Who needs sign language?
Friday, 10 January 2020
North Staffordshire NHS on consulting whether to cut more hearing loss services and provision. Social media of the hard of hearing variety a bit apathetic about the whole thing. Cuts to hearing aid provisions in the pipeline (Again!).
Difficult Decisions - (what Staffs NHS said:) Help us to Prioritise and Align Clinical Policies The six CCGs in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent are seeking views from patients across five service areas. Altogether the six CCGs commission over 800 different services and treatments, are up for cuts. Social Media responses included....
#1 "I have heard they want to stop issuing hearing aids on the NHS."
#2 "Yup, its because we as a (HoH), community don't complain enough!"
#3 "Quite agree. Considering there are at least 12 MILLION folk in the UK who have a hearing loss (and of the 12 MILLION only 250,000 use sign) and we are the largest body of disabled folk in the UK too, we are comparatively silent on our problems!! Sadly, shoving the HAs in a drawer and not persevering is a real negative to the overall picture and presents confusing information to the public."
ATR 12m in denial is all I see, and I have yet to see a Hard of hearing 'community'. The whole thing about stats is none are actually true or sourced, so that suggests charity or focus groups can quote whatever they want, even the BDA (which is a source of complete inaccuracy and BS about the UK sign user, and more focused on cultural than clinical need than support). Their own figures go nowhere near 250K BSL users, that is an outrageous 'guesstimate'.
Fact: The last 4 years the BDA went from 15,000 to 95,000 BSL using deaf, and then refused to name any of their sources, degree and usage is the only real definition and that 250K figure appears to include 152K HEARING people again no description of skills or usages either. The BDA near folded last year after a mass resignation of all their trustees took place and rumours of insolvency were aired.
Fact: The AOHL (The UK's largest 'HoH' charity), quotes the 1 in 6/7, aka 12m with hearing loss, a random number taken from various health/clinical areas and the AOHL the sole source of that statistic. Because of the Data Protection Act, nobody was able to get an accurate figure on hearing loss or deafness in the UK, let alone sign usage, and educated guesses went out the window years ago. The question then is "HOW did the AOHL arrive at the 12m figure, given the DPA blocks anyone knowing what need there is?" There is no suggestion areas are prioritising charity FOI's over anyone else's.
ATR tried 9 YEARS via freedom of Information requests and has been blocked by charities (themselves exempt from FOI requests), and the NHS every time. Basically, nobody is allowed to ask any individual with hearing loss how the loss affects them, or what they use or need to manage it, that is considered an 'invasion' of personal privacy hence the DPA comes into play, so if there IS a widespread need for services and provisions we can't know about it, all we can read is social media complaints or if the individual presents to the health/social services, BSL is not considered an issue in itself by those who use it. Politicians refer you straight back to charity statistics probably because the last thing they want to see is more demands for more service provision.
How to assume need? One would assume need is defined by checking how many people applied for support to manage, and sign language, by how many cannot function without it etc, otherwise, these blanket numbers are meaningless, primarily designed some would suggest making hearing loss or BSL needs more of an issue than is actually being presented. Grassroots need to demand what they need for themselves, not that need assumed and demanded by others. It falls down at the first hurdle of proof. Each area provision is localised.
Charities ASSUME need to (A) perpetuate themselves and (B) to raise funding, so any high figure suits them, few have any grassroots as membership any more. Putting my cynical hat on has ANYONE seen any real advances in the last 15 years for the '12m'? I haven't, I have seen huge profile raised by an odd few 1,000 sign users who use the 12m stat as well as inflating BSL use to the realms of fantasy.
Need is driven by demand there is no other criteria, WHERE is the HoH demand? You don't ask you don't get, it is as simple as that. Current loss needs are defined by the sign users not the hard of hearing which only serves to confuse needs even more.
OrCam is expanding to hearing impairment with the OrCam Hear. It can be particularly useful in loud rooms. The device helps you identify and isolate a speaker’s voice so you can follow a conversation even in a public space. You pair it with your existing Bluetooth hearing aids.
OrCam is introducing the OrCam Read, a handheld AI reader. This time, you don’t clip a camera to your glasses, you take the device in your hand and point it at text. The company says it could be particularly useful for people who have reading difficulties due to dyslexia.