Thursday, 12 November 2020

Being Deaf managing COVID

Deaf have really noticed that where the choice to mix with peers is limited and poor access via covid they lack the skills to interact with hearing.  This is a problem that has always existed with deaf they move from deaf education to the deaf community and then when that is difficult, suffer via lack of skills or confidence to interact with the rest of society.

Repeated requests to make inclusion a real concept with the deaf has been defeated time and again by opposition, and by a lack of deaf confidence with hearing people.  Rather than spending 24/7 of their social life just with other deaf they need to acquire skills and confidence to approach hearing people who mostly are more than willing to engage, it is just that deaf prefer other deaf so that bridge has never really been built or encouraged enough, and random activism insisting it is all some 'hearing plot' to remove sign or culture.

When COVID is over they will just go back to the same old again.  Deaf have a great opportunity during covid to make that next step to engage a lot more with hearing people, with their own families even, who took second place to deaf peers.  Unless that is addressed day one at education nothing will ever change.  The deaf reliance on face to face is also an issue as communication is still an issue even with facetime and zoom etc where real-time access still is not working properly.  We may not have a community to get back to and many clubs may never reopen.

It's good some have used text and paper and pencil because these are a way in to inclusion and who knows, others may learn to sign with them, which they won't whilst deaf adopt the community ethos of going it alone.  Covid exposed this as unviable in a pandemic and a pandemic is something the deaf cannot challenge either.  Inclusion takes effort real effort, but the only way to make access a reality whilst a dedicated deaf community is a barrier to it.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Dept of Education and the care plan for deaf.

Does it empower support by right?  by practicality? or by cost?  Systems tend to only provide support at the very basic level to meet the rules.  I'm more interested in what qualifications the deaf need to enter further education? or university? since, Uni's complained deaf were enabled entry but lacked even the basics of English to follow their chosen course? Even demanded BSL-only tuition which hadn't the relevant signs to teach? or, the prospect of a mainstream job after?

Lockdown rules for English Deaf.

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Mainstream versus deaf schools

The government has to take into account everyone's view in that 9 out of 10 parents of deaf children are hearing, and legally responsible for their own children, and also, that state policy is inclusion via mainstreaming. 

There seem to be dual campaigns running, 

(1) Parents (And many deaf themselves), are demanding more support for deaf children in mainstream and,

(2) Deaf campaigners want to pull deaf children out of that and operate deaf schooling again but with BSL as a primary medium of tuition. 

Pie in the sky views but, what undermines the 'Deaf' campaigns is predominantly they DON'T have deaf children, so the state is going to go with the majority and parental view. 

ATR is a mainstream supporter personally because you cannot include deaf people by operating an exclusive system of education.   It's OK to be different but not to make a meal of it and lose the point.

There is little support for sign language for adults either, not all deaf people use sign language, also, the huge sea change and retraining of teachers to conform to the BSL view doesn't exist to make it work, there is no national program for it either.  We are told 95K UK signers exist but only 900 BSL part-time interpreters, logic suggests these deaf demands in education are unrealistic. 

As regards to the oral thing the premier deaf school in the UK IS an oral school (Mary Hare) and turns out the most highly educated deaf people.  Who in turn pretend to be born-again sign users so they can control campaigns themselves, claiming they are worse off orally when their very obvious qualifications suggest no basis for it.

Deaf campaigns come out all the time (I think they are breeding them somewhere), but I don't think any of them are based on realism or logic, but come from some view hearing are against signers. Indeed this is the main thrust of their claims and spreading paranoia via cultural rights.    Some sort of lemming syndrome except they are claiming they are pushed over a cliff and not heading at a pace to the edge with blindfolds on and claiming someone else put the cliff there.

As Mr Biden said yesterday opponents aren't your enemies they are your own people... your parents, your siblings, your friends, etc.  Deaf kids need an education without that, no deaf community, or at best one impoverished with no tools to break out of it.  Telling them the community will provide is plain lies.

Monday, 9 November 2020

25 years of struggle, was it worth it?

This week marks 25 years of the inauguration of the UK Disability Act.   Is there a cause to celebrate it?  ATR was one of the very few (The only one deaf), who attended the launch in Manchester of the campaign for it at Manchester University.  I attended via my position as vice-chair of a coalition of a disabled people, the first in S Wales, and the only deaf person ever to join such a disability grouping at that time.

I found the launch a real eye-opener to the deaf world, although I was (and still), profoundly deaf at the time and supported by a disabled friend via note-taking observing the approach to a disability law by deaf was I found at the time, rather poor and the attitude questionable.

Initially, I took my place front row to follow the speeches by various disabled people, I asked someone there 'where do the deaf people sit?' as I wanted to sit next to them, I was expecting text access, of course only  BSL was, which the disabled organisers told me they had paid for so the deaf could participate, the BDA and its members being the prime area to include, there being few grassroots attending at all.

As the actual launch began I found myself sitting on my own, I asked the organisers 'where are the deaf?' One disabled man was very angry, he said 'They came and then they went, they registered their attendance and then left the campus to do a tour of the coronation streets set.'  Naively I said 'why register if they had no intention to stay?' he replied' I suppose because they are claiming expenses from their charity and needed proof of attendance..'

I was staggered, I said 'who paid for their support?' he said 'We disabled did.'  As the meeting had started I sat down, when I was approached by two women, they said 'Are you deaf? do you sign?'  I said 'I am deaf yes, but I cannot follow an interpreter I don't really know sign language.'  They then asked me if they could sign for me anyway or they won't get paid, so taken aback I said Ok.  They said it is important as the media is here that deaf sign language is seen on the platform with disabled.  I sat through the speeches and there was some music after as well from Johnny Crescendo a disabled musician.  I was the only deaf person in attendance and apparently 'carrying the BSL flag' there!

Afterwards, Clive Mason who was a presenter of the SEE HEAR program approached me and asked would I be interviewed for the program, I said sorry I don't sign and would like to point out I was disappointed at the lack of deaf support there, he then said OK we will interview someone else!  I watched the SEE HEAR Coverage later and he found out as I did there were no deaf people there to interview.  It's on record he interviewed Johnny Crescendo instead.

Later at home, I was watching 'No Need To Shout' on the TV [which was a text program on the BBC for deaf people], and I read flattering support for the disability launch at Manchester from the BDA.  I decided to contact the British Deaf Association to point out they did not actual arrive except to register and then had left again rather cynically doing that to claim expenses whilst they went somewhere else.  I was backed up by the 2 BSL interpreters who stated I was telling the truth.  

The BDA shrugged it off and I had a letter sent that said 'Well as you know deaf aren't really disabled, just discriminated against.' The fact they had cynically exploited the launch for a 'day out' I found pretty poor really and said so.  I said will you ask these deaf to repay the expenses they claimed for non-attendance? he said 'No,  We can't prove they weren't there..'  I said I was proof so were two hearing BSL interpreters, SEE HEAR, and the disabled committee itself as well as the Coronation Street set could, but to no avail.

To add insult to real disabled injury, the sign user has made the most OF the Disability Act, hypocrisy nowhere near cuts it. As regards to the Act was groundbreaking, it wasn't, it could have been but for the RNID who reneged on the  'teeth' the disabled demanded of the law to capitalise on the support aspect of it, so told the system as they represented the majority with hearing loss a watered-down disability act was acceptable.  Then promptly sacked the BSL using CEO, who promptly joined a new disability state-approved group and then was forced out of there too for being disability unaware.

If anyone is in any doubt of the ridiculousness of deaf and their campaigns for equality or dual approaches to inclusion, perhaps they need to read this all again and to understand none of the laws we got afterwards is really working either because the deaf and HoH systems are divided and want different things. One accepts a rule, the other challenges that same rule.  Their charities are just chasing the funds.  When I read 'Deaf aren't really disabled, deafness isn't a disability.' I just think they just haven't understood theirs... or taking us all for mugs.'

Their attitude to disabled people was tantamount to being openly discriminatory and dismissive.


Sunday, 8 November 2020

Mainstreaming deaf children doesn't work?

ATR getting in the neck for supporting the mainstreaming of deaf children.  The ATR stance is that specialised schooling for all deaf children that is just FOR deaf children had a history of chronic failure that killed aspiration and academic advance for generations of the deaf.  

Even if, it founded a culture and language of sorts, it failed them educationally and thus isolated them as a result.  The trade-off ATR finds unacceptable is it is 'better' deaf have a social community than further education, inclusion, or literacy.  What you end up with is an impoverished community convinced everyone is against them. 

We remain unconvinced the deaf own version of language and communication is a sufficient or viable trade-off in that respect and the need for its continual support from birth to death must be a real issue for all.  We believe the deaf fear a community falling unless they remain apart.  They remain unconvinced inclusion is a positive but a 'means' of destroying that.

We agree the lack of support in the mainstream is undermining the concept and arming those who want a back to the future approach where all deaf sign in a school and remain predominantly, apart from the main event.  The last few years more pressures being applied for opposition to mainstreaming by default.

Our comment is more about how mainstream in education for the deaf can enable the deaf child to manage inclusion.   Clearly, there are deaf areas who feel 'Who needs it?' we have our own community.  (Which is not strictly accurate today with less than 20 UK deaf schools, and a cull of 70% of deaf clubs). If the deaf children are prevented at day one from being included in the mainstream, then the die is cast.  The concept of mainstreaming is still valid.  Instead of adopting the position mainstream sucks and is anti-deaf, perhaps more effort into ensuring that support to make it work?  

Deaf campaigners have to understand mainstreaming is still a 'new' concept in deaf education after generations of failure via deaf schools.  Deaf schools/Institutions started circa 1800s mainstream is near middle 20thc.   It needs time to work.  The way deaf are today managing the net and English seems testament enough it is already working.  We can read any day of the week online clear proof English isn't an issue with the deaf as it was when deaf schools were about.

The issue currently in the mainstream is cost-saving, closing down special schools saves money, but, since mainstreaming, (And advances in treating hearing loss and deafness), there just isn't the deaf children to fill a deaf school or the specialised staff to manage them now unless we revert back to sending these children to 'boarding schools' and such which parents no longer agree with.   We would still need to re-train the professionals who scattered when deaf schools closed, or have retired. 

Statistic-wise only a small percentage of deaf children won't be able to manage mainstream, my area only FOUR deaf children were assessed as being unable to attend mainstream obviously you cannot set up a  class or a 'deaf' school for that small number needing quite intensive help.  It is why boarding schools etc came into being.  The mid 20thc view is that specialisation in many cases wasn't necessary, and did nothing for inclusion for the deaf,  parents were exerting pressures on the deaf schools because they hadn't moved deaf education academically from a plateau equivalent to a 9 or 10 yr old.

There is no proof or statistic than a sign based education would even work on its own, as again deaf children would be the 'guinea pigs'. Mainstream has gone too far to backtrack now and disrupt yet again deaf education.  We had the conundrum where deaf campaigners were demanding further education and University places based on that, accompanied by an interpreter or care support.

Educational pundits said the damage was pretty much already done via deaf/special schools and FE and Uni areas weren't deaf ones and posed the isolation of deaf, because so few could manage, meant a lot of deaf dropping out, but blaming lack of support for that, not, lack of academic nous.  Universities complained it was allowing students access to a system they can't use or were qualified for.   The deaf that did get to these establishments also demanded separate access and systems just like they experienced in deaf schools.  This again points to the damage deaf schools did to the inclusion and access issues.  Deaf were unable to adapt.

What we see and get is relentless claims of discrimination etc nobody is sitting down to attempt to find a workable answer. Deaf campaigners have just stopped listening.  The other sticking point is that the deaf campaigns tend to now demand BSL immersive schooling as an option, that is where the opposition is.  Such opposition suggests the language and signs are not there to make it work in further education, and all educational areas are English-based ones, areas, deaf are struggling with, or opposed to.  It is not remotely feasible or practicable even via access rights, they are going to adapt to the deaf way at all,  the issues have to be addressed at day one, not 16 years later..

ATR covered in-depth the fact, that deaf ADULTS did not pursue further education and literacy in the schools themselves, or as community-supported classes, even with support.  There is a mindset that prevents them, that mindset starts day one, which mainstream is attempting to address and is being determinedly opposed by deaf activism.