Friday, 10 July 2020

AOHL on the ZOOM trail...

Having watched AOHL (Cymru), recent Zoom offering I feel compelled to respond to it.

I have to disagree with a number of AOHL statements made regarding lack of BSL to Boris/English COVID updates, as early as March 18th he was on screen with a BSL terp explaining the lockdown, and I published the link to it here and on social media at the time.

There WAS a breakdown as regards to not informing deaf BSL access was already there on the BBC news channel, but have to say when informed of that access later and on-screen, not only by myself but on screen later on the BBC1 channel, campaigners chose to ignore it and decided to campaign on the basis there was none instead.  

As regards to lack of BSL online, also not true,  a number of charities including the RAD and SignHealth as well as many individuals went to social media giving a breakdown and daily updates as well in sign language.  The prime question was why the dedicated BSL channels of BSL ZONE and SEE HEAR chose not to do their part? It was very late in the day before the COVID penny dropped for them and only after criticisms. They are both funded to educate and inform the BSL deaf and failed, choosing to cover trivia instead and standing by watching the prime BBC media doing their job.

Maybe we should withdraw funding for those areas?  Of course, many elderly deaf/HoH don't go online, so perhaps that is an issue AOHL can address as to how you get them to do that? I can point out to an around wales videoed survey undertaken at the time by the BSL Zone (who visited near all major deaf club in Wales), only to find few if any deaf had heard of them.  Cardiff being the least interested with just 9 people turning up. A lot of deaf are not regularly online although they have iPhones and such because they tend to use them only to contact each other or family.  

Much is made of poor BSL access and is unfounded in reality, the major COVID campaigns were about lip-reading not BSL, although there was no background to the demand for that lip-reading access or if it applied to BSL users, or just the HoH who mostly rely on that.  What we did see were 'Deaf' demands for face mask removal at NHS staff, which was never going to happen. 

There was and still is ample BSL access to health areas, obviously, a lot is currently by remote, and it seems there was some reluctance in certain BSL areas to adopt remote interpreting.  What I didn't really see was any great demand for HoH access, or campaigning for it, this is mostly down to the fact they adapted to text and technology possibly.  

There are 'cultural' issues in that some BSL deaf still refuse to adapt or use alternatives even when they are able to, as some 'sop' to culture or the perceived language.   I was surprised but found it welcome, suggestions there needs to be more Signed ENGLISH, (now all we need is SE teachers and Interpreters!), as BSL is a major issue of access, and HoH and others are reluctant to go with it because of cultural and grammatical differences.  

It should be, but isn't, 'horse for courses', having said that most of us opted for captions and ignored BSL anyway so had access all the time.   We can only assume the sign language user cannot read or doesn't want to and prefers to make their own access difficult.  You adapt or go without they chose to go without in many cases.

The health and social care issue is split between the sign user demands and the needs of the rest of us.  Far too many health areas are not offering HoH any access but BSL, a format they don't use.  We saw much demand for clear masks and access for lip-readers, but no demand for clear speakers, so how does that work?

A number of NHS staff are almost impossible to lip-read with or without a mask especially some from BAME areas with beards or poor English, HoH and deaf patients have expressed these issues, then called racists, Why is that?  A clear maks would still be no use and Interpreters can have difficulty following too.  In reality, if you are a lip-reading patient or have issues with hearing loss and aids that don't really give you the access you need in full, there is none in reality to the NHS, this is a particular concern in Wales e.g.  

Of course, this video is predominantly covering  English-oriented output, and that in itself has created issues of misinformation, not only to the deaf, but, to the hard of hearing who live elsewhere also, who have been assuming updates on COVID on the BBC applied to the UK, I was unsurprised to hear some welsh TV sets were turned to BBC West which didn't cover BSL signed welsh COVID updates. I also noticed interpreters used BSL and not welsh signs.  If there are regional variations the welsh aren't aware of them.

Not enough clarifications came from AOHL or anyone else that what the BBC was putting out in England was not applicable elsewhere.  As we know Wales, Scotland and N Ireland all have different approaches and agendas as regards to updates and approaching the COVID issue.  This is still the case.  

I must express disappointment with the continuing over-emphasis on BSL, this is not a major format 12m of us ever use (And there aren't 12m in Wales, only 3/500K, and we don't KNOW how many rely upon BSL because there is no way to find out),  but it is still getting 76% of all posts and campaigns, we can be forgiven for feeling 12m or 500K whatever, don't really exist.

In reality, there is NO 'national' access set up for anyone but the BSL user.  AOHL we see as a predominant Hard of Hearing support area not a deaf or BSL one, which is the 'domain' of minority and mostly unsupported groups like the BDA or RAD and don't include HoH anyway.

What I have found during this epidemic is a lot of campaigns having little or no basis, simply because they chose not to really seek out information that was already there.   The Initial TV updates were charts and statistics mostly followed by stay home, that was it basically, a turn off for hearing let alone the deaf. 

ATR posted updates and links to BSL to all online sites It could manage to, including the mooted BBC ones and they ignored the links.  By far it is NOT the BSL user who is deprived or lacking in either support or access, but the rest of us having to totally rely on text, who are now a 'community' of text users,  and because lip-reading is a failure for most and lacks the wherewithal to teach via its classes, and countered, by BSL classes that encourage no speech to be used even amidst NHS care and support staff.    What price lip-reading then?

AOHL tries to sit between two such stools and is obviously not going to succeed.  It has been losing out to a few dedicated BSL activists despite its corporate approaches, and can apparently speak for everyone.    Wales has near half a million with hearing loss, which on the face of it suggests next to none have any access at all.

'Seeing is believing' and not reality, in that hearing loss, cannot be seen and being deaf can, via sign usage.  Again if AOHL needs a campaign or two it is to balance that out by concentrating on its core membership the Hard of Hearing and leave the BSL users to their own dedicated and specialist areas.  Albeit it is agreed they are making a real mess of it so far, its their choice. 

Apart from re-branding for RNID to 'hearing loss' but still retaining the D and confusing everyone, it now needs to take the next step and concentrate solely on the Hard of hearing instead.  We would also like to see a lot more support for the deafened and acquired deaf who are stuck between some sort of ideological war going on between the deaf charities and the Hard of Hearing ones, which has seriously undermined access for them all.

The 'all deaf sign' is applied to all hard of hearing sign too, which suggests the HoH ae getting branded with some other sort of identification by default.   The AOHL is contributing to the myth and needs to stop doing it.

To be frank, AOHL on this video does not come across as any sort of a BSL/HoH set up anyway, it comes across as very 'hearing' oriented and appealing only to those with useful hearing anyway. It should not be an issue to 'specialise' solely on the HoH area, which AOHL keeps stating is 12m people, but 12m the AOHL has no way of addressing at present. 

As AOHL rightly stated its main 'strength' is in that the system tends to take note of what they say, but in regards to access or inclusion it is not a simple matter of stating we need this and that to happen when there is no real direction on what the need is for 12m with hearing loss or what support they actually need, loops? lip-speakers? etc, these aren't identifying any sector really.  First, find your base then find out what they want. Then TRAIN them.

Most of us find nothing at all if we turn up at a clinic GP or hospital if we don't use sign.  There were no actual statistics of ANY HoH demand with 7 health areas in Wales NONE at all for HoH they only held some statistics for the BSL users.  

At one point 48+ BSL interpreters existed for the Deaf, and just 2 of them who also qualified as lip-speakers, text operators were invisible, allegedly only 2 of them with 6-8 weeks waiting lists which is actually zero access because you cannot wait that long in health terms, that transpired in zero demand then.  We don't get access, because the support supply does not exist, then a demand cannot be seen either.  Then 12m/500K become invisible again.

There are no viable records the Welsh NHS had any demand for the HoH.  I just think the AOHL is grabbing at straws with the most obvious contenders,  the sign users, rather than identifying its own membership, which means you are doing the BDA's job for them.

Address abysmal and non-functioning lip-reading classes and opt for a new set up that includes total communication and more individual tuition, since many attending such classes drop out a few weeks in because they cannot follow the tuition, this has a knock-on effect of deterring such potential learners of bothering to learn to lip-read at all, many approach such classes very much as a desperate and last resort, for them to drop out soon after means those in most need are the first being sidelined in favour of those still able to use an aid effectively.

Even that isn't helping the most to learn to lip-read a no qualifications are required and no skill level has to be met. IT suggests communication classes for those with hearing loss are treated as some sort of hobby course (Like flower arranging).  There is no point in teaching lip-reading this way as it stands. 

A dozen 'Zoom' videos are not going to address the chaos that is (Or rather not), hearing loss support, which is completely different to DEAF support, make the break, move on.  AOHL is allied to areas like NDCS etc but even they are at odds with the cultural demands of the few who are disrupting the very thing they say they want, equality and access by default, not only for themselves but for us too.

We need a clean break so AOHL can concentrate ON the majority.

Deaf Mental Health a cause for concern?

Health State Values of Deaf British Sign Language (BSL) Users in the UK: An Application of the BSL Version of the EQ-5D-5L.

At The Rim: The Deaf and Mental Health (II).ATR: A pretty amateurish attempt with far less involvement with enough deaf to gain any realistic data.  It fails to differentiate across the deaf board or to offer comparisons, and localised to England.  

In as much as conclusions, they have come to, it suggests sign users suffer more than hearing with poor mental health (The hearing mental Health Stat is about 25% of the population).  Hardly news, but it would appear the unequal bias and involvement of the BDA caused a lot of it, probably underpinned to provide ''ammunition' for more inclusion.   You need outsiders looking in who can compare.   You also need co-operation from these 'Deaf', and that is extremely difficult to obtain.  They also cloud issues by suggesting poor mental health is simply down to poor access or lack of BSL and this interferes with treatments.

The 43% stat seems to mirror the same statistic we get from the assessment of deaf children.  Basically, it suggests more physical health issues are presenting. This could be the reluctance of  'Deaf' to get health issues seen to, and accepting symptoms as a norm others would not.  There are a lot of long words and stats involved but we don't get the nitty-gritty of what they are trying to say, there is mention of CI's as 'mean', that actually infers CI users suffer less because they have them.  So is the key mass implantation day one? Why use CI's, when the survey focus is on BSL using deaf?

I am unsure how they compare like with like aka hearing with the 'Deaf' (Not to be confused with the rest of the people with hearing loss).  They only assessed in England too so no comparisons there either.  We know the 'Deaf' have many issues mainly down in many cases to a total reliance on sign language, a lack of inclusion in mainstream, inability or reluctance to adapt, or even to further own communication skills as adults, and it doesn't cover the historical background of this area, many who actively avoid inclusion and/or are unable to make it work for them even with support. Their 'contentment' to be with other deaf in the same position is hardly helping is it?  It is feeding the indifference.

The key here suggests addressing deaf education approaches day one, not discovering that as adults, it has all just fed the isolation and depression by default, and that via various rights and access campaigns and their complete inability to address root causes of failure to include or fend off poor mental health, are major contributors too.

It just means more specialisations, more isolations etc, a never-ending rubber stamp, poor mental health is the price of hearing loss.  It isn't, we would disagree it feeds into inevitable dementia too.  Blame hearing, blame lack of inclusion, blame.... but making a virtue of isolation and calling it something else isn't working is it?  There is an issue poor mental health is some sort of norm to accept because so many are suffering with it.

When ATR looked at specialist deaf mental health 2 years ago  it was a chaotic mess with mostly psychologists and psychiatrists being unable to assess the deaf as the communication wasn't effective enough, and the deaf not really able to express what the issue was.  To offset that some areas employed a few level 4 BSL care workers to act as the go-between.  As ATR covered at the time abuse of deaf people was exposed as a result.  But there just wasn't enough level 4 aware BSL deaf with the issues to make it clear what the issue was.  Ergo 'dumbing down' took place and assessments became suspect and over-medication became the norm.

Differing areas of the UK offer no specialist centres or clinics at all, so most will be 'exported' out of the area, and away from family and peer support too, which adds to their health issues, them being even more socially isolated.   What IS a specialist centre for the 'Deaf'? just an area where everyone signs to them?  There are many who are still in own homes being cared for by people with no sign knowledge at all,  simply because it is cheaper to do that than a local authority paying a lot of money to export the 'problem' somewhere else.  Wales is one example where those needing intensive help have to go to England for it.

Currently, some of these specialists areas erstwhile run by deaf or HoH charities are being sold off privately, we cannot know if that is going to improve things or make them a whole lot worse, specialisation costs, and those who fund it are reluctant to cover the true costs, and this means less specialist help.   It is no way to run an effective MH system or to offer treatment for it.  

By far most Deaf MH areas simply do not have the BSL professionals to enable effective treatment, there are grave doubts if using the basic BSL interpreters assisted (Or hindered!), by a social worker is the way to do things.  Usually, by that time of referral,  poor mental health has advanced too far to be treated locally, there seems no system within that community to ensure these deaf are being helped or monitored.

Logic suggests as it starts day one being identified in school there is the place to start.  Not as an adult when habits are fully established and more difficult to address.  Their 'base' (Usually deaf clubs or similar), are closing as we write, fragmenting further any cohesive attempt to approach the problem.  Few BSL interpreters are qualified to assist in mental health matters even fewer being trained to assist in what appears to be an epidemic of poor mental and physical health with 'Deaf' people.   There is a need to train Terps to specialise given 43% of their clients have this issue. 

All we are seeing are BSL groups rambling on about culture, and blaming mainstream for everything,  whilst apparently, 43% of their community needs urgent mental health support, and not getting it, it is by far a more pressing issue than guess what happened in 1880s Milan surely?

Thursday, 9 July 2020

BLM backlash?

Walmart under fire for selling 'All Lives Matter,' 'Blue Lives ...Not from racists but those who would support more equality. 

"What we all want to know is why welsh people are not challenging BLM (Newport S Wales), demands to 're-educate' us all in black history, remove parts of our heritage, re-define them and the welsh assembly doing a 'hit list' of place names in Wales to placate what is, an explosion of Marxist focus groupings intent on attacking the Welsh way of life who already hijacked the BLM campaign and caused assaults on the police and criminal damage.   Gross under-reporting of black crime is taking place too as media play it down, when your media is running scared we ARE all in trouble.

I lived in Ynys-ddu am I supposed to no longer refer to that village because 'Ddu' means black or dark? this is our history it will NOT change, it's our language, get a grip people and let us do what everyone else isn't doing, challenging aspects of BLM and the Senedd right to refuse to consult welsh people on what THEY want, we are being held hostage to groups who are NOT representative of us all, even of BAME areas, inclusion doesn't mean priority for just one group. They are entitled to fair play they are entitled to be taught how bad white people were 200 years ago, but that isn't now, it isn't US,  and attempting to force some form of indoctrination on us all is doomed to failure and will just cause resentment.

People who express concern are being called racists, then shut down, or attacked and expected to go on bended knee, is this 1930s Berlin?  It wasn't the western world who started slavery, BLM needs to read up on it.  The local paper published the BLM item, then blocked all feedback, online too, because they knew what was going to come, they know how many are against all this, it is NOT the right way to recognise discrimination, it is fostering more of it. Silencing dissent has never worked, neither has name-calling.

It is a licence for areas to exploit and control others when media and governments run scared of saying no. All it will do is spawn dozens of more righteous right-wing focus groups all intent on telling us what we need to do or think.  Of course, pulling down statues, and changing place names or removing them is ridiculous, history has already happened.  I'm no fan of Trump or the USA approaches and the pace at which the USA southern history is being demolished is alarming, without those references there is no history of black discrimination. Are Americans just to read the black version?  The USA is a country based on migrancy, who then proceeded to eradicate the indigenous population.  To be scrupulously fair the American Indian should be pulling down statues too.

My local TV channels are suddenly full of BAME presenters, did they suddenly decide (TV Channels) they need to get with it or something? they weren't there before.  I wonder if BLM knows it is being tokenised and patronised by a bunch of media hypocrites?  They remove history at their peril, allowing them to put their version is an attempt to change history too, who decides what is accurate?  I don't doubt a load of 'experts' will line up with own agendas offering advice.

By default can we now air all the atrocities committed BY black people against their own people?   Currently, it would be an issue holding your breath.  BLM is a pandora's box that can backfire on it all.  We have a petition here already to block the Senedd changing Welsh place names to English ones. Another attempt to 'level the playing field' in the English favour.  It's an issue ongoing here for 500 years.  The day won't come when I go on bended knee to anyone.  It's archaic and the 'fist' aggression.

The Welsh assembly is compiling a 'hit list', which is against the rules and will be challenged and no attempt to call us all racists is going to stop it. Its 'equality sector' is already a national joke. The 'list' BLM produced here is both a threat and a demand, but they aren't in control of their own area. Why are cricket players and other sports stars following the BLM thing? sport is supposed to be free of politics. 2 years ago they banned the use of wearing a poppy, which is recognition of millions of lives lost in 2 world wars, (including BAME ones), now there is some hierarchy of deserving recognition? 

'Black power' promotions 24/7, do they really think this has any chance of success with other areas?  The more they demand of us the less we will want to comply with it... if we can defy COVID 19, I don't give BLM much chance of changing things,  Brits do NOT like being told what to think, we prefer being asked. We already objected to BAME influences in sex and gender in education, migrants who come here adjust to our way of life not carry on as they never left their home countries. Our kids will not get an education if this carries on, it won't be the 3r's, but a relentless lecture on minority rights. UK education, training the focus groups and tomorrow's thought police.  (And they criticised China doing that.)"

Friday, 3 July 2020

AI to solve the COVID riddle?

Just shows how clever (And deadly), nature is...  "coronavirus has a far greater complexity" 

Computer scientists are using massive computational power against the pandemic. They say the enemy they are fighting is unlike any other.

"Compared to other viruses that we have worked on, for instance, the Zika virus, the coronavirus has far greater complexity. It is composed of many more proteins, that have very different biological roles,” says Andrea Beccari, a computer scientist for bio-pharmaceutical company DompĂ© and Project Coordinator for the E4C Project.

The team taking part in this European research project are trying to identify molecules that can block the progression of the virus inside the human body. The problem is researchers are having to explore a huge library of around 500 billion molecules.

To identify the most promising candidates in the shortest possible time, the scientists have turned to supercomputers. These can process up to 3 million molecules per second.

"Computers are essential, as we’re able to work at the same time with all 25 proteins of the virus which are involved in the various mechanisms related to infection, replication and block the human immune system - everything in a simultaneous way," explains Beccari.

Near Me access...

Video conferencing technology is helping to ease the vulnerability deaf people have been experiencing during the pandemic. Many deaf people in Scotland are more socially isolated now than before the coronavirus crisis because of the additional communications barriers forced on them by the lockdown.

And the chief officer of deafscotland – a leading organisation for deaf issues in Scotland – believes their problems would have been compounded had the use of video consulting in health and care services not been stepped up during the pandemic.

Janis McDonald said Covid-19 is a “communications virus” that is having a significant impact on many people affected by deafness. The use of face masks muffles the voice and covers the mouth, preventing lip-reading, and physical distancing created barriers beyond the effective one-metre range of hearing aids.

However, she believes the Near Me video consulting system now being extensively used in Scotland is helping to ease the vulnerability deaf people have been experiencing during the pandemic.

“Like everyone else, people with a hearing loss need access to healthcare but that would have been extremely difficult without video conferencing,” she said, alluding to the fact that there were now far fewer face-to-face consultations with doctors and other health and care professionals, and telephone consultations weren’t really an option for many deaf people.

“Near Me has provided a vital lifeline to health services and we would welcome its continued use when the current crisis ends.”

School and the deaf child advice.

Department for Education accounts 'not true and fair' - BBC News
DfE in England has today published more detailed guidance on how education settings will re-open. 

As we all know, the expectation is that schools in ENGLAND will re-open full time to everyone in September. The key headline for us is that there’s a clear statement that peripatetic TODs should be allowed to go into schools: 

Supply teachers, peripatetic teachers and/or other temporary staff can move between schools. They should ensure they minimise contact and maintain as much distance as possible from other staff. Specialists, therapists, clinicians and other support staff for pupils with SEND should provide interventions as usual. 

Schools should consider how to manage other visitors to the site, such as contractors, and ensure site guidance on physical distancing and hygiene is explained to visitors on or before arrival. Where visits can happen outside of school hours, they should. A record should be kept of all visitors. 

Where it is necessary to use supply staff and to welcome visitors to the school such as peripatetic teachers, those individuals will be expected to comply with the school’s arrangements for managing and minimising risk, including taking particular care to maintain distance from other staff and pupils. There’s also a clear line that teaching assistants should not be redeployed at the expense of children with SEND. 

Schools should ensure that appropriate support is made available for pupils with SEND, for example by deploying teaching assistants and enabling specialist staff from both within and outside the school to work with pupils in different classes or year groups. 

Where support staff capacity is available, schools may consider using this to support catch-up provision or targeted interventions. Teaching assistants may also be deployed to lead groups or cover lessons, under the direction and supervision of a qualified, or nominated, teacher (under the Education (Specified Work) (England) Regulations 2012 for maintained schools and non-maintained special schools and in accordance with the freedoms provided under the funding agreement for academies). Any redeployments should not be at the expense of supporting pupils with SEND. 

A few other points: Lots of emphasis on the risks of children missing education and balancing of risks Attendance will be mandatory unless clinical advice for individual children says otherwise. 

Remote learning should be provided in these cases Curriculum can be modified in exceptional circumstances – but expectation we will return to normal by summer 2021. Exams that were due to take place in summer 2021 can also be dropped in exceptional circumstances for some students if it would help deliver better outcomes in English and Maths Some clear emphasis around the needs of considering needs of children with SEND in the curriculum Schools need to plan how remote learning will be delivered as contingency. DfE are now being more prescriptive here and may produce further guidance. 

There is an acknowledgement that children with SEND may need more support and that schools should plan how this will be provided Ofsted will not be doing any school inspections in autumn, though they may do some random visits to learn how schools are managing Whole School SEND doing some training around SEND and returning to school The Whole School SEND consortium will be delivering some training and how-tos for mainstream school teachers (including free insets and webinars) on supporting pupils with SEND to return to their mainstream school after the long absence, and on transition to other settings. Details of future training sessions are held on the events page of the SEND Gateway. 

You can opt to join Whole School SEND’s community of practice when you sign up for an event to receive notifications about future training and resources as they are published.

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Yes or No?

From: Chris Heaton-Harris Minister of State (Department for Transport).

The Government is committed to ensuring deaf people can fully participate in society. We understand that mandatory use of face coverings will be difficult to adhere to for some. That is why there are exemptions to the rules for some disabled people and those with certain health conditions on public transport. 

You also do not need to wear a face-covering if you are speaking with someone who relies on lip-reading and facial expressions to communicate. We are working closely with transport operators to make sure that their staff and passengers are aware that not everyone is required to wear a face covering. Our Safer Transport guidance includes a clear reminder to transport operators of the need to provide staff with disability equality and awareness training. 

In addition to this, the guidance also specifically provides warnings that conventional coverings can prevent many disabled people from accessing oral information and instructions. Our guidance for operators and more information on face coverings can be found HERE.

NOTE: It is advice, there is no legal backing to it, and this is a suggestion for public transport ONLY, NOT the NHS.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

ATR 'attacks' on deaf care deplorable?

The Whole Truth: Part 3 – A New LifeATR crosses swords with leading hearing loss/disability charities online as ATR suggested some Deaf are more trouble than they are worth in care terms...

#1 ‘have now sold off their deaf care too, more trouble than they are worth frankly’. I think the above comment is really disrespectful. Care services does tremendously good work with Deaf people and transforms their life for better. I know as someone very close to me rely on this service and it’s has been a life saver. So this comment isn’t very helpful and rather demeaning to those who use care service. It’s feels like a personal attack against those who need support from care service.

#2   I was quoting from their own site, you are saying they are not selling off deaf care? or, parts of the assistive device business? Their CEO printed it in January 2020 after suggesting they had cash flow problems. So dedicated to deaf care that is the first thing they sold off? It was no 'attack' it was a statement of reality if you require the statement from the site I have provided it. Passing the 'attack' buck TO needy deaf was a bit of a low. I expected better frankly (like you proving your own case)? 

The (AOHL), remit e.g, changed from care and support of deaf people to finding the cure and campaigning, good luck with convincing the cultural deaf with that... I could suggest such campaigning is beyond the capability of that charity as they failed to challenge systems and areas that discriminate. They are leaving London too.

As another poster stated said they have no membership percentage to act AS representative, no charity does. Ergo the AOHL 'represents' point 3% of hearing loss areas, the BDA 'represents' point 002% of their area. (Based on own declared statistics). Yet both have 80% of the voice.  We could suggest that is farcical and misleading to claim they represent anyone and just putting power in the hands of the few not responsible to anyone.

It may come across as blunt but there it is. As regards to deaf care, I don't think any charity has come up smelling of roses and the BSL ones are just as bad, ELDS, BDA, etc, too much-vested interest and bias as well as a failure to include.  In those respects, I feel quite justified in stating what a shower they were/are. 

Perhaps the sole advantage of selling off deaf care to private areas is they are easier to take to task when they screw up something charity appears to be immune to, they can do no wrong etc. Always when taken to task, we are 'attacking vulnerable people', we aren't, but we are challenging YOU/THEM.  I thought it strange a disability campaigner fighting the BSL corner where the overall cultural view is a rejection of disability status? (I blame awareness myself it is all a bit of a joke). It appears in regards to supporting needy deaf or hard of hearing charity has failed.

I am surprised any Disability area would risk getting in the middle of what passes for deaf or hearing loss awareness, most of us give it a miss!  Their support record on disability is almost negligible.  They only consider themselves disabled when funding comes around.

Historically it was inevitable because when disability laws were created charities were the first areas to renege on the rights aspects of it.  They saw a gravy train where they could take over support and care when they really were unqualified and under-funded to make that a realistic proposition, we saw it, charities didn't, deaf & HoH promptly stopped being members.  Charities were mugged, the state saw them coming.  What comes around they cannot wait to unload it all, no doubt blaming COVID so their failure is offset by a pandemic.

Support and care is a basic right, but it is CHARITY that has been the stumbling block to making it happen and still is.  Probably because they cannot compete with the desire for rights.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Trouble at t'mill?

Oops!  What IS going on there?

Auslan service Deaf NT closes

Jessica Nolan hero image
Auslan service Deaf NT closes as clients struggle through coronavirus. Jessica Nelson says she was unable to learn Auslan until she was nine years old and is worried others will struggle with Deaf NT closing.

As many deaf people in the Northern Territory struggle to understand COVID-19 emergency updates without access to an interpreter, their situation will worsen today with the closure of the NT's only specialised Auslan service. 

The World Health Organization considers hearing loss a public health emergency in the NT Despite the need for support, the NT's only specialised Auslan service closes its office today The decision has outraged many in the disability community Deaf Children Australia operated Deaf NT in the Territory for eight years, providing Auslan lessons, social events and advocacy for people with hearing loss. 

Deaf Children Australia chief executive David Wilson said closing the service came down to a "business decision" after Deaf NT's funding ended through the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA). "It really has been unsustainable to have that office operating ongoing," he said. While an NDIA spokesperson said the agency would ensure impacted Territorians would continue to receive support, the closure has Deaf NT client Jessica Nelson anxious for the future of the deaf community. 

During the coronavirus pandemic, an Auslan interpreter had to be sourced from interstate because the Territory's only full-time interpreter employed through the National Auslan Interpreter Booking Service resigned and the role was defunded in October. "Why aren't there enough people here? Why isn't there any funding, Where's all the funding gone?" Ms Nelson said.

The ultimate in speech to text.



Wednesday, 24 June 2020

So Fly....

The Fly Remake Buzzing Around 20th Century Fox - Dread Central
Scientists at UCL have discovered sets of regulatory genes, which are responsible for maintaining healthy hearing. The finding, made in fruit flies, could potentially lead to treatments for age-related hearing loss (ARHL) in humans. 

Gene discovery in fruit flies ‘opens new doors’ for hearing loss cure in elderly Scientists at UCL have discovered sets of regulatory genes, which are responsible for maintaining healthy hearing. The finding, made in fruit flies, could potentially lead to treatments for age-related hearing loss (ARHL) in humans. 

Globally one-third of people (1.23 billion people) aged over 65 experience hearing loss, and while there are thought to be more than 150 candidate genes which may affect hearing loss, there is no unified view on how to use these to develop novel preventive or curative hearing loss therapies. In the study, published in Scientific Reports, researchers at the UCL Ear Institute assessed the hearing ability of the common fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) across its life span (around 70 days), to see if their hearing declines with age. The fruit fly is a powerful model in biology and its ear shares many molecular similarities with the ears of humans, which make it an ideal tool for the study of human hearing loss. However, so far, no study had assessed the fruit flies’ hearing across their life course. 

Using advanced biomechanical, neurophysiological and behavioural techniques, the researchers found that the antennal ears of fruit flies also display ARHL with nearly all measures of sensitive hearing starting to decline after 50 days of age. With this knowledge, the researchers turned their interest to the time before flies developed ARHL: they wanted to know if there were any ‘age-variable’ genes in the flies’ Johnston’s Organ (their ‘inner ear’), which have kept the ears healthy for 50 days of their lives. Using a combination of molecular biology, bioinformatics and mutant analysis, the researchers identified a new set of transcriptional regulator genes: these are so-called ‘homeostasis genes’, meaning they are the genetic actuators, so they control the activity which keeps the ear sensitive. 

For researchers, one of the principal advantages of the fruit fly model is that it allows for easily testing the roles of individual genes by either increasing their function (overexpression) or silencing them (RNAi interference). Exploiting these tools, researchers also found that manipulating some of the homeostasis genes could prevent the flies from getting ARHL. Lead author Professor Joerg Albert (UCL Ear Institute) said: “While many studies have been conducted into the hearing function of fruit flies, ours is the first to look at the mechanistic and molecular detail of their auditory life course. 

"Our twin discoveries that fruit flies experience age-related hearing loss and that their prior auditory health is controlled by a particular set of genes is a significant breakthrough. The fact that these genes are conserved in humans will also help to focus on future clinical research in humans and thereby accelerate the discovery of novel pharmacological or gene-therapeutic strategies. “Building on our findings from Drosophila, we have already started a follow-up drug discovery project designed to fast-track novel treatments for human ARHL, we urgently need to find effective treatments able to prevent or slow the loss of hearing as we age.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Medical academic pleads for clear face masks

A Brighton medical school academic who is profoundly deaf is calling for clear face masks so people who are deaf can still lip read. 

Andrea Pepper said: “For people who are deaf or have hearing loss, masks can prevent them from understanding spoken communication.” Dr Pepper, a reader at Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS), run by the universities of Brighton and Sussex, relies on her ability to lip-read and see facial expressions, and has struggled with the increase in personal protective equipment (PPE). 

She said: “It’s made me quite worried about going to the shops, petrol stations and places like that in case I need to communicate with someone and they’ve got a face mask on. “This hit me the first time I went out to take a parcel to the post office and suddenly thought ‘what happens if they’ve got a facemask on and ask me a question?’ “I had to take my daughter with me and she had to interpret what was being said. 

“I’ve got this feeling of a loss of independence at the moment and wonder what impact this will have on me and other deaf people in everyday life.” It is a problem that she shares with some 466 million people around the world who, according to the World Health Organisation, have disabling hearing loss. And it’s not just face-to-face communication that has affected Dr Pepper since the covid-19 outbreak – the increase and reliance on virtual meetings have also proved difficult for her. 

 She said: “The connection can often be bad which makes it really hard to lip read. “There is an automated captions function in software like Microsoft Teams but I find these can be hit and miss, inaccurate and delayed. “It is also difficult to know who is speaking as it just appears as a list of words without signifying a different speaker.” With hearing impaired people depending so heavily on lip reading and facial expressions to interpret what’s being said, Dr Pepper said that all universities should be aware of the issue, particularly as many are currently planning to return to teaching in September.

She added: “As a nation, we need to address the issue of face masks. We should aim to introduce clear facemasks or possibly visors with a band so that people can see the whole of someone’s face. “Covid-19 has changed the way we live and we need to be re-evaluating the processes in place to help people with disabilities.” 

ATR COMMENT:  While we can empathise about lip-reading difficulties the 'clear mask' issue is never really explained. Initially, they don't offer protection, to either the medical staff or the deaf patient.  Masks are to stop YOU from infecting others.  It's a huge ask to demand medicos risk infection for you even for access. Clear masks are neutralised if they steam up or if the medical person has a beard or such too.  Some people you will never lip-read regardless if wearing a mask or not.

The reality is dedicated sign language interpreters have said no themselves.  It's very low-key complaining against those they accept sign terps can do that so why discriminate against health workers?  It's been said so many times how MANY deaf CAN effectively lip-read?  i.e. rely totally on lip-reading for their own access?  We are never told how many deaf lip-readers actually presented the demand, we know it is a 'right' but COVID doesn't care for rights, human or deaf ones. There are no stats evident anywhere as we can see.  The needs of the many outweigh etc so sadly a few dedicated lip-readers are not going to get priority with 10m HoH apparently settling for text and alternative options.

Yes, speech to text is random but I suspect lip-reading is well up there for poor effectiveness too.  It is a 'supplement' for many deaf, a lot who rely not on lip-reading but sign language, the reality is more hard of hearing utilise lip-reading than the deaf, and they are silent about masks.  Mainly because they know how to adapt to other means to follow, but deaf don't feel they should adapt anyway.

They are stuck in pre-COVID mode.  It is surprising the health worker is unaware that only one clear mask medically approved is available, or, that currently, none are.  ATR gave out the only supplier link of such approved masks recently.  If ATR can find it why can't medical staff?  These DIY masks simply won't do.  Adapt and survive, because COVID (Not medical staff), are dictating how access can work and just loves people who offer it an easy in.  With all the issues the NHS face daily trying to save lives the last thing we need are deaf attacking them for discrimination.

Can you see facial 'expressions' if ONLY The mouth is visible? Discuss. Maybe 644m have a hearing loss but I doubt they live in the U of K, or are all lip-readers either.  Most deaf reject the disability tag as well so we are wondering why they are now suddenly disabled as well?  They aren't adapting to the situation frankly and desperate to return to some old status quo, which is we are told, not going to happen. Anyway, access was crap then too.

Monday, 22 June 2020

Does what matter?

Tony Leon Quotes | QuoteHD
Having just read a reversal of view via posters on social media now claiming all lives matter is wrong as they now understand what black lives matter is all about, prompted an interesting reply.

I will apologise for the length of response, my sole concern was their law-breaking in regards to the lockdown.  Most of us have isolated and been apart from our loved ones (Myself near 4 months), to help the NHS, my family, the scientists and others fight this killer virus.  

That was all undone via the BLM marches.  It is a valid message but just entirely the wrong time to campaign this way.  Who knows how many more lives will be lost because of what they did? and to their own people who are most vulnerable? I question they had any right to put MY life at risk.  

Statue removal is entirely a pointless option it is just symbolic and basically vandalism not much else, it won't remove the history that has happened already.  Why remove the proof anyway? The hysteria that surrounds this campaign allows the ultra-PC and Marxists to gain ground, I expect more opposition to BLM not less and worse, but it will be covert.  The very thing BLM says contributes to racism ('White silence' etc).

They will duly respond by calling us all racists and it will lose effectiveness. Those who live day by day and just getting on with their lives and avoiding marches, focus group plugs etc (And OK basic human rights issue elsewhere),  will pay lip-service to BLM and carry on taking no active part in it.  The ridiculousness and hypocrisy of people suddenly coming out with BLACK LIVES MATTER when hitherto and the last 2 generations they said nothing is simple testimony it is the bored and COVID isolated who are fuelling all this and it remains to be seen if that will continue once COVID is addressed.

The behaviour of our media was and is appalling, you have to thank whatever God you serve for the net alternative.  I doubt there was a journalist amongst the lot of them and the omission of detail was sheer and deliberate bias and cowardice in most part as was the government and police standing back whilst they undid months of isolation we have all gone through.  

Many of us are staggered at the sudden face and image of media who appear to all be BAME people now, black issues cover by black people, Asian issues covered by Asians, Jamaicans covering the Windrush debacle, and even polish presenters covering European ones etc.  It was so pre-determined and obvious as the whole point of this inclusion is lost, a massive exercise in tokenism.  You get the feeling media desperately went out trying to hire that image when previously they were represented as per their actual representation in the community. (Which is  1 in 11/12 in my area), the BBC went to 1 in 3 overnight and even some news reports without a white face anywhere.  White people became a minority overnight?

I don't believe racism will be affected because many will feel they have made our lives worse by their actions, will that engender empathy?  I never believed in the multicultural community as a viable proposition, that is the pat 'mantra', (Along with community and inclusion), they always trot out by rote. There is as much lip-service and Hypocricy within the law as is elsewhere, they don't understand it is less a law more a request since you cannot enforce equality it has to be a mutual acceptance thing.  Short of being seen slamming a door in the face that is the most of it you can address

There are multi-cultures obviously but they are APART from the rest of us and legally enabled to be that way, which suggests the interpretation of equality means different things to different people anyway who can express choices that mean something quite different to including you. Ergo you cannot choose to ignore others who ignore you, actually, you can, that's the crap that is equality law.  Trumped by human rights.  There seems a conundrum as to why others should not do likewise and then it is racist so to do.

Then we enter the dodgy world of preference and choice, my own deaf area has gone down the Sewanee already following that route.  It created segregated areas by race, and communication mode, and by choice.  If hearing can do it, why can't we?  Inclusion is going to be very difficult for them to undertake or to ask of others because it is conditional not voluntary and like other areas, and with different languages, social structures, and religious views too. Inclusion has never been enabled by law because people see that as coercion, and oppositional to choice.  Is a collective of segregated and go it alone areas a community?  Not from how I would see it. I don't want to be included in what they do, I have my own thing going on.

I see people erstwhile who never lived with or mixed with the BAME community coming out with 'we are all equal' and, 'I have black friends..'  Most simply don't, this is part of the lip-service approach, they assume having said that they can get less pressure to change, and to be seen as supportive,  and then get on with ignoring the BLM thing altogether, after all there are 100s of UK minorities who all want inclusion aren't there? and we can't do anything we only have one life and 24hrs in a day. Being a total hypocrite is the new norm. 

Some minorities are more than happy doing their own thing and co-existing (Deaf included), and apart from passing us in the street with a nod or complete indifference that is your multicultural society but it isn't inclusion and are we just patronising each other by respecting the difference?  the jury is inevitably still out and either way, we aren't integrating or including them in OUR lives.

How do you address it?  E.G. If I have a social circle that has no BAME people in it, how are they going to force others to include who are in effect, total strangers?  Is it not going to look pathetic we all roam around the area looking for BAME friends to justify the fact we are not some sort of racist?  Racism is identified as deliberately denigrating the BAME community. They are not doing that, so is that racism?  Not by definition.

I don't agree with BLM people using the term 'White', that suggests reverse racism, from what I saw of the marches there were white people with them. It probably is their biggest blunder.  Most a few teenagers and well-meaning who felt like a day out joining in, because the usual cause celebs are thin on the ground since COVID, but it is not going to do a thing for inclusion or equality.   I just feel embarrassed they are all kneeling on the ground as well, pure theatre. (Or as one UK politician said an example stolen from a TV serial), albeit various empires have used the same position to suggest obeyance or subservience.  They do it in churches too.

Marching is easy, and they have yet to prove most of us are racist, failing to join a march is hardly that proof.  I don't know if I am racist or not, I don't really mix with BAME areas it just never happened.  Am I going to make effort now?  Only in as much as my lifestyle isn't impacted on, but mostly I think no, I am not going to seek them out.  I will probably carry on as I am.   As I can see the BLM movement has no answer to that.

Sunday, 21 June 2020

R U D/deaf friendly?

deaf signedone, Deaf "but friendly" 6 Cm Round Badge | deaf still complaining mask-wearing is making life difficult for them, because the wearers won't take them off, but still refusing to use any alternatives.

Being deaf-friendly is using text, not sign language as we see with a complaint about a shop worker refusing to remove a mask for a deaf customer. 

Indeed most of the online deaf input is in text. I'm just wondering how much deaf engage WITH hearing groups anyway? It is easy enough as it is all text accessible.   If we want all views and stories then we have to engage with others. I do it all the time very rarely with deaf groups mainly because they lack topicality and talk about things that concern them only. I have to move outside deaf areas to know what is happening in the world otherwise. 

It can be alarming at times to see deaf who are so unaware of what is going on outside their own sphere.  Deaf campaigners really need to take note as nobody is going to listen to them or their awareness until they show they can engage. I don't think the lack of BSL access or lip-reading access is an excuse now they can hide behind.  There are dozens of text alternatives they can use.  So they would rather complain than adapt?

It is COVID doing this, not people trying to blank the deaf.  The issue of lip-reading isn't a deaf one, but a Hard of Hearing one who by far and by number, prefer and use lip-reading to any other access mode beside text. They reverted to text approaches and the 'Deaf' (who up until then were all sign using are now suddenly all lip-reading.)  Because they have accepted their BSL terps won't put up for them?  COVID has exposed some of the many flaws in the Deaf campaigns and they are now struggling to justify their 'preferences'.

Saturday, 20 June 2020

Twitter apologises to deaf people

Twitter apologised to deaf people for not making voice tweets accessible.

Product designer says accessibility options for those hard of hearing should have been factored in from the start of the test. 

One of the designers behind Twitter’s voice tweets has apologised for failing to make the feature accessible to deaf and hard of hearing people. The social network launched a test of the new option among a sample of users this week, allowing them to record up to 140 seconds of audio to post as a tweet. But the announcement was met with concerns about it excluding those with hearing disabilities. 

Although the firm initially responded saying it was “exploring ways” to make voice tweets accessible, critics argued accessibility should be factored in from the beginning, not at the end. Maya Patterson, staff product designer behind the project, has said it was a “huge error” and the team is “working to fix this as soon as possible”. “We f***** up, I f***** up,” she tweeted. 

“We launched a test and we should have included accessibility features in that test. “That was a huge error, and one I personally have made myself sit with all day today.” #deaflives matter

Friday, 19 June 2020

A BSL Education?

including deaf children
It is rather amazing there are still people who believe this comment accurate...

"Did you know deaf children leave school with a reading age 8/9 years old when they are 16 years old. Education is not fully accessible for all deaf children. We have a right to learn equally BSL is a british recognised language."

"That statistic is not true and hasn't been since mainstreaming replaced most UK deaf schools, it was the old deaf schools that limited the deaf child's education, mostly because it was assumed they couldn't speak or learn.  Deaf schools are the left-overs of institutional deaf support. Is BSL a recognised language? Not explained properly, the EU recognised it, along with 53 other regional 'languages', but it was left to the UK to ratify it and they never have in Education, nearest they got was TC (Total Education)."

"That was a BDA falsehood, they suggested BSL was accepted, but it was 'recognised' and that is not the same thing, as it carried little legal clout. If it did they wouldn't still be campaigning to get it into education."

"Demands for a BSL curriculum have been left 'on the table' year after year, there is very little political will to go with it. It would challenge parental choice."  

"An immersive BSL education has never been tried as I am aware, so he or she are asking parents to risk it in the hope it works for their child?  Big ask.   Deaf children are scattered all over the UK in small numbers, the only way it could work would be deaf children put in boarding schools in a field again. support for that would be next to nil."

"There are no teaching systems to enable that. Since most deaf schools closed (Less that 20 exist), the teaching support set up and specialisation mostly collapsed and it only was viable before because deaf children were segregated.  Both deaf education and the deaf 'world' relied on segregation to survive, we have to change the mindset."

"You won't find many hearing parents willing to go back to all that again, their kids come back strangers.  The only reason many were sympathetic to deaf demands was that lack of access in the mainstream but parents still don't want their children taught in isolation and annexe's."

"Yes, that is the real opposition to the  deaf demanding a signed education, they refuse to accept parental rights and challenge them.  Deaf children need the means and ability to access the mainstream where they will live, work and play, and little of it is based on sign language i.e. unless a deaf charity is recruiting or deaf arts get a disability subsidy, the deaf have to prove they can manage on their own without help."

The issue is not signed education enablement at all, but support in the mainstream, there are problems there, which enable deaf activists to demand an end to mainstreaming and go back to some glorious BSL educational future that actually has never existed, and the old system was shut down as inhibiting the deaf. Immersive education has never been tried. It means near every child would be unable to access further education properly and be hugely dependent on hearing interpreters, that isn't inclusion or empowerment.  A lot of the current issue is the support these deaf need is unavailable not being withheld.  They haven't 30% of the BSL terps they demand yet." 

"True deaf activism is illogical it is not even idealistic. They will probably insist on a UK Galludet or similar, which has failed in the USA with a few exceptions, and led to discrimination by decibel and the inherent racism in part as well as Hard of Hearing getting blocked from classes, ousting their own deaf head and vandalising statues and such.  It's losing money hand over fist too with their shenanigans." 

"That suggests putting all empowerment in one deaf basket is a bad move, it goes to extremes and becomes insular very quickly and becomes a ripe recruiting ground for the negatives.  They are never going to learn about acceptance or inclusion that way, just 50 shades of D.."

"Yup, 'Deaf Lives Matter!' and an inherent reluctance to accept others not signing the same as them makes it all look a bit dodgy, the UK would not go for it.  For UK BSL activism (All 6 of them BDA permitting!), to want to repeat the same mistakes is not going to happen,  While there will always be a minority within the deaf world so disabled and with learning issues etc who need a school that specialises, the majority can function OK in the mainstream, despite activists insisting they can't. Sign isolates and it is time that was realised."

"The reality is ANY school or educational system entirely sign based needs teachers, a curriculum, exams, basic technological hardware and software and everything academic in a BSL visual format, none of it exists.  Politically the basis would need to promote real inclusion and that won't happen in a segregated school or classroom somewhere.  Being an occasional visitor isn't inclusion."

"It would need massive training before it could happen, that takes years itself, there would have to be a direct link and requirement in any curriculum to enable as far as is possible the deaf child is literate and able to follow English, it is all very well insisting BSL has its own grammatical way of doing things, but the mainstream has too and it would be criminal to deprive any deaf child of the opportunity to advance themselves via an unrealistic demand to defy the country's norm and then expect deaf children will still benefit."