Friday, 11 October 2019

Hearing but not as you know it.

Touching documentary about Helen Willis who is totally deaf following a meningitis infection at the age of 2. She was one of the first in the UK to receive a cochlear implant, allowing her to hear the world around her albeit through impoverished sounds. Now she is flourishing at Oxford University, and despite difficulties in everyday tasks, she hopes to continue into research into the science of hearing. 

Helen's story began in the early days of the cochlear implant technology. Surgical techniques have now changed such that stitches and hair shaving are no longer required, and technology has improved to such an extent that people who received cochlear implants more recently are now able to perceive sound much more accurately (with some children being able to sing in tune and acquire local accents). Helen also received her implant relatively late in life, and outcomes are much improved if the operation is performed earlier. 

 We hope that this will help people understand what it is like to have a cochlear implant, particularly for families affected by deafness. If you know anyone who may benefit from watching this documentary, please share this to them using the links above. We also hope that the documentary will encourage everyone with a cochlear implant to pursue their dreams and not be demoralised when they are faced with obstacles because of their deafness.

Deaf at Work

Deaf Employees At Work from Sign Solutions on Vimeo.

Seems to debunk the myth Deaf are not getting support, it's just a postcode lottery.  All you have to do is move to London.

Deaf for a Day

Trends in Assistive Technology

How to include deafies...

Basic advice, but impracticable in operation in a crowded social area.  Deaf have to allow for situations where people are not going to take the time to accommodate you for any long length of time.  Most 'deaf' plan well ahead so situations unexpected you have an answer to them.  They don't attend the social gatherings to lecture others on what they should be doing to include, I never have and never seen that awareness working either.  I am well aware of what will work for myself in various situations and what won't.

The 'Deaf' area won't attend such areas anyway without a terp in tow etc so the awareness for them is hardly an issue.    They would have ensured that access was there before they went.  Vlogs like this are OK but we don't want to see them here, or 10 things hearing must do before we will even engage with them, we know what needs doing, such awareness needs to be put out to the mainstream area, because they won't be logging in to our sites unless they are in the field of support anyway.    Mostly such awareness is a self-creating job for the more able deaf or their charities. Whether them raising awareness for a living is for a wage or not who knows?  Current areas promoting awareness are a shambles but justified because it can provide jobs for the deaf.  I'd prefer real awareness raised but...

Hard of hearing and deafened have very different approaches to inclusion, technology being a primary thing with them.  Hearing loss means you never know if you have heard properly or not, so uncertainty is a norm and stressful norm at that, the deaf have no such issues because they KNOW they cannot hear anything useful and don't stress themselves out trying. 

The  HoH have no awareness area in the UK at all, it is often a standing joke the HoH have found their own cure already since no campaigns are supported or run by them, they must have found that cure.  There are charities, but hearing aids, db ratings, allied with ear wax issues, and cleaning up hearing aids, drive what they do, its mostly a 'clinical' approach as averse to a people-led one.  It's become somewhat 'Viral' on youtube to see who has the most awful amount of hearing wax to remove, and graphic vids of ear wax removal draw in 100s of weirdos.  

(And yes I put this response TO the hearing areas we must all practise what we preach, raising awareness in a vacuum is never going to work.)

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Terry Riley dead.

Image result for Terry Riley BDA dead deaf
The British Deaf Association is deeply saddened by the recent passing of our previous Chair, Dr. Terry Riley. OBE  A passionate leader and inspirational figure, Terry has had a long association with the BDA spanning over fifty years at different levels; as Branch Secretary, Branch Chairman, Area Council Chair, as a member of the Executive Council, and finally as Chair of the BDA where he served three terms from 2008 – 2018

May he rest in peace.

Deaf Sir whatever...

Image result for old man using a quillHI C****m (Here is the full version).

I am writing concerning your involvement with the Welsh Assembly Cross Party committee.  Firstly, I have fond memories of the WCD from when Norman And Jackie Moore were still involved, I was a regular contributor to the old WCD magazine as well, and it's great to see young blood there, previously you needed to be at least 100 years old from the old deaf school and in permanent repeat mode.

I notice from the February 2019 minutes, one agenda question was  about consultations (Yes I know February is a long time ago, but the assembly website puts up TWO pages to the committee and the one I first encountered was 'restricted' and apparently hadn't met for a year or so, and new people had taken over at the top etc, and they said to seek you out instead because Brexit or something was taking up their time.

It took a while to realise/locate who was involved doing what via the committee, (Perhaps an issue you can raise WITH the assembly website as they don't respond when I ask, or perhaps they don't know either).  The meeting isn't accessible for us to view either. I thought initially the committee had no valid point, certainly few if any of my deaf or HoH peers knew it actually existed and apparently felt nothing concerning them went on there, it was some sort of 'charity/AM' pastime only attended when spare time permitted or nothing much else happening.  

It is important I feel, to have grass-roots representation, I assume the committee was formulated to address and identify their issues anyway, although it appears the cross-party committee sees 'problems' in consulting anyone 'on the ground' as it were. What exactly IS that problem?  There appears at least on social media many welsh deaf/HoH with a complaint or concern there.  Nobody actual reads charity website Which is aimed at raising awareness of what they do not what we want, and appealing for the funding to carry on that way.

Image result for welsh dragonI was interested in the discussions to using technology to actually ASK grassroots for views and suggestions, given charity is in some sort of corporate and select cul-de-sac of its own and concerned with support rather than consulting people, and apart from a one or two abortive outings to deaf clubs consultation appeared pointless and inadequate, certainly not viable in identifying the vast need of over 300,000 in Wales with hearing loss.

There seemed an over-emphasis on BSL to the detriment of others with hearing loss and alternative means they use, (particularly in the Welsh NHS where 'Hard Of Hearing' have no support system extant, and contacts for such support as lip-reading and text aspects are non-extant in Wales either.  Don't get me started on tuition classes for lip-reading or sign language, at colleges or the LEA or this letter will be longer than war and peace is. Suffice to say they are bloody pointless mainly.

One factual support example would be, near 50 Welsh BSL Interpreters are available for supporting that area, but less than 5 listed or trained professionals able to support the rest, so if you use text via palantype, speech to text, lip-read, or note-taking, best hire your own...which displays a huge gap of support that really should be a welsh scandal but they are only Hard of hearing.  

If there ARE alternative contacts and systems in the NHS Trusts We don't know about them, or where they are, we are told contact a charity or 'phone a friend' instead of the welsh NHS treating us equally alongside hearing as patients, that this access hasn't occurred in 70 years, an entire generation should be, but isn't a scandal.  Charity can't keep access afloat in the NHS on its own and it isn't desirable either.

Two health ministers over 5 YEARS at the Welsh assembly issued 'requests' to all major hospital trusts and on 3 occasions to ensure the deaf, sensory-impaired, and Hard of Hearing got rightful support, they received no confirmation from any of them it would happen because 'The Welsh Assembly doesn't provide the funding for us to do so..'  

The committee could lobby the relevant ministers and ask them to explain why the NHS isn't being funded for our access? Which according to its own website, is a legal right anyway, via 5 Equality and human rights UK laws. Is this 'lip-service' (No pun intended), or someone taking the proverbial and patronising us?

As regards to the consultations, I appreciate it is very difficult, deaf and the Hard of Hearing never respond on any realistic level to a survey or a consultation process as they are currently run, so that suggests you need to alter the way you are approaching the consultation process, which seems an afterthought, created more in hope than expectation of any feedback.

Image result for welsh dragonIt does seem the Assembly has assumed it is pointless trying and just leaving it to others e.g. charity, or the only identifiable hearing loss area, the BSL one. This suggests a national (Welsh) Drive, to make a more determined attempt to consult a priority, perhaps by sending requests to GP's social services etc to determine who requires help and what type they are requesting etc, there is no joined-up approach.  The assumption is if you don't request support, then you don't need it, and this ignores the fact that support provision is a random and biased mess and unobtainable anyway.

We feel charity and AM's have given up trying, and the turnover of representation at the Assembly suggests we aren't worth the bother or time there either.  You have to tell us where the tools are before we can use them.   Perhaps if the Assembly empowered us with the financial support payment systems we would be creating demand and identifying need a lot easier.  Areas like the DWP are disempowering us and LA's payments systems actually demanded I go blind before I can qualify, being deaf counting for nothing.

If the need is to be presented to the Assembly a sea-change seems a priority.  

The deaf club consultation (the only ones identified), were a failure, and questionable, we know at one point with the AOHL and the BDA at Cardiff deaf clubs, those consulting outnumbered those they needed to consult, one meet attracted just 9 people. How such areas can then go back to the all-party committee and formulate any sort of plan on that basis is impossible to ratify. I think the feedback via charities is dodgy too. 9 became 20. Even 20 would be a non-starter.

The WCD to be fair, was the sole charity in South Wales that actually appeared to be inclusive and not EXclusive in areas they supported.  Mrs Moore e.g. was a very strong advocate of raising issues concerning ALL with hearing loss e.g. not just an over-focus on the most visible, a strong lip-speaking advocate unafraid to challenge areas that wanted sign usage only (Like the BDA etc), or the RNID that wanted to focus on hard of hearing and ear wax, but only after getting rid of a BSL CEO there.  

It was really unfortunate the WCD did not get the support it needed and the RNID were allowed into Wales to asset strip profitable support areas instead. Although the primary proposer of allowing the RNID into  Wales later joined the BDA!  

So much is now polarised in our areas, but the inclusive remit is still used to suggest something else.  There is too much 'politics' and not enough focus on real issues of SUPPORT and the practicalities of being deaf or hard of hearing.  

The increasing drive to use 'mentors/carers' with deaf e.g. has produced annoyance in welsh deaf clubs where charities openly 'tout' for business where they attend.  I don't what that can be described as, as its like unsolicited 'cold calling'.  It may be charity-driven or mentor-driven looking for more work whatever it is we don't want it.  It's of concern most are friends/peers, and well known to 'clients' given privacy/neutrality is virtually non-extant as a result to anyone who has ever entered a deaf club, and qualifications seem rather too 'flexible' for real safety in our view.  The trend to draft in complete amateurs, the well-meaning, or the untrained unemployed is not on for our sector.

I hope you can raise some of these issues at the next committee meeting (Whenever that is)?.  At the same time ask can the committee approach the Assembly website, people, to sort out their ridiculous search options so we can actually identify what statistics actually exist? and vitally,  to whom those statistics apply?

The site currently has 17 descriptives of hearing loss(there may be more I gave up looking), even without including those with other disablements, we also see the access and inclusion people stating that because they have included that ridiculous D/d descriptor, the search technology to discriminate who is deaf or isn't, or various modes they use, is no longer possible as a result of that 'cultural' recognition.  It's like online when you search for 'deaf' and hard of hearing items, and get bombarded with American ASL adverts or soap carving instead.

Currently, it is impossible to use the Welsh assembly website as a meaningful source to gather data on 300,000 welsh with hearing loss.  Where do they even GET that number?  Charities are equally poor or biased and its 'think of a number' and dare anyone to prove differently, of course, THEY are the sole source of the data.  If I was an AM I would be thinking this is pointless and we cannot get a real handle on anything.

I look forward to a basic response with accuracy, I can only suggest you don't use the Assembly as a source for that.

Thank  You

Helping the deaf to buy online.

Carers or jobs for the boys?

No photo description available.

This charity currently in the 'wars' over bullying allegations and running at a loss while gagging members has launched yet another dubious scheme to 'help deaf people'.  ATR asks What about security and privacy of deaf people in this latest wheeze? 

What area oversees those? The BDA itself with their poor record?  It's not a good idea to have support for the deaf from within own areas, using peers that lack scrutiny and training.  I've yet to meet a single deaf mentor/carer who won't talk about his or her charge in the deaf clubs, the nature of the signing community is that privacy does not really exist.

The scheme looks wide open to exploitation and they don't say who funds it or if the BDA can.  Interpreters/Health Carers have a code to follow, what code are 'Volunteers' having to meet? Deaf don't want volunteers they want people who know what they are doing and neutral.  I rather fear the deaf area is far too small for them to find the sort of neutral help that is required.  Deaf clubs in Wales already complain of aggressive charity staff touting for work in the clubs making deaf people uncomfortable, they will approach deaf people and try to pressure them to take 'help' they don't want or need. 'We'll do this for you, we'll do that for you, sign here...'  In part, it is removing what independence some deaf already have.  They have to register with the system or the charities don't get paid.

Deaf campaigners spent years removing themselves from that setup. It's the older and vulnerable they are targetting, who if required help would already be getting it.  Primary culprits are the AOHL and the BDA itself, as an 'in-house' job creation scheme it looks pretty blatant.  The fact charities are trying to replace basic rights deaf and HoH already have is a poor show too.  If deaf need support then the law is there to provide it and ensure professionalism and monitoring of what is a vulnerable and 'captive' area anyway.  Who pays?  It will be expected the local Authorities or social services will the BDA has no resources for a national set up like this and was unable to provide welfare claim support in South Wales for the BSL users resulting in 60% losing all right to claim, because there was nobody to explain what they needed to do in the format they rely on.

E.G. the RAD came and went without ever opening the premises they hired or staffing it,  it was questionable where the funding for that went, was the legal provision for the deaf just an excuse to claim funding? The Local authority advice building was virtually next door and did not know it existed nor local deaf. Welsh deaf are being mugged by charity basically because so much funding is being claimed in their name.

Support provision is a right its not a provision that needs to be provided by a charity because the Assembly won't fund that, and illegally adopting that position.  There are huge question marks about deaf 'Mentors' and care support in that apart from being able to sign (A lot don't at all), that is all the qualification they need.   Other areas like BSL INterpreters have to pass exams and satisfy the official secrets Act as well, but it seems anyone who can master the BSL ABC is OK!  There is no censure area for deaf charities, they are a law to themselves and the BDA ensures their members are put in their place.

It's clear the skills demanded are not available anyway.

Closing the Employment Gap.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Mission Impossible?

"Your Mission (If you choose to accept it), is to ensure complete access for the deaf and hard of hearing outside their homes.  Should you (Or your operatives and campaigners), fail to achieve this aim, then obviously we will disallow any knowledge of you... cut off your funding and send you back to school."  HoH still miffed at lip-reading claims.

'I don't think lip-reading is viable in a class situation, we live in our homes and shop on the streets and there does not seem to be any inclusive 'live' tuition to accommodate those areas?  I'd like to see qualification at the end of it too, else, how do we know if the class works properly?  If the point is simply to create minute social areas of like-minded do we need a class to do that? and in doing so does that enhance social interaction outside it?  

Because e.g. supermarkets and other areas put a price on everything and all we have to do is pay at the checkout, and after, personal interaction seems negligible or it tends to create issues when you want to query something.  Lip-reading success demands interactions on a personal level so classes need to move out of 4 walls, doesn't it?  It would help if mainstream had learnt to speak properly but we are not going to get that are we?    There are idiots texting each other across a table rather than talk to teach other, you would have to teach THEM to converse first... Community ain't what it used to be.

It was telling that when I attended such classes (And abandoned them as pointless in my case because teacher could not cope with some pupil that had actually gone deaf already), fellow peers with hearing loss said' I am glad this class exists I would not be able to socialise or lip-read if it didn't.' which seems self-defeating to me.  I don't think the current set up is designed to actually enhance our ability to lip-read.  There is far too much variation of age and loss to have a viable set up it seems to me unless the whole approach changes.  People are switching to text and phones etc NONE of that enhances an ability to lip--read (Or to acquire sign language if it comes to that).  When are they going to take hearing loss seriously?'

Monday, 7 October 2019

At the Dentists.

Google Transcribe.

hearing impairment live transcribe
Just HOW effective is it?  Can it replace sign when deaf are having issues with text/grammar?  

How an app will revolutionise education for deaf students.  Imagine you’re in class trying to take down notes for an important test next week. How you do in this test and what you’re learning in school are not without far-reaching consequences in how your life and career will pan out. 

Now imagine trying to do this without being able to hear. This is the reality for deaf and hard-of-hearing students everywhere. Not everyone is privileged enough to have an interpreter and not every learning environment will meet their needs. Google’s Live Transcribe app may change deaf students’ learning potential forever. “This app really helps all kinds of information, not just [making] education…accessible to a greater set of people. So if you’re hard of hearing or deaf, you don’t have to go to a special school anymore,” said Sagar Savla, a product leader in Google’s AI Research group, in a video conference at Google Malaysia last Friday. 

“You can continue in the same hearing school or university and follow along and get conversations without having to learn or teach somebody else sign language.” All you need is a smartphone and Internet connection for Live Transcribe to turn speech into large, easy-to-read text on your phone screen in real-time.  Available in 70 languages (including dialects such as Indian and South African English), the app also detects other sounds apart from speech, such as running water, a whistle or a baby crying. 

The app lets you set a primary and secondary language, a convenient feature considering that in many countries, several languages can be spoken in one sentence alone. The app is able to correctly transcribe two languages at the same time. 

Me and Don (Quixote).

Image result for Don QuixoteA response on HoH social media on why inclusion does not seem to be working for the HoH or the 'deaf'.  I was told we must keep fighting...

"My life work in reality but I feel the HoH as an issue area does not exist in the UK.  I feel more like Don Quixote than myself as being ignored is the norm.  

There is no national UK support system, but amazingly I was told HoH have found their own 'cure' for it all that requires no support, and that apparently is technology or lip-reading. Because we can text anyone or post here with others then the isolation no longer exists, well we fool ourselves daily, with aids and lip-reading we can follow OK so why not that?  We can lip-read OK, if people adopt the right stance and we are adept enough but, 98% are not that and the remaining percentage relies pretty much on inspired guesswork.   It's just that I think people on people is a community and I don't want to spend a lifetime posting to social media as the only 'social life' I am ever likely to get.  My computer is my tool and I use it for that mostly, friends I prefer I can see, feel, and talk directly to.   In part, I reject social media as an alternative. 

There is no alternative to real friends.  If we are lucky we will have 6 true friends in our lifetime according to one survey.  I do a blog and that is ALL about deaf and hearing loss issues but it is 95% factual/News because the social media for hearing loss or the deaf tends to be one of existing in 'closed' areas, (So we do it ourselves?), we are scared mainstream will attack us or misunderstand?  It is expressing concerns in a vacuum to me.  We already know what the issues are, we need to educate and make aware those that aren't and they are not reading our social media to find out themselves so are we just bolstering paranoia and instilling on ourselves some sort of 'I am a Victim' mentality? and 'blaming' everyone else?

I understand there are those who rely heavily on social media to maintain viable contact with the outside world, but people, need other people.  What is clear is the 'unity remit' of "Deaf & Hard of hearing'  (UK), is a complete non-event it is simply a unity designed to include while inclusion and unity are not on the agenda. In reality, we did not create that remit, that was done by the state and charities trying to unite where we couldn't, and to try to identify our areas better to target support, it failed rather miserably.  We aren't the Deaf and they aren't us and we have charities and national systems polarised to reflect that.  It's not a criticism, just a basic reality.  

The USA areas are definitely more on the inclusive road than the UK is, albeit I  suspect the legal avenues in the USA drive that via their effective sue culture, am I convinced even that is forcing inclusion through? erm... not yet no.

The UK shut down legal aid support/advice to us, the UK welfare arm rejects we have disabilities if we do, the law provides the answer, as we know it doesn't do that.  63% of deaf never get full-time work, and HoH support in education does not seem extant either e.g.  There exists complete myth about what help actually exists or even level of actual demand for it.  We do at times in some half-hearted and desperate attempt try to validate hearing loss and being deaf in the hope we can be accepted that way.  You just get identified as 'someone with a problem'.  Unless you can foot your own legal bills despite being in the right any success or failure does not set any precedent for others, so it is basically you can only fight own corner and uniting won't change that unless a significant number of HoH unite to bring a real test case.  That displays we all want change by visible demand, it is how the 'Deaf' get what they need, again they aren't including you, you have to fight for what YOU want.

We bought into the credo 'Only we know what we need..' which on the surface is reasonable enough but, it also means that divide and ignore rules, we were sold a dream and it became a nightmare of misunderstanding and a fair amount of vested interests from the more determined areas.  Deaf and HoH clubs are different animals altogether, in essence, the HoH fail to run any of them effectively and HoH baulk at being told to join Deaf ones or told to sign first or don't bother, because deaf cannot or will not adapt to you.  In turn, the HoH have adopted the pose 'live and let live' and go their own route that has no direction as I can see, and neatly avoids confronting the realities of go it alone areas.  

It's a root and branch realism we want and demands different things despite every support area insisting it includes all, it has to state that or get no funding.  Then we are asked to unite by remit to the disabled areas too, and again that doesn't work too well because it is also designed around funding, and once each area gets theirs it isn't used to include others...  Whatever the answer is it will mean the Hard of hearing and associeted areas have to unite and go own way too, there is no evidence or will identified to do that.  Most of what campaigns exist for the hard of heairng are tgepid and pretty ineffective too, theyaren't run by us, but hearing and charitable others.  We cannot be othered it seems to put ourselves out."

Sunday, 6 October 2019

AI Solutions and disability.

AI solutions in the disability market - Eyra Abraham. We often hear news and stories of where AI has gone wrong. However, AI is positively changing the landscape of adaptive and assistive technologies for people living with disabilities. 

This presentation will highlight the latest successes and positive impact brought by new emerging, innovative technology using AI. Bio: Eyra Abraham is the founder of Lisnen, a startup changing the landscape of adaptive technologies for people living with a hearing loss using the latest in AI technologies. Lisnen is developing a mobile app that connects people with a hearing loss to the hearing world. Using vibrating and flashing alert notifications, 

Lisnen brings attention to critical sounds such as siren and fire alarm in any environment right from a smartphone. The goal is to bridge the gap between the hearing world and those with a hearing loss allowing the Deaf/Hard of Hearing to gain independence and security anywhere they are.

Mental Health Services: New Zealand/Australia