Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Broadcasing Guidelines on sign language.

Communication App for deaf-blind.

Hawking was created to enable deaf-blind people to communicate verbally with any person The application can perform Speech-to-Braille and Braille-to-Speech operations in Hebrew & English with appropriate accessibility indicators so that the conversation is well executed and continuous for both the speaker and the deaf-blind person. 

This project is part of a final computer engineering project in ben-gurion university Israel, in collaboration with the deaf-blind centre in Israel. The app is now available for free on Google Play Store.  This project is an open source project, for more information visit

IOW witholding Radio HA provision for deaf children.

The Isle of Wight Council is among the one in three local authorities that don’t provide vital technology for young deaf children to use at home and it’s leaving many of them facing a daily battle to hear their family and friends, a Deaf Children’s Society has warned. 

Figures from the charity reveal that the Isle of Wight is among the 43 of England’s 152 councils that don’t provide radio aids for 0-4 year-olds to take home. The council has 86 deaf children in its care who are denied this life-changing technology during their early years. Radio aids, which transmit the wearer’s voice directly to a child’s hearing aids or cochlear implants, are crucial in enabling deaf children to develop their language, confidence and communication skills from a young age. 

If they don’t gain these skills early on, deaf children face a lifetime of playing catch-up and a greater risk of isolation as they struggle to understand what’s happening around them. The Deaf Children’s charity says it is deeply unfair that thousands of children are still missing out because of where they live, describing it as a “tragic waste of potential.” It wants every child to have access to the technology and is demanding an end to the “radio aid lottery”, calling on the Isle of Wight Council, as well as the other 42 councils that don’t provide them, to ensure that every deaf child has the opportunity to use one at home. 

Research shows that radio aids improve the interaction between young deaf children and their parents, with significant increases in conversations both in the car (144%) and outdoors (88%). Current Government data also shows that in the early years, just 38% of deaf children reach the expected level of development in areas like communication and language, compared to 77% of hearing children. 

Cumbrian Deaf Charity in Crisis

Trevor and Janet Hughes with their daughter Jennifer
Removing deaf-led provision and handing it over to hearing tender, has undermined charities it seems.  A sign (No pun intended), of the times.  The reality is that deaf or HoH led areas do not provide the cheapest or most effective options, e.g. the AOHL equipment provision and services are hugely expensive when it should by definition be a much cheaper non-profit organisation (We don't call them charities anymore in the UK).  Strictly speaking, this isn't a 'cut-back' but a cheaper alternative provision.  

As long as deaf still get that provision does it matter who provides it?  The acute shortage of BSL terps will also continue as Cumbria is a mostly rural area and terps do not find it worthwhile to support deaf in those areas because of distance and lack of regular work/income.  Having more terps then is unlikely to address that issue.  Maybe more use of remote technology is that answer.  Of course, offering to tender usually means uneconomical provision deaf charities provide, will end.

A charity that has been helping deaf people for 125 years is "facing crisis". Trevor and Janet Hughes, whose daughter Jennifer is profoundly deaf, said they have "growing concerns" about the impact of cutbacks on Cumbria Deaf Association, a cause close to their hearts. 

Jennifer, 38, is a housekeeper at Bendrigg Lodge, Old Hutton, and her deafness was caused by rubella. The Hughes family, of Kendal, have helped to raise thousands of pounds for Cumbria Deaf Association over the years, while accessing its services, which include expert advice, care support, specialist equipment, social clubs and sign language lessons. 

The charity has three centres, at Kendal's Castle Street; Barrow and Carlisle. "It's vital for the deaf community; it's a lifeline," said Mr Hughes. "It's gradually getting whittled away. How long it will survive in this situation, I don't honestly don't know. It's desperate." Charity chief executive John Brennan told the Gazette it supported more than 1,000 adults and children. Cumbria County Council is the main source of funds, but Mr Brennan said the past ten years had seen that funding cut by around 70 per cent. 

Key concerns include: - a lack of social workers trained in British Sign Language since the charity's social work service was taken in house by CCC - a lack of short respite breaks for deaf children - and the fact the charity no longer runs the specialist equipment service, after it went out to tender; Mr Brennan said deaf people had often found out about help available and social activities such as coffee mornings when they came in to collect kit such as vibrating alarm clocks and flashing doorbells. Mr Brennan said the charity hoped to develop "a more strategic partnership with the council to maintain and improve services for deaf people". 

A CCC spokesman said the council had had to save £249 million since 2011/12 and needed to find another £49m by 2020/21. "In order to meet the needs of deaf and hard-of-hearing citizens, the council contracts services from a range of providers, including a specialist equipment support service, an interpreter support service for those who need access to social care services, an information and advice service and a number of support at home packages. 

“Recently the council has reconfigured and retendered the delivery of some of these services which has meant changes in levels of funding for some organisations. This is has been done to ensure best outcomes continue to be achieved for people in line with our statutory responsibilities and within the legal and financial requirements for local authorities.”