and more.  There are also rumors that the gaming console will release a braille controller sometime in the future. 


It’s not just gaming controllers that are being created to ensure people with disabilities are not left behind. Games themselves are evolving to adapt to different people’s requirements. Wraith Games has a team of game designers and artists, 75 per cent of whom have a disability, and the game company has created Collapsus, the block-crunching game, which has an abundance of disability options. 

Games themselves are evolving to adapt to different people’s requirements Even bigger budget games, such as Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 4, are making their video games more accessible, allowing gamers to make control and action changes that work for them, for example, changing button taps to holding. The game consulted Josh Straub, the editor-in-chief of DAGER, (Disabled Accessibility for Gaming Entertainment Rating System) who has cerebral palsy and has been wheelchair bound his whole life. 

I am Donald Trump's love child!

Fortunately not, but now I've got your attention, the round-up of ATR's weekly updates is HERE !

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Not Deaf awareness vid

Deaf week Gig inaccessible for disabled.

Two women and three men in a dressing room
Oops!  A disability charity has refused to apologise for holding a fundraising comedy night in an inaccessible London venue. Action on Hearing Loss (formerly known as RNID) was raising money as part of its Deaf Awareness Week with an evening of stand-up at The Comedy Store in London. 

Performers included Angela Barnes, Samantha Baines, Ed Gamble, Eshaan Akbar, Russell Howard, and John Bishop, three of whom have hearing loss themselves. But the venue chosen by the charity is not accessible to many disabled people, with The Comedy Store warning on its website that it only has a “chair lift” which “cannot bear the weight of a person in a wheelchair”. This means that any wheelchair-user “must be able to leave their wheelchair, descend via the chairlift, then retake their wheelchair once at the bottom of the stairs”, so “large electric wheelchairs are unable to gain access” to the auditorium. Alan Benson, a disabled campaigner and activist from London, said: “Funding is a challenge for everyone so events like this are very important, but it’s vital that we get them right. 

 “In a society that routinely discriminates against disabled people, we must make sure that we support each other and run fully inclusive events. “I know that those with hearing impairments routinely face barriers to participation so I would have hoped for better.” Benson, who uses an electric wheelchair himself, added: “London has many great accessible venues so there is no excuse not to use them. “By using venues like The Comedy Store, we validate their inadequate provision. “To justify the event by saying it was accessible to some disabled people is simply not good enough.”

Awareness, just not as we know it?

The one above ATR found most welcome, albeit suggested that advice better suited for the 19070s rather than the new Millenium where so much access and assisted formats have zeroed much of the advice noted above.  ANn immediate turn off with 'Deaf Awareness' as a heading. 

There were other queries as to why HoH areas are even included in these 'Deaf weeks' which are predominately a potted version of the atypical cultural fest more than an awareness for the 10m with hearing loss, who are notable by their complete absence and non involvement in deaf weeks deterred it seems by them being fronted by people signing in BSL a minority, and plugged for all its worth by the charities and areas upporting them.

But, a minority who use the statistical base of the majority to push that message.  An issue of contention in the UK HoH world, who complain these cultural approaches have undermined their support systems and confused the system as to who is deaf and who isn't, as well as who is a cultural member and who isn't, mostly fed by the relentless plugs about the 'D' and 'd' Identities nobody but cultural deaf recognise in the hearing loss areas.  Sadly, the apathy of the silent 10m means no-one challenges it.  It isn't helped by the alternative 'Weeks' we see, some supported by disability areas and some by the cultural deaf themselves who have two conflicting weeks one the general awareness of sign use, the other a cultural view of it. I gather the BDA has a purist version too.

Of course none relevant to the 10m others who long since adopted technology as their primary format and assist, text is their King.  Thus viewing the stat advice that includes BSL as puzzlement and lacking relevance.  'Deaf' also insist the awareness weeks are about them, not about anyone else.  HoH and the 10m tend to agree, the only annoyance being the 'global' identity these deaf are applying to everyone else.  Maybe minority awareness, and maybe awareness written by these deaf  NOT us, as once sign is used it no longer applies to anyone else.

There are two primary areas, time for two different weeks?  Technology is our bag, not the hands.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Islington: New Employment Services.

Deaf Week: Nottinghamshire

Why do we STILL need 'help' when access is a right in Law? Who isn't complying?  (Just about everyone by the look of it!).

Google: Live Captioning on Android.


Google waited until I/O 2019 to demonstrate one of the most impressive features of Android Q. It’s called Live Caption, and when enabled, you’ll see any video or audio you play on your phone transcribed in real time — with extremely accurate results. Live Captions are overlaid on top of whatever app you’re using, be it YouTube, Instagram, Pocket Casts, or anything else, and it also supports video chat apps like Skye and Google’s own Duo. It’ll even work with video or audio that you record yourself. 

“For 466 million deaf and hard of hearing people around the world, captions are more than a convenience — they make content more accessible. We worked closely with the Deaf community to develop a feature that would improve access to digital media,” Google wrote in a blog post. Google CEO Sundar Pichai echoed that sentiment onstage during today’s I/O keynote. “Building for everyone means ensuring that everyone can access our products,” he said. “We believe technology can help us be more inclusive, and AI is providing us with new tools to dramatically improve the experience for people with disabilities.” 


In Action.....

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Loud Noise Doesn't deafen then?

A group of campaigners set themselves a task of measuring how noisy each journey was on the London Underground. They found noise levels on some Tube routes reached 100 decibels - which the audiologists say is harmful to commuters' hearing. Transport for London (TfL) is being encouraged to put up warning signs in parts of the Underground network where noise levels are high. 

However, TfL says Health and Safety Executive guidance suggests Tube noise is highly unlikely to cause long-term hearing damage.

Speak Well, Hear Well...

Widening real awareness.

Those scary deaf people....

Positive proof deaf weeks and awareness are NOT working.  Also, a sober reminder to deaf organisations they need a total and new approach if the status quo is to be changed.  Perhaps informing themselves how to talk to each other is unhelpful. If inclusion is to work then, the community has to have a re-think.  

E.G. there are 10m with hearing loss not just a few 1,000 signers with no real desire to be included..  The article itself doesn't really help as it mixes stats to suggest more deaf than there are etc... so undermining the awareness point, this in turn tends to ignore most deaf don't actually sign either and there are 1,000s of different people with various degrees of hearing loss using other means or alleviations who don't have any help or part of any community etc.  Deaf awareness has never been inclusive but, exclusive, and therein lies the issue.  The most telling part is hardly anyone sees the deafie outside their own area.

52% of Britons don’t feel confident about communicating with deaf people, according to new figures released for Deaf Awareness Week (5-12 May). 

One in five have felt nervous when they do. The National Deaf Children’s Society fears that a reluctance to speak to deaf people is contributing to feelings of isolation and loneliness, particularly among the UK’s 50,000 deaf children. 

Results also reveal a limited understanding of deafness actually is, with more than two-thirds saying they don’t know anyone who is deaf. Case study: Jackson Youngs, 6, went to school for over a year and didn’t even know his classmates’ names. He still often stands alone in the playground. More than half of Britons don’t feel confident when talking to deaf people, new research has revealed. 

 The figures, released today by the National Deaf Children’s Society, also show that one in five people (20%) have felt nervous when talking to deaf people because they don’t know what to do, while one in ten (10%) have pretended to understand something a deaf person said instead of asking for clarification. The National Deaf Children’s Society says the research, conducted for this year’s Deaf Awareness Week, shows that a reluctance to speak to deaf people is contributing to the isolation and loneliness that so many deaf children and young people experience throughout their lives. 

 Previous research shows that many deaf children already find themselves excluded, with 80% of parents reporting that their child struggles to access local activities because of their deafness. 

Monday, 6 May 2019

Wearing two hats?

Interpreters must interpret it's a violation of privacy to act any differently in the UK.  They are not allowed to advise or to help any form of decision-making.  

Not even when the client has other communication issues, the same should but doesn't, apply to the family too.  One suspects the issue is no social services there, this has created privacy issues in the UK too.

To wear a teacher’s hat or an interpreter’s hat?

If you are a sign language interpreter in the Philippines, there is almost 100% chance that you are also a teacher for the deaf. Although there is a significant upsurge of interpreters due to an increasing number of institutions that teaches sign language lessons, still, the most readily available place to seek their services are in schools for the deaf even though only quite a handful of them is experienced and qualified.

With these conditions, situations may arise wherein you are compelled to wear either a teacher’s hat or an interpreter’s hat. It is certainly not at the same time. But what if you are in a situation where you want to wear both hats or even switch hats in midstream?

A month ago, one of our former deaf teachers in MCCID messaged me requesting for an emergency interpreting for our former deaf student. To protect his privacy and for ethical concerns, I will try not to mention anything that might reveal his identity.

Our teacher explained to me that the student’s mother died a few days earlier and is on the funeral wake. His father died a few years ago due to complications from alcohol abuse. Since the deaf is an only child, his aunt together with his uncle were the ones who took care of the funeral preparations. The aunt and uncle are siblings of his mom. They are also doing the legwork in processing their sister’s benefits and claims. His uncle and his family started living in their house when his father died. The deaf needs to know what is the cause of her mother’s abrupt demise and more importantly, what will happen to his future. Since no one in his family knows sign language, he is at a quandary. He needs someone to interpret for him clearly what was going on. So he requested for my service.

In our school, we conduct personal home visits to the families of our deaf students. As my former student, I am familiar with the situation of his family. When I went to the funeral the next day, I was greeted by his aunt and some of his relatives. She was very happy that I came and very relieved that finally, she can explain to her nephew about his situation through a sign language interpreter. With this, I safely wore my interpreter’s hat.

Monitoring deaf kids

Let's talk about deafness

Talking about ASL culture and language, not about deaf or Hard of Hearing people! There is, NO one language, NO single culture, No one 'right' education, or one size fits all either. It is all about the experience of the individual, so, there is no deaf community either if you capitalise it or not.  Since 2 people constitute a bona fide culture and 3 a community, the concept is meaningless in the scheme of things.  10m in the UK with hearing loss, less than 30,000 profound deaf and even fewer of them part of the 'community' and 'culture'.  The USA is no different. They are talking less than 2% of the hearing loss population, however, born deaf aren't included in that statistic 'loss' being the driving point.

The biggest issue holding back people with hearing loss and deafness are, those who try to stereotype them. Mostly under the guise as some 'oppressed' area.  Aka, they do it themselves mostly.  Just be yourself and accept that people are actually diverse I don't mean politically or via dogma but by respecting people as themselves and not as a label to be tagged with.

The biggest stereotype deaf are endorsing is that of the deaf culture, and deaf language, when no numerical statistic extant supports it.  It's a case of believing the hype, not the fact.  It's of concern young people are well-meaning but pretty confused on identities too, to the extent they allow others to define it and go public endorsing it creating more uncertainty with vulnerable people.  In the end, it promotes D for 'Division' not difference or diversity.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Sign Flash mob at Oxford

Image result for flash mob deaf westgate
The issue isn't really about hearing doing sign but using sign to integrate the deaf, and the two still appear incompatible as the only way to effectively use sign is to attend their areas.  Otherwise, it relies on random meets in the public domain. 

Shoppers at the Westgate Centre paused in their tracks today when a group of pretend coffee-drinkers left their tables and began performing music in sign language. 

Catching shoppers in a lunchtime surprise, the flash mob ditched their seats, bags and coffees to perform sign to the tune of Bruno Mars '24k magic'. The surprise was organised by Chloe Armantrading as a way to kick off 'Deaf Awareness Week' which starts on Monday and runs through to Sunday. 

Campaigner Ms Armantrading, who is a sign language teacher, said she wanted to raise awareness of sign language and told the shopping centre over a mic that 'it is about time businesses taught their staff the basics of signing'. She explained: “We’ve got everybody from the ages of seven to 65 showing you that sign language is for everyone. 

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Deaf-Blind Interpreter training

Deafblind Interpreter Training from SLIS on Vimeo.

(Filmed through a letterbox).

Rethinking the Term ‘Hearing Impaired’?

Have the American deaf managed to convince the legal on terminology? OMG the thought police have infiltrated the deaf community too.  I thought it a novelty when the deaf community started espousing terms like 'meme' or 'Pedagogy' and threw hashtags about as if they meant anything, but the onslaught on identification continues unabated, does nobody ask the actual people what title they prefer? 

Why is this deaf community intent of honing and building on its own stereotype?  At the same time opposing those who want to bring them in out of the cold?  Who is to say a title is right or wrong?  Last week in the UK they were challenging each other (The deaf signers), on what is the right sign to use, c'mon folks there are more important issues to address  

As a point of interest, my Britsh spell checker found 37 spelling faults in the article, I hope USA lawyers never get to file for me lol.  What is offensive is personal and subjective.  Not every term is and who invented them anyway? or says which you can and cannot use?  There is no 'one size fits all..'  I suppose lawyers see a cash cow here for the permanently pissed off areas.

The Article:

Sound, to most people, is synonymous with the ears. For those of us who are deaf or hard of hearing, sound has a different meaning than ears drawing sound and the brain processing it. For me, sound is a multisensory experience. The deaf brain uses all senses to determine sound. We “hear” differently, but we are not impaired. As such, we need to reconsider the wide use of the term “hearing impaired” to reflect on our difference, but not a false disability.

Some people reading this might think it is a foolish concern to change the label “hearing impaired” to hard of hearing. They may think what deaf people experience is, in fact, an impairment. However, I argue that one cannot miss what one has never had. When we focus on people who are prelingually deaf and hard-of-hearing, the word “impaired” is not an accurate description.

The term “hearing impaired” suggests that deaf people's lack of hearing is a pathological condition that needs to be fixed. Many Deaf people lead rich, productive lives and are not looking to be cured. We are proud to be deaf and part of Deaf culture.1-6

The term “hearing impaired” can be compared with the word “snowflake,” which has had a rough ride in society. Snowflake can suggest something delicate, pure, and refreshing that brings the promise of newness and hope. However, it's also used as a derogatory term to demean anyone who thinks differently or is different from the norms of society. What was once non-offensive has become offensive.

Soap Opera Deafie returns.

To be fair she is unlike most deaf signers we know. 'Awkward' it was.  We expected the lecture 'This is what deaf people do...' to emerge, coming soon in an episode shortly I expect.  What we need for real awareness are people who struggle with communication and to see how others manage that.

Freda Burgess returned to Coronation Street tonight - and she was carrying a dark secret. Emily’s deaf niece, who last appeared in January 2010, revealed Norris Cole was not coming back to the cobbles and starting a new life. However, she then seemingly indicated Norris was DEAD by putting an urn full of ashes next to his photo. 

 Worried Mary Taylor and Tracy Barlow got a fright when they saw the door of Number 3 wide open. They hesitatingly crept inside and charged into the kitchen with an umbrella to attack the supposed intruder. Tracy and Mary heard an intruder. They feared the house was being robbed.

Lucy Fallon's 'awkward' first Coronation Street appearance since exit news Stunned Tracy recognised Freda, played by Ali Briggs, who claimed she had been sent to Weatherfield by Norris. Freda confessed that Norris was happy to divorce Mary and was planning to sell the house. She revealed that Norris was away at a silent retreat, but suspicious 

Tracy wasn’t convinced that the street's biggest gossip was staying quiet. Mary charged in with an umbrella. Furious Mary told Freda to tell Norris to “stop being a coward” and was angry that he had chosen not to call her. Once Mary and Tracy he left, scheming Freda places an urn on the side table next to a framed photo of Norris. "I miss you every day," said Freda, which left viewers convinced that Norris might have died. 

Friday, 3 May 2019

121: Understanding A2W funding.

Access to Work fundingWow! a £1,000 ($1300), a week (where do I sign).

Getting Access to Work funding Our leaflet was put together to assist people with a hearing loss to apply for Access to Work funding. The Access to Work funding is there to help you to access deaf equipment (such as radio aids) and services (such as Speech to Text Reporters or British Sign Language interpreters). 

This helpsheet covers England, Scotland and Wales. If you are in Northern Ireland, this is a separate system and outside the scope of this leaflet. Access to Work funding is available for people in various kinds of paid work as outlined at Access to Work is not available for voluntary work. If you are about to start or are in a new job, you need to apply for Access to Work funding within 6 weeks or your employer may have to pay more contributions towards equipment and travel support – a system called “cost share rules”. 

 From the 1st of April 2018, Access to Work will cap its annual awards at £57,200 a year. This may mean you need to think creatively about your award and how to get the best out of it. The Access to Work application or renewal process can take quite a long time and the rules are complex. We hope the advice in this leaflet will prepare you for what is needed, help you manage the application process and speed things up as much as possible. The process can be very stressful and difficult to manage. 

We have a lot of experience with Access to Work funding for deaf and hard of hearing people. We’re able to advise you on how to make a successful application for Access to Work funding.