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."