Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Deaf denied internet access.


A Deaf man from J&K travelled all alone to Punjab just to use the internet. Let me tell you about his story. On 5th August 2019, when the Indian government divided J&K into the two territories all communication lines in J&K were cut off. Although the postpaid mobile phones sprang back to life more than two months later, the internet continues to remain off. 

He cannot speak or hear. He uses sign language to communicate with his family and friends. Tajamul's father said, "He was extremely fed up with the internet ban as he could hardly connect to any of his deaf friends". "He would frequently make video calls to his friends and chat with them", He added that the long-drawn-out internet ban has made him, and many other Deaf people feel very isolated.” Tajamul knows very basic sign language and has completed his education in various institutes in Kashmir. He would spend a lot of time on the internet to learn the language but the internet ban has also disrupted his learning process. For almost 6 months, the internet has been down in J&K. 

Many petitions were in Supreme Court about this. On January 10 the SC said that all Indians have a right to Freedom of Speech and conduct any form of business through the internet. This is why on 14th January the government restored the internet in all government institutions. The ban, however, continued for the general public. Tajamul was desperate to use the internet. He had not communicated with his Deaf friends for so many months and felt very lonely. This is why he decided to convince his father to allow him to go to Amritsar. As soon as Tajamul reached Amritsar, he checked into the hotel and connected his phone to Wi-fi. 

Within seconds he began receiving the messages at fairly good speed from his outstation friends. He responded to their messages and also made video calls to some of them. Tajamul said, "They felt so happy to see my face after so many months. Even we shed tears of joy," Saleem Pathan(16), another deaf boy from Bemina, Srinagar. He would use the internet to make video calls to his deaf friends. But when the internet shut down he became very frustrated.

Another Deaf boy in J&K is forcing his family to leave the state as he is unable to communicate with his friend in Delhi & Chandigarh. Many other deaf-mute persons have said that the internet ban has been gnawing at their minds and spirits. Umar Ashraf Beig, General Secretary All Jammu and Kashmir Association for the Deaf, has sought the immediate lifting of internet service in J&K because the ban has caused a lot of suffering and trouble to the local Deaf people.

Here, there, and everywhere

Welcome the dual captioning, unsure what the point is?  They appear to be getting more professional at stating the obvious.  But the UK contribution seems lacking somewhat.

Croeso i'r pennawd deuol, yn ansicr beth yw'r pwynt? Mae'n ymddangos eu bod yn dod yn fwy proffesiynol wrth nodi'r amlwg. Ond mae'n ymddangos bod cyfraniad y UK yn brin rhywfaint.

SignHealth campaign suspect?

Image result for sign healthSignHealth's latest campaign on deaf mental health support suffered a drawback when ATR pointed out that the charity itself had not the BSL specialisation to support the deaf themselves.  In a reply to an ATR request for proof, they stated they were not aware of any BSL interpreter system where specialisation in deaf mental heal existed or a system set up to train them, the ASLI also confirmed they know of no BSL interpreters with a specialisation in Deaf mental health.  

If you needed brain surgery would you use the local butcher?  85% of medical staff who diagnose deaf mental health issues and decide on treatment are hearing who don't sign so rely on terps without the background needed.   It's appealing they assume a knowledge of BSL is all you need to treat a mental health issue when the nature of the illness affects the ability TO sign or understand.

At present 'any old terp' will do at present as there is no training scheme for BSL specialisation.  Lip-speakers do specialise in court issues, health areas there is almost a non-extance of BSL interpreters with any specialisation other than BSL.  Despite Level 4 terps at Bury Hospital e.g. terps were criticised for failing to convey issues adequately to hearing psychiatrists and throwing cultural excuses at them instead.  Its also a scandal in that the CQC (Care quality commission), has no power to insist on trained BSL terps OR carers for the BSL deaf (Also confirmed to ATR by the CQC).  

Mental health is a huge issue, 1 in 4 hearing and  40% in deaf children.  The lack of adequate diagnosis and support gets amplified with those who have issues of understanding basic communication without help, let alone having to cope with poor mental health a well.

Wales were using part-time carers often with no sign at all to support deaf e.g. with Alzheimer's, 2 of whom died of neglect because Social services could not support them 24/7 one drowned himself and the other died of the freezing cold after wandering the streets half-naked, his home had the stairs blocked off so he could not fall down them, but the part-time carer only went to the house 2 hours a day and the doors were left open so the otherwise unsupported deaf patient could come and go at will. 

SignHealth are demanding a support system that doesn't exist or is being created.  Apparently relying on some BSL relay system instead, which only suggests there is lack even of basic BSL interpreters.  They haven't established the basics are yet. Most deaf diagnosed are 'deported' miles away from home, family or peer support to be cared for. Now that AOHL is pulling out of deaf care you have to fear these deaf are not going to get the support or monitoring they need.  It was far from clear charities were being monitored themselves.

Private carers are far less regulated, local authorities are cutting care fees, a perfect storm and a recipe for deaf abuse. In mitigation, one charity said they felt 'free-lance' interpreting was primarily to blame, they could never rely on a terp turning up when needed in an emergency etc, and that a 24/7 system has never existed or can be established as it stands. There was little continuation of support, and terps were pleasing themselves when and where they worked, causing uncertainty and unreliability of support.  Terps said most were only able to work part-time as they had families to work around.

Their ongoing rows with WITS were also causing mayhem as they are opposing a regulated and a reliable BSL support set up, even the ASLI has no power to ensure compliance membership being voluntary, but the main issue was systems wanting to set up a proper pay and regional/national structure and set of regulations to ensure BSL/Deaf support reliability, which obviously challenged the free-lance aspect.  

It is amazing in 2020 there is still no dedicated set up for people who cannot hear or follow basic English, but who totally rely on a support system that itself is random.  Their almost total confidence in BSL seems hugely misplaced.

The (USA), police and the deaf.