Friday, 3 July 2020

AI to solve the COVID riddle?

Just shows how clever (And deadly), nature is...  "coronavirus has a far greater complexity" 

Computer scientists are using massive computational power against the pandemic. They say the enemy they are fighting is unlike any other.

"Compared to other viruses that we have worked on, for instance, the Zika virus, the coronavirus has far greater complexity. It is composed of many more proteins, that have very different biological roles,” says Andrea Beccari, a computer scientist for bio-pharmaceutical company DompĂ© and Project Coordinator for the E4C Project.

The team taking part in this European research project are trying to identify molecules that can block the progression of the virus inside the human body. The problem is researchers are having to explore a huge library of around 500 billion molecules.

To identify the most promising candidates in the shortest possible time, the scientists have turned to supercomputers. These can process up to 3 million molecules per second.

"Computers are essential, as we’re able to work at the same time with all 25 proteins of the virus which are involved in the various mechanisms related to infection, replication and block the human immune system - everything in a simultaneous way," explains Beccari.

Near Me access...

Video conferencing technology is helping to ease the vulnerability deaf people have been experiencing during the pandemic. Many deaf people in Scotland are more socially isolated now than before the coronavirus crisis because of the additional communications barriers forced on them by the lockdown.

And the chief officer of deafscotland – a leading organisation for deaf issues in Scotland – believes their problems would have been compounded had the use of video consulting in health and care services not been stepped up during the pandemic.

Janis McDonald said Covid-19 is a “communications virus” that is having a significant impact on many people affected by deafness. The use of face masks muffles the voice and covers the mouth, preventing lip-reading, and physical distancing created barriers beyond the effective one-metre range of hearing aids.

However, she believes the Near Me video consulting system now being extensively used in Scotland is helping to ease the vulnerability deaf people have been experiencing during the pandemic.

“Like everyone else, people with a hearing loss need access to healthcare but that would have been extremely difficult without video conferencing,” she said, alluding to the fact that there were now far fewer face-to-face consultations with doctors and other health and care professionals, and telephone consultations weren’t really an option for many deaf people.

“Near Me has provided a vital lifeline to health services and we would welcome its continued use when the current crisis ends.”

School and the deaf child advice.

Department for Education accounts 'not true and fair' - BBC News
DfE in England has today published more detailed guidance on how education settings will re-open. 

As we all know, the expectation is that schools in ENGLAND will re-open full time to everyone in September. The key headline for us is that there’s a clear statement that peripatetic TODs should be allowed to go into schools: 

Supply teachers, peripatetic teachers and/or other temporary staff can move between schools. They should ensure they minimise contact and maintain as much distance as possible from other staff. Specialists, therapists, clinicians and other support staff for pupils with SEND should provide interventions as usual. 

Schools should consider how to manage other visitors to the site, such as contractors, and ensure site guidance on physical distancing and hygiene is explained to visitors on or before arrival. Where visits can happen outside of school hours, they should. A record should be kept of all visitors. 

Where it is necessary to use supply staff and to welcome visitors to the school such as peripatetic teachers, those individuals will be expected to comply with the school’s arrangements for managing and minimising risk, including taking particular care to maintain distance from other staff and pupils. There’s also a clear line that teaching assistants should not be redeployed at the expense of children with SEND. 

Schools should ensure that appropriate support is made available for pupils with SEND, for example by deploying teaching assistants and enabling specialist staff from both within and outside the school to work with pupils in different classes or year groups. 

Where support staff capacity is available, schools may consider using this to support catch-up provision or targeted interventions. Teaching assistants may also be deployed to lead groups or cover lessons, under the direction and supervision of a qualified, or nominated, teacher (under the Education (Specified Work) (England) Regulations 2012 for maintained schools and non-maintained special schools and in accordance with the freedoms provided under the funding agreement for academies). Any redeployments should not be at the expense of supporting pupils with SEND. 

A few other points: Lots of emphasis on the risks of children missing education and balancing of risks Attendance will be mandatory unless clinical advice for individual children says otherwise. 

Remote learning should be provided in these cases Curriculum can be modified in exceptional circumstances – but expectation we will return to normal by summer 2021. Exams that were due to take place in summer 2021 can also be dropped in exceptional circumstances for some students if it would help deliver better outcomes in English and Maths Some clear emphasis around the needs of considering needs of children with SEND in the curriculum Schools need to plan how remote learning will be delivered as contingency. DfE are now being more prescriptive here and may produce further guidance. 

There is an acknowledgement that children with SEND may need more support and that schools should plan how this will be provided Ofsted will not be doing any school inspections in autumn, though they may do some random visits to learn how schools are managing Whole School SEND doing some training around SEND and returning to school The Whole School SEND consortium will be delivering some training and how-tos for mainstream school teachers (including free insets and webinars) on supporting pupils with SEND to return to their mainstream school after the long absence, and on transition to other settings. Details of future training sessions are held on the events page of the SEND Gateway. 

You can opt to join Whole School SEND’s community of practice when you sign up for an event to receive notifications about future training and resources as they are published.

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Yes or No?

From: Chris Heaton-Harris Minister of State (Department for Transport).

The Government is committed to ensuring deaf people can fully participate in society. We understand that mandatory use of face coverings will be difficult to adhere to for some. That is why there are exemptions to the rules for some disabled people and those with certain health conditions on public transport. 

You also do not need to wear a face-covering if you are speaking with someone who relies on lip-reading and facial expressions to communicate. We are working closely with transport operators to make sure that their staff and passengers are aware that not everyone is required to wear a face covering. Our Safer Transport guidance includes a clear reminder to transport operators of the need to provide staff with disability equality and awareness training. 

In addition to this, the guidance also specifically provides warnings that conventional coverings can prevent many disabled people from accessing oral information and instructions. Our guidance for operators and more information on face coverings can be found HERE.

NOTE: It is advice, there is no legal backing to it, and this is a suggestion for public transport ONLY, NOT the NHS.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

ATR 'attacks' on deaf care deplorable?

The Whole Truth: Part 3 – A New LifeATR crosses swords with leading hearing loss/disability charities online as ATR suggested some Deaf are more trouble than they are worth in care terms...

#1 ‘have now sold off their deaf care too, more trouble than they are worth frankly’. I think the above comment is really disrespectful. Care services does tremendously good work with Deaf people and transforms their life for better. I know as someone very close to me rely on this service and it’s has been a life saver. So this comment isn’t very helpful and rather demeaning to those who use care service. It’s feels like a personal attack against those who need support from care service.

#2   I was quoting from their own site, you are saying they are not selling off deaf care? or, parts of the assistive device business? Their CEO printed it in January 2020 after suggesting they had cash flow problems. So dedicated to deaf care that is the first thing they sold off? It was no 'attack' it was a statement of reality if you require the statement from the site I have provided it. Passing the 'attack' buck TO needy deaf was a bit of a low. I expected better frankly (like you proving your own case)? 

The (AOHL), remit e.g, changed from care and support of deaf people to finding the cure and campaigning, good luck with convincing the cultural deaf with that... I could suggest such campaigning is beyond the capability of that charity as they failed to challenge systems and areas that discriminate. They are leaving London too.

As another poster stated said they have no membership percentage to act AS representative, no charity does. Ergo the AOHL 'represents' point 3% of hearing loss areas, the BDA 'represents' point 002% of their area. (Based on own declared statistics). Yet both have 80% of the voice.  We could suggest that is farcical and misleading to claim they represent anyone and just putting power in the hands of the few not responsible to anyone.

It may come across as blunt but there it is. As regards to deaf care, I don't think any charity has come up smelling of roses and the BSL ones are just as bad, ELDS, BDA, etc, too much-vested interest and bias as well as a failure to include.  In those respects, I feel quite justified in stating what a shower they were/are. 

Perhaps the sole advantage of selling off deaf care to private areas is they are easier to take to task when they screw up something charity appears to be immune to, they can do no wrong etc. Always when taken to task, we are 'attacking vulnerable people', we aren't, but we are challenging YOU/THEM.  I thought it strange a disability campaigner fighting the BSL corner where the overall cultural view is a rejection of disability status? (I blame awareness myself it is all a bit of a joke). It appears in regards to supporting needy deaf or hard of hearing charity has failed.

I am surprised any Disability area would risk getting in the middle of what passes for deaf or hearing loss awareness, most of us give it a miss!  Their support record on disability is almost negligible.  They only consider themselves disabled when funding comes around.

Historically it was inevitable because when disability laws were created charities were the first areas to renege on the rights aspects of it.  They saw a gravy train where they could take over support and care when they really were unqualified and under-funded to make that a realistic proposition, we saw it, charities didn't, deaf & HoH promptly stopped being members.  Charities were mugged, the state saw them coming.  What comes around they cannot wait to unload it all, no doubt blaming COVID so their failure is offset by a pandemic.

Support and care is a basic right, but it is CHARITY that has been the stumbling block to making it happen and still is.  Probably because they cannot compete with the desire for rights.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Trouble at t'mill?

Oops!  What IS going on there?

Auslan service Deaf NT closes

Jessica Nolan hero image
Auslan service Deaf NT closes as clients struggle through coronavirus. Jessica Nelson says she was unable to learn Auslan until she was nine years old and is worried others will struggle with Deaf NT closing.

As many deaf people in the Northern Territory struggle to understand COVID-19 emergency updates without access to an interpreter, their situation will worsen today with the closure of the NT's only specialised Auslan service. 

The World Health Organization considers hearing loss a public health emergency in the NT Despite the need for support, the NT's only specialised Auslan service closes its office today The decision has outraged many in the disability community Deaf Children Australia operated Deaf NT in the Territory for eight years, providing Auslan lessons, social events and advocacy for people with hearing loss. 

Deaf Children Australia chief executive David Wilson said closing the service came down to a "business decision" after Deaf NT's funding ended through the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA). "It really has been unsustainable to have that office operating ongoing," he said. While an NDIA spokesperson said the agency would ensure impacted Territorians would continue to receive support, the closure has Deaf NT client Jessica Nelson anxious for the future of the deaf community. 

During the coronavirus pandemic, an Auslan interpreter had to be sourced from interstate because the Territory's only full-time interpreter employed through the National Auslan Interpreter Booking Service resigned and the role was defunded in October. "Why aren't there enough people here? Why isn't there any funding, Where's all the funding gone?" Ms Nelson said.

The ultimate in speech to text.