Saturday, 31 August 2019

The best speech to text app?

Deaf Connections goes into liquidation.

More alarming news this one following the recent closure of the Lancashire charity that left 70 staff without a job.

Is it time for deaf people to start employing people who know what they are doing as opposed to those 'who are deaf too' ?  The financial ignorance of charities pursuing culture and do not take into account it all takes money needs addressing before more deaf charities go the same way, there are imminent rumblings within the UK largest signing and cultural charity the BDA, with trustees resigning en masse.

Time for deaf support to revert to the state?  Perhaps these charities need to stop encouraging 'like with like' and concentrate more on inclusion?  Because when they fail, there is nothing is there?  You cannot include the excluded by putting them apart in a different room.

Fears have been raised for the future of more than 100 members of the city's deaf community after a vital service went bust yesterday. Deaf Connections has been providing much-needed help to vulnerable people in the city for the past 197 years, but was forced to close its doors for good due to "cash flow problems". 

 Volunteers and care staff were informed early on Wednesday that they had until 5pm that day to clear belongings out of the charity's Norfolk Street base, in which the group has been based for the past 25 years. And this has led to serious concerns about the fate of 130 Deaf Connections' members, most of whom are elderly, who are without support today. 

"We feel so let down, angry and sad. "We are all crying."  Janice Hamilton, a volunteer, added: "They told everyone the building would be closed at 5pm and if you had belongings, you had to get them by then. "This is the only place in Glasgow like this where deaf people can come. "It's an OAP club, it's a church, it's friends, it's a hard of hearing club and it's also care in the community. 

"Who is taking people to their doctor's appointments and their hospital appointments today - who is helping them get out of their beds this morning? "Maybe nobody. "And we've got no way of getting in touch with them to check they're okay." Launched in 1822, Deaf Connections was first based at West Regent Street before Princess Diana opened its hub south of the River Clyde 25 years ago. A leading voluntary organisation for deaf and hard of hearing people, staff provided a range of charitable and professional services, including social care, family, community education, social inclusion, interpretation and translation, health and advocacy services. 

A cluster of angry volunteers and members were attempting to enter the Norfolk Street building this morning, to demand answers and retrieve belongings. Karen Clarkson is a volunteer with Deaf Connections who has been attending sign language classes at the facility for more than a year, for her work as an auxiliary nurse at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She said: "Everyone feels left in the dark and so angry. "Members have been let down, where else can they go for the help and care they need? Where they can feel comfy in their own surroundings but still find support?" A statement from Deaf Connections' board of directors explained that falling revenues and public sector funding had led to the appointment of provisional liquidators.


UK to start wider screening for CMV virus

Image result for CMV virus
A major contributor to hearing loss in babies.  

What IS CMV?

Hearing loss and congenital CMV infection: a systematic review.


Hearing loss caused by congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection was first observed in 1964. Today CMV is the most common cause of nonhereditary sensorineural hearing loss in childhood. Our objective was to provide an overview of the prevalence of CMV-related hearing loss, to better define the nature of CMV-associated hearing loss, and to investigate the importance of CMV infection in hearing-impaired children.


Two reviewers independently used Medline and manual searches of references from eligible studies and review articles to select cohort studies on children with CMV infection with audiological follow-up and extracted data on population characteristics and hearing outcomes.


Thirty-seven studies were included: 10 population-based natural history studies, 14 longitudinal cohort studies, and 13 retrospective studies. The prevalence of CMV in developed countries is 0.58% (95% confidence interval, 0.41-0.79). Among these newborns, 12.6% (95% confidence interval, 10.2-16.5) will experience hearing loss: 1 out of 3 symptomatic children and 1 out of 10 asymptomatic children. Among symptomatic children, the majority have bilateral loss; among asymptomatic children, unilateral loss predominates. In both groups, the hearing loss is mainly severe to profound. Hearing loss can have a delayed onset, and it is unstable, with fluctuations and progression. Among hearing-impaired children, CMV is the causative agent in 10% to 20%. Despite strict selection criteria, some heterogeneity was found between selected studies.


This systematic review underscores the importance of CMV as a cause of sensorineural hearing loss in childhood.

Friday, 30 August 2019

Deaf and Brexit

I don't think this covers a lot of realities regarding Mr Johnsons's request to prorogue the UK parliament, or has anything specific to do with deaf people everybody on this Island is at risk.  As regards to the deaf we have no interest in 'World Deaf' setups or EU deaf ones, just one single charity takes a passing interest that's all 5 PEOPLE!  ATR is a supporter of leaving the European Union.  You can adjudge whether that means bias or not, but the reality is the UK is polarised anyway.

Why did leavers vote to leave?

There was actually a 10 year 'run-up' to the David Cameron suggestion we should hold a referendum to stay or leave, because there were too many concerns the 'Union' was developing into a superstate with no clear identification of who was actually running it and the concerns  just two countries (Germany and France), were 'carving up' the union for dual rule over it all.

Initially, the 'common market' created well over 40 years ago consisted of just 6 'affluent' countries, what later emerged was 22 others joining up and those original 6 being obliged to financially provide support for a lot of them who had emerged from the failed USSR etc.  This was in addition to considerable financial aid from the USA.  It's time the UK and USA stopped being mugged by Europe.  It cost the UK approximately £35B a year, but the UK was/is struggling itself and the costs kept rising and the UK voice/input being eroded year on year.  We aren't an affluent country, and been in austerity mode for 10 years we haven't the means to be 'Lady Bountfiul' any more and there are many demands for a cut in foreign aid too we can't afford it and we owe trillions its madness.  Sound economics it ain't.

We voted to leave, because of real concerns about illegal immigration, no rule over own laws, human rights being abused, lax or non-extant rules on addressing those, and frankly the EU boast about it 'without borders' and operating a 'free trading' set up and 'freedom to roam' option was exposed as putting the UK at huge risk of terrorism.  The EU has no borders with the middle east, Turkey or North Africa, the boat people came and kept coming across the Meditteranean encouraged by German help who wanted 1m of them to bolster their national staff shortages.  They got Germans on the street demanding they all leave.

The UK complained, far from these 'immigrants' having a viable skill of any kind, they arrived with no education, health issues, no English, and no skills at all, and unable to integrate, creating huge issues of support, and the UK claims unsustainable pressures on its welfare/education systems.  The UK 'rule' was skilled people or genuine asylum seekers only.  In reality the first wave of boat people removed the viability of defining who was an asylum seeker we got flooded with illegal migrants who utilised the asylum laws to prevent us from repatriating them.  

Most were clearly 'job-seeking' or 'looking for a better life' etc. They were paying smugglers a lot of money to get to countries they were not entitled to enter, this decried their claims they were leaving poverty for a better life or were asylum-seeking.  In the UK yesterday we saw 15 illegals returned to France who has paid £3,000 each to get to the UK, they were openly stating they would pay to try again.  Yet, none were viable asylum seekers in France.

Remainers mostly liberal and left-wing voters, seized upon concerns to label the leave voter as racist and cruel and denying help to those who needed it.  They insisted our 'free trade' agreement and freedom to go where we like in Europe was a definite advantage and the EU sent a few £Billion to the UK every year to aid our poor areas too, this was basically a lie, as what the EU parliament allocated to the UK in the form of 'Grants' were actually part of the money we sent them every year, the UK never had ANY money from Europe the 40 odd years we were members of it and the balance of 'free trade' was also a myth in that again, the UK had never shown any profit in all its time as members, the EU however DID.  Leavers suggested we in the UK were being abused and asset-stripped by the EU we were never full members.

It did not stop, the UK parliament collapsed in disarray as MP's failed in their duty and took against the leave majority vote.    It has escalated into a divided Britain and now it is about ensuring the UK democracy is replaced by minority or mob rule instead.  Your vote no longer matters.   The remain areas insisting we vote again and again (Just as Ireland did) until the voter agrees to remain in the EU.

For 3 and a half years these rows have gone on mainly because the original draft of a new trade deal supported by the EU was voted down 3 times BY the UK MP's, and they rejected 11 amendments for any alternative, in essence, MPs' had decided to stop Brexit happening by any means they could.  It was inevitable given the eternal stalemate where nobody was really making any headway and MP's had disgraced their office and electorate, someone like Boris Johnson would play them at their own 'game'.

Legally, and as the new PM, he has a right to formulate his priorities for the foreseeable time of his office, to do that a 'breathing space' to form those options is allowed for any new PM to request, setting up new proposals, different staff offices etc. to carry it through, every prime minister in a 100 years has done this where parliament does not sit until a set time has elapsed.  The 'delay' they claim is unacceptable is 4 days, and in 2014 was considerably longer by the new PM then so that's rubbish.  

Of course, there are those who suggest he timed that to coincide with the fast-approaching exit date from the EU, I would say so What?  At least someone is (A) MAKING a decision (B) Respecting the result of the original vote to leave and (C) Putting an end to the relentless inertia that is going on. The EU won't budge, if they do then they face at least 6 other member states to follow our exit lead.  There is a lot to play for.  Germany and France have lined up against the UK as has London itself lined up, against the rest, the reality is 28 member states have no democratic say at all, as all negotiations have been with Mrs Merkle alone and Macron, so much for Brussels having any point.   

Watching our TV sets of daily Parliament coverage we see 100s of people waving a flag that isn't ours and demanding EU rule over our country.

There are unfounded claims disabled would lose help and rights if we leave the EU, we feel that is another lie as disability rights such as they do exist were won from 1914 onwards by UK Trade unions.  It IS true disability rights have been eroded drastically, that is down to our own state welfare arm waging war on the disabled and vulnerable, they also want a 'USA-based' health system based on ability to pay which we don't want.  Since we joined the EU they have had no impression on what went on.  The 'Gig' economies still run, discriminations still exist, immigration is still out of control etc.. wages haven't kept pace the last 15 years, trade is on par with jungle natives being given beads.  The EU has been instead obsessed with trivia and gender rights.

Our 'enemy' on human rights is as much the EU as our own government decision making.  Rule of law must be retained in the UK itself our own government being held responsible for its own crimes. We cannot be treated as an 'outpost' stuck on the end of Europe and we won't. The die is pretty much cast now we CANNOT go back to the old status quo, the EU would eliminate our ability to govern ourselves.  We did not fight two world wars for that to happen.

Leave voters are attacked as stupid, ignorant, illiterate, and the 'great unwashed' those insults have become minor now as nobody is spared an attack and 'project fear' is the norm of the argument.  The biggest victim is our democracy, we handed that to Europe and they took full advantage of abusing it.  No deal, or a deal makes no difference.  It will take years for any dust to settle.  ATR does not think the UK has any choice but to leave if only on security concerns as France is allowing their illegals to launch boats from their coastline to get here and demanding we fund THEIR border or else expect more of the same.  They don't want them so happy to turn a blind eye as they go elsewhere.  Mexico and the USA had the same problem.

The EU abandoned their borders and left Spain Portugal, Italy, Malta, Cyprus etc to be swamped by 1,000s every week, the UK could never sustain anything like that as an Island.  The USA cannot sustain that despite the size of their country where the illegality is in millions.  The EU parliament has ignored pleas for effective border control. As a result, Italy is banning them from landing, jailing aid agency operators helping them and eastern bloc members re-installing hard borders with wire and troops,  defying the EU own rules, rules, remainers here are saying we must obey. One 'rule' for Europeans another for the UK? not on is it?

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Text on Top Captioning

Deaf Jurors: Only if they don't use sign.

Matthew Johnston outside Blackfriars crown court
A 54-year-old technology consultant from London is believed to have established a legal landmark this month by becoming the first profoundly deaf person to sit on a jury in a crown court in England and Wales. 

Matthew Johnston served on three trials during a two-week period at Blackfriars crown court, concluding last Thursday. He read subtitles from courtroom stenographers and relied on his lip-reading skills to participate in jury deliberations. Johnston has a small amount of hearing as a result of his cochlear implant, and is able to speak. 

“It’s all about inclusivity, isn’t it,” Johnston said. “It’s a big thing for me … We don’t want to turn our backs to society, we want to be part of society. We want to feel included. I feel great that I can be one of a jury.” Deaf people have previously been denied the opportunity to serve on juries in the UK as many rely on sign language interpreters. English and Welsh law prohibits the presence in the jury deliberation room of anybody except the 12 sworn jurors, and an interpreter would be considered a disqualifying “13th stranger”. 

After receiving a jury summons in January, and initially having a request for a stenographer refused for lack of finances, Johnston arranged a meeting with court officials to discuss how he could still fulfil his civic duty. Johnston assured them he did not require a sign language interpreter, and also noted that the round table in the jury deliberation room would allow him to lip-read his fellow jurors. 

He said: “They wanted to see me, how deaf I was, how well I could lip-read, and when they met me there was no problem.”

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Healthcare rights: Australia

The UK has healthcare rights too, enforcing them has proved chaotic, postcode-driven, or simply non-extant. Anyone can pass a law not everyone can or will benefit from them, THAT is the problem. E.G. in the UK there is NO system to support those with hearing loss who do not rely on sign language, indeed no demand coming from the Hard of Hearing for that help, go figure...  Wonder if down under their HoH are asleep too?

New Zealand at odds with 'Offensive' signs.

After complaints on social media about some sign language signs, NZSL Dictionary editor Rachel McKee says people shouldn't jump to conclusions when they see signs they interpret as offensive.

A leading linguist and editor of the New Zealand Sign Language Dictionary says people shouldn't overreact to signs that might be seen as offensive. NZSL is a language like any other, she says, and people shouldn't make value judgments about the communities that speak it. Rachel McKee, an associate professor at Victoria University of Wellington's School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, was responding to social media reports saying the words for Jew, Chinese, Gay and Samoan in NZSL are inappropriate.

Juliet Moses, a spokesperson for the Jewish Council of New Zealand, said that the organisation was "concerned to discover last week the use of an offensive stereotype to sign 'Jew'".

Deaf Aotearoa did not respond to a request for comment. At issue is the stereotypical depictions of a handful of minority groups. According to the NZSL Dictionary, one of the ways to sign Jew is to make a hook-nosed gesture. One of the words for Chinese involves tugging at the corner of your eye. Gay is represented by a hand flip and Samoan by pressing down on your nose.

But McKee says that the dictionary is a record of NZSL, not the arbiter of it. "The job of a dictionary is to record, document and describe the language as people use it, not to prescribe it," she said.  "A good dictionary documents language usage, it doesn't attempt to be the arbiter of the correct and only way to say things."

McKee pointed out that the hook-nosed sign for Jew is marked as being an "older variation" on the dictionary website and a newer one evokes a beard instead. Chinese, Gay and Samoan also have alternative signs in the dictionary. She drew a comparison to how English has evolved in other respects. The word Negro is no longer used to describe black people in the United States, "but it is a term that you would still find in the dictionary," she explained.

Moses said that the offensive signs could be done away with. "Societies and languages evolve. In recognition of that, UK sign language has abandoned the use of these derogatory stereotypes. We understand that NZ Sign Language has indicated it is open to doing this as well, and we would encourage it to do so," she said.  In response, McKee says that there is no one body that decides what is or isn't NZSL, just like there is no authority that decides what is or isn't English. "The arbiter of a language are the people who use the language," she said.

But, she conceded, NZSL is always evolving.  "Usage, like in all languages, changes over time as people are in contact with other groups of people that they haven't been in contact with before, or they see new things or they reconsider the impact on people."

"That's very much the case with sign language too."

ATR: As per usual the easily offended are creating another cause celeb to be annoyed with.  As every deafie knows it is all about CONTEXT, not just the sign which can be interpreted numerous ways via body/facial action too.  Language evolves via colloquialisms also, 'mongrel' signs that with frequent use become part of the established language norm over time, (Including swear words/terms), they can disappear via less use too.  Many older deaf still use signs that are alleged to be 'offensive' to various nationalities and minorities.  I suspect in 50 years many deaf there will also find their 'BSL' pretty obsolete too.

Image result for Indian with a red mark on their faceOld habits die hard, but it is basically not a sign as such as a 'mime' of what is viewed visually by the deaf person.  E.G. an Indian from the subcontinent would be signed by indicating the area between the eyes, where the Indians usually put a red spot there.  Black people is the brush across the face to indicate that it is not a white person, it's not a put-down.  The deaf need to identify people, it may be simplistic to indicate a feature of minority and other areas, but, it works!  Perceptions nobody can be accountable for especially not those of the permanently annoyed and politically correct time-wasters offended by everything.  We can watch media/films and see Gay people portrayed as effeminate, with errant wrist action, and camp, it would be unsurprising the deaf would make the sign fit that image, it would not mean they are unaccepting or haters!  

The UK dictionary e.g. on sign language was viewed at the time, a very dubious 'con' job and many deaf accused the creators of inventing signs to fill room and to make BSL appear more of a 'language' than it actually was.  There was no sign FOR bilingualism at that point, even 'language' term itself wasn't a universally known sign, nor a few 1,000 other terms and words.  When challenged the dictionary creators made a point of stating 'one sign can mean many things' it was ALL about context, but dictionary professionals did not buy it, and deaf people were confused.

Context is the response to the politically correct critics.  The plethora of obscure definitions by Mr Ladd, where adherents to his mantra is an example, where the deaf are still desperately seeking a 'Deaf' version of the rosetta stone to make sense of it, as was the recent news item of an engineer deaf who had no signs for the work he was doing and had to create his own.  There is MORE than one dictionary you need e.g. medical, scientific, educational, just some vital examples.  The BSL dictionary is nowhere near covering any of those areas.  As such the deaf have no signed 'in' to higher education, access, inclusion, or advancement.

Prior to the 1950s in the UK few people knew what BSL was or even if it existed, other than 'sign language used in Britain', as most deaf people who were taught sign language relied more on ABC fingerspelling than 'conceptual' signing which was a later thing.  Very early recorded signing of UK deaf people clarified fingerspelling as 'British sign language' it was virtually the only sign medium in areas like Cornwall e.g. The rest assumed some sort of descriptive mime back up.  Many older deaf complaining they did not know where the 'BSL' signs came from or even what the new ones represented.

Since then hearing have moved in and created fee-paying courses, exams, and classwork to put BSL on a firmer 'language' footing, the deaf are having very little input on that because they concentrate on the cultural element not the language needs of deaf social-cultural trumping access to the wider world.  The original BSL dictionary is now pretty much obsolete as Signed English is taking over.  A more logical approach to enhance access and inclusion for deaf people.  There isn't much support despite claims to the contrary, to make BSL incompatible with the host language of the UK to prove a cultural point.

Monday, 26 August 2019

Are disabled getting really really silly about how we all post?

Image result for the grammar policeOr just the permanently pissed off snowflakes being listened to, when we should be ignoring them and throwing popcorn at them?  A poster was reprimanded and his post edited by a moderator on a UK disability suite because 'You highlighted something in bold type and we don't allow shouting on our site. You are also NOT allowed to use terms like 'us', them', or, 'we' or even 'community' without a proper clarification of who you mean..'  'You cannot assume everyone disabled will understand disabled issues or awareness issues, even on this site, your assumption is suggesting what they may not agree with or even understand.'  

The response was pretty scathing of that disability moderation perhaps an ultimate 'put down' of the ridiculousness of activism online, it didn't help, the poster got banned!

"Very laudable, but this is a disability site, not the UN or the home of the text police unless the site remit has changed?   Of course, everyone is different.  Especially disability areas who struggle with text or grammar e.g..  You are effectively preventing them from posting, or pulling them up on how they spell/post.  This site isn't even accessible to those with sight issues... It is unrealistic to expect every disabled person understands every other disabled person or their issue, or the plethora (1,000s with issues of non-disabilities), I don't have the time to address them all neither do you.  Of course, noting a disability site proclaiming to be disability-inclusive and aware my assumption seems perfectly legit to me.  Your own reply would suggest you are using the same 'assumptions'  you level at me as not on.  I understand your confusion.

As regards to awareness, it's an impossible situation, awareness is unviable or impracticable to pursue in any 'group' context all have own axes to grind.  Online,  a lot are singular/dedicated in view and pretty much unaware or disinterested in other people's issues. I cannot be aware of everyone and everything, nor, do I have the time, just add me to your list of discriminators if it makes you happy, my shoulders can bear it. We are all fighting for survival in the UK against a government who wants us out of the way we don't need to fight ourselves as well, I can appreciate a mutual moan helps some but I don't personally buy into that, I have all the paranoia I need.  

If you are preaching unity you are wasting your time, all disability sectors are doing own thing and have own areas and charities pursuing issues only they find relevant, the inclusion laws are for others it seems, your corner you fight it.

There is a 'virtual war' going on  about degrees of loss, labels, language usage, medical, and issues of outright NON-acceptance of other diverse people within it, or to support them, its a microcosm of cultural or disability angst I can do without and a mad scramble to declare THIS is what we are, THIS is what we need, THIS is how to ID us or THIS is how to post... etc... We all need to accept the diversity within disabled areas first. All I can say is THIS is how I post, and as I feel able if you don't like that..."

The anti-social Hard of Hearing?

Much angst still prevails regarding Hard of Hearing being viewed stupid or refusing to engage with hearing people, aka:

"I'm sure there's an army of people floating around who think I'm aloof!"

"Some in my family accuse me of not listening! I feel I am being blamed for being hard of hearing when I am listening very intently but often can't decipher certain words being used in a sentence."

"Apparently, ignoring people is a way to prevent stress in many of us, others assume we are anti-social and leave us alone so we don't then, have to struggle following them." 

"We aren't called the angry people for nothing I suppose, but I am not sure this helps us to de-stress, as it just makes isolation a more comfortable option. This works for the deaf with a signing culture because they band together, it WON'T work with us because we don't do that.  We don't even view fellow HoH as the same as us, we still see ourselves as hearing people, it used to be called denial, I don't know what they call it now."

ATR:  HoH are architects of their own issue, following the campaign trails of the Deaf 'blame game' hasn't worked for them, so no point us copying that.  The fact remains HoH are determined to want be included but equally determined not to suggest to people they HAVE a hearing loss at all.

There is considerable evidence to support this as they demand better hearing aids that people WON'T be able to see, aided and abetted by multiple adverts on 'hidden hearing' by manufacturers honing in precisely on that point to sell that view to them.  Quite how this addresses the issue of 'hidden disabilities' being more visible is never explained or clarified.

Perhaps if we asked for a ban on any advert that suggests we 'hide' our issue?  If the HoH sector would just fess up to the fact like anyone with hearing loss or deafness, confidence is pretty low in facing up to it all.  No point getting annoyed or 'aloof' to avoid the issue you really want to be addressed and cannot be addressed by law, only, by you raising your own awareness of what you need by being honest about it.

If you lie to hearing people, do the 'nod' of assent when you clearly haven't a clue, then you set yourself up for others getting fed up with you as they are assuming you hear and then not responding logically or at all to what is actually being said. Getting annoyed about your own failings is what it is all about, not that hearing loss is a failing, its a clinical fact of life, but how YOU address that fact has a primary bearing on how you get it accepted and empathised with.

If we do not hear or simply do not understand what is said, then the simplistic and logical answer to that is to say so.    There are alternatives to struggling to lip-read or something, they can be text-driven e.g. everyone can read and write usually its a start and again, not trying alternatives that WILL work is cutting off your own nose etc.  Forget the pride thing nobody is seeing that anyway.  

Accept a Hearing aid isn't for life, they aid what hearing you have left, but, that hearing can still itself deteriorate, and as we know, we, are the last to realise that, clues can be seen when gaps widen in your social life etc as you subconsciously withdraw from making the efforts.  Looking out for hearing deterioration as a clue may just delay your perception of what is really going on.  As soon as hearing loss is identified you really really need to start seeking out alternatives, not, wait until it is too late to do much about it."

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Suicide prevention research.

5 things you DON'T say to CI users.

Deaf Census

Seems deaf in Africa were caught out with their deaf census just as the UK was.  The primary issue is asking the right questions regarding the deaf/disabled/hard of hearing etc.  Actually, NO question was asked regarding hearing loss and nobody defined deafness.

The UK approach was obviously,  an utter and biased shambles with BSL campaigners insisting on just one basic question which was 'do you use BSL?'.  Apart from anything else the question ignored 10m Hard of Hearing and 1,000s of 'deaf', when you add in, that daily usage, reliance, primary use of sign language, and 7 other essential questions needed to get any sort of reliable statistic, the end result was a culture shock to the BSL using people in the UK.

It would appear even with the biased, loaded, and the obscure question being asked, actual census responses cut charitable statistics by 60% overnight.   People who responded to the simplistic question of sign use did not ask even if the respondee was deaf or hearing, or even if BSL was their primary means of communication.  Filling in a census form was pointless, there is no validation system. Like the above response, Deaf responded by attacking the census instead when the result appeared to show their claims unsubstantiated. An own goal for cultural deaf campaigns.

The 'fight back' by charities of the deaf resulted in an ever-increasing and rising claim of BSL usage beyond the realm of fantasy and none of them validated.  E.G. The English assumption of BSL deaf was 30,000 at that time the census who did not identify use or degree cut that in half.  Today the claim is 150,000, or as in one case on the BDA site 10m!  The reality is nobody really knows or ever will.

What we do know is deaf schools on their way out, clubs closing down, and fewer people taking up sign language or interpreting.  Interpreter demand seems to be paper or internet-based rather than need-based as approximately only 300 exist to 'serve' these 150,000 alleged users. ATR contacted primary areas in the UK to ascertain if real statistics existed to quote, by asking Interpreter bodies and welfare support systems, what ATR got in response, was zero.

'We are sorry we do not keep any records of BSL usage via individuals, there may be some records kept by auditors of local authorities. welfare agencies or those claiming interpreter support via payment records.  However, and as you are probably aware we cannot give you the information you ask for via freedom of information laws, because the Data Protection Act makes it illegal for us to provide you with the details you ask.  

So one law is 'trumped' by another preventing you from knowing?

You could approach the RNID, or the British Deaf Association, obviously, we cannot confirm if their statistics are correct or not as you asked, they appear to gather stats from NHS areas of hearing loss and disabilities, you would have to ask them how they differentiate to gather sign language information.  I would further add we noticed your area (Wales), is a devolved health area of the United Kingdom, so again, you would need to approach the Welsh Assembly for the information you need.  As we are aware there are no specific national records kept for what you are asking."

The state arm of welfare, (the DWP), initially refused to offer up any information at all, claiming the FOI law did not apply to them.   When pushed then demanded a £600 'search fee' area by area, (which would have cost ATR many £1,000s, even then stated it would not provide me with what I want to know because 'We don't keep records of that.'  Of course, they do, because in order to assess deaf claimants, BSL provision would have to be provided, ergo a record of those costs and provision has to exist.  There may be some truth in deaf claims they are simply refusing to provide that access in many cases, or simply deaf aren't asking for it.

On the grounds of responses so far,  it would appear (A) Nobody has any idea how many people use sign language,  (B) The sole 'sources' come from charities who themselves cannot validate or (C) There is no real data gathering done on BSL. Nobody really knows BSL areas can state any number they want, how would you challenge when you cannot prove anything either?  

Logic suggests, that those seeking active support for sign language are the true figures to quote, although gathering that statistic is difficult too, the indication is a very much lower demand for BSL than any of the current claims to the contrary.  Probably TWO THIRDS lower than activism and charity is claiming.

Friday, 23 August 2019

Videophone Counseling: Who Benefits?

Videophone Counseling: Who Benefits? featuring Sharon introducing the concept of online/virtual counselling. 

It’s hard to believe 16 years have flown by since we brought online counselling sessions to the Deaf community for the first time in 2003. Thanks to Sorenson for distributing the first videophones to the Deaf community, which made this possible. Transcript: For some time now, people have been asking if it’s possible to use the videophone (VP) for psychological services. We’ve been using this new modality of counselling for a while here at ASC. When most people think of counseling, they envision the counsellor and client sitting down together in the same room. VP counselling is different. 

It’s actually not a new idea though. Starting in the 1950s, the military used telehealth technology to provide counselling services to remote bases where there were no counsellors available. So, the idea of telehealth counselling is not new, but it is somewhat new in the Deaf community. We’re seeing it slowly being made more available. My experience with VP counselling has been very positive. It’s a nice option for many people. One example is people who live far away, or in another state where there are no good Deaf services available, can benefit from VP counselling. 

Second, other people may live far away, but prefer not to see their local Deaf counsellor because they already know the counsellor or don’t feel comfortable with that counsellor or they just prefer to work with someone outside their community. VP counselling is a nice option. A third example is people who can’t drive or who don’t have a car, who may be sick or too weak to travel, or who can’t afford to buy gas. They can also benefit from VP access to counselling. Fourth, people who may feel anxious or uncomfortable about going into a counsellor’s office, but who do want to start counselling, can do VP sessions to start with, then perhaps go to the office for sessions. Finally, many people are very busy these days and find it hard to fit an appointment into their schedules, due to time conflicts or wanting to spend evenings with their families. 

They can set up VP counselling sessions during their lunch or break times at work. There are some differences between in-office counselling sessions and VP sessions. In the former, the counsellor can see the client’s full-body, how they walk, if they are limping, if they have vision issues or a limited range of vision. Body language is obvious. With VP counselling, it’s possible for the counsellor to overlook or not realize some things. A client might have Usher Syndrome, for instance, but see well enough to communicate easily via VP, and never share this with the counsellor. Someone might have difficulty walking, but it’s not apparent to the counsellor through the VP. That’s why it’s especially important to share information with the counsellor. 

 Overall, I’ve found VP counselling to be such a nice option. It’s perfect for people who have no local options for in-office counselling sessions. Thank you. (video description: Sharon is sitting in an armchair and signing.)

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Auditory-Verbal centre

Auditory Verbal Center from Harry Hayes on Vimeo.

Teaching the deaf to hear.  Captioning would have helped.

Deaf 'too old' to get Interpreter help.

Hundreds of deaf Australians are being denied thousands of dollars to pay for sign language interpreters because they’re too old to qualify for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. 

So-called ‘deaf elders’ claim it’s a clear case of age discrimination and say it’s contributing to worsening loneliness and depression within their community. “She’s worried about her friends over 65, their health. Their mental health is deteriorating,” Tina Stuart told 10 News First while also interpreting for her mother Elizabeth Karn. “I just feel like they’re the forgotten ones.” Tina takes Thursdays off work each week so she can drive two hours to see her parents, Elizabeth and Walter. Both are deaf and are excluded from the NDIS because they were older than 65 when the scheme was rolled out in the NSW Illawarra region, where they live. 

Elizabeth had initially been excited about the long-awaited NDIS but was devastated to learn she’d miss out because of its age limit. The scheme provides recipients thousands of dollars each year to pay for Auslan interpreters, who can charge up to $200 per hour. Auslan is the language of the deaf community in Australia. The average annual pay-out under the NDIS is $5,300 per person and there is little restriction on what the interpreter may be asked to do: visit a bank, a supermarket, a lawyer, or even a protest.

'Hearing Glasses'

Being Hard of Hearing in School

Deaf man saves 7 lives by listening.

Deaf man David Russell says he's saved seven people from killing themselves at Worthing beach
A deaf man says he has stopped seven people killing themselves by listening like no one else can. 

David Russell, 49, roams the streets of Worthing at night taking pictures and looking for people to help. He used to be homeless but turned his life around with photography six years ago. One night, he was walking along the promenade in the West Sussex town when he saw a woman running down the beach towards the sea. He said ‘I knew something was up and I ran down and shouted to her. ‘She said, “Leave me alone, I just want to die”. David Russell said he’s saved seven people at Worthing beach.

‘I said, “Please just give me one chance and if you still feel like there’s nothing I can do to stop you, I will leave.” ‘She said her son had died and she just couldn’t cope. ‘I told her your son wouldn’t want you to feel like this, he’d want you to be happy and start a fresh life. ‘It was 1am and I left her at about seven in the morning. ‘She had been drinking and had driven from Horsham. I wanted to make sure she sobered up before she left.’ David is deaf in both ears but has residual hearing and comes into his own in one-to-one situations. 

NOTE: No wonder awareness doesn't work, 'deaf but still has residual hearing', either you are deaf, or you are not surely? you cannot be deaf AND hearing.   Deaf in both ears too?  No wonder confusion and inequality reigns!

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Hard of Hearing get ITV apprentice jobs

Safyan Iqbal, an apprentice at ITV Cymru Wales, is encouraging pupils leaving education this summer to consider apprenticeships as a route into a successful career. 

The 22-year-old creative apprentice from Cardiff was selected from hundreds of applicants for a full-time apprenticeship role at ITV Cymru Wales’ waterfront HQ in Cardiff Bay last summer, and, since beginning his course, says his apprenticeship has been the best experience of his life. Safyan was born with poor hearing, which worsened over time until he had surgery aged 11 to fit a cochlear implant which helped him to hear more clearly. He said: “Communication is the most difficult thing when you have hearing loss. 

I love talking with people - it’s the best thing about the job. I’ve always wanted to work in TV and I was worried that being deaf might be a barrier to that – but I’m proving that it’s not the case.” Safyan studied for a level 3 BTEC diploma in creative media production at Bridgend College before moving on to work at ITV Cymru Wales to undertake a level 3 apprenticeship in creative and digital media. He’s now on his way to completing his apprenticeship, during which he’s learnt a variety of skills, including how to operate cameras and shoot and edit as part of his ambition to become a camera operator or filmmaker. 

“Every person with a hearing impairment is different but when I started work, I wanted to give my colleagues some suggestions that worked for me, so that nobody felt awkward asking,” said Safyan, who lives in Cyncoed, Cardiff.

Google sign language AI turns hand gestures into speech

Graphs are mapped over pictures of hands

The tech firm has not made an app of its own but has published algorithms which it hopes developers will use to make their own apps. Until now, this type of software has only worked on PCs. Campaigners from the hearing-impaired community have welcomed the move, but say the tech might struggle to fully grasp some conversations. 

In an AI blog, Google research engineers Valentin Bazarevsky and Fan Zhang said the intention of the freely published technology was to serve as "the basis for sign language understanding". It was created in partnership with image software company MediaPipe. "We're excited to see what people come up with. For our part, we will continue our research to make the technology more robust and to stabilise tracking, increasing the number of gestures we can reliably detect," a spokeswoman for Google told the BBC. 

Google acknowledges this is a first step. Campaigners say an app that produced audio from hand signals alone would miss any facial expressions or speed of signing and these can change the meaning of what is being discussed. Also, any regionalisms which exist in a local area would not be included.


A (lengthy), postscript to a plea on social media for more Hard of Hearing awareness, and concerns those areas are being sidelined by deaf culture.  What are HoH to do to counter? or even to highlight their needs?  Some suggestions emerge....

Counter fake news from deaf cultural activists?

"We don 't know what the answer is or if the HoH has one to ask.  The overall acceptance is chalk and cheese and campaigns, groups and charities who all do own thing which is fine by me, my only niggle is when they quote sector issues that aren't relevant to them to bump up figures etc or even to stick a label on us as being someone else.  I aspire to the 'I am myself' area if others want to run with the herd that's up to them, lemmings do that too."

Remove the 'Deaf & Hearing loss' remit?

"This remit is no longer applicable, as it suggests unity and a mutual inclusive set of people, we know that is NOT true.  The issue is if we complain or challenge some campaign regarding sign language or culture because they quoted us, we are pilloried, online you can be abused for it by the more purist sign user as someone attacking the deaf and their culture.  I would want 'Deaf ' taken out of Hard of hearing remit as that suggests we are one and the same area".

Prevent statistical abuses by HoH and Deaf groups?

"The deaf must stop quoting the UK's 1 in 6/7 hearing loss statistics, and indeed be taken into account when they insert 'hearing loss' too since universally this does NOT apply to those without a loss at all, i.e. DEAF people, I don't subscribe to different degrees of being deaf, you are, or you are not.  The blurred lines have destroyed need identification.  The HoH failing is to 'live and let live' we should NOT do that. Our lives can be nothing like a reasonable life as a result of hearing loss.  HoH outnumbers sign using people 100/1000s to one and have many unmet needs too if we do not state those needs or take to issue, those that distort them even accidentally, then only we lose. 

The British Deaf News e.g. this month allowed an article stating there were 10m deaf people in the UK, they have quoted in the last 5 yrs 15,000, 50,000, 90,000 and currently 150,000 BSL deaf.  The statistics are out of control.  Just think of a number, double it whatever who can challenge? seems to be the mantra.  This media is an accepted cultural deaf and signing charity but using the RNID/AOHL's statistic for all people with hearing a loss to infer the HoH are actually someone else.  It's time the continued opportunists and distorters of need fessed up to it all.  The deaf activists are clever people not to be underestimated, they can claim clinically hearing loss covers them and the issues of who is deaf and who isn't, was lost years ago. Add on half a dozen HoH doing some sign the circle is then squared."

Make a case to the charity commissions regarding the distortion of fact?

"The only way given the culture thing is on the rise and very visible these days, is to make a case to the UK charity commission that actually many more areas exist within the term of clinical hearing loss so charities should be A or B  or even a whole plethora of other letters, and not via a remit  claiming to be both and being neither.  This only fair and right.  It doesn't mean as people we don't want anything to do with deaf culture or sign language, only, that clarity is seen so that the ridiculous situation whereby the MAJORITY of UK people with a hearing loss are identified as carrying the flag for someone else sacrificing their own want.   Since when did we all become martyrs to other people's causes?

Curb charity?

"Charities ARE the biggest problem, they are all about funding, so will claim to help just about every aspect of hearing loss to get it and quote whatever they can get away with in hearing loss terms since THEY are the sole source of them, who is to challenge?  Even politicians rely on their stats.  There is less than honesty or truth going on there.  True identification should be based on the stats of people needing help and claiming it, this would then suggest those struggling need to start claiming it too and not just sitting there demanding it, and going without in some forlorn hope the system are mind readers or even their representatives are lobbying for that. 

The charitable rewards can mean many £illions in funding, funding is NOT 'chicken feed.'  the hearing loss and combined disability funding and support area is many £Billions a year, so a lot of vested interest and pretty blatant bias is apparent. The eye is on the financial prize, so the hearing loss area is a corporate affair and runs that way, they employ professional IT experts to milk every aspect of loss to get that funding, in reality, we become the victims with issues they create, there is no bottom line on empowerment in any deaf or HoH charity, it is all 'lip-service' because they are convinced deafness and its people will never get 'liberated', so let's support them as a minority and keep it that way,  they wouldn't know inclusion if you promoted it, and HoH do OK with an aid so..... just concentrate on clearing the wax out of their ears."

"Primary UK national charitable areas like the BDA or the RNID/AOHL are thus ambiguous, vague and opportunistic too, as both vie to supply/train/support/empower/enable (Add your own cliche'),  'people with hearing loss'.   The UK Charity commission labels 500 or more 'official' UK charities all claiming the same remit and 1500 others who are below registering guidelines for real inclusion too, those don't even have to send any details or audits to justify what they do (Or maybe don't at all).  

There are zero checks on applications that those applying have the means to carry out their aims.  You can get 3 or 4 people that 'mean well' who get charitable status, apply and get funding, then never heard of again.  So long as the basic 'income' is at a minimum level on the application that is it.  It's a free for all, and nobody has to really state beyond 'helping deaf or hard of hearing people' to get charitable status by default.  The real losers are the people they don't help or just claim to support fraudulently.  It is only very recently the Charity Commission has taken its head out of its arse to start investigating certain deaf charity trustee mass resignations, that was only triggered because some members had the guts to complain about it, and the social media highlighted it.  

Another deaf charity folded making 70 staff unemployed via gross incompetencies and an inability to run a group, clarify its aim, or manage its finances.  The Charity Commission itself being a state arm run effort, tends to ignore it, they don't want to pick up the tab.  You can apply for charity status via setting up 'research into local deaf or HoH need.'  One in Wales did that got £17,000 and did nothing at all to research, there were no checks.  The funding was never identified as being used for the purpose of any research done. 'Culture' or 'language' seems to get automatic recognition without query for some reason.  

There are questions to be asked about involvement in e.g. arts funding and potential misuse of Access to Work grants, which in the deaf aspect,  can mean a lot of money, the BSL deaf being amidst the highest claimants of A2W in the work area by default. When you begin to understand, that these grants can go up to a maximum of near £1,000 per week, more testing and investigation needs to go into its application, is it for work e.g or just free funding to pursue culture for the few?  Is it used to include the deaf person with others (Not just the disabled), or just to fund 'own thing'? It's very vague what it all actually means in 'support' terms or even if funding is being used for that to include, which is what funding is for.

All this seems enabled by state default, they are more than happy to offload state responsibility to charity instead, this means they are not brought to book for failing in their human rights duty to support their most vulnerable, currently the state wages a war on deaf and disabled, their support, and welfare, to remove both and take away financial help.  A 'bonus' is poor support or help gets blamed not on them but on the charities who are not working together and signing forms declaring they won't oppose state instituted discrimination in case funding dries up. 

Charities actively collude with the state because they are in a business and want that to continue.    The excuse is to protect support, but support is not being delivered despite all this money going into it  We fear greed has taken over and funding is going elsewhere.  In retrospect, nobody really knows how much money that is, other than it is in astronomical figures, with hard of hearing groups virtually unrepresented, or extant, they certainly are NOT getting funds and welfare has been removed from 60% of them.   Politicians talk to charity and ignore the people they purport to help.  We could question is if  such 'support' is just a way to keep recreating reliance on charity itself, to keep THEM in business."

Accept the twain doesn't meet or wants to?

"E.G. Today the BDA solely exists to support sign language and the cultural aspect of deaf people brought up within specialised deaf schooling etc or deaf from birth, we, however, acquire loss at different stages in our lives to different degrees, might have useful, or poor hearing or more than likely,  a dozen issues or more between, we can be disabled or blind with it, which may or may not be alleviated by technology.  We are fast approaching the statistic whereby as many as 25% of the entire population has some issue with hearing, and poor mental health too.  It's incredible they are all sidelined by a very small minority of sign using deaf people who happen to be more successful campaigners." 

The Hard Sell.

"It is all down to saleability, you cannot sell hearing loss to anyone, and unless we are children or have fur and four paws, there isn't enough visibility of it, sign using deaf are highly visible by default, they are all walking adverts for it.  It is taken for granted HoH are all old codgers and its some 'natural' progression, it isn't, only a minor area is.  Under 18 hearing youth are having real issues now and they aren't in 'deaf schools', 20 somethings also are having issues acquiring increased hearing loss,  over 40s/50s already well on the way to real deafness, almost certainly they will end up deaf or near as.   The 'cupped ear' and doddering old pensioner being their primary image.

Few if any of them will be a la culture, join a 'community' a 'deaf club',  or even use sign language, they will be too old or tired to bother.  They will, however, be very isolated or sitting alone with an iPhone texting till they fall asleep so at least some semblance of still being in it exists.  Is this where we are all heading?  If those with hearing loss can come up with a viable sales pitch PLEASE tell us.  Bear in mind 'famous HoH people' don't exist really, just those who try to be 'deaf for a day' who shoot themselves in the ID foot every time.  Dispense with the cards badges etc or crap awareness they don't work, have never worked, most is plain patronising or silly and unviable anyway. Face me, talk slowly etc does anyone go with any of that?"

Remove current Hearing loss systems and regroup?

"This has to start at education, it's clear deaf education is setting up the deaf to fail they are a recruiting area for culture with no real aim to empower the deaf to survive a hearing world, this means the language approach has to be more realistic in application to facilitate that.  Culture may be a novelty it isn't paying the rent or getting deaf or HoH people to work or advancement, let alone inclusion.  These areas cannot keep claiming discrimination and then doing nothing to ensure the deaf have the tools to communicate effectively.

Hard of hearing in education seem to totally revolve around a loop or a hearing aid, neither are often supplied or workable, note-taking random and text support ineffectively supplied (If they are lucky).  The issue within both areas is a lack of professional support being trained.

As far as random BSL and Lip-reading classes are concerned they both have to go in reality,  access isn't an 'us or them' thing.  The irony also being no deaf or those in real need can use either.    A whole re-think has to take place to develop a 'communication' support class network to meet what is a growing need of many 1,000s with hearing loss.  This means forcing the sign user element and the HoH to work together to supply a communication system that has the best chance of really helping the most.  'Culture' should be a later choice option and not a basis of learning.  Should there be a reluctance to do this then the state take over and run it themselves, it is about empowerment and inclusion and an area you can not leave to random activism and very biased and vested interests.  It needs more parents speaking about and not buying short-term hype for long-term isolation as a reward.

Clinical areas need to do more than measure a degree of loss and then leave the individual to find own way of coping with that. Trauma is stopping support and preventing help working.  There needs to be an inclusive approach to hearing loss, not ignored because they have supplied a CI or a hearing aid so, 'done their part'.  There is no joined-up approach at all to the aftermath or even the lead up to it.  The result is what we see, many 1,000s of deaf and hard of hearing people experiencing isolation, lack of opportunity, of training, work, and just misery, we can't just carry on blaming everyone and everything else, we have to be pro-active in addressing it.  Working in unison can do that, is the will there?  No, it isn't."

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Ye--haaaaa ! (Monthly round up).

Social Media views contd...

Hearing Impaired Badges & Pins.

"I never saw a valid reason for advertising my hearing loss with badges and cards etc. In the UK a hearing loss group created the 'I am hard of hearing please face me, speak clearly..' cards and badges, the deaf community panned it. They said 'this makes us targets and doesn't include sign language..'. this lack of inclusion and unity is decimating real awareness."

"So let me get this clear with the terminology ... (btw, I'm on the fence with badges and cards myself - never have used them myself, but occasionally wish I did, and thought it might be something for the OP to consider for those occasions) ... "a HEARING LOSS group created the 'I am hard of hearing please face me, speak clearly..' cards and badges, the DEAF community panned it." . Is that correct? The Deaf shut down something the hearing impaired wanted?"

"Not shut down as such, just refused to endorse it. The UK 'Deaf' community does not work with the hearing loss ones here in the UK, except to claim funding, THEN they become 'people with a sensory loss', otherwise, they are a 'culture' and a persecuted 'community'. I suspect this is the USA case too in many respects although their remits seem more inclusive than ours do. Is that a con job too?  They need to claim deafness as a disability otherwise they don't get funding or welfare of course."

"I wonder if this all feeds into the issue of 'hidden disability' problems?  You have one side suggesting we need to be identified to get the empathy we need, whilst the other doesn't need to identify, as their communication usage does that for them?"

"I doubt there is an answer to the hidden disability problem, basic and individual insecurity prevents most being identified, once they declare their issue openly, they also have to 'front up' and make a lot more effort facilitating that empathy, most don't possess those skills."

"The deaf are not exactly playing fair as funding is not being seen applied to alleviate communication issues but to promote cultural output and campaigns instead. Either they are disabled or they aren't.  Hard of Hearing generally, tend to agree it is a disabling condition but get little or no funding or support for that."

"We don't really know WHAT the hard of hearing are doing any more, they aren't campaigning, they aren't challenging inequalities or questionable claims from sign users etc. It was suggested they all use technology now and don't need 'support' or want a system whereby translators/minders are involved. Of course the deaf accept all these things, it is all they know.  They are pretty adept at calling it something else too."

"Hard of hearing were accused of only being deaf when it suits them, the deaf are accused of only having hearing loss when it suits them.  The UK's welfare arm appears to suggest none of them has any at all.  I don't think the hearing loss area ever makes sense, there is too much confusion about it."

"Unless individuals fight their corner there is no UK set up as I know that would champion those. Charity is dead and unsupported, run by people with no loss, and perhaps because they exist as 'carers' for us and we don't like that presumption."

UK's Corbyn pleads for selection.

A letter sent to fellow MP's and to different political parties, begging them to elect him as UK Prime Minister because his own party and the Electorate won't vote for him.  His dates are wrong too.

Saturday, 17 August 2019

The BDA Saga: A petition to sack the board.

Image result for gagging clauseOn this social media the truth is slowly emerging. An open message to what remains of the BDA membership.  Calls for the entire removal of the executive.  

It is a pity the person organising the petition didn't feel confident enough to air the contents of it herself, and the petition actually fails to include WHY the petitioners want the board removed.

When you request the removal of people you include a reason don't you?  A consensus online at least appears to state alleged bullying at many levels of the BDA is a norm.  The BDA 'gagging clause' seems to be preventing democracy, these clauses are increasingly being used by charities to silence dissent.  A complete change of the BDA executive and a new charitable aim seems essential if it is not to fail or be discredited entirely.  

Dear friend

I trust you are well. I am fine, although very busy at work!  I would really appreciate if you could please read and support BDA board removal. 



BDA - Proposal to call an EGM.

Remove the remaining members of the Board and install an interim Board who will serve up to and no longer than 30th April 2021.

If you are a member of the BDA and support this proposal, please copy the wording below and email to 

Dear Company Secretary,

As a member of the British Deaf Association (BDA), I call for an EGM to:

Remove the Chair and remaining members of the current Board of the BDA and replace them with an interim Board who will serve up to, and no longer than, 30th April 2021.


In respect of GDPR, I give permission for Linda Richards to use my name and email address to verify my status as a member of the BDA and therefore eligible to make this call for an EGM. By sending this email, I also confirm that I give the BDA consent to communicate with me via email. My details are not to be used for any other reason nor shared with any third party.

From (Name):