Saturday, 10 October 2020

Environmental hints for the HI.

Android Sound Notifications Can Help Those with Hearing Loss

Google announced an interesting Android accessibility feature that provides push notifications when it detects sounds around you that might need attention. This feature is obviously ideal for those with hearing loss, but it can also be used by people wearing headphones who might otherwise miss nearby sounds.

"Sound Notifications is a new feature on Android that provides push notifications for critical sounds around you,” Google revealed. “Designed for the estimated 466 million people in the world with hearing loss, Sound Notifications makes important and critical household sounds more accessible with push notifications, a flash from your camera light, or vibrations on your Android phone. This feature can also be helpful if someone is unable to hear temporarily as a result of an injury, wearing earplugs or headphones.”

These important and critical sounds can include such things as baby sounds, smoke and fire alarms, appliances beeping, water running, door knocking, dogs barking, and more, Google notes. And Sound Notifications works with other compatible devices, including Google’s Wear OS. “You can get text notifications with vibrations on your wrist when there is important noise detected by your phone,” the firm notes. “That way you can continue to get alerts about critical sounds even when you are asleep, a concern shared by many in the deaf and hard of hearing community.”

There’s also a timeline view so that you can get a snapshot of sounds over the previous few hours and help understand what led to a sound event. For example, an alarm might go off, causing a dog to start barking.

If you don’t have Sound Notifications in Android already—it’s in Settings> Accessibility > Sound Notifications—then you can download both Live Transcribe and Sound Notifications from the Google Play Store, and then return to Settings to enable this feature.


Speech to Text Apps.

Friday, 9 October 2020

Deaf Mental Health

Claims (Albeit unsubstantiated) that a third of all deaf people have suffered increased poor mental health due to COVID, what are the causes behind high incidences of poor mental health with deaf people and others with hearing loss?  The blog by UK's  SignHealth charity used the term 'deaf' people to describe an area that is acknowledged as a 'Cultural Deaf' one, which SignHealth is supporting, so misleading, we cannot then accept the statistics they quote as accurate.  The reality as ever, is no charity in the UK is able to survey the deaf/Deaf man, woman or child, at best the sole stats quotable are clinically diagnosed ones, there are no statistics regarding support/education either.  Even the census never asked those questions.

Obviously, COVID has put a block on the social interaction of deaf people i.e. face to face interaction, is there a case that promoting the inter-dependency of the deaf on each other, needs to be addressed?  Or as one person posted sorting out the 'The blind leading the blind'? (A Metaphor to show example), that simply perpetuates it?

The plight of the deaf child e,g,  The NDCS suggests a huge 40% of all deaf children have such issues already.  That can translate to 40 of adults too?  The  ACAMH survey only covered 144 so we don't really know how widespread the cause is.  They do state two primary areas that may contribute to the lack of deaf self-esteem, inclusion options, and confidence.  But not the answer. This is their result.

"The most recent study of mental health in deaf children in England showed that 26% in a sample of 144 signing deaf children and young people not currently accessing child mental health services had a probable mental health problem and 57% had a possible mental health problem. This is much higher than the general population of 11-16 year olds, where approximately 14% are thought to have a mental disorder. 

Developing an understanding or a model for why these rates are so much higher would be very helpful for two main reasons. The first is specific to developing an understanding of the needs of the deaf child population so that we can begin to think more about service planning and particularly understanding social, emotional and mental health needs. The second is that when we consider the stressors that different groups of deaf children are placed under and why it is that deaf children have higher rates of mental health problems it may give us a much richer understanding of the multiple routes to mental health problems.

What is it like to be a deaf child in a hearing community?  We know from research that deaf children are more likely to be isolated, bullied or abused, which can impact upon mental health. There is a large literature on prejudice towards deaf children and their families and experiences of feeling stigmatised.

Over 90% of deaf children are born within hearing families and most of them are not expecting a deaf child. This leads to difficulties in adjusting to the new challenges of parenting and educational choices and can be complicated by very different views and/or advice about what the best approach to take is.  Parents are almost always dedicated to their children, but may also struggle with anxiety, depression, over-protection, challenges with relationship and attachment, and rarely rejection of their child. All of these have mental health consequences for the child.

We also know that the government’s inclusion policy means that most deaf children are in mainstream schools and they are often the only deaf child in their class. This makes the likelihood of them having a deaf peer group in any meaningful day to day way very limited. It also means that large numbers of mainstream teachers, often with limited training have to make sure that the curriculum is available to those children. A large proportion of deaf children have single gene causes for being deaf and no intellectual, neurological or congenital problems but these children do not do as well as hearing children at all examination test stages, suggesting that the education system may struggle to meet fully the needs of many deaf children.

Another factor relates to communication. There is a tendency for the research literature to consider all deaf children together as if they are the same. In fact, they all have very different life trajectories with different causes for being deaf, occurring at different times, in different families who make different and sometimes changing educational and communication choices. Some deaf children communicate through spoken English, especially those who are mildly deaf. 

Some children communicate completely in British Sign Language (BSL) with no spoken English. BSL is a fully recognised UK language, but despite this it is not always readily available in our education or workplace systems.  BSL has a different word order, grammar and syntax to spoken English and does not map easily on to spoken or written English. The UK system is not well prepared for this variability. This creates a number of challenges for deaf children and their families that include high levels of stress, communication problems and social and emotional challenges. 

Some children are being educated in bilingual ways and are being taught spoken and written English, as well as BSL or sign, supported English (using the English word order with adjunctive signs). Attempting to learn multiple communication modalities can be very challenging for children, especially for that subgroup of deaf children with additional complex problems or intellectual disabilities. This can create its own problems. Deaf children sometimes have less exposure to language learning and may have language deprivation and/or delay, which can, in turn, lead to delays in theory of mind (empathy-related) skills, compounding problems in social settings.

Some deaf children may be deaf as a result of a neurological insult or a more complex genetic problem that leads to multiple difficulties including intellectual disability and/or a range of possible physical problems such as visual problems, balance problems or other organ damage (e.g. heart, kidney etc.) These all carry their own increased mental health risks.

This landscape helps us understand the multiple myriad pathways to mental health problems. This population of young people has much to commend it. Meeting deaf children and young people it is clear to see their joys and enthusiasms, their hopes for the future and their numerous strengths and abilities, as well as the multiple challenges that they face. It would be instructive to understand this group better in order to be able to provide better community-based services, education services, health services and mental health services for deaf children and their families, but also as a learning experience to help us as professionals to develop innovative therapeutic strategies that can engage with the multiple pathways to mental health problems."

We notice that the academic view is not suggesting Immersive signing approaches and putting valid reasons why not.  Ergo no two deaf children are the same. We are unsure what 'community' approaches they are supporting, Deaf clubs? or groups where inclusion can be fostered?



Wi-Fi Down? Repeat as above....

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Being an apologist.

So suffering from the slings and arrows of outrageous terminology? I think free speech is important if you form a view on how the 'Deaf' systems work for, or against the common good, an awareness show etc is inaccurate or non-inclusive e.g. then you should be allowed to say it. 

NEVER apologise, NEVER back off if you think you are right, NEVER clarify if they didn't get it the first time they will be trying to distort it the second.  These areas want you to doubt yourself to 'prove' they are always right. There ARE elitist deaf, there ARE campaigns run for less than purposes that provide real awareness or ongoing essential information.  There are TV and films that bear no relevance to our reality too.   Most are propaganda. E.G. Via COVID some of the advice given to deaf people was downright dangerous which was re-enforced as a deaf right too.   Aka suggesting medical staff discriminate by wearing PPE.   Most deaf statistically do not rely on sign language, but why spoil a great gig?

Deaf are very adept at social media, they can manipulate too, they can use closed sites to keep different viewpoints and people out, they do it all the time.  There are virtually NO open deaf sites online. If you have a view and want to stay with it, you have to go it alone. Many are run as some feudal system like old deaf clubs were.  Mostly, it is about control. The common excuse is to protect deaf people from abuse, however, this does not stop them from piling abuse and disdain on others.  It also prevents the deaf from seeing two sides to every story.

Too many deaf online exist in a vacuum, a lot are sitting in the dark and like mushrooms being fed BS as well, mostly via fear their social and other aspects and them personally,  are being undermined by hearing people, hearing systems, and hearing Health advice yadda yadda.  Paranoia central.

I've yet to see an ASL or BSL public awareness gig that actually included all with hearing loss, they do provide captions occasionally as justification, but the content is near always completely irrelevant to anyone but them.  Just one way they can exploit the inclusive remit. Their representation is polarised too.  It's a joke but sadly at the expense of the majority with a hearing loss,  They can justify this discrimination via their 'rights' as a culture with their own language, and the systems humour them, but they are still leaving others out, still making dubious claims, still publishing stats they make up themselves, and still running campaigns that will only benefit them and nobody else.

Of course, EXclusion isn't discrimination is it? Woe betide you if you make that point.   That can launch a  torrent of claims you are abusing deaf people (They mean Deaf people, but the mainstream doesn't see that difference), are attacking their culture, them, their language whatever, result? you can get shut down, banned online from sites, and if that fails, carry the label of a hater/homophobic/ racist,  they can pile any 'ist' in to make their point.  Some rights are rights too far and some Deaf are making the most of those grey areas.

Once you make a decision you are stuck with it online, you cannot backpedal, and why would you? if you believe it was right the first time?

Monday, 5 October 2020

Having Hearing Loss in a Hearing World


Do you ever wonder where you and your hearing loss belong?

When trying to adjust to life with hearing loss, many people say they feel caught between two worlds – the Deaf world and the Hearing world. They feel they don’t fit in with either the world of people who don’t hear anything or in the world of people who hear everything.

They’re stuck in a nameless zone, an undefined space (that feels like the picture above) between hearing and deaf that they were inadequately prepared to deal with. They don’t understand sign language and even with the best hearing technology, they still can’t hear well enough to consider themselves a hearing person.

It is a fact that the world operates on the needs of the majority, which in this case is people with normal hearing, but it doesn’t work as well for people with hearing loss. 

People who are new to hearing loss wonder if they should learn sign language, partly out of fear that they will eventually lose all of their hearing, and partly because they feel dislocated. Yet knowledge of signed language doesn’t automatically enrol someone into Deaf Culture which is a way of life, with distinguished values and language and where deafness is not considered a disability.

On the other hand, if you ask a hearing person if they appreciate being part of the hearing world, they would say what are you talking about! Hearing people don’t consciously embrace their hearing as defining who they are. (If they did, maybe they would take better care of the hearing they’ve got!) Hearing people do what they always do – they hear naturally, without thinking about it. Whereas a Deaf person would proudly self-identify as deaf, a hearing person would not likely introduce themselves as Hi, I’m Susan, a hearing person.

I look at it differently. How well we hear (or don’t hear) is not a hard border between separate worlds. Our language has not changed – in most cases, we continue to use the spoken word in any of the upwards of 7,000 languages that exist today. What changes is how we communicate. Hearing loss doesn’t eject us from our world; it alters the world we already live in. Our comfortable way of communication has gone, leaving challenges behind for us to grapple with. The worst of these is that it disconnects us, in a million small ways, from other people – people we love, people we work with, random people we meet through daily living.

In spite of this, our hearing loss doesn’t mean we’ve fallen through a crack in the world. It just means that on the list of attributes that make a Perfect Person, you’ve had to uncheck the box that says Impeccable Hearing. Do you know anyone who can tick off every box on this list? A Perfect Person who is undamaged, unflawed, who excels in every aspect of being a human being? Dealing with hearing loss simply places us in a new area of our humanness, where something has changed, something we don’t like, something that causes difficulty.

While science has conquered many of the organic dark forces attacking our health, hearing loss and tinnitus are still waiting for the breakthroughs. In the meantime, we have ever-improving, brilliant technology that has brought our people back to the table. Hearing aids, cochlear implants, speech-to-text, Bluetooth, telecoils and looping and unlimited apps-for-that! The negative stigma is disappearing as we learn more about hearing loss and its powerful on ever-increasing numbers of people. This is a huge game-changer.

An important self-help trick is to shift our thinking from hard-core worlds to inclusive communities of people with similar issues and interests. That’s the point where we understand that we are members of the hearing loss community, sometimes referred to as “hard of hearing people”. Whatever you want to call it, it’s a very, very large group of people who use the spoken language, assistive technology, and who take advantage of all forms of visual information, including speech-to-text such as captioning. Some even use sign language as an expressive aid to comprehension.

Everything looks and sounds different when we develop hearing loss. But it’s the same world and the same people – most of whom are waiting for us to reconnect and are willing to help us do it.