Friday, 28 February 2020

Better late than never?

Image result for who cares for the deaf with mental health?It would appear only now have some deaf realised their care options are dwindling and under the cosh with one deaf blog complaining the AOHL is dumping the deaf care.  Although ATR published the CEO view some weeks ago.

It was on the cards last year, deaf care was/is costing them too much, and basically, the deaf are not even members of AOHL it's a puzzle they are only now complaining.  End of January this year the AOHL was in debt/deficit mode, unless it got rid of its loss-making operations, deaf care is just one of them, more areas are to follow, and given the pro-Brexit vote, the AOHL has had to drop a scheme where it wanted to go European-wide as well.  Along with that deaf care/cut statement was a change in remit, they are moving away from all care and support and investing in the deaf cure and research.   They put money into Australian CI research too. 

Frankly increased demands for more specialisation with deaf care areas and the fact there is no program of specialisation for the Deaf, meant the sell-off was inevitable, the AOHL could not fund the specialisation that just isn't there.  It could not fund deaf interns to challenge the glass ceiling at the AOHL itself. Going private could be a plus for deaf care, the deaf could never hold the AOHL to account or any charities connected with deaf care as they were immune from FOI's or deaf demands.  There was a banket assumption they knew best.

This potential closure follows the recent closures of deaf care by the BDA charity also who were inept financially and left 100s needing care in Limbo, and staff with no wages too.  The whole area of deaf care was/is badly managed by charity whose role if any now, is to campaign and leave care to people able to do that.  It means going back to lobby the state to put up and to admit they cannot do this themselves.

The CQC (Care Quality Commission), also had few powers to insist deaf care can only be provided by those experienced in deafness and its issues, as no training schemes exist to act as a baseline.  As ATR posted prior, none of the major BSL organisations could name who was experienced in mental health care, undertook training, or, how many psychiatrist/psychologists even understood BSL.    

Much was made of one clinic in Bury boasting minimum level 4 BSL support but that BSL level was NOT a health or care qualification. A lot of secondary care is undertaken by people with little or no signing experience at all, transient, with very basic 'care' skills which at root are just cleaning jobs.

At least if the private area takes over we can monitor them and take them to task if issues arise.  Primarily the charitable approach to deaf care was amateur and rarely monitored, carers did not need a signing ability, BSL is/was all but not enough.  

Clinical diagnosis areas are primarily hearing, so relied on interpreters, there were/are major issues there too because a qualification in BSL is NOT a care qualification in deaf mental health and given learning and other communication issues deaf face diagnosis was suspect as well.  BSL interpreter continuity did not exist either.  There was a conflict on deaf care approaches from the AOHL (who follow the clinical approaches), and, from the BDA (who preferred a cultural approach).    The disagreements and differences also meant no training could even be started on specialisation until some norm could be agreed, it's still up in the air.

Deaf care will suffer obviously but as the Deaf have demanded the specialisations based on BSL, then only if a training set-up is agreed can it work.  The problem is that UK BSL interpreting itself is in flux and fewer are taking that up.  Local authorities are taking carers off the street even trying to attract learners from BSL classes and none of it works.   In the ATR area there are deaf  'mentors' offered work caring for autistics who are hearing, with no basic experiences whatever.  Apparently the fact some autistics signed a bit was the excuse.  And others with no experience offered work to care for dementia patients.

The UK care areas have collapsed for all types of people requiring care from the born deaf/disabled to the elderly.  Those needing specialist care usually are removed from their locale again because specialisation simply does no exist, but as we read with the AOHL and BDA not there either.  Chemical care seems to be on the increase too.

Deaf and disabled were sold a pup when care in the community and the deaf Social Services folded, as rights activists and systems suggested let those areas be served by own charities who understood them, and, these charities were simply unable to do that as the system systematically cut their funding making that impossible, you cannot run specialist care via the begging bowl and now we are seeing charities admitting it.  expect more deaf care closures and charities folding too.

One sobering statistic is 25% of the UK population has an MH issue, but, 40% of deaf children do.  There is no cultural cure for that you need experts.

Life as a deaf and hearing couple.

First Deaf Seanad nominee (Ireland).


Dr. John Bosco Conama, a lifelong Deaf rights activist, Academic and leading light in the Deaf community, made history last week after he was nominated to the Seanad by both the Irish Deaf Society (the National Association of the Deaf) and Chime (the National Charity for Deafness and Hearing Loss). 

He has Cavan links too, with Dr. John Bosco's sister Eileen Gormley having lived in the county for the past 30-years. Both are Roscommon-natives, and in 2019 Dr John Bosco was appointed to serve on the first statutory advisory committee in Ireland to support monitoring of Ireland’s implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). He played an integral role in helping campaign for the Irish Sign Language Act which was passed in 2017, recognising ISL as the third official language of Ireland. 

Lianne Quigley, Chairperson of the Irish Deaf Society said that since the signing of the Act, the organisation has seen Deaf candidates come forward to stand in the local elections and now in 2020, Dr. John Bosco Conama is standing for election on the National stage. “This is a clear sign that our community wants to participate in political life,” she said, adding that the nomination marked an “historic day” for the deaf community in Ireland. 

She believed too that Dr John Bosco will prove to be an “inspiration” for Deaf communities throughout the world. “If elected John Bosco will champion the rights of minorities in Ireland and will be an advocate for accessibility and Irish Sign Language.”

World Hearing Day

World Hearing Day: A smarter way towards more inclusive education
March 3 is World Hearing Day, an initiative by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to raise awareness to prevent deafness and hearing loss and promote ear and hearing care across the world. The motto this year is “Don’t let hearing loss limit you”, focusing on how people with hearing impairments can achieve their full potential.



This is a vital message: According to the WHO, 466m people – 6.1 of the world’s population – are estimated to be living with hearing loss [1]. Too often, hearing impairment can result in being excluded from full participation in society – with education being a key area where this exclusion can begin. In the wider context of disability, UNICEF notes that “nearly 50 per cent of children with disabilities are not in school, compared to just 13 per cent of their peers without disabilities" [2]. This situation continues into higher education, where many deaf and hearing-impaired students struggle to fully achieve their potential due to the lack of support.

However, there are also opportunities to close the gaps through inclusive education that teaches people with diverse abilities side by side. This is a complex challenge, requiring solutions that combine advocacy, policy and training, but surprisingly it is also an area where smartphone technology is helping to play a role.

The accessibility of smartphones has become an increasingly hot topic over recent years, with recent iterations of iOS and Android making it easier for users with limited visual, hearing or mobility to operate devices themselves. Yet, as personal devices that are always on, always available, smartphones are increasingly also offering a way for users to take more control of how they interact with the outside world. At the simplest level, the transition of more services online, is making it easier for those with hearing impairments to navigate the world: from engaging with companies through online chat to shopping online, smart devices are making digital access ever more convenient.

Additionally, dedicated solutions and apps are increasingly available to make the information available in the audio world more accessible. For example, apps are now available that can transcribe speech in real time or detect important sounds and flash visible on screen alerts, and even translate speech into sign language. What unites such mobile solutions is the unprecedented combination of user-friendliness, connectivity and computing power that smartphones place in the hands of users. And these very same qualities are also proving transformational in education.

Thursday, 27 February 2020

Communication tips for the lip-reading deaf.



I wonder how many signing deaf attend health areas without a BSL communicator? or, if they lip-read, ask for a lip-speaker? It's not entirely clear these tips are effective.  ATR never attends any area without ensuring communication is going to work, do not all deaf plan well ahead?  We usually contact the area first and if no assistance is there then ensure a text response will or similar.  Also, most deaf people make it clear on attendance what they need so they won't miss out.  

Ironically, all the suggestions were sign based and the areas they attended provided none??  This helps the NHS to save money by NOT providing professional support but unsure it helps the deaf much.   There was lots of one on one contact seen but the reality is that it won't be the case usually, with comings and goings, so if you take your eye off the ball you can still lose out.  My surgery GP and nurse come to me and ensure I am aware within the crowd.

It took the riot act being read first via a legal threat!  But it was OK after.

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

A new Deaf Hope..

5 struggles with my hearing aid.

Aled is deaf


Which is a blessing in disguise given the captions and he cannot read.

Who created the deaf sterotype?

Image result for deaf arts BSL
They did it themselves, now trying to backtrack it seems via social media, using arguments against a hearing actor playing a deaf one.  Generally, deaf acting advocates are getting a real bashing on social media as certain realities come home to roost.  There are a number of responses ATR has collected randomly, so not all from just one site, one or two dedicated BSL sites.



1.  There is no reason why deaf people have to be played by deaf actors.  David Jason has never sold stuff off a barrow, he has never been a policeman, he has never worked in a shop yet he has played all those roles. What is different about a hearing actor playing a deaf person?

2.  Perhaps the sore point the Deaf actor cannot reciprocate?

3.  With the best will in the world and a plethora of equality laws, the deaf signer CANNOT emulate/act as anything but what he or she is, they are typecast by default the same as someone with no legs has little chance to play a long-distance runner. It's sheer practicality and common sense, not exclusion.  Unless they film from the waist up and put someone else's legs doing the running, (even then purists will claim this is an unviable and unrepresentative inclusion).

4.  And the Deaf encourage exclusive BSL-Only arts and media output as well, do they even know what they want? 

5.  Good lip-readers and HoH have more options because they don't have to express themselves so visually and have hearing nous. There is always a danger of the sign use distracting from the scene and the story, there are still major objections to signed support on TV programs by hearing viewers, even to the news.  It's an open secret TV wants these 'accessible' areas moved OUT of mainstream view.  Hence they are handed free funded programs if they go elsewhere with them.

6.  Harsh, but true sadly. There was a film a few years ago where a deaf actor relied totally on lip-reading and won acclaim, but not from other deaf people, who complained she was 'unrepresentative' of deaf people because 'Deaf' sign and don't do that. This meant one deaf area was attempting to push their own 'stereotype' as the deaf norm.  I doubt the 'community' can put up the people.

7.  We are as diverse in communications as we are in degrees of hearing loss, so it is really time the die-hards of the BSL minority started to accept what is actually the equality law bottom line and the reality. They are perfectly entitled to do own thing, they are not entitled to say it is anyone else's norm or that other areas have to conform to theirs and those who don't are 'doing it wrong' when their own acting area cannot put up.

8.  They aren't doing their own thing are they?  The duality of BSL art/media, is that it is all funded by the Hard of Hearing, deaf, and deafened taxpayers but few if any of them are included, e.g. via BSL Zone, BSL SEE HEAR, BSL theatre, BSL arts, it is all discriminating, art funding endorses this discriminatory approach, and it is all done from the 'cover', of cultural right, or even 'disability', which appears in direct conflict to equality and real inclusion and to the Deaf view they aren't disabled. 

9.  Yes it would be far better ALL areas of hearing loss had direct access to this 'BSL art' thing, it would at least then reflect our diversity and inclusion, which should start with us, and not just them asking mainstream to endorse segregational output as some weird form of human right encompassing us all.

10.  The signing deaf can never move outside their own communication area, so are entitled to own media, others should stop attacking them.

11.  I don't think it is attacking their reliance on sign language it is the claims that this can enable them to portray hearing, and it is discrimination to allow hearing actors to play them when the issue can well be they cannot read the script!  Deaf can do everything but hear? not true, deafness provides limitations they cannot overcome, it's a reality, not a criticism, and as they are still not included in society they lack the essential knowledge and experience they need.  There are still areas that don't want that inclusion except on the terms they demand.

12.  Deaf actors develop their skills through BSL roles,  this is no help to them whatever to move out of that comfort zone and play something that is in essence, alien to them.  As deaf use sign language and hearing can use it too it seems logical to allow that to happen. After all, they are throwing out sign lessons on social media 24/7.  Now they don't want hearing to use it in their area?  

13.  Film and theatre creators cannot make all their output to suit the sign user on and off stage.  There are dozens of other hearing loss areas, and literally, 100s of other minorities and disabled,  who will want the same inclusion. Minority Media is here to stay.

14.  Perhaps deaf need to lip-read and speak more and get out into the hearing world a lot more to gain the real experiences they need? They won't get in any BSL area, arts or not.  

15.  Dedicated BSL art is their undoing...  The deaf actor becomes a one-trick pony and constantly recreates BSL as a minority output.  

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Soap operas go for the deaf angle... Again.


It won't be awareness because we haven't cracked that ourselves, as it becomes a contention usually.  Social media are split between the 'what a great idea!' to 'Oh no are we to go through all this again?' as differing areas argue the pros and con's of signing or CI's etc, do we really care?  

Read on they are engaging already...


1 There is a report in The Sun that Eastenders is going to introduce a profoundly deaf character. Will be interesting to see how that plays out.

2 They are not introducing a new character, just RE-introducing Ben who was near deaf and wore a hearing aid when he first appeared on EE as a child, he then disappeared and re-emerged with a different face a few times and without a hearing aid (His hearing returned or something), now he has gone deaf again.

3  It is to counter Coronation Street who have gone for a deaf baby topic and to agonise over a CI or sign language etc, I'm dreading it personally, last time Corrie had a deaf signer in it, it became a bit of a lecture rather than a storyline, Deaf people playing deaf people? typecasting it won't be, will they be the D or d variety? 

4  Here we go, here we go, here we go again. It will be real acting when nobody notices they are deaf.   Signers can't act because they sign.  They could never pass as hearing so typecast every time.  Playing yourself is no real effort is it? And they will be coached on what to say even then.

Rita Simons5  I recall the woman in EE (ATR photo). who really did have a deaf child and opted for a CI, she got hate messaging for 8 months from the Deaf loony fringe who accused her of child abuse. I don't think asking those deaf or their charities for advice is a great idea either.  Just awareness by numbers from them.

6 I think TV should leave 'gritty realism' to people who understand it and not insert every other minority or sect they read about on hashtag sites.  East Enders have included every awful area of the human race it can find and hardly any are white or British.  

7  Isn't one the cast a white person new convert to Islam? a murderer who killed his sister?  Great casting lol  The current new deafie Ben murdered someone as well  DOH!!! enough already.    What next? they all go down with coronavirus?

8  I like my soap operas with a laugh and not to be taken seriously, TV is dour enough without constant 'token inclusions' to screw it all up.  If I want awareness I'll attend a seminar.  EE has run out of ideas it did 24 years ago.  I'm disappointed Corrie has opted for it too.  

9  They are hoping it raises awareness but realistically it will just provoke heated debate amidst deaf people getting nowhere, because 'Deaf' don't want inclusion they just want to be 'special' and do own thing just let them do it not suggest on a TV set they want something else, is there such a thing as 'fake inclusion'?  Deaf access campaigns are pretty near that.  Inclusion being only on their own terms.