Saturday, 6 April 2019

Yee-Ha! (The weekly round up).

Deaf Theatre website.

My Deafness defined.

Deaf boy has IQ 'greater than Einstein'

A 12-year-old boy has joined Mensa after achieving 162 on an IQ test, a higher score than Albert Einstein or Stephen Hawking. Darren Toh, who was born deaf, is also an accomplished musician. He scored the highest grade possible for a child on the test. The boy from Aughton, Lancashire, said he thought he was smart but "not quite a genius".

Thursday, 4 April 2019

HoH phone relay system cuts.

Shirley Edwards has a phone transcription service for the hearing impaired
But, they INCREASED funding for sign language users, and in the UK offered them $1400 a week.  

Federal funding cut is a threat to hearing impaired phone transcriptions, providers say. Shirley Edwards has a phone transcription service for the hearing impaired and said she would be lost without her phone transcription service. 

Shirley Edwards was thrown into a world of confusion and frustration when she began losing her hearing in her 30s. Key points: The Federal Government wants to cut NRS funding by more than $10 million a year Senate estimates has heard the new tender process failed to deliver value for money Deaf Services Queensland said one in six Australians were affected by hearing loss The Brisbane woman, who has two cochlear implants, is able to handle phone calls on her own thanks to a service that converts conversations into text for people with hearing difficulties. 

But there are growing questions over the future of the National Relay Service (NRS), which provides the translations, with the Federal Government planning to cap funding for the service at two-thirds of its current cost. Mrs Edwards is among more than 4,000 people around Australia, largely hearing-impaired or elderly, who rely on CapTel handsets to communicate on the phone. The handset operates like a regular phone, except it connects to an NRS operator who translates the conversation and sends it back as text within seconds. "It takes away the isolation and gives me a lot of independence," she said. 

"I don't have to rely on people to make my phone calls for me." A range of phones for deaf people PHOTO: A range of CapTel phones for people with hearing difficulties. ( A Senate estimates hearing in February was told it cost more than $31 million to provide the NRS in the 2017/18 financial year and $32 million in 2016/17. With the contract now up for renewal, the Federal Government has called for tenders capped at $22 million a year. 

Hearing loss therapy via your hearing aid.

Hearing out the deaf: IISc researchers design a smartphone-based therapy and hearing aid
IISc researchers design a smartphone-based therapy and hearing aid.

About 6 in every 1000 children screened in the world are born deaf, and for every 200 of them, only one speech therapist is available. The situation is even worse in countries like India, where most people are poor, and health services are not readily available. In a recent study, a group of researchers from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, have designed a hearing aid that can offer substantial support, especially in the Indian context. 

The study, published in the Proceedings of IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference, emerged from a course project at IISc, with intellectual contributions from Dr Ramesh A and Ms. Littina George Manalel, St. John’s Medical College, Bengaluru. Speech and hearing therapy require considerable time and commitment from the parents of the hearing impaired. Besides, therapists are unavailable at many places across India. 

The cost of hearing aids, which range from INR 15,000 to INR 2,50,000, and regular visits to a therapist, add to the economic burden of these families. In the current study, the researchers have designed a simple smartphone application to offer therapy, integrated with an affordable hearing aid. The prototype of this hearing aid costs about INR 5000—a third of those available in the market. “We are working hard on the therapy application now and are hoping to strike partnerships for faster development of the hearing aid. We hope to raise some funding to start clinical testing of this concept within this year”, says Dr Manish.

Arora, the lead researcher of the study from UTSAAH Lab at the Centre for Product Design and Manufacturing (CPDM), IISc. The newly developed hearing aid can be connected to a smartphone application, via Bluetooth. The application is multilingual and currently supports English and Kannada languages. The app is designed to switch between two modes—a ‘hearing aid’ mode and a ‘therapy’ mode. In the ‘hearing aid’ mode, the ambient sounds are amplified and processed to enable the child to hear clearly. In the ‘therapy’ mode, pre-programmed audio clips, available in the application, can be accessed and therapy sessions can be conducted by the parents or caretakers of the child. 

UK Goverment to be dissolved?

Related imageA tale of the tape regarding the UK's vote to leave the European Union and EU plans for re-arming Germany and a German/French-run European army (Despite Europe 40% reliant on Russian Gas and Energy).  Plus, 10,000 UK police and troops on standby if Brexit rejected.

How they voted so far in MP's 'taking back control' from the government. Ergo, how NOT to run a democracy.

No Deal (Proposed by John Baron)
AYES: 160   NOES: 400 

Common Market 2.0 (Proposed by Nick Boles)
AYES: 188   NOES: 283 

EFTA/EEA (Proposed by George Eustice)
AYES: 65   NOES: 377 

Customs Union (Proposed by Ken Clarke)
AYES: 264   NOES: 272 

Labour Plan (Proposed by Jeremy Corbyn)
AYES: 237   NOES: 307 

Revoke Article 50 to prevent No Deal (Proposed by Joanna Cherry)
AYES: 184   NOES: 293 

Second Referendum (Proposed by Margaret Beckett)
AYES: 268   NOES: 295 

Contingent Preferential Arrangements (Proposed by Marcus Fysh)
AYES: 139   NOES: 422 There was not a majority for any of the propositions 

MP's decided let's take back control again.  Result?  four more Brexit alternative options voted down again.

C - Ken Clarke’s for a customs union.

For: 273

Against: 276

Majority against: 3

D - Nick Boles’ for common market 2.0

For: 261

Against: 282

Majority against: 21

E - Peter Kyle’s for a confirmatory public vote.

For: 280

Against: 292

Majority against: 12

G - Joanna Cherry’s for revoking article 50 in the face of no-deal Brexit.

For: 191

Against: 292

Majority against: 101

Undaunted and still in complete denial, they wanted to demand an indefinite extension while they 'sort it out'. A tied result was returned on an amendment which sought to pave the way for the third round of votes on Brexit alternatives, with MPs voting 310 to 310.  A majority of ONE.  

This was hailed by MP's as 'democracy speaking'.  

Question: if just a single vote is a democratic majority, then, why is near 2 million NOT a majority?  because they voted to leave?

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Deaf, Disabled, and the Employers

Business Committee Chair Meg Hillier MP has commented on today’s National Audit Office report, Supporting disabled people to work. 

"It's not good enough that people with disabilities and health problems are still being disadvantaged in the workplace. Work is the route out of poverty which is denied to too many disabled people. "

Despite a long line of government policies and programmes in this area and an impressive-sounding target, the NAO's most recent report has found that DWP does not know what to do and its target for getting one million more disabled people into work is not worth the paper it is written on. "DWP needs to get its act together, set out a plan for what it is going to do, and establish a proper target.” 

More grim and uninformed whines that ignore the real reason disabled/Deaf cannot get work/training/experience or an education fit for purpose.  But basically ignoring the people she represents, the business community and the disabled,  by employers who have resisted access and equality laws, and discriminated against the disabled with impunity, even held seminars on 'How to get around the disability work laws..'

While the DWP and state are dead set on hounding the disabled and sick (Some to an early grave), in the drive to get disabled and deaf into work,  it's basically just been a drive to remove welfare and support from them.  They won't address employer attitudes to refusing the disabled work they just blame deaf and disabled for not making effort, being too unqualified to justify employing them,  illiterate, or costing too much.  

Employers refuse to offer disabled people work experience, and when pushed abused the demand by rotating every few months different areas of disabled who were not funded by employers but the state, so as soon as the employers became financially liable for access provision, they dumped them in favour of other disabled to keep the vicious cycle going.

Employers don't understand deaf people demanding a job they cannot do alone (Their views) and expect everyone else to foot the bill for a third party so an employee can function.   Even the disability areas did not make these rigid demands.   Time is money and costs need to be justified. The state recognised this was going on and upped Access to work funding, but deaf refused to use the funding to gain further skills in the hearing world, demanding instead they get funded to promote culture and sign language and charity instead, employers felt they were not really interested in gaining work experience at all if it meant they were the only deaf there.  Why even undertake awareness if that is the case?  It suggested to them they aren't 'group or team' people who can work effectively with others either.  A liability.

Employers under pressure hit back and stated 'The deaf don't have even basic literacy skills to follow instructions.. unable to read properly, to write, and needing considerable help to communicate..  is it OUR job to do what the state is supposed to be doing? they should have these basic skills before they leave school, why don't they?' They leave their own form of education that is geared to a deaf system not a hearing one and then cannot function outside it, do they expect employers to sort it?    'University deaf..' were said to be barely literate and universities stated they are forced by equality laws to let them in despite the fact they need considerable support in a class to follow, and could not read the textbooks adequately, what, they said, were these deaf even doing in further education?  Or doing in education before that?

Charities like AOHL the UK's largest hearing loss charity, refused deaf work experiences there, and when deaf complained they said they had to treat hearing and deaf applicants the same by the same access and equality laws, and deaf then simply could not compete, they also declared deaf interns had little qualifications to work at an executive level, ignoring the fact this charity and many other corporate areas had failed to give them that experience so they could learn.

The DWP only has a single aim and it isn't putting deaf or disabled in a job it is finding ways to remove any costs the state incurs helping them.  E.G. 63% of deaf and 70 of e.g. autistics never had a full-time job ever, and 40% simply never worked AT ALL, not even the promise of £1100 a week for support has helped.  Deaf and disabled education over-focuses on the disability without focusing on how they can manage that when they leave supported areas and expected to match able-bodied and hearing peers and compete.  The stats speak for themselves, they FAIL.  They are primed to fail.

The half-hearted approach to enabling failure has to be addressed too since no employer is a charity and no employer is willing to pick up support tabs either.  Why would they when even able-bodied hearing applicants can be sidelined for migrants etc?  Deaf and disabled aren't even in the running, are they?   They are doomed at school start not gaining basic skills to learn what they need toThe deaf and disabled response? let us NOT address that, let's go at them for discrimination... and demand they give us a job, our right in law, anyone see the flaw in those demands?

ATR extends thanks to employers and educationalists who responded to ATR regarding the issue,  while not endorsing them,  which was not possible without assuring them they would not be named.  ATR wanted a candid response to ascertaining what the issues are, had we approached them publicly we would have had no answers, so are employers right or wrong? Unreasonable? discriminatory?   Or just reflecting the deaf and disabled view we aren't wanted and they were making excuses?  Whatever the reasons stated what we need is an answer.  One issue stood out, while disability awareness was a success, deaf awareness was a very real failure.

Deaf extremism and the attacks on the 'Cure'

Image result for NO cures!More social media concerns from the hard of hearing area regarding constant attacks by 'Deaf' extremists on alleviations, operations and research into cures.  Including a recent outrageous attack by a USA blogger who did not even read an item properly regarding a ground-breaking operation for a HEARING man, which the blogger turned into a 'Hearing attack on deaf culture.'' issue.

Social media posters responded immediately many were frankly abusive and hostile towards the deaf signer, BSL, and their culture ideal, although it was pointed out the pro-ASL/BSL extremists are a minority and unsupported within that community, it suggested the extremists were deliberately encouraging attacks on their own area to gather more support in defending culture  Some responses reprinted below seemed the most coherent.

"Yes I agree, these extremists need to be taken to task, it hasn't stopped one leading UK deaf blogger publishing opposition to a drug that may help people hear better being mooted as yet another assault on them, these people are worshipping deafness as a 'right' or something."

"The majority of those with hearing loss have adopted the live and let live attitude unaware of the very real opposition these people are mounting against alleviation, they are getting huge amounts of funding for cultural purposes and spreading the BSL news far and wide,  but the HoH here in the UK has NO viable or identifiable support set up at all, and the BSL own national support areas ignoring our inclusions altogether, who needs our support when the state is pouring money in to enhancing theirs? 

E.G. New Access to work help means the signer can now claim up to £1100 per WEEK ($1400), in support costs. A staggering amount of money that isn't actually empowering the deaf to integrate into the mainstream or work outside own areas.  Raising any concern lays HoH/Hearing wide open to claims they discriminate when they identify they are using the 'Deaf & HI' remit to own ends, it's causing resentment. We need to be more strident in getting what we need, if you don't ask, you go without it is as simple as that.  If we have to challenge cultural perceptions, so be it."

When is an 'Event' an accessible one?

ATR responds to a primary/national charity who published regular 'updates' on events that we can all attend and are accessible, except, that 73% simply aren't unless you can sign, as the HoH don't put on events. While sign users will welcome updates on events there does seem very few events that are text, loop, iPad, or lip-spoken assisted etc, can we see a more balanced event posting approach that is a bit more inclusive?   

ATR  noted many BSL assisted events did not include access for hard of hearing or non-signing areas, either by captioning or indeed, content.  BSL is also assumed to be a 'Deaf' assist, not an HoH one, but events aren't aimed at them inclusively but are cultural items.  We need more details on access to identify if, it actually is there for us all.  

When posting event updates let us have more detail on access please and if it is viable for us to even attend them, more comprehensive coverage of access is needed, and not just cut and paste event plugs without any clarification on content or access we can use.  If it isn't captioned I would not bother to go and see.  If it was about deaf culture ditto.

Monday, 1 April 2019

A Bill for all, or for the few?

"I love you" in American Sign Language.
A bill of inclusion for all with access needs and with hearing loss, that is fronted by an ASL sign and discusses signed access not inclusive access for all.  Another sad example of how access and inclusion is being misused via news items and coverage.  Do not severe deaf and Hard of hearing suffer language deprivations too?  

Students who are deaf or hard of hearing often struggle to develop language, so state lawmakers are considering a bill that would require districts to collect and share data on their language abilities. 

It's said that language is the foundation of all other learning, but students who are deaf or hard of hearing often fall behind their peers, and then learning other things takes longer. The reasons why are complex and varied, but lawmakers seem poised to take a step forward to fix it. Speaking to the General Assembly's Education Committee through an American Sign Language interpreter, June Freeman said many students end up trying to learn sign language after years of failing in public schools, struggling to talk.

"Language deprivation is still happening, and it continues even today," Freeman said. The bill would require districts to develop a language and communication plan for any child identified with a hearing disability. This plan would include information on the child's mode of communication -- speaking or signing, the amount of social time with peers, a list of educational options and the relevant teacher qualifications. There would also be a framework set up to help districts create an intervention program if a student falls behind with language. Additionally, districts would be required to develop emergency plans for deaf and hard of hearing students, something parent Susan Yankee said is badly needed. "Deafness is an invisible disability," 

Yankee said. "And administrators and teachers often forget that students with hearing loss have inadequate access to basic safety measures. How can I send my son to school every day, knowing that he might not hear an emergency announcement, or an officer telling him to stand down?" She suggested that schools and emergency personnel learn some basic signs to use in those situations. The bill has yet to be voted on by the Education Committee.

New Zealand's Deaf MP.

Young, Deaf, and addicted?

You have to marvel at some surveys don't you! If you are under 50 and reluctant to wear a hearing aids odds are, you become a drug addict?  If over 50 then prone to dementia etc, are there ANY positives to hearing loss... erm.. NOPE!

Can deaf people read lips?

Mostly no they can't, various and random surveys/tests found in many cases hearing did better.  The question doesn't really address the hostility some deaf feel about linking lip-reading to speech so anti-sign, anti-culture at the base of it.  The primary issue (In the UK anyway), is the classes are not appropriate, or structured, and approaches do not actually include deaf people!

To master any sort of lip-reading, you have to start very early on, and most who attend classes go there as a last resort not a first option, get discouraged, and do not go back, some only lasting a few weeks at most and then giving up.  The reality that effective progress relies ON having useful hearing rather defeats the point of teaching those already deaf.  As does the pupil make up deters young people.

The UK system is 6 monthly at most in nature, aimed at those with residual hearing and with a duration of about 2hrs a week, hardly any tuition that includes on the street practice where it is needed.  It's viewed as 'oralism/audism' by some deaf who oppose it being used in schools. 

Classes also polarise by in most cases, so that fellow students struggling with hearing will struggle with those with hearing aids who in reality are probably LISTENING more than they are lip-reading.  It is debatable a sole teacher can teach one person effective lip-reading let alone a class of 12 or more.  The same token is mooted via BSL being taught via captioning means, nobody looks at the sign much.  It is why BSL users often produce signed output with no captions which they claim is real awareness but in reality, just means those who don't understand sign will just switch off.

There is little doubt text in its various forms and accessible formats has demoted BSL to a major extent as necessary. Media is text driven deaf-wise,  not sign-driven.  Lip-reading you could not hone as any skill via media again because subtitling removes the effort needed to try and 99% of media output is not geared to lip-reading.  On the street, the 'Face me and speak clearly..' advice is pointless and unviable.  Access to lip-speakers for support is almost impossible.  Unless a major change of approach is made with regards to teaching those losing hearing more viable access formats, lip-reading is not going to work.

Demands for an inclusive 'communication' class approach would be the sole way to enhance access for most, and one on one intensive, but the polarised approaches to communication, the HoH reluctance to adopt sign, and the Deaf reluctance to adopt lip-reading etc, defeat any attempt to try it.