Friday, 27 November 2020

Contacting your internet provider.

Apparently, there are still internet services providers who don't know there are users who can not hear.   The concensus of official advice is to use text relay systems in the UK, but providers are refusing to take those calls and demanding others act for deaf people.  E.G. demanding a voice call response this was what they asked of ATR who had an issue with his provision.   

ATR casebook: ATR had called in initially a freelance computer engineer, who said the issue could be sorted easily by the provider instead, as there were some password and set up issues, so he obligingly made a call to the provision and was told they would not help the person making the call, the client had to make the call.  He said 'the man is deaf he won't hear what you say, if you tell me I can do it for him', they hung up on him.  

So he called back and said 'I used to work for your company, if he cannot hear you, how can he respond to what you say, after another 15 minutes of arguing they relented and said 'does he talk?'  He said 'yes he can', so they said 'we ask you to take the call and then that deaf bloke can use his voice to tell us the answer we can record it, but you have to use HIS phone not yours.

The man wrote down what they said and I spoke into the phone in response and said if it was my partner's service that would not have been possible because she had limited speech, they said no problem get her to sign you are her carer form then we can do it with you, I said I am calling now via someone else because you wouldn't take a call from me!  I don't have nor need a carer and, why aren't you accepting text relay calls? they hung up on us again.

Official BT survey 2019.

Only 1 in 20 of those who are deaf or have hearing loss can complete tasks over the phone, according to a new survey, leaving 70% of the deaf community (8.4 million) to ask friends or family members for help with basic calls.

The poll commissioned by BT and in partnership with the UK Council on Deafness, reveals that despite the rise in digital technologies (such as web chat and social media), phone calls remain an essential form of communication for 80% of the deaf community, with 46% calling businesses at least once a week.

However, for many, the calling experience for everyday tasks such as booking appointments (90%), paying bills (53%) or purchasing products and services (53%), is poor, with certain services (such as healthcare and banking) inaccessible for a quarter of the deaf community. The research comes as the Next Generation Text service provided by BT– which helps people with hearing and speech difficulties communicate over the phone – is rebranded to Relay UK.

The Ofcom regulated service translates text to speech and vice versa with the help of a specially trained Relay Assistant based in one of BT’s contact centres[ii] around the country. The new app offers an improved customer experience and new functionality. The technology, developed by BT, enables a user to easily make a call based on their own accessibility needs. The user can connect to a call by selecting one of three options: Type & Read, Speak & Read, or Type & Hear.

Available for download today[iii], the new Relay UK app is free to use[iv] and is available to UK mobile customers in the UK. The development of Relay UK has been led by BT on behalf of stakeholders across the deaf community, such as Action on Hearing Loss, UK Council on Deafness, National Deaf Children’s Society and Hearing Link.[v]

Relay UK provides a vital text relay service to help people communicate by phone with the use of a text relay assistant in real time. This service provides an essential way for people who are deaf or have a hearing loss to access everyday services, from booking a meeting or accessing healthcare including emergency services to booking a table at a restaurant or booking a cinema ticket.”

According to BT’s research, the biggest barrier (78%) to a successful call is frontline staff who are not trained or are inexperienced at taking calls from deaf customers, while the use of automated transfer services that are inaudible (67%) and a lack of technology available to help handle calls are also highlighted.

With a range of unique challenges facing them, 89% of those in the deaf community said that businesses and organisations need to do more to make their services more accessible. When unable to complete a phone call with a business, almost 70% of respondents said that they have to physically go to the store and a further 18% said that making phone calls to businesses leaves them feeling like they are not valued.

The Irony is that BT is one of the providers who also don't have effective access.  ATR reviewed 6 major internet service providers and could not find ANY deaf relay advice area, contact or advice on how deaf can get a service set up on their own.  In advertising a deaf relay service it appears nobody told service provision it was illegal to refuse.  Areas like Virgin etc don't have a contact today.

Part of the problem is people trying to scam provision by claiming to speak for those who can't and this made issues even with text responses or email.  So part of the issue was intense verification of users which blocked telephonic or electronic contact by default.

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Support Bubbles

The UK has agreed on a Xmas support bubble:

The big question we have to ask ourselves 'Is there a possibility I am taking an unwanted Xmas present home to my next of kin? a lethal covid infection? and if it is better we stay away until it is safer?'  Much criticism has emerged already that post-Xmas/January we will inevitably see a 3rd wave higher than before, is it better stay away at Xmas, and stay safe?  especially as it is inevitable a mad rush home is going to emerge.  

Ironically few if any trains or buses will be running for those 5 days anyway, and we suspect the various governments are trying to be too clever by offering this travel option for 5 days at a time when travel is difficult anyway, they really do not want people travelling across the country from high covid areas, so why offer that option?  So they can blame us who took the bait?  Sounds irresponsible to us...

What the UK governments said:

Up to three households will be able to meet up during a five-day Christmas period of 23 to 27 December, leaders of the four UK nations have agreed. People can mix in homes, places of worship and outdoor spaces, and travel restrictions will also be eased.

But a formed "Christmas bubble" must be "exclusive" and would not be able to visit pubs or restaurants together. The leaders urged people to "think carefully about what they do" to keep the risk of increased transmission low. They added 2020 "cannot be a normal Christmas" but family and friends will be able to see each other in a "limited and cautious" way.

However, some scientists have warned that the relaxation of Covid restrictions over the festive period could spark another wave of infections and further deaths.  The measures will see travel restrictions across the four nations, and between tiers and levels, lifted to allow people to visit families in other parts of the UK.  Anyone travelling to or from Northern Ireland may travel on the 22 and 28 December, but otherwise travel to and from bubbles should be done between the 23 and 27.

People will not be able to get together with others from more than two other households, and once a bubble is formed, it must not be changed or be extended further. The guidance says a bubble of three households would be able to stay overnight at each other's home but would not be able to visit hospitality, theatres or retail settings.

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Life and Deaf in Covid.

Life & Deaf in Covid from Film Oxford on Vimeo.

The ongoing assumption is deaf are all good lip-readers but the signers really do not rely on lip-reading.  Clear masks present issues in that they aren't protection from COVID, so apart from risking yourself, you are asking others to as well.  The pandemic means you may well be asking someone to risk their lives so you can lip-read them.  That may be a 'right' too far to make a demand with given no law would empower that.

It is difficult without seeing all facial features, but it has to be balanced with risk. One charity survey suggested that more HEARING were suffering communication issues with masks on, up to 89% of them did.  We have a disability of the sense that is our bad luck, so nobody to 'blame' about that.  COVID means the usual debates and issues regarding rights have gone out the window and you cannot fight a virus with a rights message.  It will still infect you.

We just all have to accept everyone is in the same position and adopt the rules until a vaccine gets it under control.  Deaf suffer because they are isolated anyway and in part, because they prefer to isolate themselves within their own community, which COVID has seriously undermined by making social contact virtual instead or actual.  From what we have seen deaf haven't switched to that option and more isolated as a result.  This may be down to the reality their reliance on each other wasn't as good as it gets, and they need to find more effective ways of reaching out to hearing instead of going it alone.

COVID has proved the deaf way is its own Achilles heel so perhaps now is the opportunity to change the way we address isolation.  From what we know deaf won't adapt and will wait it out and carry on as before, I am unsure that is progress the opportunity to acquire viable alternatives are now.

Letters down under

Hola! Just the usual post to ask how you are managing there in these covid-ridden times, now the bush fires are out, the wildlife and beach bums and barbie fellowship are being a bloody nuisance again?

I suspect you have probably read the UK is in a worse state than before, but you know us, what's new? we don't listen to advice ever so nothing much has changed really.  A lockdown they all go mad and then they get pissed stab each other then spread it all again after, cue another lockdown etc. We just go out for food and come home again avoiding anything on two legs and hoping the TV doesn't pack up because that is all there is really, I'm probably the world's leading authority on the potters' wheel by now.  I can't stand the other stuff they show, it's either idiots jumping about with fits they call dancing or people cooking crap nobody in their right mind would eat.  What the frig is lychee anyway and who cares?

Our family is much the same and getting paranoid about leaving the house for anything.  Since we emerged from the latest lockdown, masks have gone by the board again, social distancing has been abandoned, and public transport are the new mobile coffins.  Of course, should you negotiate all that, hardly any shops exist to shop in.  Xmas is off until 2022 at least I gather.  Let's face it, Santa was an overrated  Yank anyway and his ancestor was probably Turkish...

We haven't entered a pub in 9 months either because you get the 3rd degree, they want your name, address, your mobile phone number, but they stopped short of counting our teeth, if you manage all that you are on the clock, 1hr they want you out again.  Deliveries to your door usually mean a van turns up they throw stuff over the wall take a photo and then gone again, and what isn't smashed to buggery gets stolen.  

A lot of my neighbours have lost stuff because there are a few nere do wells following the delivery vans and then taking the stuff left outside the doors for themselves.  Yet another set up are dog and cat snatchers, people around here have lost nearly all their pets.  I suppose N Korea is buying them all up, or MacDonalds.  If it means less dog s.h.i.t. to step into I'm all for it.  

I gather our Bro is OK according to his kids but umpteen years down under still hasn't taught him how to use a phone or write anything (which is a conundrum given he runs a post office or something the last 15 years). This last week has seen 3 neighbours move away in 2 weeks, we must be using the wrong soap or something.  Now only 3 of them actually speak da lingo, the newcomers are Polish and Asians one talks in consonants, and there isn't a vowel to be heard from any of them and the others face Mecca 5 times a day and the bloody sand gets everywhere.   

I never went abroad in 40 years to avoid all that, now they are coming to live next door.  I suspect post-Xmas we will be going too, so at least we can communicate to someone.  I'm too old to speak to foreigners every day, I much preferred ignoring them up to now or shouting at them. Now our GP's don't want to know you,  and none of them speaks the language either, hospitals are full of covidiots who thought rules were for others, and the health and advice helplines need helplines too, now they have run out of unemployed, or locked up students to man them.

Not only is it 'physician heal thyself', but I gotta do it as well, thank the gods google exists, if they cannot diagnose you with some exotic malady they can at least sell you enough lethal drugs to stop you worrying about it. Most are off their heads around here on nitrous oxide sniffing, which I gather are gas canisters for use on cake making equipment, no wonder everyone is baking lately... Our local pub erstwhile deserted for 12 years is now a cannabis factory, there was a fire there recently and half the village was out of it.  

The Welsh government says we can travel all over Wales if we want to.  The problem is nobody wants to, and they don't seem aware they also told us don't travel anyway because that makes things worse, roll on the election next year, rin tin tin is my favourite to win it or maybe Trump he wants a new job now.

Get out in the fresh air is the advice, (Which drew a few incredulous titters here), we live in WALES (Nuff said), if the flu or covid doesn't get you the flooding, the rain, and the frost will. Failing those, most around here are walking plague carriers anyway.  You get a real 'pick n mix' of issues here to catch.  We just read 40% of GP's are due to retire, (that is the ones still sober enough to still operate). No trainee wants to be one so it is back to witch doctors again and home remedies.  Which means Instagram is set to make a killing advising us all to do a mantra or slam doors for Jesus on December the 25th.

Hoping this letter finds you as it does me, or the postman stuffs it up again, in which case you probably haven't read this.


Monday, 23 November 2020

Are deaf people good signers?

Some controversy on social media where suggestions deaf were not all perfect signers was reported as an 'attack' on deaf people. Quite often we can read deaf stating 'I don't sign that way..' or, 'that isn't the same sign I use..' some gets passed off as regional but a lot are signs deaf have acquired from others who may have made then up to suit. Language evolves and deaf are always playing catch up. Given the poor academic attainment at school leaving ages worldwide, there must be some truth in the report deaf are unable to improve their signing skills too. We know in the UK there is virtually no take-up of further education or adult education by most deaf people, who view them as 'literacy' classes and they feel literacy is a tool used to deny the sign languages and its grammar. Where DO deaf learn sign language? obviously, the community is one source (i.e. assuming they belong to it), or sign used as an 'in' to English in education where BSL and its grammar is not the ultimate aim of it. Criticism abounds at Interpreters who use 'wrong' signs, or make it difficult for those deaf academically challenged to follow interpretation. This is a well-known issue with Interpreters, who have to assess the deaf client often with no prior engagement so starting from 'scratch' and pitching translation on how they assess the deaf are taking in what is being translated and adjusting accordingly. This gets criticisms sometimes unfairly, as 'dumbing down', or using advanced BSL they cannot follow. Hearing attend BSL classes in colleges and Universities so have to attain a proficient level in both, often a higher level of signing than deaf would normally use day to day socially. Interpreters have to double take too and translate bilingually, something deaf do not have to do. Having said that on the spot assessment can be prone to errors, not deliberate. Interpreters are learning as they go what works and what doesn't. Occasionally we get Interpeters trying to be 'inventive' to simplify, that should not be undertaken really as deaf tend to be quite literal. Deaf understand this, it is why many ask for an Interpreter they are familiar with and can struggle with those they aren't. Current usage of BSL interpreters is pretty mundane, e.g. Dr visits health etc, but few interpreters are trained at all in technical areas or specialised so that too, contributes to issues of translation. even a basic visit to a GP may create issues if there is no straightforward way to explain technical jargon. Simplifying an explanation can create issues too. At higher educational levels there are issues put down predominantly to 'poor support' in schools etc, the reality is in higher education there are not the interpreters or the signs to be used, certainly not at University level, as we write the few deaf professionals/scientists etc, have to develop own signs for what they are doing because the dictionary of BSL hasn't those signs, they are hoping they get entered colloquially although in the context they may not be exact enough, who is to say different? The dictionary was created as a 'focus point' for sign as a bona fide language but it didn't have the signs collectively as the English dictionaries did or the academic texts because it is a visual language. The pictorial BSL dictionary was a mess of sorts with claims many were invented or put in to create a context which grassroots had issues with. Indeed the BDA opposed BSL tuition based on it and attempted to create a 'real deaf' alternative. There is a gap between how Interpreters are taught and what the deaf can follow. That gap will always remain whilst there is an educational divide and whilst one hears and the other doesn't. Deaf tend to pick up signs within the community, signs others saw and acquired etc, regional sign evolved that way, but little was based on accurate description or in-depth detail, it was conceptual in approach. You get the idea OK you don't need to now much else Simplistically, I might have a mobile phone, a TV maybe a computer, it makes no difference I don't know how it works so long as I know how to use it. That tends to fall down very quickly if you need to know that or want to build or service them etc.... And become a serious issue in understanding complex health needs. At grassroots level, simply because your immediate peers follow you doesn't mean everyone else will. A language relies on its users, here there is little attempt to improve or normalise it. Here is the 'proof' but it only served to suggest the opposite.

If we need a prime example of a complete mess we have only to look at acquired signers like Paddy Ladd an ex oralist, who wrote a book on DEAFHOOD in a language few deaf could understand, (English), and then used technical Jargon for which no signs existed and even English readers would be confused by. There is no doubting his intellect, but it is obviously one honed via oralism, hearing and English because it would not have been written otherwise. As an example of the need to acquire English by the deaf, he could have written something simpler as an introduction.

They are still attempting years later to try to interpret that in the belief it 'could' suggest there IS a higher academic BSL thing going on. Americans suggest it validates ASL although Brits remained unconvinced. There is the 'proof', but it only served to suggest the opposite because his opus was ABOUT deaf people for hearing consumption, it was never intended for the deaf.