Saturday, 31 August 2019

The best speech to text app?

Deaf Connections goes into liquidation.

More alarming news this one following the recent closure of the Lancashire charity that left 70 staff without a job.

Is it time for deaf people to start employing people who know what they are doing as opposed to those 'who are deaf too' ?  The financial ignorance of charities pursuing culture and do not take into account it all takes money needs addressing before more deaf charities go the same way, there are imminent rumblings within the UK largest signing and cultural charity the BDA, with trustees resigning en masse.

Time for deaf support to revert to the state?  Perhaps these charities need to stop encouraging 'like with like' and concentrate more on inclusion?  Because when they fail, there is nothing is there?  You cannot include the excluded by putting them apart in a different room.

Fears have been raised for the future of more than 100 members of the city's deaf community after a vital service went bust yesterday. Deaf Connections has been providing much-needed help to vulnerable people in the city for the past 197 years, but was forced to close its doors for good due to "cash flow problems". 

 Volunteers and care staff were informed early on Wednesday that they had until 5pm that day to clear belongings out of the charity's Norfolk Street base, in which the group has been based for the past 25 years. And this has led to serious concerns about the fate of 130 Deaf Connections' members, most of whom are elderly, who are without support today. 

"We feel so let down, angry and sad. "We are all crying."  Janice Hamilton, a volunteer, added: "They told everyone the building would be closed at 5pm and if you had belongings, you had to get them by then. "This is the only place in Glasgow like this where deaf people can come. "It's an OAP club, it's a church, it's friends, it's a hard of hearing club and it's also care in the community. 

"Who is taking people to their doctor's appointments and their hospital appointments today - who is helping them get out of their beds this morning? "Maybe nobody. "And we've got no way of getting in touch with them to check they're okay." Launched in 1822, Deaf Connections was first based at West Regent Street before Princess Diana opened its hub south of the River Clyde 25 years ago. A leading voluntary organisation for deaf and hard of hearing people, staff provided a range of charitable and professional services, including social care, family, community education, social inclusion, interpretation and translation, health and advocacy services. 

A cluster of angry volunteers and members were attempting to enter the Norfolk Street building this morning, to demand answers and retrieve belongings. Karen Clarkson is a volunteer with Deaf Connections who has been attending sign language classes at the facility for more than a year, for her work as an auxiliary nurse at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She said: "Everyone feels left in the dark and so angry. "Members have been let down, where else can they go for the help and care they need? Where they can feel comfy in their own surroundings but still find support?" A statement from Deaf Connections' board of directors explained that falling revenues and public sector funding had led to the appointment of provisional liquidators.


UK to start wider screening for CMV virus

Image result for CMV virus
A major contributor to hearing loss in babies.  

What IS CMV?

Hearing loss and congenital CMV infection: a systematic review.


Hearing loss caused by congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection was first observed in 1964. Today CMV is the most common cause of nonhereditary sensorineural hearing loss in childhood. Our objective was to provide an overview of the prevalence of CMV-related hearing loss, to better define the nature of CMV-associated hearing loss, and to investigate the importance of CMV infection in hearing-impaired children.


Two reviewers independently used Medline and manual searches of references from eligible studies and review articles to select cohort studies on children with CMV infection with audiological follow-up and extracted data on population characteristics and hearing outcomes.


Thirty-seven studies were included: 10 population-based natural history studies, 14 longitudinal cohort studies, and 13 retrospective studies. The prevalence of CMV in developed countries is 0.58% (95% confidence interval, 0.41-0.79). Among these newborns, 12.6% (95% confidence interval, 10.2-16.5) will experience hearing loss: 1 out of 3 symptomatic children and 1 out of 10 asymptomatic children. Among symptomatic children, the majority have bilateral loss; among asymptomatic children, unilateral loss predominates. In both groups, the hearing loss is mainly severe to profound. Hearing loss can have a delayed onset, and it is unstable, with fluctuations and progression. Among hearing-impaired children, CMV is the causative agent in 10% to 20%. Despite strict selection criteria, some heterogeneity was found between selected studies.


This systematic review underscores the importance of CMV as a cause of sensorineural hearing loss in childhood.

Friday, 30 August 2019

Deaf and Brexit

I don't think this covers a lot of realities regarding Mr Johnsons's request to prorogue the UK parliament, or has anything specific to do with deaf people everybody on this Island is at risk.  As regards to the deaf we have no interest in 'World Deaf' setups or EU deaf ones, just one single charity takes a passing interest that's all 5 PEOPLE!  ATR is a supporter of leaving the European Union.  You can adjudge whether that means bias or not, but the reality is the UK is polarised anyway.

Why did leavers vote to leave?

There was actually a 10 year 'run-up' to the David Cameron suggestion we should hold a referendum to stay or leave, because there were too many concerns the 'Union' was developing into a superstate with no clear identification of who was actually running it and the concerns  just two countries (Germany and France), were 'carving up' the union for dual rule over it all.

Initially, the 'common market' created well over 40 years ago consisted of just 6 'affluent' countries, what later emerged was 22 others joining up and those original 6 being obliged to financially provide support for a lot of them who had emerged from the failed USSR etc.  This was in addition to considerable financial aid from the USA.  It's time the UK and USA stopped being mugged by Europe.  It cost the UK approximately £35B a year, but the UK was/is struggling itself and the costs kept rising and the UK voice/input being eroded year on year.  We aren't an affluent country, and been in austerity mode for 10 years we haven't the means to be 'Lady Bountfiul' any more and there are many demands for a cut in foreign aid too we can't afford it and we owe trillions its madness.  Sound economics it ain't.

We voted to leave, because of real concerns about illegal immigration, no rule over own laws, human rights being abused, lax or non-extant rules on addressing those, and frankly the EU boast about it 'without borders' and operating a 'free trading' set up and 'freedom to roam' option was exposed as putting the UK at huge risk of terrorism.  The EU has no borders with the middle east, Turkey or North Africa, the boat people came and kept coming across the Meditteranean encouraged by German help who wanted 1m of them to bolster their national staff shortages.  They got Germans on the street demanding they all leave.

The UK complained, far from these 'immigrants' having a viable skill of any kind, they arrived with no education, health issues, no English, and no skills at all, and unable to integrate, creating huge issues of support, and the UK claims unsustainable pressures on its welfare/education systems.  The UK 'rule' was skilled people or genuine asylum seekers only.  In reality the first wave of boat people removed the viability of defining who was an asylum seeker we got flooded with illegal migrants who utilised the asylum laws to prevent us from repatriating them.  

Most were clearly 'job-seeking' or 'looking for a better life' etc. They were paying smugglers a lot of money to get to countries they were not entitled to enter, this decried their claims they were leaving poverty for a better life or were asylum-seeking.  In the UK yesterday we saw 15 illegals returned to France who has paid £3,000 each to get to the UK, they were openly stating they would pay to try again.  Yet, none were viable asylum seekers in France.

Remainers mostly liberal and left-wing voters, seized upon concerns to label the leave voter as racist and cruel and denying help to those who needed it.  They insisted our 'free trade' agreement and freedom to go where we like in Europe was a definite advantage and the EU sent a few £Billion to the UK every year to aid our poor areas too, this was basically a lie, as what the EU parliament allocated to the UK in the form of 'Grants' were actually part of the money we sent them every year, the UK never had ANY money from Europe the 40 odd years we were members of it and the balance of 'free trade' was also a myth in that again, the UK had never shown any profit in all its time as members, the EU however DID.  Leavers suggested we in the UK were being abused and asset-stripped by the EU we were never full members.

It did not stop, the UK parliament collapsed in disarray as MP's failed in their duty and took against the leave majority vote.    It has escalated into a divided Britain and now it is about ensuring the UK democracy is replaced by minority or mob rule instead.  Your vote no longer matters.   The remain areas insisting we vote again and again (Just as Ireland did) until the voter agrees to remain in the EU.

For 3 and a half years these rows have gone on mainly because the original draft of a new trade deal supported by the EU was voted down 3 times BY the UK MP's, and they rejected 11 amendments for any alternative, in essence, MPs' had decided to stop Brexit happening by any means they could.  It was inevitable given the eternal stalemate where nobody was really making any headway and MP's had disgraced their office and electorate, someone like Boris Johnson would play them at their own 'game'.

Legally, and as the new PM, he has a right to formulate his priorities for the foreseeable time of his office, to do that a 'breathing space' to form those options is allowed for any new PM to request, setting up new proposals, different staff offices etc. to carry it through, every prime minister in a 100 years has done this where parliament does not sit until a set time has elapsed.  The 'delay' they claim is unacceptable is 4 days, and in 2014 was considerably longer by the new PM then so that's rubbish.  

Of course, there are those who suggest he timed that to coincide with the fast-approaching exit date from the EU, I would say so What?  At least someone is (A) MAKING a decision (B) Respecting the result of the original vote to leave and (C) Putting an end to the relentless inertia that is going on. The EU won't budge, if they do then they face at least 6 other member states to follow our exit lead.  There is a lot to play for.  Germany and France have lined up against the UK as has London itself lined up, against the rest, the reality is 28 member states have no democratic say at all, as all negotiations have been with Mrs Merkle alone and Macron, so much for Brussels having any point.   

Watching our TV sets of daily Parliament coverage we see 100s of people waving a flag that isn't ours and demanding EU rule over our country.

There are unfounded claims disabled would lose help and rights if we leave the EU, we feel that is another lie as disability rights such as they do exist were won from 1914 onwards by UK Trade unions.  It IS true disability rights have been eroded drastically, that is down to our own state welfare arm waging war on the disabled and vulnerable, they also want a 'USA-based' health system based on ability to pay which we don't want.  Since we joined the EU they have had no impression on what went on.  The 'Gig' economies still run, discriminations still exist, immigration is still out of control etc.. wages haven't kept pace the last 15 years, trade is on par with jungle natives being given beads.  The EU has been instead obsessed with trivia and gender rights.

Our 'enemy' on human rights is as much the EU as our own government decision making.  Rule of law must be retained in the UK itself our own government being held responsible for its own crimes. We cannot be treated as an 'outpost' stuck on the end of Europe and we won't. The die is pretty much cast now we CANNOT go back to the old status quo, the EU would eliminate our ability to govern ourselves.  We did not fight two world wars for that to happen.

Leave voters are attacked as stupid, ignorant, illiterate, and the 'great unwashed' those insults have become minor now as nobody is spared an attack and 'project fear' is the norm of the argument.  The biggest victim is our democracy, we handed that to Europe and they took full advantage of abusing it.  No deal, or a deal makes no difference.  It will take years for any dust to settle.  ATR does not think the UK has any choice but to leave if only on security concerns as France is allowing their illegals to launch boats from their coastline to get here and demanding we fund THEIR border or else expect more of the same.  They don't want them so happy to turn a blind eye as they go elsewhere.  Mexico and the USA had the same problem.

The EU abandoned their borders and left Spain Portugal, Italy, Malta, Cyprus etc to be swamped by 1,000s every week, the UK could never sustain anything like that as an Island.  The USA cannot sustain that despite the size of their country where the illegality is in millions.  The EU parliament has ignored pleas for effective border control. As a result, Italy is banning them from landing, jailing aid agency operators helping them and eastern bloc members re-installing hard borders with wire and troops,  defying the EU own rules, rules, remainers here are saying we must obey. One 'rule' for Europeans another for the UK? not on is it?

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Text on Top Captioning

Deaf Jurors: Only if they don't use sign.

Matthew Johnston outside Blackfriars crown court
A 54-year-old technology consultant from London is believed to have established a legal landmark this month by becoming the first profoundly deaf person to sit on a jury in a crown court in England and Wales. 

Matthew Johnston served on three trials during a two-week period at Blackfriars crown court, concluding last Thursday. He read subtitles from courtroom stenographers and relied on his lip-reading skills to participate in jury deliberations. Johnston has a small amount of hearing as a result of his cochlear implant, and is able to speak. 

“It’s all about inclusivity, isn’t it,” Johnston said. “It’s a big thing for me … We don’t want to turn our backs to society, we want to be part of society. We want to feel included. I feel great that I can be one of a jury.” Deaf people have previously been denied the opportunity to serve on juries in the UK as many rely on sign language interpreters. English and Welsh law prohibits the presence in the jury deliberation room of anybody except the 12 sworn jurors, and an interpreter would be considered a disqualifying “13th stranger”. 

After receiving a jury summons in January, and initially having a request for a stenographer refused for lack of finances, Johnston arranged a meeting with court officials to discuss how he could still fulfil his civic duty. Johnston assured them he did not require a sign language interpreter, and also noted that the round table in the jury deliberation room would allow him to lip-read his fellow jurors. 

He said: “They wanted to see me, how deaf I was, how well I could lip-read, and when they met me there was no problem.”

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Healthcare rights: Australia

The UK has healthcare rights too, enforcing them has proved chaotic, postcode-driven, or simply non-extant. Anyone can pass a law not everyone can or will benefit from them, THAT is the problem. E.G. in the UK there is NO system to support those with hearing loss who do not rely on sign language, indeed no demand coming from the Hard of Hearing for that help, go figure...  Wonder if down under their HoH are asleep too?

New Zealand at odds with 'Offensive' signs.

After complaints on social media about some sign language signs, NZSL Dictionary editor Rachel McKee says people shouldn't jump to conclusions when they see signs they interpret as offensive.

A leading linguist and editor of the New Zealand Sign Language Dictionary says people shouldn't overreact to signs that might be seen as offensive. NZSL is a language like any other, she says, and people shouldn't make value judgments about the communities that speak it. Rachel McKee, an associate professor at Victoria University of Wellington's School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, was responding to social media reports saying the words for Jew, Chinese, Gay and Samoan in NZSL are inappropriate.

Juliet Moses, a spokesperson for the Jewish Council of New Zealand, said that the organisation was "concerned to discover last week the use of an offensive stereotype to sign 'Jew'".

Deaf Aotearoa did not respond to a request for comment. At issue is the stereotypical depictions of a handful of minority groups. According to the NZSL Dictionary, one of the ways to sign Jew is to make a hook-nosed gesture. One of the words for Chinese involves tugging at the corner of your eye. Gay is represented by a hand flip and Samoan by pressing down on your nose.

But McKee says that the dictionary is a record of NZSL, not the arbiter of it. "The job of a dictionary is to record, document and describe the language as people use it, not to prescribe it," she said.  "A good dictionary documents language usage, it doesn't attempt to be the arbiter of the correct and only way to say things."

McKee pointed out that the hook-nosed sign for Jew is marked as being an "older variation" on the dictionary website and a newer one evokes a beard instead. Chinese, Gay and Samoan also have alternative signs in the dictionary. She drew a comparison to how English has evolved in other respects. The word Negro is no longer used to describe black people in the United States, "but it is a term that you would still find in the dictionary," she explained.

Moses said that the offensive signs could be done away with. "Societies and languages evolve. In recognition of that, UK sign language has abandoned the use of these derogatory stereotypes. We understand that NZ Sign Language has indicated it is open to doing this as well, and we would encourage it to do so," she said.  In response, McKee says that there is no one body that decides what is or isn't NZSL, just like there is no authority that decides what is or isn't English. "The arbiter of a language are the people who use the language," she said.

But, she conceded, NZSL is always evolving.  "Usage, like in all languages, changes over time as people are in contact with other groups of people that they haven't been in contact with before, or they see new things or they reconsider the impact on people."

"That's very much the case with sign language too."

ATR: As per usual the easily offended are creating another cause celeb to be annoyed with.  As every deafie knows it is all about CONTEXT, not just the sign which can be interpreted numerous ways via body/facial action too.  Language evolves via colloquialisms also, 'mongrel' signs that with frequent use become part of the established language norm over time, (Including swear words/terms), they can disappear via less use too.  Many older deaf still use signs that are alleged to be 'offensive' to various nationalities and minorities.  I suspect in 50 years many deaf there will also find their 'BSL' pretty obsolete too.

Image result for Indian with a red mark on their faceOld habits die hard, but it is basically not a sign as such as a 'mime' of what is viewed visually by the deaf person.  E.G. an Indian from the subcontinent would be signed by indicating the area between the eyes, where the Indians usually put a red spot there.  Black people is the brush across the face to indicate that it is not a white person, it's not a put-down.  The deaf need to identify people, it may be simplistic to indicate a feature of minority and other areas, but, it works!  Perceptions nobody can be accountable for especially not those of the permanently annoyed and politically correct time-wasters offended by everything.  We can watch media/films and see Gay people portrayed as effeminate, with errant wrist action, and camp, it would be unsurprising the deaf would make the sign fit that image, it would not mean they are unaccepting or haters!  

The UK dictionary e.g. on sign language was viewed at the time, a very dubious 'con' job and many deaf accused the creators of inventing signs to fill room and to make BSL appear more of a 'language' than it actually was.  There was no sign FOR bilingualism at that point, even 'language' term itself wasn't a universally known sign, nor a few 1,000 other terms and words.  When challenged the dictionary creators made a point of stating 'one sign can mean many things' it was ALL about context, but dictionary professionals did not buy it, and deaf people were confused.

Context is the response to the politically correct critics.  The plethora of obscure definitions by Mr Ladd, where adherents to his mantra is an example, where the deaf are still desperately seeking a 'Deaf' version of the rosetta stone to make sense of it, as was the recent news item of an engineer deaf who had no signs for the work he was doing and had to create his own.  There is MORE than one dictionary you need e.g. medical, scientific, educational, just some vital examples.  The BSL dictionary is nowhere near covering any of those areas.  As such the deaf have no signed 'in' to higher education, access, inclusion, or advancement.

Prior to the 1950s in the UK few people knew what BSL was or even if it existed, other than 'sign language used in Britain', as most deaf people who were taught sign language relied more on ABC fingerspelling than 'conceptual' signing which was a later thing.  Very early recorded signing of UK deaf people clarified fingerspelling as 'British sign language' it was virtually the only sign medium in areas like Cornwall e.g. The rest assumed some sort of descriptive mime back up.  Many older deaf complaining they did not know where the 'BSL' signs came from or even what the new ones represented.

Since then hearing have moved in and created fee-paying courses, exams, and classwork to put BSL on a firmer 'language' footing, the deaf are having very little input on that because they concentrate on the cultural element not the language needs of deaf social-cultural trumping access to the wider world.  The original BSL dictionary is now pretty much obsolete as Signed English is taking over.  A more logical approach to enhance access and inclusion for deaf people.  There isn't much support despite claims to the contrary, to make BSL incompatible with the host language of the UK to prove a cultural point.

Monday, 26 August 2019

Are disabled getting really really silly about how we all post?

Image result for the grammar policeOr just the permanently pissed off snowflakes being listened to, when we should be ignoring them and throwing popcorn at them?  A poster was reprimanded and his post edited by a moderator on a UK disability suite because 'You highlighted something in bold type and we don't allow shouting on our site. You are also NOT allowed to use terms like 'us', them', or, 'we' or even 'community' without a proper clarification of who you mean..'  'You cannot assume everyone disabled will understand disabled issues or awareness issues, even on this site, your assumption is suggesting what they may not agree with or even understand.'  

The response was pretty scathing of that disability moderation perhaps an ultimate 'put down' of the ridiculousness of activism online, it didn't help, the poster got banned!

"Very laudable, but this is a disability site, not the UN or the home of the text police unless the site remit has changed?   Of course, everyone is different.  Especially disability areas who struggle with text or grammar e.g..  You are effectively preventing them from posting, or pulling them up on how they spell/post.  This site isn't even accessible to those with sight issues... It is unrealistic to expect every disabled person understands every other disabled person or their issue, or the plethora (1,000s with issues of non-disabilities), I don't have the time to address them all neither do you.  Of course, noting a disability site proclaiming to be disability-inclusive and aware my assumption seems perfectly legit to me.  Your own reply would suggest you are using the same 'assumptions'  you level at me as not on.  I understand your confusion.

As regards to awareness, it's an impossible situation, awareness is unviable or impracticable to pursue in any 'group' context all have own axes to grind.  Online,  a lot are singular/dedicated in view and pretty much unaware or disinterested in other people's issues. I cannot be aware of everyone and everything, nor, do I have the time, just add me to your list of discriminators if it makes you happy, my shoulders can bear it. We are all fighting for survival in the UK against a government who wants us out of the way we don't need to fight ourselves as well, I can appreciate a mutual moan helps some but I don't personally buy into that, I have all the paranoia I need.  

If you are preaching unity you are wasting your time, all disability sectors are doing own thing and have own areas and charities pursuing issues only they find relevant, the inclusion laws are for others it seems, your corner you fight it.

There is a 'virtual war' going on  about degrees of loss, labels, language usage, medical, and issues of outright NON-acceptance of other diverse people within it, or to support them, its a microcosm of cultural or disability angst I can do without and a mad scramble to declare THIS is what we are, THIS is what we need, THIS is how to ID us or THIS is how to post... etc... We all need to accept the diversity within disabled areas first. All I can say is THIS is how I post, and as I feel able if you don't like that..."

The anti-social Hard of Hearing?

Much angst still prevails regarding Hard of Hearing being viewed stupid or refusing to engage with hearing people, aka:

"I'm sure there's an army of people floating around who think I'm aloof!"

"Some in my family accuse me of not listening! I feel I am being blamed for being hard of hearing when I am listening very intently but often can't decipher certain words being used in a sentence."

"Apparently, ignoring people is a way to prevent stress in many of us, others assume we are anti-social and leave us alone so we don't then, have to struggle following them." 

"We aren't called the angry people for nothing I suppose, but I am not sure this helps us to de-stress, as it just makes isolation a more comfortable option. This works for the deaf with a signing culture because they band together, it WON'T work with us because we don't do that.  We don't even view fellow HoH as the same as us, we still see ourselves as hearing people, it used to be called denial, I don't know what they call it now."

ATR:  HoH are architects of their own issue, following the campaign trails of the Deaf 'blame game' hasn't worked for them, so no point us copying that.  The fact remains HoH are determined to want be included but equally determined not to suggest to people they HAVE a hearing loss at all.

There is considerable evidence to support this as they demand better hearing aids that people WON'T be able to see, aided and abetted by multiple adverts on 'hidden hearing' by manufacturers honing in precisely on that point to sell that view to them.  Quite how this addresses the issue of 'hidden disabilities' being more visible is never explained or clarified.

Perhaps if we asked for a ban on any advert that suggests we 'hide' our issue?  If the HoH sector would just fess up to the fact like anyone with hearing loss or deafness, confidence is pretty low in facing up to it all.  No point getting annoyed or 'aloof' to avoid the issue you really want to be addressed and cannot be addressed by law, only, by you raising your own awareness of what you need by being honest about it.

If you lie to hearing people, do the 'nod' of assent when you clearly haven't a clue, then you set yourself up for others getting fed up with you as they are assuming you hear and then not responding logically or at all to what is actually being said. Getting annoyed about your own failings is what it is all about, not that hearing loss is a failing, its a clinical fact of life, but how YOU address that fact has a primary bearing on how you get it accepted and empathised with.

If we do not hear or simply do not understand what is said, then the simplistic and logical answer to that is to say so.    There are alternatives to struggling to lip-read or something, they can be text-driven e.g. everyone can read and write usually its a start and again, not trying alternatives that WILL work is cutting off your own nose etc.  Forget the pride thing nobody is seeing that anyway.  

Accept a Hearing aid isn't for life, they aid what hearing you have left, but, that hearing can still itself deteriorate, and as we know, we, are the last to realise that, clues can be seen when gaps widen in your social life etc as you subconsciously withdraw from making the efforts.  Looking out for hearing deterioration as a clue may just delay your perception of what is really going on.  As soon as hearing loss is identified you really really need to start seeking out alternatives, not, wait until it is too late to do much about it."