Wednesday, 24 June 2020

So Fly....

The Fly Remake Buzzing Around 20th Century Fox - Dread Central
Scientists at UCL have discovered sets of regulatory genes, which are responsible for maintaining healthy hearing. The finding, made in fruit flies, could potentially lead to treatments for age-related hearing loss (ARHL) in humans. 

Gene discovery in fruit flies ‘opens new doors’ for hearing loss cure in elderly Scientists at UCL have discovered sets of regulatory genes, which are responsible for maintaining healthy hearing. The finding, made in fruit flies, could potentially lead to treatments for age-related hearing loss (ARHL) in humans. 

Globally one-third of people (1.23 billion people) aged over 65 experience hearing loss, and while there are thought to be more than 150 candidate genes which may affect hearing loss, there is no unified view on how to use these to develop novel preventive or curative hearing loss therapies. In the study, published in Scientific Reports, researchers at the UCL Ear Institute assessed the hearing ability of the common fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) across its life span (around 70 days), to see if their hearing declines with age. The fruit fly is a powerful model in biology and its ear shares many molecular similarities with the ears of humans, which make it an ideal tool for the study of human hearing loss. However, so far, no study had assessed the fruit flies’ hearing across their life course. 

Using advanced biomechanical, neurophysiological and behavioural techniques, the researchers found that the antennal ears of fruit flies also display ARHL with nearly all measures of sensitive hearing starting to decline after 50 days of age. With this knowledge, the researchers turned their interest to the time before flies developed ARHL: they wanted to know if there were any ‘age-variable’ genes in the flies’ Johnston’s Organ (their ‘inner ear’), which have kept the ears healthy for 50 days of their lives. Using a combination of molecular biology, bioinformatics and mutant analysis, the researchers identified a new set of transcriptional regulator genes: these are so-called ‘homeostasis genes’, meaning they are the genetic actuators, so they control the activity which keeps the ear sensitive. 

For researchers, one of the principal advantages of the fruit fly model is that it allows for easily testing the roles of individual genes by either increasing their function (overexpression) or silencing them (RNAi interference). Exploiting these tools, researchers also found that manipulating some of the homeostasis genes could prevent the flies from getting ARHL. Lead author Professor Joerg Albert (UCL Ear Institute) said: “While many studies have been conducted into the hearing function of fruit flies, ours is the first to look at the mechanistic and molecular detail of their auditory life course. 

"Our twin discoveries that fruit flies experience age-related hearing loss and that their prior auditory health is controlled by a particular set of genes is a significant breakthrough. The fact that these genes are conserved in humans will also help to focus on future clinical research in humans and thereby accelerate the discovery of novel pharmacological or gene-therapeutic strategies. “Building on our findings from Drosophila, we have already started a follow-up drug discovery project designed to fast-track novel treatments for human ARHL, we urgently need to find effective treatments able to prevent or slow the loss of hearing as we age.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Medical academic pleads for clear face masks

A Brighton medical school academic who is profoundly deaf is calling for clear face masks so people who are deaf can still lip read. 

Andrea Pepper said: “For people who are deaf or have hearing loss, masks can prevent them from understanding spoken communication.” Dr Pepper, a reader at Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS), run by the universities of Brighton and Sussex, relies on her ability to lip-read and see facial expressions, and has struggled with the increase in personal protective equipment (PPE). 

She said: “It’s made me quite worried about going to the shops, petrol stations and places like that in case I need to communicate with someone and they’ve got a face mask on. “This hit me the first time I went out to take a parcel to the post office and suddenly thought ‘what happens if they’ve got a facemask on and ask me a question?’ “I had to take my daughter with me and she had to interpret what was being said. 

“I’ve got this feeling of a loss of independence at the moment and wonder what impact this will have on me and other deaf people in everyday life.” It is a problem that she shares with some 466 million people around the world who, according to the World Health Organisation, have disabling hearing loss. And it’s not just face-to-face communication that has affected Dr Pepper since the covid-19 outbreak – the increase and reliance on virtual meetings have also proved difficult for her. 

 She said: “The connection can often be bad which makes it really hard to lip read. “There is an automated captions function in software like Microsoft Teams but I find these can be hit and miss, inaccurate and delayed. “It is also difficult to know who is speaking as it just appears as a list of words without signifying a different speaker.” With hearing impaired people depending so heavily on lip reading and facial expressions to interpret what’s being said, Dr Pepper said that all universities should be aware of the issue, particularly as many are currently planning to return to teaching in September.

She added: “As a nation, we need to address the issue of face masks. We should aim to introduce clear facemasks or possibly visors with a band so that people can see the whole of someone’s face. “Covid-19 has changed the way we live and we need to be re-evaluating the processes in place to help people with disabilities.” 

ATR COMMENT:  While we can empathise about lip-reading difficulties the 'clear mask' issue is never really explained. Initially, they don't offer protection, to either the medical staff or the deaf patient.  Masks are to stop YOU from infecting others.  It's a huge ask to demand medicos risk infection for you even for access. Clear masks are neutralised if they steam up or if the medical person has a beard or such too.  Some people you will never lip-read regardless if wearing a mask or not.

The reality is dedicated sign language interpreters have said no themselves.  It's very low-key complaining against those they accept sign terps can do that so why discriminate against health workers?  It's been said so many times how MANY deaf CAN effectively lip-read?  i.e. rely totally on lip-reading for their own access?  We are never told how many deaf lip-readers actually presented the demand, we know it is a 'right' but COVID doesn't care for rights, human or deaf ones. There are no stats evident anywhere as we can see.  The needs of the many outweigh etc so sadly a few dedicated lip-readers are not going to get priority with 10m HoH apparently settling for text and alternative options.

Yes, speech to text is random but I suspect lip-reading is well up there for poor effectiveness too.  It is a 'supplement' for many deaf, a lot who rely not on lip-reading but sign language, the reality is more hard of hearing utilise lip-reading than the deaf, and they are silent about masks.  Mainly because they know how to adapt to other means to follow, but deaf don't feel they should adapt anyway.

They are stuck in pre-COVID mode.  It is surprising the health worker is unaware that only one clear mask medically approved is available, or, that currently, none are.  ATR gave out the only supplier link of such approved masks recently.  If ATR can find it why can't medical staff?  These DIY masks simply won't do.  Adapt and survive, because COVID (Not medical staff), are dictating how access can work and just loves people who offer it an easy in.  With all the issues the NHS face daily trying to save lives the last thing we need are deaf attacking them for discrimination.

Can you see facial 'expressions' if ONLY The mouth is visible? Discuss. Maybe 644m have a hearing loss but I doubt they live in the U of K, or are all lip-readers either.  Most deaf reject the disability tag as well so we are wondering why they are now suddenly disabled as well?  They aren't adapting to the situation frankly and desperate to return to some old status quo, which is we are told, not going to happen. Anyway, access was crap then too.

Monday, 22 June 2020

Does what matter?

Tony Leon Quotes | QuoteHD
Having just read a reversal of view via posters on social media now claiming all lives matter is wrong as they now understand what black lives matter is all about, prompted an interesting reply.

I will apologise for the length of response, my sole concern was their law-breaking in regards to the lockdown.  Most of us have isolated and been apart from our loved ones (Myself near 4 months), to help the NHS, my family, the scientists and others fight this killer virus.  

That was all undone via the BLM marches.  It is a valid message but just entirely the wrong time to campaign this way.  Who knows how many more lives will be lost because of what they did? and to their own people who are most vulnerable? I question they had any right to put MY life at risk.  

Statue removal is entirely a pointless option it is just symbolic and basically vandalism not much else, it won't remove the history that has happened already.  Why remove the proof anyway? The hysteria that surrounds this campaign allows the ultra-PC and Marxists to gain ground, I expect more opposition to BLM not less and worse, but it will be covert.  The very thing BLM says contributes to racism ('White silence' etc).

They will duly respond by calling us all racists and it will lose effectiveness. Those who live day by day and just getting on with their lives and avoiding marches, focus group plugs etc (And OK basic human rights issue elsewhere),  will pay lip-service to BLM and carry on taking no active part in it.  The ridiculousness and hypocrisy of people suddenly coming out with BLACK LIVES MATTER when hitherto and the last 2 generations they said nothing is simple testimony it is the bored and COVID isolated who are fuelling all this and it remains to be seen if that will continue once COVID is addressed.

The behaviour of our media was and is appalling, you have to thank whatever God you serve for the net alternative.  I doubt there was a journalist amongst the lot of them and the omission of detail was sheer and deliberate bias and cowardice in most part as was the government and police standing back whilst they undid months of isolation we have all gone through.  

Many of us are staggered at the sudden face and image of media who appear to all be BAME people now, black issues cover by black people, Asian issues covered by Asians, Jamaicans covering the Windrush debacle, and even polish presenters covering European ones etc.  It was so pre-determined and obvious as the whole point of this inclusion is lost, a massive exercise in tokenism.  You get the feeling media desperately went out trying to hire that image when previously they were represented as per their actual representation in the community. (Which is  1 in 11/12 in my area), the BBC went to 1 in 3 overnight and even some news reports without a white face anywhere.  White people became a minority overnight?

I don't believe racism will be affected because many will feel they have made our lives worse by their actions, will that engender empathy?  I never believed in the multicultural community as a viable proposition, that is the pat 'mantra', (Along with community and inclusion), they always trot out by rote. There is as much lip-service and Hypocricy within the law as is elsewhere, they don't understand it is less a law more a request since you cannot enforce equality it has to be a mutual acceptance thing.  Short of being seen slamming a door in the face that is the most of it you can address

There are multi-cultures obviously but they are APART from the rest of us and legally enabled to be that way, which suggests the interpretation of equality means different things to different people anyway who can express choices that mean something quite different to including you. Ergo you cannot choose to ignore others who ignore you, actually, you can, that's the crap that is equality law.  Trumped by human rights.  There seems a conundrum as to why others should not do likewise and then it is racist so to do.

Then we enter the dodgy world of preference and choice, my own deaf area has gone down the Sewanee already following that route.  It created segregated areas by race, and communication mode, and by choice.  If hearing can do it, why can't we?  Inclusion is going to be very difficult for them to undertake or to ask of others because it is conditional not voluntary and like other areas, and with different languages, social structures, and religious views too. Inclusion has never been enabled by law because people see that as coercion, and oppositional to choice.  Is a collective of segregated and go it alone areas a community?  Not from how I would see it. I don't want to be included in what they do, I have my own thing going on.

I see people erstwhile who never lived with or mixed with the BAME community coming out with 'we are all equal' and, 'I have black friends..'  Most simply don't, this is part of the lip-service approach, they assume having said that they can get less pressure to change, and to be seen as supportive,  and then get on with ignoring the BLM thing altogether, after all there are 100s of UK minorities who all want inclusion aren't there? and we can't do anything we only have one life and 24hrs in a day. Being a total hypocrite is the new norm. 

Some minorities are more than happy doing their own thing and co-existing (Deaf included), and apart from passing us in the street with a nod or complete indifference that is your multicultural society but it isn't inclusion and are we just patronising each other by respecting the difference?  the jury is inevitably still out and either way, we aren't integrating or including them in OUR lives.

How do you address it?  E.G. If I have a social circle that has no BAME people in it, how are they going to force others to include who are in effect, total strangers?  Is it not going to look pathetic we all roam around the area looking for BAME friends to justify the fact we are not some sort of racist?  Racism is identified as deliberately denigrating the BAME community. They are not doing that, so is that racism?  Not by definition.

I don't agree with BLM people using the term 'White', that suggests reverse racism, from what I saw of the marches there were white people with them. It probably is their biggest blunder.  Most a few teenagers and well-meaning who felt like a day out joining in, because the usual cause celebs are thin on the ground since COVID, but it is not going to do a thing for inclusion or equality.   I just feel embarrassed they are all kneeling on the ground as well, pure theatre. (Or as one UK politician said an example stolen from a TV serial), albeit various empires have used the same position to suggest obeyance or subservience.  They do it in churches too.

Marching is easy, and they have yet to prove most of us are racist, failing to join a march is hardly that proof.  I don't know if I am racist or not, I don't really mix with BAME areas it just never happened.  Am I going to make effort now?  Only in as much as my lifestyle isn't impacted on, but mostly I think no, I am not going to seek them out.  I will probably carry on as I am.   As I can see the BLM movement has no answer to that.

Sunday, 21 June 2020

R U D/deaf friendly?

deaf signedone, Deaf "but friendly" 6 Cm Round Badge | deaf still complaining mask-wearing is making life difficult for them, because the wearers won't take them off, but still refusing to use any alternatives.

Being deaf-friendly is using text, not sign language as we see with a complaint about a shop worker refusing to remove a mask for a deaf customer. 

Indeed most of the online deaf input is in text. I'm just wondering how much deaf engage WITH hearing groups anyway? It is easy enough as it is all text accessible.   If we want all views and stories then we have to engage with others. I do it all the time very rarely with deaf groups mainly because they lack topicality and talk about things that concern them only. I have to move outside deaf areas to know what is happening in the world otherwise. 

It can be alarming at times to see deaf who are so unaware of what is going on outside their own sphere.  Deaf campaigners really need to take note as nobody is going to listen to them or their awareness until they show they can engage. I don't think the lack of BSL access or lip-reading access is an excuse now they can hide behind.  There are dozens of text alternatives they can use.  So they would rather complain than adapt?

It is COVID doing this, not people trying to blank the deaf.  The issue of lip-reading isn't a deaf one, but a Hard of Hearing one who by far and by number, prefer and use lip-reading to any other access mode beside text. They reverted to text approaches and the 'Deaf' (who up until then were all sign using are now suddenly all lip-reading.)  Because they have accepted their BSL terps won't put up for them?  COVID has exposed some of the many flaws in the Deaf campaigns and they are now struggling to justify their 'preferences'.