Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Face Masks for HoH.

ISL a norm during the virus.

Subtitles for video calls – searching for the Holy Grail

Pippa Highfield shown looking at her laptop
Pippa Highfield, of Ideas for Ears, is hunting for the holy grail of easy, accurate subtitles for video calls “I want videos calls with live subtitles, so I can read as well as listen to what’s said.” 

Everyone is facing new challenges in these unprecedented times. As a person with hearing loss, I am finding this fact has its benefits as well as its trials. I’ve noticed a very welcome desire for my family, friends and colleagues to embrace video calling. 

My hearing loss is such that I really struggle to use the ‘phone, so the advent of Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, Facetime, and all the other audio-visual means of communication, are a real life-saver. Nothing is perfect of course, and using video calling throws up all sorts technical, acoustic and human issues for those of us who have hearing loss, and probably for those that don’t too! 

Although I’ve often found the sound quality is better over the internet than down a ‘phone line, a poor internet connection can lead to the sound being out of sync with the other person’s speech, which is a real issue when you watch lip-shape and mouth movement to help you grasp what’s being said. 

On top of that, background noise or poor microphone quality can render the sound unintelligible – the one thing you really do need when you have hearing loss is sound clarity. Anything that impacts on that is a problem. Over the last few days and weeks, I’ve been in search of the holy grail that would make video calling easier for those of us with hearing loss – live subtitles. I’m not techie – but I’ve found 3 ways to get subtitles on video calls First off, let me say that I’m not a techie person so I have been looking for the simplest way to subtitle my video calls, using the basic knowledge and equipment that I have to hand. Here are three workarounds that I have come up with so far. 

There may be many others, and some might be rather more sophisticated than my humble attempts, but I’m putting them out there in good faith. Please use the comment box to give your thoughts and to share your own workarounds – we can help each other through this crisis. 

1) Skype – simple, but not very accurate Skype has an integrated facility to switch on subtitles so is the most straight forward option. Simply download Skype to your device and go into ‘settings’ to switch on the subtitle facility.  

For: Integrated with video calling software Free Easy to switch on Works if you are streaming sound through an assistive listener (isolated sound) 

Against: Poor accuracy Placement of subtitles poor and can obscure the speakers face Doesn’t recognise different speakers very well which means you have to speak slowly and leave pauses between sentences otherwise all the text runs together.

2) Zoom with – clunky, but good accuracy By using two devices, say a laptop and a smart phone, you can create your own free to use subtitles with any type of video calling. I used Zoom on my laptop and on my iphone; by simply putting my phone near the laptop speaker the Zoom conversation is subtitled on my phone. This workaround should also work with Facetime, 

WhatsApp, Messenger video calls, Skype, and indeed any video calling facility as long as the audio output is good. (I haven’t tried that yet) It’s cumbersome, and takes a bit of ‘juggling’, but I find that the accuracy is good. 

If you are able to download Zoom and Otter onto the same device and open the windows next to each other, the whole set up is even better. The major downside is that if, like me, you need to stream the audio direct to your hearing aids, unfortunately, this won’t work for you (unless you know a way to disable the sound isolation…in which case I’d like to hear about that!) 

For: Good level of accuracy Free (up to 600 minutes on Easy to set up.

Against: Not integrated so you need two devices or open two windows on one compatible device Cumbersome to use Doesn’t work if you are streaming audio direct to your hearing aids and device sound is isolated. have information on Otter for iPhone –  There is also an android version. 

NOTE: A really important point here is that the Otter app records the conversation so you must get permission from all participants to use this workaround. 

3) Zoom Pro, Business and Enterprise with Teams If you are willing and able to upgrade to a paid version of Zoom and Otter then you can get all the benefits of the Otter speech to text app integrated into Zoom which, in theory, should give you a better result than Skype. 

I haven’t been able to test this yet but I have emailed Zoom to check exactly how it works. I’ll add an update comment when I have more detail. I should note that I haven’t tried this myself but, I have used Zoom and independently so I would imagine the results would be good. 

For: Good level of accuracy Integrated so can be used when streaming audio into hearing aids.

Against: Paid version of Zoom and is required (see relevant info from Zoom here and here) Let us know how you get on.

The Ideas for Ears team hopes this post has inspired you to give video calling with subtitles a try. As with anything new, you need to get used to video-calling with subtitles, and so does the person talking to you – so persevere, laugh about the inaccuracies that subtitles often throw up, and look upon it as a learning experience Remember that different devices, apps, internet connections etc make for a different experience, so what works for you with one family member or colleague may not work with another. 

Experiment until you find what’s best for different situations. Try not to get too downhearted if it doesn’t work all the time, technology, like everything right now, is unpredictable – but stick with it!

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Deaf Support (Ireland).

See-through facemasks help Indonesia’s deaf communicate

[But UK minister for health says no, they don't offer enough protection against COVID-19.]  Probably viable for street use only, NOT medical use.

Lip-reading suddenly got tricky when everyone covered their face during the coronavirus pandemic, but Indonesian tailors have hit upon the perfect solution – see-through masks.

One husband and wife duo in Makassar on Sulawesi Island started producing cloth masks with transparent plastic in the middle to help fellow deaf people.  “Since the pandemic started, everyone is wearing facemasks. For deaf people, we can’t understand what others are saying because we can’t read their lips,” said 52-year-old Faizah Badaruddin.

“There were a lot of misunderstandings,” she added. Badaruddin and her husband used to sew cushions, bedsheets and curtains for customers. But when orders dried up, Badaruddin looked up instructional videos online to work out how to produce masks for the hearing impaired.

Since early April, the little business has been producing as many as two dozen transparent masks a day in small, medium and large sizes. They sell for between 10,000 rupiah to 15,000 rupiah each. (50-70p UK, or 65-70c USA).

My Diary...

Monday, 27 April 2020

Growing up with hearing loss

One Life on Martha's Vineyard.

Life on Martha’s Vineyard has been mostly ideal for 11-year-old Mary Elizabeth Lambert, the protagonist of Ann Clare LeZotte’s historical novel SHOW ME A SIGN. 

It’s 1805 and she’s lived in Chilmark her whole life, unaware of the safe harbor it has provided from the outside world. Mary and her fellow Chilmark residents are descendants of English colonists such as her great-great-grandfather Jonathan Lambert, who arrived in 1692 from the Weald, a region in Kent known for its deaf population. 

Over time, as the townspeople have become a mix of the hearing and the deaf, they’ve replaced Lambert’s English sign language with their own homegrown version. This community seems to embrace intersectional identities. Mary, who is deaf, enjoys amateur spy expeditions with her best friend, Nancy Skiffe — who was born hearing to deaf parents — and exchanges stories with the grizzled hermit Ezra Brewer. She trails after Thomas Richards, a freed former slave working as a farmhand for her father, or his daughter, Sally, who is Wampanoag Indian on her mother’s side. 

But the islanders coexist at the edge of discord. Freedmen, like Thomas, aren’t invited into Mary’s home; he could be kidnapped and sold back into slavery at any time. Irish immigrants are only slightly more accepted. Colonists, like Nancy’s father, angrily lay claim to lands that the Wampanoag have lived on for generations. Amid such tensions among the people she loves, 

Mary has one overriding concern. It has been eight months since her beloved brother, George, was killed in a carriage accident as they played on the high road. Pushed out of harm’s way by George, Mary has been guiltily concealing the fact that she was the one who suggested their outing.

The ATR Dossier

The response to the current chaos of deaf support and to respond to the 'Dossier Of Shame' produced in desperation by the NUASLI.


Learn English Words: DOSSIER - Meaning, Vocabulary with Pictures ...The NUASLI 'dossier of disgrace' was interesting if only it revealed just what a biased, random, and chaotic mess BSL support was and still is.  The NUASLI would not actually ID how many BSL users there were, and who or how many amateurs were cashing in on BSL to the detriment of the BSL users and the professionalisms of trained Interpreters, they would not even name the agencies they claimed were exploiting the Deaf and BSL for own ends, and providing sub-standard and untrained BSL support to deaf people.  Probably because a number of BSL deaf are involved. let's not ID their part in their own downfall!

As stated elsewhere the primary concern was not so much about that professionalism being undermined but the fact it had affected their wages, then cynical in complaining about a real issue they cannot or won't address (Or identify), themselves.  If people lack BSL qualifications then they are frauds plain and simple.

The way things have gone ATR feels completely vindicated in the view the whole aspect of BSL and deaf support is/was always a complete shambles and now heading for meltdown. We said day one, that once BSL was a commodity to be sold then the whole thing would deteriorate and it has.  Aided and incompetently abetted by Deaf BSL charities.

Even Lip-reading support areas are struggling and they can only see one way of surviving, that is following the BSL gravy train by putting on their site this confusing and curious advice.."We advise lip-readers to learn as much BSL as they can..'  Have they admitted what ATR declared 7 years ago? that the lip-reading classes and support had collapsed then via nil demand? and the huge failure of LR classwork? (As ATR mooted, was down to the incoherence of lip-reading tuition which is a  complete farce with no pupil qualification, no standard classwork, no testing, no assessments,  and ... no severe deaf in attendance?)  You learn OK, you fail that is OK, no big deal!  Hardly cause for complaint when the BSL system did the same but at least they made money from it.

The NUASLI has now admitted everyone and their pet dog has taken up a bit of sign and undermined the BSL support system flooding it with amateurs, and hearing developing own courses that in fact utilise S.E. not BSL.  Systems have lowered the standards even a limbo dancer would be hard-pressed to get under, which has encouraged lower qualified signers to act as semi-professionals in aspects of deaf care too.

The AOHL decided enough was enough and flogged its deaf care to the private area where standards are even lower.  'You just cannot get the people..' really?  These amateurs (And many may be from your own deaf social circle),  are cashing in, as are both deaf and hearing, setting themselves up as 'Mentors' and 'Teachers' to those with hearing via self-developed 'awareness' gigs that are vague finger-spelling things and a smattering of Milan, it's work and a wage innit?  

Standards have gone out the window, no norms exist.   There is nobody to regulate it because the deaf and their supporters have lost control.  The NUASLI which did its own thing for years on end, never saw it coming, a bit sniffy and above it all, but pleading to the state now to protect their livelihood and do what they refused to when we asked years ago.   They sleep-walked into it.  They are still arguing with free-lance interpreters over wages and who does what and where.  Freelance interpreting is inefficient, unregulated, and has to be addressed.

ATR suggested 7 even 9yrs years ago to replace UK BSL and lip-reading tuitional classes and to promote neither, as stand-alone entities, and to set up a national system of qualified and supervised communication support and tuition classes run by the system and monitored by them, to include assessments of need too, you cannot just let people assess themselves if only so some norm can exist because the professionals and the deaf can't cut it. They laughed at ATR, but they aren't laughing now. That inertia has done it for them.

There are so few lip-speakers, and even fewer lip-readers to a standard required for their use,  as to render the point academic in most areas,. In Wales e.g. they would identify only 2 out of 53 BSL terps who had any qualification to lip-speak, we can assune from thwat LR is rathr low in the defa priority as a real need.

Amazingly, the Lip-speaking website has conceded lip-reading defeat and told people to sign instead? even the AOHL has started promoting they love the BSL user and sign language, after 15 years of feuding and even legal action between them and the BSL user, after they dumped their BSL using CEO, they too conceded they cannot sell hearing loss or even assistive technology to them, so want to sell BSL again now.  

This is of course not going to happen and should not, given the support for sign language has gone down the pan it would result in competition, which would promote a race to the bottom for professionals in the deaf field.   The basic issue was never treating deaf (or Hard of Hearing), support as a vocational area or one that required professionalism in all its application.

The BSL user has mostly limited LR skills but can use enough with the sign to get by, well some can, we really don't except from own personal skill claims, nobody can validate, but neither approach works as a real stand-alone mode.  This is the same for everyone with hearing loss,.  As ATR mooted, the Deaf V deaf, V hard of hearing 'wars' ramble on and on and on.  The lack of any unity or of any sort or direction, combined with an unsightly and unwanted free-for-all mooted as choice and rights, have zeroed the point and made real rights a joke.  The needs of the many outweigh the choice of the few or should do.  Minority rule was never going to cut it.

The NUASLI now says the system is collapsing in disarray and they and the deaf have lost control over the standards and delivery of BSL support to the deaf who use it. No wonder the majority of deaf prefer their own brother, sister,  or mum and dad to do it instead.  

ATR has no sympathy for the NUASLI and even less for the 'Deaf' rights area who contributed to this mess.  We asked them years ago to demand and unite to ensure standards were kept and to root out and remove those undermining support, bring test cases so a professional norm was more clearly identified, they ignored us, the Deaf charities did too.  The NUASLI D.O.Shame. then refused to name and shame. So offered no proof' of what was going on. DOH!!

Amateurs get away with it because the system gets no coherence from the deaf themselves and it then comes down to who is the cheapest.  Result? anything goes.

ATR could see the mess then via the emergence of DIY 'Deaf cultural' centres being opened up and people who although deaf and know sign socially, had not actually passed the higher  BSL level exams they needed, or any exam to teach it.  Instead, they insisted it was another language, another grammar and taking a teacher exam was a discrimination, they did own thing with the chaotic results we saw highlighted in the NUBASL dossier, too little, and far too late.

They and the deaf support need to admit they cannot run an effective own system any more and let the government NOT those who hire that support, run it because they don't know who is deaf or who isn't or what support they need to provide. Freelance BSL interpreters are blocking a lot of it.  Deaf rights merchants haven't helped. It needs a root and branch clear out, heads to roll, charitable remits challenged, and clarity to be seen. 

Assess all, define need properly, demand qualifications, get a real support area established that includes everyone too, or, just see more of the same.  The only winners are those who care less about deaf or HoH support and more about how much they can make from it.

Sunday, 26 April 2020

Access rights is it a deaf problem?

Right or Wrong — SteemitYou would think so considering all the angst we are reading online about the issues of having difficulty to LIP-READ people during this pandemic.  Seems Sign-language on its own isn't up to it and given next to no health staff sign anyway.

Force them?  get real.  Having a deaf sign relay system tends only to work if the medicos do not operate face to face, and interaction takes place remotely, else deaf are faced by medical and others staff masked up.

This has forced some deaf to accept the importance of being able to lip-read to compliment sign effectiveness, while others are saying they are prevented sign access and that is ALL they need.  It has also rattled them as having to rely on lip-reading more now, they find their skill isn't up to it.  Some are still looking to blame others.  Try your own campaigners....... it was their priority to oppose English and lip-reading.

However, no system existing that can ensure who you try to lip-read is a viable or clear lip-speaker.  80% won't be, lip-reading ability is a lottery, no guarantees you will ever get 100% or even the fabled 30%.  If you take into account the UK systems of communication support to deaf and to hard of hearing, then again there is no effective system to do that.  They are also doomed to repeat those mistakes while they argue which method is 'best'.

It's been related until our eyes bleed, that BSL tuition to adults is ONLY for hearing people, and lip-reading ONLY for those with enough useful hearing to make the most of it (who go pieces when that hearing loss gets too severe). So 10m brits with hearing loss are up that creek with no paddle and a leaky boat.  The coronavirus has put a stop to any choices or preferences being really effective.  As we can read, there are still very strange deaf people attacking lip-reading and object to having to use it in a workplace or anywhere else, which makes the current 'campaigns' running against mask-wearing ridiculous.  But these people are ridiculous and dangerously unaware of the risk.  Their problem let's not make it ours.

Even more, as some deaf demand medics remove them so both are at ultimate risk of infection.  The 'see-through' masks don't currently cut it as they don't offer enough protection.  It seems pretty obvious sign language access has become an issue and not because of shortage of terps or bans either, (that was a lie invented by UK deaf opportunism and created fear amidst deaf people), but the fact is that interpreters are people too and not willing to risk infection, not even for their clients. Would deaf risk infection for them?  Doubtful.  Should we even be considering it?

It would appear technology and text approaches are becoming the more effective and safer methods to adopt to understand, except signing deaf are opposing literacy of English and claiming it an assault on culture instead, it could mean they die!   It's pretty staggering to read deaf prefer virus exposure to common sense because it is a 'right!' as IF coronavirus gives a s.h.i.t. what you believe in let's face it.  Deaf, hearing, hard of hearing, black, white, or striped (!),  man woman or child,  gay, straight, bi, trans-whatever, coronavirus will find a way in if you let it.  It's a completely democratic virus and will treat everyone the same, and kill them if it can.

Deaf areas need to stop being silly about what is a very serious issue that can mean life or death.  Perhaps use this time to think about their wasted efforts?  The last 25 years have in awareness terms and campaigning terms been undone, coronavirus has zeroed it all and exposed the awareness as at fault. The bias and emergence of the big 'D' created a new form of discrimination to lobby about and did nothing to unite for the common good.  

It now just stands for Division and the campaigns run by martyrs for the cause, most of whom can operate all sides of the hearing loss question.  The only people with a real choice not offering others that choice.

It's pretty clear opposition to alternatives and assists to current communication approaches (And its tuition),  have to cease, it has left the deaf with limited options to cope or understand the information they really need to be aware of, instead, they are demanding yet again everyone else adopts to their own individual D/d way of doing things and everyone has to adapt to that when we as people with hearing loss don't ourselves. 

Failure to comply can mean more claims of discrimination etc..  The blame game may well pay in the USA via its sue culture,  it doesn't in the UK.  

There has to be a new approach to teaching the deaf child, and the adult deaf needs to be educated in all alternatives available to give them the most edge to follow.  People are dying folks, it is NOT a competition on which approach is best!  You dither you die.

Digital Flash Cards (II).

NHS anaesthetist Dr Rachael Grimaldi
What ATR covers the Guardian Newspaper follows up with.

UK doctor invents digital flashcards to help Covid-19 patients understand staff Cardmedic overcomes communication barrier caused by healthcare staff wearing PPE 

NHS anaesthetist Dr Rachael Grimaldi Dr Rachael Grimaldi says she was inspired to create Cardmedic after hearing of a patient who was left terrified by his inability to understand staff in PPE. 

A coronavirus patient’s terrifying hospital experience inspired an NHS doctor to create a flashcard system to improve communication with medical staff wearing face masks. Anaesthetist Rachael Grimaldi founded Cardmedic while on maternity leave after reading about a Covid-19 patient who was unable to understand healthcare workers through their personal protective equipment (PPE). Her system enables medical staff to ask critically ill or deaf coronavirus patients important questions and share vital information on digital flashcards displayed on a phone, tablet or computer. 

The idea went from concept to launch on 1 April in just 72 hours and is now being used by NHS trusts and hospitals in 50 countries across the world. Coronavirus: the week explained - sign up for our email newsletter Read more Grimaldi, 36, from Brighton, said: “Unable to be patient-facing during the Covid-19 pandemic, I was desperate to do something to help while on maternity leave. “What started out as me wondering if healthcare staff could use a pen and paper to communicate with patients, within 72 hours, turned into an online A-Z index of digital flashcards.” 

Cardmedic is currently available in 10 different languages, including Polish and French, and features a “read aloud” option to help those who are blind or too unwell to read. The communication cards are free to download on Cardmedic’s website and have already been accessed by more than 8,000 users. “The feedback has been fantastic, I have been really blown away,” said Dr Grimaldi. “People have said it’s such a simple idea, why hasn’t it been thought of before?”

Saturday, 25 April 2020

Friday, 24 April 2020

Deaf BSL Terp case unproven?

Here ATR reproduces parts of the 'Dossier of Disgrace', a current campaign is based on, regarding what is apparently rows between professional and non-professional BSL 'interpreters' and randoms, being used to support the deaf.  

Citing the lack of government support to improve the integrity and professionalism of support to an alleged 98.000 deaf people who  'prefer' BSL (As averse to needing it as the only viable tool deaf have).

I.E. Apart from providing no proof whatever there are (A) 98,000 deaf or (B) 98,000 deaf who prefer or even use BSL.  ATR has published over the last 5 years regarding the issue that Sign Language support is random, and indeed signing skills with the deaf are unmonitored, and mostly Terp support is centralised to city areas anyway.  They do this because otherwise there would be insufficient work to make their job worthwhile.  Now they are being undercut by areas they aren't really identifying.

ATR suggested that because of that, and the fact actual and professional NON-ASLI BSL interpreters were mostly freelance, and then available only when personal circumstances dictated, they can pick and choose who they support and when.  Neither area had anyone to be responsible to.  In part areas that required travel and distance was to all intents and purpose leaving some BSL deaf with no option but to rely on the system to book just about anyone with a smattering of sign language knowledge.

E.G.  During the recent DWP changes to welfare benefits (DLA/PIP), the DWP was unable to provide the huge amounts of BSL support deaf people needed, many deaf had been told terps were just unavailable to help them the support system collapsed overnight, and there were allegations terps did not support requests by the DWP to help because they did not want to alienate their regular clients.  Neither did some local Authorities, who were seen trawling BSL learner classes for volunteers and who by law were able to supply level 2 Interpreters in care areas for the deaf etc. The CQC offered no challenges to these lower qualified people. Obviously, systems are then reluctant to fork out a lot more on fees for highly-trained 'BSL' aware carers.

The prime issue is the non-regulation and non-organisation of UK deaf or HoH support, it is too random and non-answerable to anyone because more freelance BSL support exists than at the ASLI answerable only to themselves.  They can please themselves who they support and when.  It has to be said the ASLI was highly reluctant to be graded, monitored or even organised by state regulation itself.  Both they and the freelance BSL terps refuse to agree on fees.  Lots of BSL interpreters resigned from W.I.T.S. because systems wanted more guarantees of reliability and a system of fees agreed nation-wide.  Freelance Terps are not having it.

The campaigns currently is to force the system to sort it out where they can't, how the system does this when no guarantee of regular work is there and, many deaf still using family (Which is responsible for a huge part of unqualified support deaf are using, and, as some right or other).  It's all about money, not shortages, once the demand is there, the shortages will be addressed.  There will have to be a better and official assessment and identification of deaf to support.

The other side of the coin is TRAINING your actual BSL interpreters, there is no real system as such mostly terps payout to train themselves, there is no state system,  and a lot of colleges etc are setting up own coursework to follow, and it costs a LOT of money to train.  Anecdotal evidence suggests the adjudgment of BSL skill is not coherent either with some deaf judges costing trainees £1,000s in lost investment via arbitrary judging and again because the deaf has no 'BSL' system norm either.

From the same dossier but who then claimed there were not 24,000 BSL users but 98,000 'BSL-using Deaf', which is a glaring faux pas and inconsistent reporting. As was the 908 registered terps, there are NOT 908 ASLI members. ATR Approached the ASLI last year and they were unable to provide any numbers then.  They then compounded the misinformation by including the hard of hearing they didn't support.

The sole measure of need or demand, is when deaf present at the 'coal face' and ask for BSL support specifically.  Here there was no figure to quote from the system, indeed no figure to quote from deaf charities or the ASLI either.  The reason simply related, is that every person thus presenting for support to welfare social and care/other services need to be assessed as to what that need is, the Data Protection Act states nobody is allowed to divulge 'test/assessment' results via language need as the question is never asked.  

ATR asked the DWP what those statistics were via an FOI request (Freedom of Information), initially, the DWP said they held no statistic to quote, when pushed said every area had its own systems of assessment I would have to ask them, one by one at £600 a time, but, again said they kept no results/stats on file ATR could use other than how many deaf they assessed which did not specifically focus on language usage or degree of loss.  Only on defined need as THEY saw it.  Statistically, they turned down near 56% of all hard of hearing claimants as ineligible, and 48% of profound deaf as not needing help.  ATR also covered last week the Regional Government in Wales refusing to endorse a BSL bill as an unproven format for the deaf or their carers, it is unclear England will endorse it. As BSL is not officially endorsed that way can the ASLI demand more support for it?

Census stats varied again, only 15,000 responded saying the knew, used, or preferred BSL.  The ASLI is like any other hearing loss area unable to prove any statistic day one, the BDA is unproven at 98,000 BSL users, and the AOHL unproven at 10m Hard of hearing.  Given there are no real figures to quote except guesswork this undermines the argument of lack of support for what is still, an undefined number of people with an undefined need.

The privatisation of BSL was promoted by the Deaf themselves, many of whom developed advice and awareness business's to make a living on their own, which appears to now be getting stick from the ASLI.  'I am deaf, I am a signer', so to all intents and purposes as professional as any hearing interpreter it seems.  They run cultural and BSL classes in tandem via cultural centres in deaf clubs as well as set themselves up as advisors to business etc...

Most of these deaf have NO professional BSL qualifications as such, just an ability do a one on one with peers.  Every prime point made on the dossier is basically NOT for more Interpreters and not even for more qualified ones as they cannot agree on such a system with half in the ASLI and half not.  It is about being paid the rate for the job and asking the system to clamp down on those they consider unqualified to support the deaf because they are unable, so what is the level they are demanding is attained? level 4? level 6? or not valid to interpret for any BSL user?

Without a ban on unqualified family support, how does that work?  60% of BSL users 'Prefer' family help NOT because of shortages because they say it is their want and right.  Will the ASLI challenge the right of a deaf person to use who they want?  Ask the state to put a stop to it? challenge areas like the BDA who defend that right?  All this dossier has shown is how chaotic deaf support is, be it BSL or whatever else the deaf need.

It's time the ASLI and the Deaf fessed up to a mess of their own making and accept IF the state has a hand in it, then control will go out of the BSL terps hands and indeed out of the Deaf people's hands as the system will want something that is reliable, effective, has a set competency level, constant monitoring, and there when required, simply training more people and paying them higher wages, without any real guarantees,  as it happens now is not going to solve anything. It's not on full stop. 

It's about getting more money, and shortages and discriminations don't cover what the issue really is, if they need 1,000+ terps they are not going to get them the way the training systems operate now, not in 20 years even.

It's time for the deaf BSL user to address their issues properly, but even then money talks a lot louder than any BSL skill level ANYWHERE.  As regards to complaints about ESA, the deaf can claim up to near £900 per week as it stands, if that won't cover their need what will?  The BSL terps want more, or more lucrative court work?  We know court work decimated the role of lip-speakers support, in fact, took it off-street.  You can earn more in a courtroom in 3 days than you can supporting a deafie for a month, guess where the terps will go?

They won't want to work in the sticks, just the cities, and that is why they are all there now.  Why are we singularly unimpressed with the ASLI or the ridiculous and unfounded and unproven claims of need, which deaf say isn't, its a preference, and no system of deaf support has ever really been organised or set up properly, once the dedicated deaf social services got the chop it became a free-for-all.  Now we are seeing the result.  As usual the deaf and their support blame everyone ELSE.

There are complaints of amateurs being used in professional areas (like courts, higher education, or mental health etc), again the ASLI could NOT identify who was specialised in what, other than BSL.  Most BSL interpreters who work to assist in the system as far as is known do not specialise in particular, areas or at least make no declaration as such.  BSL yes, advanced medical care areas etc?  There is no register.  One deaf care home for the deaf with mental health claimed carers with level 4 BSL, but, none with specialisation IN deaf mental health.  Complaints about non-specialist awareness or skills got nowhere all they needed was BSL. 

Deaf with complicated issues will not get the specialisation from the terp just a translation of what a hearing specialist will say. That is fraught with issues about privacy and about diagnostic explanations.  Maybe deaf abandoned their own privacy years ago, but a lot haven't.

BSL News

Normally ATR doesn't present BSL-Only output on diminished access grounds, but at least this one provided a narrative.

1. Care Homes.

The latest figures from the 10th of April say 1,043 people have died from the virus in care homes in England and Wales although ministers have admitted that number is inaccurate. The Shadow Health Secretary John Ashworth says the government urgently needs to pull together a detailed plan for the sector. 

“If we’ve got residents in care homes that come down with COVID-19 why not move them into some of these empty beds in hospitals. We think there are thousands of empty general ward beds in hospitals. Let’s use those empty general ward beds for residents in care homes.” The Social Care Minister Helen Whately says that a huge amount of work was going on to try to manage and prevent outbreaks in care homes. 

 2. Protective Equipment.

This morning an RAF plane arrived from Turkey to the UK carrying items of Personal Protective Equipment for NHS staff. Supplies of protective equipment are still very tight. There is a global shortage of PPE and what matters is countries should be collaborating and working together. 

3. Vaccine.

Scientists at Imperial College London are appealing for volunteers to take part in trials in a potential new vaccine for Coronavirus. They want to start testing the new drug in June. Professor Robin Shattock said it should be easier to develop a vaccine for the virus than other conditions such as flu and HIV. Unlike those other things where it’s a moving target, you’re having to keep ahead of the game as long as this virus stays relatively stable it’ll be very easy to lock our sights on it in terms of targeting a vaccine that will work. 

4. Vulnerable Children.

The Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfields, has shown that she’s concerned that some youngsters become invisible during the crisis. Official figures have shown that only about 5% of vulnerable children have been attending school since the lockdown began last month. 

 5. Holiday Companies and Airlines.

Holiday companies and airlines have been delaying or refusing to give refunds for trips cancelled because of the Coronavirus pandemic. They are effectively taking a back door bailout from consumers by holding on to their cash. The consumer group Which wants the government to step in with a temporary fund to stop firms. Many travel companies are struggling. This is a completely unique situation. 

6. Consumer Price Index Inflation.

New figures show the Consumer Price Index Inflation fell from 1.7% to 1.5% in March. The figures were collected before the lockdown. It’s thought to be down to the drop in the price of clothing and fuel. 

7. Spain.

The Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, is calling for parliament to approve a two-week extension to the national lockdown until 10th May (incorrect BSL says 2nd May). However, it’s not clear whether the lockdown will be extended again. There’s a lively debate over how and when restrictions should be lifted in Spain especially as the virus’ impact appears to have stabilised over the last two weeks. Last week some industries were allowed to return to work. From this Sunday children will be allowed to leave their homes although only to take short walks accompanied by adults. 

8. Survivor.

A pensioner, Bryan Davis went to hospital suffering with the Coronavirus and was put on the end of life care and his family were allowed a last 15-minute visit. His wife Shirley returned home where she received an unexpected phone call last Friday from the hospital notifying her that he had been coming on in leaps and bounds and was now eating icecream. Today he is celebrating his 90th birthday.

Remote Interpreting (NI).

Toddlers CI switched on by remote.

Undated handout photo issued by the University of Southampton of Prof Helen Cullington linking up with Margarida Cibrao-Roque to remotely switch on her cochlear implant. 18-month-old Margarida Cibrao-Roque who has been able to hear for the first time after medics became the first in the country to switch on a cochlear implant remotely because of Covid-19 restrictions. PA Photo. Issue date: Thursday April 23, 2020. Audiologists at the University of Southampton set up a link-up over the internet in order to allow the device to be turned on for Margarida Cibrao-Roque despite their clinic being closed to patients. See PA story HEALTH Hearing. Photo credit should read: University of Southampton/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Toddler hears for the first time after having an implant fitted into her ear.

Young Margarida might have had to wait months to hear were it not for the audiologists’ ingenuity. A 18-month-old deaf girl became a pioneer after medics had to find a way around the lockdown to help her hear for the first time. Hearing experts fitted Margarida Cibrao-Roque with a cochlear implant before the coronavirus forced them to close their clinic, but a lengthy process was needed before it could be switched on. 

Cochlear implants are devices placed inside the inner ear during surgery, after which patients like Margarida need time to heal. The implant then needs to be activated gradually with careful testing and adjustments. Cochlear implants need to be activated gradually with continuous testing so as to not overwhelm the child. Audiologists tracked the toddler’s reaction and data from her implant remotely.

Audiologists at the University of Southampton set up an internet link so the toddler’s device could be switched on remotely at home in Camberley, Surrey – a first in the UK. Professor Hellen Cullington said: ‘Usually we do the switch-on of a cochlear implant at our clinic at the university but, with some technical creativity and some advice from colleagues in Australia, we were able to do everything necessary over the internet. 

Thursday, 23 April 2020

How 'Remarkable'

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Statement:

This may go some way to relieve deaf people currently being lied to by their own activism regarding 'Bans on Interpreters' another wild and irresponsible campaign from UK 'Deaf' activism.  Currently not allowing these explanations to be aired on their sites.

Please listen to the pros, not the outsiders. [The photo is to show the new 'REMARK' site is going online].  Quite obviously there is no organised response from free-lance BSL interpreters anyone can quote, we are assuming they are also moving to protect themselves and own families too. Which will explain shortages of course, and not 'Bans!'

Remark! are unfortunately aware of the significant and current global pandemic of COVID-19. With this outbreak we will be immediately exploring our business continuity. Remark! has been closely monitoring the situation over the past couple of weeks and will continue to do so. We will continue to follow the advice from the Government as ultimately, we want to help ensure that we all work together in minimising the risk of any spread of the virus. 

The priority must be the health, welfare and wellbeing of everyone. While we acknowledge that the guidance and advice may not be as specific and unambiguous as we would like, we will continue to work closely with our mentors. 

At Remark! many of our services are imperative to our clients, including our ‘Outreach Service’ for vulnerable Deaf clients and BSL users/services. With this in mind, we will try and remain open and accessible for all our users. We will continue to deliver subtitling contents and InVision. 

Remark! Interpreting services also remain available. We understand that the majority of the population have been encouraged and have to work from home remotely and we are also doing our best to adhere to this and are available for remote bookings via Skype, Zoom, FaceTime and Whatsapp.

We are also still going to face to face bookings when required however we are aware that things are changing daily, new government announcements are being made and it is important that we adhere to these.

Whether you are a new or regular client please contact our team if you require our services and need to book an interpreter.

Unfortunately, we are unable to carry on providing our full range of BSL training courses (L1-L6) for the time being. We are working hard in an attempt to set up and make operational dial-in/remote facility, allowing us to virtually give our students the time and training they require. 

As a consequence of the latest Government guidance issued on 16 March 2020, in relation to non-essential travel and contact, we have taken the following actions; 

We are monitoring the change in the Government and Public Health England advice regarding our clubs (Lunch Clubs, Badminton Club, Youth Club, Remarkable Club, Football Club etc) in order to prevent and protect. We regret to inform those who attend that we have needed to currently suspend and seize our programmes for a minimum of one month (17th April 2020), with the view to re-assess and review the situation as the weeks go on. 

However, Remark! Community have been able to completely adapt to the situation by ensuring that we are still delivering our social outlets, just from our own homes! 


BDA exposed as misinforming deaf people.

Coronavirus: BBC News channel to provide BSL for daily government ...18 March-BBC – Government briefings in BSL on Coronavirus (update).

The BBC have announced that they will be providing Sign Language Interpretation on all weekday Coronavirus government briefings and that the BBC is doing everything it can to ensure these important briefings are accessible.

Please note:  Due to limited resources there will be some changes to live signing on the BBC News from Monday 23rd March as follows:

On weekday mornings there will be signing from:-

07:45 – 08:15

13:00 – 13:30

News will be signed each weekday as normal as will the 07:00 – 07:30 slots on weekends.

The situation is quickly developing and the BBC will keep you informed of any further changes to their sign language coverage. We would be grateful if you could share these changes with your networks.

BBC Wales:

Coronavirus: Wales NHS chief issues Easter stay home plea - BBC News

BBC Scotland:

UK Government urged to use sign language on coronavirus briefings ...


Coronavirus in Ireland: What we know so far

BBC England:

This was NOT in response to the BDA campaign and occurred before that was launched, so why are activists trying to take credit for something they never did?

It goes without re-stating (but it looks like we have to keep correcting these wayward BSL activists still claiming there is none.)  That ATR has provided ample evidence BSL access is there for all the users of it. As the first visual evidence shows,  BSL access was even before Boris was taken ill. 

Other outrageous lies are about 'BSL Interpreter bans' again this is NOT happening, because of obvious risks of infection, face to face translation is being limited and because the virus has meant BSL terps are staying at home to be safe, they won't be any resource for the deaf if they go down with coronavirus too, BUT, there is a free video relay system in BSL for anyone that needs it.    

These are dangerous times and we all need to start using common sense and adapt, it is no time to launch petty and unfounded attacks on access issues outside any government remit.  Many issues emerging are because of the self-isolation deaf have always protected on cultural grounds, and also why they never bothered to include their own elderly left out of the digital revolution and dumped by their organisations too.

Community ethos have come under fire... from a killer who is invisible, and cares nothing for sign language or deaf people.

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Deaf Brits/Italians and coronavirus.

[This video was actually banned on a UK BSL site because it contained International sign, a version of sign language not allowed, which was curious given the presentation was all in English captioning and 50% of the signing was in BSL?]  I blame Brexit personally lol.....

It's pretty obvious some deaf never actually checked BSL access was there, apart from one area it wasn't BSL in a 'box' in the corner of the TV, indeed interpreters stood with ministers and still do at daily briefings, there seems to be confudion about this access that still is extant on social media sites despite HUGE amounts of information around in BSL there are people claiming there isn't or haven't seen any.  We gather the lack of BSL terp at just ONE briefing in England was promoted as a total lack of any access.  

The people who missed BSL access are those who aren't online, are unable to read, or have no TV set.  (Which means the Brit on screen is a mystery as she is none of those?).

Hospice Staff and the BSL gig.


Easily add subtitling to your vids. 

How do you add Live Titles to your Clips?

You can use Live Titles on any Clip you add, video or photo, new or from your library.

Note: Like in the early days of Siri Dictation, Apple is using online transcription for Clips, so you'll need to be connected to a Wi-Fi or cellular data network to use Live Titles. Also, like Siri Dictation, Live Titles will dynamically update as the audio engine gets a better sense of your context — so don't be surprised if you see words changing, just keep speaking. 

Tap the Live Titles button, top left. Tap on the Style of Live Titles you want to use in the live preview tiles. Tap the Record Audio button to turn off sound and just use the Live Titles. Touch and hold Hold to Record/Add This Clip/Add This Photo (if you're taking a new photo, you'll need to tap the shutter button first, then hold to add.) Speak clearly, with crisp enunciation, while holding down the button. Let go when you're done. 

Turning off the mic only turns off the audio. Live Titles are still captured. If you change your mind about the style, or want to edit the text, you can do both once you're done recording. Note: Live Titles can't caption an existing video (unless you recorded it in Clips) but you can record new audio to caption over library video or photos as you insert them. 

Can Deafblind access TV?

The deaf-blind can now 'watch' television without intermediaries
Yes they can.  For those with zero vision it would appear the lack of equipment is at fault, not the access.  

Today Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M), Telefónica and the Federation of Deaf-Blind Persons Associations has developed PervasiveSUB, groundbreaking software that allows deaf-blind persons to receive and enjoy television content without intermediaries in real-time. 

PervasiveSUB compiles all the subtitles of television channels and sends them to a central server, which forwards them to smartphones or tablets. From there, they are transmitted to the Braille line used by deaf-blind people through the GoAll app, which integrates the software.

It is compatible with different Braille lines and controls the speed of the subtitles that are captured directly from the TV broadcast in perfect synchronization. García Crespo, who headed the group, said, "One of the big problems deaf-blind people face is the scant public attention they receive, which is demonstrated by the fact that they weren't recognized by the European Parliament until 2004." 

Díaz-Lladó said, "At Telefónica, we endeavor to become a more accessible company and contribute to equal opportunities for all. And although we still have a long way to go, these new inclusive technologies and the digital revolution are the best means to help us get there." A group of deaf-blind users from FASOCIDE tested the software in Spain and the United States with very satisfactory results. 

The subjects highlighted the advantage of being able to access previously unobtainable information in real-time and without intermediaries, and also praised its ability to transmit to Braille lines and the ability to adjust the reading and viewing speed. Given the success of these tests, the technology has already been implemented on all the national DTT channels and regional DTT channels in Madrid, and it will soon be available in the other autonomous regions of Spain. 

The research team is now providing this service free of charge to anyone who needs it. Interested parties need only to download the GoAll app, available on iOS and Android. Deaf-blind persons suffer a combined deterioration of sight and hearing, which impedes their access to information, communication and mobility in a way that seriously affects everyday abilities necessary for a minimally independent life. This is why they require specialized services, personnel trained specifically to care for them, and special methods of communication. 

The rise of Pinoccio

Disproportionate and misleading information. Subtitling and captions were deliberately omitted on the video where they were provided with every daily briefing and only ONE area in the UK did not provide in-vision BSL access. The BSL user has NEVER had so much televised access as they have now.

E.G. the BBC's channel 601 provides complete BSL coverage every day, the Welsh, Scottish and NI assemblies daily provide live updates too.  Read ATR's listing of dozens of BSL daily update areas. 

Channel 4 has been criticised for failing to do proper research into the accuracy of this video or its claims, and also contributing to airing scare stories aimed at vulnerable deaf people. 

As always when BSL activism areas want to make a point they are suddenly all lip-readers or all deaf-blind as well, deplorable reporting, poor journalism, and dubious opportunism from the deaf activists, worse non-awareness.  Instead of highlighting where access is, they chose to target one area where it wasn't and made that a blanket statement.