Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Bring back deaf dependency on the system.


Lancashire Deaf Rights Group (L-R) Ian Funnell, Len Hodson, Ann Spencer, Sarah Button, Mark Heaton
This seems to directly oppose the view and aim of current BSL users under 60.

Integration is decimating the deaf community ethos and isolating the older deaf claims this group.  For many older deaf who grew up almost totally reliant on a dedicated signing service now find that since youth rejected the concept and demanded access to Interpreters instead, this has left them with les options of support being unable via background to move out into the mainstream as young deaf are now doing as their background was never geared to enable them to do that.

The present system requires 2 people every time now, an interpreter, and a social worker.  Prior, there was only 1 a social service worker who signed also.    The issue of young deaf rejecting this set up was based on the stigma of always having to use a social worker, and demands for independence and more access controlled by the users of BSL, an end to the 'birth to death' deaf support system which deaf found intrusive and against their best interests.  

In the past, such systems read your mail for you, did your banking, took many life-changing decisions on your behalf, took your children to school, attended births,  deaths, and all between.    We still see many deaf today who rely to a considerable extent on others, who have switched from the system support or just carried on using family help.  Attending job interviews (Which the article supported),  with you etc is still a contentious point because employers see you as dependent on others, and it takes away the onus OF employers to provide your entitlement TO access.  It is a contradiction to deaf right of access and equality.

Elderly deaf are unfamiliar with technologies too so often at a loss as to how to call for the support they need.  Those in homes are just left to it as deaf clubs and deaf schools, their sole means of socialising suffer the domino effect of inclusive aspects.

A survey was undertaken in the late 1950s and 1960s, that exposed the fact less than 35% of all dedicated social workers were qualified in BSL to an acceptable level needed to support the BSL user.  [We use the term BSL but at that time no BSL dictionary existed or 'BSL' as we know it today].  Subtitling nor captions were a norm either.  Deaf were incensed at the poor level of signing and personal interference they underwent via the dedicated system, got angry and demanded 'neutral' Interpreters qualified instead, the SS Directorate held meetings, agreed with the demands, and then systematically disbanded the dedicated system for the deaf leaving the older generation in limbo.  

Many older deaf simply assumed that interpreters were still the same as a social worker and treated them that way.  Today the issue of degree of neutrality raises some questions with more aware deaf people who think the fact Interpreters are reliant on deaf for work need to 'keep them onside'.   It is true to say the BSL users ARE worse off than before, an issue ATR has reiterated itself for years, as more and more deaf have a proxy community online instead to suggest the old community ethos still exists but has moved forward, but the basic reality deaf need face to face interaction more than  many other social areas do, is being ignored.  

As stated older deaf weren't using online.  E.G. The 'BSL Zone' TV program did a club to club awareness survey and found many deaf over 50 had never heard or seen their program on a TV set or knew about it, deaf had the technology but apart from texts or some video calling hardly used phones for anything else and where they were isolated from family never made calls.  Social online media was an area they never accessed either to any greater degree.

It seems rather sad the deaf community of sign users don't support their own older deaf and will face the same issues when they are older too.  In the scheme of things defeating their own access aims.  The lack of any real input from older deaf over 50 should be ringing community alarm bells but isn't.    These people created that community.

The Article.

It seems unlikely that there are many public services whose users would proclaim that they were better off 50 years ago than they are today. But the more senior members of the deaf community in Lancashire say that is often how they feel as they try to negotiate the challenges of living in a silent world with increasingly limited support. ...and cartoonist ...and cartoonist Len Hodson, 80, recalls a time when people who, like him, were born deaf and rely on British Sign Language (BSL), benefited from social care staff dedicated to helping them with every aspect of their lives. 


 “There was really good support in the 1950s and 60s – social workers were there to help you with things like understanding documents and even to go to job interviews with you,” remembers Len, a founding member of the Lancashire Deaf Rights Group (LDRG). “Nowadays, deaf people are integrating more, but there’s still a lot of isolation and many people who are left unable to engage [in society].” 

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