Thursday, 24 December 2020

Amen to that


   Who would true signing see,

Let him come hither;

BSL will our constant be,

Come wind, come weather

There's no discouragement

Shall make the BDA relent

It's first avowed intent

To worship Paddy.

Who so beset us round

With signed English stories

Do but themselves confound;

BSL the more is.

No orals can us fright,

We'll sign with giants might,

We will demand a right

To be a culture.

Lip reading nor foul fiend

Can daunt our spirit,

We know we at the end

Shall sign inherit.

When fancies fly away,

We'll care not what they say,

We'll labour night and day

To be a signer.

Today's Songs Of Praise comes today from the pretty little church of St Dug on the Mount in Looky likely, near Yorkshire, which is celebrating it's centenary this year.  The congregation is made up of over 16 deaf club memberships from in and around the North of England and random learners dragged in off the street.  We are gathered here today not only to celebrate the centenary 30 years early, but to pay homage to our patron saint St Dug, who lived in nearby Alrek-on-the Marsh, and after whom the church is named, who was himself deaf, he certainly wasn't able to listen much.

The service today is led by Bishop Meldrew.

"Good evening to you..... I'm going  to start by telling you the same thing Elizabeth  Taylor told all her husbands, and that is - I won't keep you long!''.  let us thank the Lord whoever he may be to you, for being here today, my sermon text for this  year concerns humour and how it helps us all to reflect, that life isn't all misery, boring relations, endless helpings of Brussel sprouts, and being so out of spirit, you consider Eastenders the highlight of the TV Xmas day viewing, and a few horrific deaths the icing on the cake.   Was it not our very own St Dug who said "Eeeh but owt tis nowt..."  

Consider for instance,  When my daughter was about three I put her to bed and asked what she would like  to  pray about.  Promptly she answered: "onions."  We prayed about onions and the next morning I asked why she wanted to pray about onions.  "Because you said in your sermon that we should pray for things we dont like, I don't like bananas either....", it is the simplicity of the child that makes for innocence lost.

Once  I was invited to preach at a day centre for a Christmas Service as a young layman starting out in the world.  Seeing that it was very crowded and sensitive to the time issue, I asked the proprietor, 'How long do I have for the sermon?". He replied, You can preach for about an hour".   I was wondering how I could stretch my meagre manuscript, I soon found out that I was not the only preacher, and the preacher before me also preached for an hour. How long should a good sermon be?  It should be like a woman's skirt, long enough to cover the essentials but short enough to keep you interested. 

From children comes real enlightenment, one asked me, father,  how long is a million years to God?  I replied "it is but a second to God", "How much is a million pounds to God ?", I replied "it is but a penny to him...", the boy then asked, "can I  have a penny ?", I replied " Of course,  just a second....".  

I have first good news and then the bad news. The good news is we now have enough money to retire the mortgage on the church, and repair the stained glass window at last,"The bad news is the money is still in your pocket."

I recall last year I was called away for an emergency. Not wanting to leave the confessional unattended, I called this rabbi friend from across the street and asked him to cover for me. He told me he wouldn't know what to say, but I told him to come on over and I'd stay with him for a little bit and show him what to do.  My rabbi friend comes, and he and the I are in the confessional.  A few minutes, a woman comes in and says, 'Father, forgive me for I have sinned.' so I ask, 'What did you do?' The woman says, 'I committed adultery.' so I said, 'How many times?'  And the woman replies, 'Three.'  'Say two Hail Mary’s, put £5 in the box, and go and sin no more.'

A few minutes later a man enters the confessional. He says, 'Father forgive me for I have sinned.' So again I asked 'What did you do?' ‘I committed adultery.' 'How many times?' 'Three times.'  So I said, 'Say two Hail Mary’s, put £5 in the box and go and sin no more.' My rabbi friend tells me OK, I think I've got it,  so I leave him to it.  A few minutes later another woman enters and says, 'Father, forgive me for I have sinned.' The rabbi says, 'What did you  do?' The woman replies, 'I committed adultery.'  The rabbi, getting it off pat, says, 'How many times?' The woman replies,  'Once.' The rabbi said, 'Go and do it two more times, We have a special this week, three for £5.'

A ray of hope flickers in the sky 

A tiny star lights up way up high 

All across the land, dawns a brand new morn 

This comes to pass when a child is born 

Silent wish sails the seven seas 

The winds of change whisper in the trees 

And the walls of doubt crumble, tossed and torn 

This comes to pass when a child is born 

A rosy hue settles all around 

You've got the feel you're on solid ground 

For a spell or two, no-one seems forlorn 

This comes to pass when a child is born 

And all of this happens because the world is waiting 

Waiting for one child 

Black, white, yellow, no-one knows 

But a child that will grow up and turn tears to laughter 

Hate to love, war to peace and everyone to everyone's neighbour 

And misery and suffering will be words to be forgotten, forever 

It's all a dream, an illusion now 

It must come true, sometime soon somehow 

All across the land, dawns a brand new morn 

This comes to pass when a child is born

We thank thee lord, for the signs we use, the clubs we attend, the miracle of digital aids, our culture, and for the gift of having a laff no matter how often the BDA tries to spoil it all for us... we also pray for the hearing aid battery makers, that they develop a really long-lasting one...  Paddy Ladd finds out finally, where the barbershop is located and before he trips over himself.  That Deaf activism discovers their own front door, so they can discover things happen outside as well.  We also earnestly pray that God learns to sign properly and stops trying to cure us all...


Scientists develop new gene therapy for deafness.


A new study from Tel Aviv University (TAU) presents an innovative treatment for deafness, based on the delivery of genetic material into the cells of the inner ear. The genetic material "replaces" the genetic defect and enables the cells to continue functioning normally.

The scientists were able to prevent the gradual deterioration of hearing in mice that had a genetic mutation for deafness. They maintain that this novel therapy could lead to a breakthrough in treating children born with various mutations that eventually cause deafness.


Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Deaf taking a 'STAND'

The thing about demanding realism is that it also requires an image of people will pay to see, and the suitability for the part offered.  I'm deaf but obviously cannot apply for an actor's job because I am unqualified for it.  The consensus of opinion is diversity and rights WON'T automatically mean you can get a job beyond your capability, but it has always been this way.  

Deaf people want acceptances and work on merit not just because they are deaf or it's patronisation and tokenism.  Hollywood is profit/image-driven and won't enable deaf people for no reason they have to be able to sold as a commodity, they aren't a charity.  The reality is hearing can portray deaf people but deaf cannot do the reverse.  Deaf have to up their game that's the reality.  Forever playing to own audiences are limiting their capabilities to appeal elsewhere.  There are huge areas of hearing life and lifestyles deaf have no access to, or, uninterested in, nor understand, so they should start there.  Deaf are not topical or versatile, and not aware enough to offer a full range of options to a filmmaker, deaf playing deaf is simply typecasting.

The danger is inclusion by rote, and not ability, and joe public won't go and see such films. As we know signed output is still too minority to appeal to the general public and usually ends up patronised as disability output, or even a 'foreign' film. What goes out tends to be titled too so the signed aspect is lost.   Via various inclusions on UK-TV we can see it is token mostly, and the deaf actors delivering the sermon on the mount of 'How to speak to or include deaf people who sign..'  Which is a worthy aim if you are in a focus group, but audiences don't want lectures, they want escapism, deaf have to appeal to hearing not just to their own.  Such token output is better suited for charities than mass viewing as 'awareness', albeit singular to one type of deaf person so not really inclusive as that.

I've no doubt inclusion areas in the USA cam make waves but I don't really see much change happening.  As we know no deaf signer has 'made it' since COALG, but was an exception to the rule.  I'm all for inclusion by merit, not inclusion because I am deaf too.

Monday, 21 December 2020

Beyond the 'Hive'

Oops ATR on the defensive as Deaf defending their ID insist being deaf is all and there is no individual just a 'HIVE' of some kind?  Obviously 'Just' being deaf isn't enough.... you have to play follow the leader as well.  So OK WHO do I have to talk to?

#1 Doesn't the person come first not the disability? I'm myself first and foremost deafness is just one reality that's all. It's a bit disconcerting this worship of deafness while we are all trying to overcome it.

We shall overcome

We shall overcome

We shall overcome some day


Oh, deep in my heart

I do believe

                              We shall overcome some day

#2 Overcome?!? Where have you been? Many of us aren’t even trying to ‘overcome’ it, we’ve embraced it and it’s our identity. It’s not worshipping it, it’s ACCEPTING it and embracing it.

#1 Good for you. It does seem rather obsessive to those of us not born with it, but then we are the ones truly disabled by it so know what real hearing loss is, and the effect it has on those who lose it unless you do you are coming from the wrong direction. I accept I am deaf because there is no option but I am not rolling over for it.  

Being deaf isn't sign, culture, or community exclusive or I would be hearing. We obviously do what we can to support alleviation or even a cure (if that is ever possible), so that others who acquire it can have some hope. 

Without hope captions nor signed access supported would ever have happened or would have been asked for and 'Deaf' would be happy enough with a terp in tow, relying on family, or a social worker doing your talking like some latter-day ventriloquist, since reliance is the only 'ID' most see. We DO accept it as a disability perhaps we don't accept there is nothing to be done about it. 

Deaf see it that way too if the welfare allowance claims are anything to go by!  Culture gets you no welfare payment, deafness and sign use does. Nobody is demanding you get hearing even if possible, it's your choice. Those happy being deaf and isolated that is up to them, it would not do for me or for 12m others.   I thought deaf campaigners were for access and inclusion?  the road OUT of that setup?

Nothing is written until we all write it. I just feel it sad there are people who struggle to have their own ID, and have to change their name with a capital letter to be seen. Its never been a problem to me as I have seen both sides of the fence and know what I prefer. I rather suspect if or when any 'cure' emerges, we will be trampled underfoot by those wanting it. That is a real choice.  I'm pretty certain parents will agree too.  Why would they want kids to struggle if they didn't need to?  You would defy parents too?  Dodgy ground!

Sunday, 20 December 2020

Did Boris really stop BSL being used?

In a response [published below] apparently not.  Regular readers will know ATR published a link to BSL signed coronavirus proceedings during the very first public announcements on TV in March/April this year, (See the proof above), subsequently publishing links to other sources, but charities chose to not look, and ignore the evidence.  ATR offered the BDA social media the links to the access and they were refused and removed from their social media.

What was missing initially, wasn't BSL but the link to where the BSL  interpreting was (BBC NEWS channel), but this was later corrected when pointed out.  Where access has been ever since. Boris also gave funding to deaf charities to help them explain details they couldn't follow.  The reality is the tier declarations confused everyone, not just deaf people and continues to do so... 

If the UK Government wants to check out their claim of 80,000 deprived sign users best of luck, nobody is able to prove either way if that figure actually exists as fact. As this week showed the national Census who asked everyone, got no stats of use either.

Note: Ireland had TWO interpreters, Wales and Scotland also have in-vision BSL signers, neither updates are done in first minister homes. As stated, Boris at Number 10 could not guarantee social distancing there so offered it on the BBC channel instead.  Given the urgency and questioning, interpreters could not really be briefed as to what was going to be said.  Devolved areas usually do not have 3 people every time either.  Deaf BSL users choose the subtitling mostly so not really deprived, and titles give far more detail than sign does.  

The legal case is based on 'deprivation' of BSL, not, deprivation of access.  I suspect the case won't go in BSL favour, but the idea is really to promote BSL.  Hence why the legal case prefers NOT to mention deaf can and do use alternatives already provided for them e.g.

Lip-reading, titling, captions, subtitles, 4 dedicated deaf charities and even TWO BSL channels, neither of which have offered their own community that access but happy to take funding for doing not much at all but flattering themselves..

A government spokesperson also said: “We are committed to supporting disabled people through every stage of this pandemic and have established BSL interpretation at the No 10 press conferences via the BBC News channel and iPlayer, available on all TV packages as part of Freeview.

“The BBC has also made their video feed for the BSL interpreter available to all other broadcasters and for use on No 10 social channels.  “We continue to work across government to ensure that information and guidance is fully accessible.”