Friday, 1 February 2019

Deaf man sued for captions 100 times.

consumer reports hard of hearing
While it is great to see systems sued for lack of captioning access, why no class actions against online refusals to caption?  Because it would mean suing ASL output? Is lack of access to ASL output against the law too?

A deaf man who has sued more than a hundred companies under the Americans with Disabilities Act has made Consumer Reports Inc. his latest target. consumer reports hard of hearing Phillip Sullivan Jr. of New York City filed a class action complaint against the Yonkers-based publisher on Jan. 15 in federal court in White Plains. He claims that Consumer Reports’ failure to use closed captioning with videos “excludes the deaf and hard-of-hearing from the full and equal participation in the growing internet economy that is increasingly a fundamental part of the common marketplace and daily living.” 

Consumer Reports did not respond to an email message asking for a response. The federal lawsuit is the 107th that Sullivan has filed in the Southern District of New York since April 2017. Many of the defendants are media companies, such as CNN, Fox News, National Public Radio, Newsweek and The New York Times. Nonmedia defendants include organizations such as the National Rifle Association, Starbucks and Varidesk. He is represented by Lee Litigation Group of Manhattan, “one of the most active filers of class action lawsuits in the country,” according to Legal Newsline, an advocate of tort reform that is affiliated with the U.S. 

Chamber of Commerce. Defendants routinely settle the lawsuits quickly, Newsline said in a 2017 story, even before courts have certified cases as class actions. Sullivan tried to watch “Your Safer-Surgery Survival Guide” video on Consumer Reports’ website in December, the complaint states, but was unable to do so on his own because it has no closed captioning. Closed captioning consists of a transcription or translation of the audio portion of a video, without which, the complaint states, deaf and hard-of-hearing people cannot comprehend the videos. 

The lack of closed captioning is a barrier, the lawsuit argues, “just as buildings without ramps bar people who use wheelchairs.” About 36 million people are deaf or hard of hearing in the United States, according to the lawsuit. Sullivan is suing under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which requires full access to public accommodations, and under state human rights and civil rights laws. He is demanding that Consumer Reports makes its website fully compliant with the laws. He is claiming that the class action damages amount to at least $5 million. 

How they do it....

Standing on the far side of the stage, someone’s hands move swiftly and decisively to words ringing out from the podium at the center. 

Sometimes they’re recognizable, but to most hearing people, they are a blip in peripheral vision, and rarely thought of. American Sign Language interpreters are doing a hugely important job, particularly when it comes to politics, according to Annie Urasky, Director of the Division on Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing at the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. 

“Providing interpreters as an accommodation ensures equal access to the information relayed at events,” Urasky, who is deaf, said via email. There was not an interpreter available at the time of the interview. She went on to say when ASL interpreters are there translating in real time, it allows the deaf and hard of hearing to be full participants in events rather than having to wait for information most others get straight away. 

A study from the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education estimates that 1 in 20 people or roughly 10 million Americans are deaf or hard of hearing. 

For scale, that’s greater than the population of New York City by almost two million people. Of them, about one million people use ASL as their primary language.

ATR Explains.

Very obviously mixing a fact with non-fact works for them as it does in the UK in suggesting 1m is actually 10 times that amount, and 9m HoH are actually 1m deaf people.  They didn't actually identify in the 'Deaf and Hard of Hearing' terminology, HOW MANY USA HoH are actually daily sign users, or how many ASL terps support that area.  It's unheard of in the UK.  

The hashtag has landed.

Image result for the hashtag humorLet us hope they can address the 'All deaf use sign language', and 'Deaf & HoH' are the same thing, or even 'The Deaf are not disabled people..' Or is it just another plug, like Deaf are this, and deaf are that?  If they want to address misconceptions and plain deliberate misinformation, and biased unawareness, maybe start there before going the mainstream? #timetoaddressthisnonsense

Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD) officially announced today its #DeafinMedia initiative, a multi-faceted campaign designed to increase the authentic representation of Deaf people in the media and challenge ongoing societal biases toward Deaf people.

#DeafinMedia highlights both damaging and positive representations of Deaf people in a multitude of media, including movies, books, television, journalism, video games and more. The #DeafinMedia campaign also provides media creators access to a variety of helpful resources, including a new media toolkit, so that they may avoid common mistakes and emulate positive portrayals of Deaf people while also providing a platform and strategies for the community to effect change. #DeafinMedia started in beta stage last November.

CSD is the world's largest Deaf-led social impact organization and for decades has served as a leading advocate to eliminate biases and misconceptions about people who are Deaf and what they are capable of achieving.

The inauthentic representation of Deaf people has serious, real-world implications. Portrayals of Deaf people as tragic figures, unintelligent and incapable can have a direct impact on hiring practices. According to CSD, approximately 70% of Deaf people today are unemployed or underemployed and a critical part of closing this severe job gap is challenging unconscious bias and modifying perceptions.

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Impatient Customers lack empathy with HoH staff.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jobsense or Nonsense?

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

Dear ATR thank you for your post.

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


ATR Response:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 28 January 2019

When CONNECT'ing isn't.

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

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

Family Support Services

Family Support Services from Chime on Vimeo.

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

Deaf-Blind and Independent.

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

Deaf and Blind.

Deaf ATW in BSL.

AOHL in financial trouble?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 27 January 2019

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

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

Dear ATR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours sincerely,    
Christopher Maton Government Business Team 

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

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

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

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

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