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.

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