Saturday, 11 May 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

Xbox braille controller

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 10 May 2019

How to sign swear words...

New Zealanders discover Milan!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Innovations that increase digital inclusion for people with disabilities

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

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

Braille keyboards/refreshable braille displays.

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

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

Voice assistants.

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

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

Smartphone-ready hearing aids. 

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

Video calling Smartphones.

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


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

 Assistive touch.

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

Touch-free technology.

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

Assistive apps.

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

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

Gaming Controllers.

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

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


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

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

I am Donald Trump's love child!

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

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Not Deaf awareness vid

Deaf week Gig inaccessible for disabled.

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

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

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

Awareness, just not as we know it?

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Islington: New Employment Services.

Deaf Week: Nottinghamshire

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

Google: Live Captioning on Android.


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

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


In Action.....

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Loud Noise Doesn't deafen then?

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

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

Speak Well, Hear Well...

Widening real awareness.

Those scary deaf people....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 6 May 2019

Wearing two hats?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monitoring deaf kids

Let's talk about deafness

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

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

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

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Sign Flash mob at Oxford

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

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

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

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