Saturday, 24 October 2020

I'm deaf not rude.

When Kelli Adrienne Duncan, a Tampa, Fla.-based paramedic specializing in occupational health, was boarding a Delta flight to Hartford earlier this month, she wore a mask that read “Just Deaf, Not Rude.” The 43-year-old, who is deaf and uses sign language while speaking to others, wears the mask to let others know about her disability.

“My friend and I were visit family.  I was so excited to see them and introduce her, I was on cloud nine,” Duncan tells Yahoo Life. Unfortunately, that feeling was short lived — at least, temporarily. As the pair boarded, Duncan says they were greeted by two flight attendants.

“I wanted to make sure that my best friend and I sat together and since it was a double aisle flight, I needed assistance from one of the attendants,” Duncan says. “As my friend was looking to see which aisle we should go down, she heard the flight attendant who was behind me rudely say, ‘Are you really deaf?’”

Duncan recalls that her friend looked over at the attendant with disgust and assured her that Duncan was, indeed, deaf. The friend, who was visibly upset, told Duncan to just keep moving and eventually explained to her the rudeness of the staff member. While the paramedic was upset, she says she held her head up high, determined not to let it ruin her trip. “I was very glad that my best friend was there because I usually travel alone and frequently struggle with communication due to the masks. I was very hurt to know someone would insult a disabled person who has had to deal with this my whole life,” she explains.

Indeed, being deaf or hard of hearing has proven to be especially challenging with the rise of mask use, which further hampers communication. While clear masks have been presented as a more accessible workaround, they have not yet become the standard. Moreover, clear masks are not free of their own problems (some individuals in the deaf community counter that there are still issues regarding these styles of masks fogging up, and point to the greater issues of the disability community being “routinely excluded in disaster preparedness plans”). 

Duncan’s story finally caught the attention of the airline after her sister, ESPN sports commentator Lauren “Elle” Duncan, posted a tweet about the incident and tagged the airline.  “My sister, who is one of my biggest advocates and my rock, was quite upset and mentioned the incident on Twitter. Delta contacted her almost immediately and said they would investigate the incident,” says Kelly. She adds that the airline did a great job of reaching out, apologizing for the incident and expressing a desire to further discuss what a positive solution might look like.

“They told her they will have the crew attend sensitivity training and will look into providing masks that show the mouth so deaf and hard of hearing folks can read lips,” says Duncan.


Friday, 23 October 2020

AOHL ditches Welsh site

AOHL Cymru dies. 'Join their growing community'?  It didn't grow in Wales that is why they are closing.  Welsh deaf told to use the English main site instead.  This is old news as all responses went to England anyway, we doubt the site was ever manned in Wales and their refusal at the Assembly to include grassroots feedback and the Welsh assembly refusing to offer communication support to deaf charity reps pretty much killed off its 'all-party' group on deafness that hasn't met for 3 years. 

Wales (like Ireland, and Scotland), are devolved nations, and the AOHL never recognised this fact, they refused to set up a genuine welsh-run annexe of the AOHL. Grassroots were annoyed charities were just using the representation for funding for themselves and deaf inclusion was secondary. This is the second major charity to accept welsh deaf and Hard of Hearing don't support them so have pulled the plug.  Recent BDA interferences in the Welsh (and unsupported campaign for a BSL Act there), led to accusations the welsh campaign was being manipulated and actually run by the Northern English BDA membership (ATR traced contribution to Newcastle).  They are all cutting Wales loose for lack of support for BSL and their lack of deaf schools.  What they said today:-

We will stop using this account from 30 October. Please follow our main account Action on Hearing Loss and join our growing community from around the UK. 🙂

Erm, don't call us we won't be calling you... charity is dead.  Just a query, there is no AOHL is there? they just reverted to the RNID.

STOP PRESS:  AOHL/RNID is closing ALL its regional FB and Twitter sites, has sold off its Deaf care arm and environmental aids set up, are they on the skids?  Or are we to be assailed with yet another 're-brand'?

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Soap inclusion doesn't wash.

I think the complainers don't understand it is a soap opera and not 'real-life'.   It's ridiculous claim to be inclusive of every minority in London, and a few new ones they invented themselves except they call them actors, soon expose their claims they are anything but opportunists and amateurs at that.  Being the BBC it is expected of them.  There are many dissenting voices who want the BBC unsupported by a licence and complaints their news is hashtag based and twitter fed as well as biased.  They just spent £85m on a new set for this televised farce losing viewers.  They have a licence to print money from the UK taxpayer and we want that stopped.  No TV channel in the USA would ever get off the ground with their attitude.

The actor portraying Ben is the 3rd re-incarnation as I am aware of 3 different people, one incarnation was wearing glasses for years until he was gaoled for killing someone, then emerging from prison gay.    Who also wore a hearing aid then didn't then did again and then went for a CI after failing to do the sign thing by using a signer that didn't really who mostly lip-read everything.  

The penny still did not drop it was a soap opera. Eastenders leaves itself wide open as a sitting target because they make unsubstantiated claims of 'gritty realism', any area reflecting 'Walford' would be under Tier 3 and then some ages ago.  After overdosing on inclusion with Autistics, trans, gays, murderers, rapists, alcoholics, gangsters, lesbians, and enough BAME inclusion to counter BLM as a concept, and with paedo's etc, realism left the party about 15 years ago and it became a home-made training video for social workers and the police. As we read the anti-CI brigade soon saw a cause celeb. As they did with the inclusion of Autism and with hearing aids.  I can assure readers parents have suffered even worse reactions then go to the bottle.  That isn't denigrating the disabled individual at all it is reflecting and reacting to the sheer stress of lack of support or empathy.  Those who think caring for seriously disabled children is a well-supported doddle obviously never had any.

Not everyone gets the support to manage and can cope. There is some grand assumption they are all 'rain men' which is untrue. There are problems with consulting disabled and deaf areas, they aren't mutually inclusive themselves and today, everyone has a view of what is a 'correct portrayal' of their issue.  deaf V Deaf v disability V HI versus.... are recurring themes even on this aggregate. And they ALWAYS start and end with 'Deaf do this, you need to to do that, face me and...'  Quite obviously the storyline vanishes and its an awareness vid for someone's own idea of what awareness is, but only if it reflects what THEY think, because no awareness consensus exists.

"When EastEnders returned from its three month, Covid-imposed break, the storyline about Ben Mitchell’s hearing loss was abruptly brought to an end. He simply switched on a cochlear implant.  

In the real world, though, months of tuning sessions and speech/hearing lessons are needed to help people get used to a cochlear implant. Even then, people with implants are still D/deaf (a term used to cover all forms of deafness) and often use lip reading and sign language as part of their everyday lives.  

Yet from the moment Ben’s implant was switched on, his hearing appeared to be “fixed”. He directly described his hearing as “back” in at least two episodes. We saw Ben easily hear people who were facing away from him, including in a busy street and in a café with music playing, and speaking with a phone pressed to his deaf ear. The integration of sign language alongside spoken language in his scenes with other characters disappeared. 

This is medically inaccurate. Framing cochlear implants as a “cure” for deafness is a dangerous myth that causes real harm. The D/deaf community has been pushing back against it for years. Morgan Leahy, a deaf writer and cochlear implant user, writes: “Romanticising cochlear implant technology puts further pressure onto deaf people to conform.” The myth of a “cure” can also lead to D/deaf children being denied access to sign language.  

Jumping from despair, where we left Ben pre-pandemic, directly to cure also fuels a dangerous narrative that people who acquire disabilities cannot develop their disabled identity and live happily with that disability. “The end of the story just devastated me,” says Evie, a deaf EastEnders fan. “Hearing people started asking me when I was getting surgery to get my hearing back. The notion that without my hearing ‘back’, I was less of a person, that I needed to be fixed, undid years of developing my deaf identity.”

This is not the first time that EastEnders has failed the D/deaf and disabled community. They have traditionally either ignored disability, failed to give the few disabled actors proper storylines, or depicted disability as a tragedy to be neatly packed away once the storyline moves on.  

As an autistic person, I had to suffer through this last year when Ollie Carter’s autism diagnosis was used as a catalyst for his mother’s alcoholism. Seeing myself depicted as a tragic burden forced me to wrestle with feelings and perceptions that have helped create a mental health crisis in the autistic community.  

Autistic people are nine times more likely to die by suicide, and autistic children are 28 times more likely to think about or attempt suicide. If autistic people had been at the writers’ table, the dangerous ripples of this story would have been highlighted. But instead, the “tragic burden” narrative was reinforced. This is why it’s crucial to include disabled people at every step of the creative process.

A consultation with D/deaf and disabled people would have allowed the writers to come up with realistic ways to include Ben’s deafness (with or without his implant) accurately, without interrupting new stories: whether making it clear that he is lip-reading, continuing to integrate sign language, or using Ben’s recent police questioning as an opportunity to address his need for adjustments.

Disability isn’t something that goes away when it’s no longer the main story. And no one knows this better than us – the disabled people who live those stories.


Campaign for where is the Interpreter?


I'm half inclined to support part of the above campaign especially real research into deaf need, instead of the completely random and biased attempts to mislead we keep seeing. However, I would want research done independently and not by deaf groups or charities so we can respect the results. 

The deaf need is not specifically sign language.  The BDA, RNID, and NDCS stats are all from own sources and 'think of a number' in basis. All 3 are stand-alone charities either for or anti specialising in hearing loss support. The real need is still undefined for deaf or hard of hearing people, until we actually know what is needed, it's a lottery and guesswork. 

The problem is deaf politics interfere with finding out what those needs are and no area except the NHS has ever published a viable statistic to quote and that is clinically db-based.. 

The fact find the terp is at base suggests to me it is a very closed area of deaf people this campaign is aimed at? and virtually only one format is used or promoted which isn't reflecting the widest deaf need is it?  As covered elsewhere there have been issues of BSL Interpreters refusing to do face to face translation especially in medical areas for fear of infection so all is done by remote.  A number of BSL interpreters have said they have a right to refuse to support a deaf sign user who is demanding they take masks off, they say that deaf 'right' exposes them and they reserve their right to not comply.

All the current campaign about are because Boris hasn't a terp in downing street updates whilst all other UK regions do provide one.  Although all updates are subtitled, and all issues covered in-depth online, these deaf are saying its no use to them, and/or they want a signed version. ATR challenged the concept these short signed updates actually provide all the information deaf need on the basis of time limits, multi questions being asked and a barrage of graphs and statistics that change daily the deaf find very difficult to follow anyway.  Signed updates that exist tend not to explain them either but 'keep it simple'.

To that end ATR suggests their charities and dedicated BSLTV channels do that instead.  We are seeing deaf campaigners targeting a single area that doesn't inform them of details anyway they are making a point of access, not a point of detailed information access.  There are 'Tiers' of restrictions, local restrictions and a lot don't mirror what we actually see with Boris as 4 regions have 4 approaches.  

Logic suggests dedicated BSL areas and local authorities are the real people to lobby, LA's know you and your area and near, and legally obliged to provide information in the manner you require.  Equally deaf charities who promote sign access should be backing this up anyway.

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

My Hearing Loss Story

In Memoriam.


54 years ago the world was unaware of a small little mining village that would change the lives of so many people not just in Wales but around the world ... Aberfan, 116 small children and 28 adults lost forever we will always Remember.

8 of the best speech to text software

Although not designed for specific deaf use but USA business, some amazing software is available deaf could really use.

 Best Overall: Dragon Anywhere

Available for Android and iOS devices, Dragon Anywhere is a premium professional tool that’s a big deal in the world of dictation apps. It’s 99% accurate and comes with voice editing and formatting. Over time, it becomes faster and more accurate as it adapts to your voice. You can use the app for as long as you need — there are no word limits. For supported versions, you can synchronize Dragon Anywhere with your desktop and do voice work on your computer as well. The application costs $15 per month and $150 per year. For groups, you can contact Nuance’s customer support team for a quote. 

Best Assistant: Google Assistant.

Google Assistant does a lot, including playing music and opening maps. One of its best features? Voice recognition. You can use voice command to look up information and tell Google Assistant to do certain things. But the app can also convert speech to text. It sends messages, drafts emails, manages tasks, and adds events to your calendar. While it’s not a speech to text app in the purest sense, it will still help organize your ideas and notes with voice recognition.

Best for Transcription: Transcribe - Speech to Text

Journalists or secretaries who have a lot of conversations to track may find this app useful. Using A.I., Transcribe can turn any voice or video memo into a transcription in over 80 different languages and dialects.  Keep in mind that Transcribe is only available for Apple products with Voice Memo and video since there’s no direct in-app dictation. Transcribe can also get pricey. (That said, it costs less than human transcriber rates, though is more prone to error with a 90% accuracy rate.) Users receive a free trial for 15 minutes of transcription. For every hour extra, you pay $5. For ten hours, you can pay $30.

Best for Long Recordings: Speechnotes - Speech to Text

Writers who think faster than they can type will appreciate this app. Speechnotes is excellent for organizing long notes thanks to two special features. First of all, it doesn't stop recording — even if you pause to think or breathe, so you can keep the recording open for as long as needed. Second, you can tap a button or use a verbal command to insert punctuation marks into your work so they won't become too unwieldy. The free app has a small ad banner, but you can upgrade to a premium version to get rid of it. Other perks: It won't clog up your phone space at 4 MB, plus it saves all your recordings as TXT files. Keep in mind that Speechnotes is only available on your browser and Android. 

Best for Notes: Voice Notes

If you have an idea, but no pen or paper on hand, you can always use your voice. Voice Notes has speech recognition that allows you to create notes efficiently. You can then organize your notes into categories and create reminders by customizing alerts synced with your phone calendar. The interface is intuitive and easy to use; you press the microphone button and speak to record. You’ll even be able to make your notes with the phone screen turned off. The app can recognize up to 119 languages, just in case you need to record notes in something other than English. The app is free, though you can subscribe to a premium plan to support the developer. Voice Notes is a popular app, but the one major limitation is that it's only available on Android phones. Plus, you need to have Google voice search installed to use it, which will take up more space on your phone.

Best for Messages: SpeechTexter - Speech to Text

Need to send a quick message but find your hands occupied? Here’s a quick solution. Using Google’s backend, SpeechTexter allows you to create SMS messages, text notes, emails, and tweets with your own voice. The easy-to-use app supports over 60 languages and has a 95% accuracy rate. You can customize your own commands for punctuation as well. It's possible to use the app when you're not connected to the Internet, though keep in mind that the accuracy lowers in offline mode and the recognition speed depends on your Internet connectivity. To use the app offline, make sure that you install language packs of your preference. Keep in mind that this option is limited when it comes to languages, as you’ll only be able to choose from a dozen major tongues as opposed to over 60.

Best for Translation: iTranslate Converse

Brought to you by the same developers behind the popular iTranslate app, iTranslate Converse is as close to real-time translation as you’ll get, which is convenient if you need to communicate with clients who don’t speak the same language as you or if you’re travelling abroad. All you have to do is set the two languages. Then tap, hold, and speak into your phone. The app will pick up on the language that you’re speaking, then issue out a translation — even in noisy environments. The app is capable of recognizing 38 languages. After your conversation is done, you can download full transcriptions. It’s not always perfect, but it’s faster than going through a personal assistant app to look up translations for you. While it has a subscription fee, iTranslate won't stretch your budget significantly. When you download it, you'll receive a seven-day free trial. After that runs out, you'll need to upgrade to the pro version for $5 per month or $40 per year. 

Best for Niche Industry Terms: Braina

Braina is a personal A.I. that you can use to communicate with your computer through your Android or IOS device. The program can convert your voice into text for any website or software program, including word processing ones. It recognizes most medical, legal, and scientific terms, which makes it ideal if you work in a niche industry with technical jargon. You can also teach Braina uncommon names and vocabulary with ease.  Other than learning niche industry terms, Braina also has other helpful voice recognition features. For example, it can recognize over 100 different languages so that it can serve non-English users just as well. The free “lite” version comes with a few dictation offerings, but for full access, you’ll want to upgrade either to Pro ($49) for one year, or Pro Lifetime ($139) for unlimited access.

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

The Deaf Elite

Deaf elitism exists simply because there are deaf who acquired ENGLISH and so are more capable of advancing than lesser educated peers.  There is strong evidence this more able/elite deaf then set themselves up as campaigners, mentors, awareness teachers, open up charities and such to promote DEPENDENCY for their lesser-able peers and guess who provides it?  Money for old rope.

These are very adept deaf people, not to be underestimated, they can counter and even zero huge support charities as well. Mostly they are people who have very real and viable alternatives TO sign language.  One school for the deaf in the UK provides 60% of ALL UK leading campaigners on sign language, yet, it is an oral one.  Paddy Ladd was oral e.g. but became a 'born again' signer after his opus got read and there was mileage to be made in the USA.  The ASL/BSL community has not enabled deaf to move outward indeed the drive is to cement this alternative to real inclusion.   You have to be in it to win it basically. 

It is true the 'community' can be unwelcoming to the deaf who don't adopt the position, the elite are determining who is deaf and who isn't, mostly based on to what degree this elite can control them, not grassroots, who are too disadvantaged to raise the issue with it and reliant as they are on sign cannot communicate with non-signers anyway.  Unless the deaf 'visitor' has the wherewithal to learn sign themselves it is a waste of time.  

Relentless campaigns for 'help', support, rights etc fuelled by dire warning 'everyone is against the deaf', 'they are against sign language', 'want to undermine the community', 'trying to make us hearing',  tend to suggest that deaf are left out, ignored, deprived discriminated against etc when the very essence of the rights drive is to maintain its alternative community which this elite controls. 

Advance, further education, real inclusion, are not really on the community agenda, the elite doesn't want too much acceptance their power is gone.  The UK hasn't really a base for advance via the community any more, deaf clubs have gone to the wall, deaf schools have closed, all the negativity (And ego-fed self-promotion of this elite), has been online let's all have more deaf schools again, this time sign only ones etc, so they can create another generation who feel even more deprived and next time no English at all. The message carries because grassroots don't engage or cannot. All they know is they sign and are isolated. We are supposed to have in the UK 100K deaf, but less than 24K actually rely on sign language to what degree nobody knows.

The deaf community may well discover they have been confined to isolation by their own leadership.  I don't buy the bilingual debates, they use this to suggest ASL or BSL allows English in, but, we all know differently don't we?  Many deaf cannot follow anything BUT sign language and a lot aren't interested or capable of changing that or acquiring other essential skills.  

We can be thankful the young deaf are no longer engaging with this elite and see through it all, they want what hearing have and they know what they need, to get that, and it isn't some glorious isolation in a deaf club forever complaining where is the help? Deaf are doing it for themselves.  Having a community doesn't mean inclusion is unwelcome unless the deaf lack any confidence outside it.  

Maybe making a welcome haven for such people isn't really the way forward.  There is no impetus for any change is there?

Sunday, 18 October 2020

+angry Deaf

Where a deaf actor has the necessary skills they should be considered.  Unfortunately, most films are not there just to promote various areas or raise direct awareness,  inclusion isn't a reason to insert a deaf awareness campaign and offering lectures etc on how to do that, which sadly seems to be vogue for those deaf who do get included in media, it near always turns into 'deaf do this, or Deaf do that' etc, which may have no point to the actual story being related.  Inclusion isn't an excuse to launch into an awareness campaign and disrupt the point of the story.

As it usually is, it is the sign using deaf who complain most about these issues.  They complain if a CI user is included who doesn't sign, or a lip-reader who doesn't, via the 'Deaf do this..' approach, which isn't inclusive, what they mean is SIGNING deaf do this but other deaf actually don't. Which a film maker won't feel has anything to do with his or her tale.

Raising the temperature somewhat! there are issues of education and experience, while a deaf actor may be well versed in the deaf community and culture etc, to participate in an area where it doesn't, raises issues of relating to other actors.  So many deaf only relate to other deaf, so the first hurdle to overcome is to use deaf actors who can live/work equally and without issue with hearing etc.

Deaf acting will 'arrive' only when nobody notices they stand out to anyone else.  I rather fear the Signing area sets 'rules' that make their hiring problematic, they aren't really hired or paid to tell people they are deaf or to highlight sign language, [except in areas dedicated to that].  There is, of course, a box office reason to hire hearing to do deaf jobs, especially if they are profile actors who can 'bring in the money' because they are more widely recognised. 

Media isn't a charity. The root of it all is a lack of deaf-hearing experience and, it tells.  We know 'Deaf do this..' etc but hearing, DON'T, so we need to fit in.  Also hearing constitute the majority of paying audience.  Deaf are a minority, it is, how it is.