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.