Saturday, 30 January 2021

Is Sign language realistic for the Hard Of Hearing?

Mostly, no it isn't. The fact such classwork has levels and built-in 'deaf awareness' is a fudge really because everyone's idea of awareness is different or non-applicable.  ATR is of the view mostly they are money-making schemes etc where vested interests of various ilk, set themselves up as 'advisors' or teachers of sign language or culture etc but mostly with bias and have undertaken no training or course to do teach that, they are 'Deaf' also so they are 'trained' by 'experience', but it is their experience, not anyone else's.  The fact sign promotion and use/support mean a JOB or a WAGE changed the point of it years ago.  Had lip-reading enjoyed the same success that would be vogue.   What support you need is based on what is the most profitable for those who provide it.  There is no money in lip-reading.

Deaf and HoH people need a proper course of loss awareness, we tend to get sucked in with courses/levels/etc and the overall hype of sign communication approaches, but we can get bogged down in own perceptions and own experience and assume others are the same which isn't true of course, everyone is different, in loss degree, ability, lifestyle, age acquired, communication approaches used, etc.  When that is understood then the directions of awareness and support tend to shrink and become singular and that divides people.  

Currently, awareness which is a bit of an 'in-joke' with most of us, because it is singular and polarised so awareness is entirely relative to who is promoting it.  We tend to feel sorry for hearing people wanting to be aware, who then don't get it when faced with those who they weren't told about, or were misled on what others need, or, who they are, they get defined/labelled by how they communicate not how much loss they have, or how needs differ.  Loss and its real effect then become a secondary issue.  They don't understand the D/d or HoH thing or the 100s of others in-between because the course and classwork were singular or specialised.

The first thing all need is clinical assessment, then a course on restoring confidence based on understanding hearing loss reality.  Basically, sign language it is not as simple as acquiring the skill, it was designed for people that had no hearing background, and if you did there are issues adapting.  Sign demands an alternative lifestyle approach, and this is where HoH fall down, there is always the reluctance to go in that direction, or they can struggle to find an area to use it in, few are told the use of sign exclusively means your reliance on others in a class because they know many would not proceed with learning it.  HoH have a real 'thing' about having to rely on others, this is never really addressed.

We need to really understand what sign communication is and IF we are prepared to adapt to maximise its use.  It's a 'novelty' in some classes, but a way of life to others.  Most classes consist of hearing people wanting to work 'in the field' or relatives, you won't find any deaf there much as with lip-reading you won't find any there either.  We think the whole BSL/LR thing fails to empower actual deaf or HoH and simply not designed for that, which begs the question where is the actual communication help? and preferably one without the insane politics and cash-driven basis of it all?  

Awareness relies on who promotes it, or polarised charities whose primary function is to maintain our reliance on their 'support', all based on culture or politics, not need.  Disability has been dumped in favour of blaming others for your situation, and we are all social animals not patients with a sensory loss, so who needs support?  We need everyone to adapt to us because we cannot adapt to them etc. Maintaining specialisation has simply empowered minority areas, not empowered the major one, who had their issues relegated to minor status as a result, creating a sort of hierarchy and elite amidst those with deafness.  The reality is deaf haven't moved at all and no longer feel they should anyway.

Sensory loss is a huge disability, it's not only a sensory/communication issue but one of mental health too, and we should be treating those who are disabled by it with the higher level of seriousness it needs.  At present we are simply empowering others at the cost of sacrificing our own empowerment.  That isn't the way to address things.  Technology has given an opt-out in part from addressing these issues, so everything is becoming realtive.  Who knows what the future actually is in assisting those with hearing loss?

Friday, 29 January 2021

Relay this.....

Is your relay call really necessary? A short review of online deaf Hard of Hearing responses...

#1 I thought relay systems were obsolete? as we can text, email etc most people now, indeed they prefer that method.  I have easy access to my GP this way and the NHS, also to 999, I am not comfortable with video access because sign relay is nil use to me.  

#2 I gather there isn't a great take-up of it by the deaf either?  

#3 A LOT of deaf sign users don't phone or text anyone outside their peer area leaving it to hearing relatives, or interpreters most are on first names with.  One statistic suggested less than 34% actually use dedicated access lines or make their own calls to them.  

#4 Sign Relay claims a lot do use them but when I asked for a breakdown of the stats they refused me them.  E.G. One deaf person using the relay system 6 times, is NOT 6 deaf people using the system, It suggested 'creative' statistics, but all these deaf charities make up their own statistics.   

#5 It is a deafie job-creation scheme for themselves innit, like cultural advocates, deaf awareness, deaf arts, and BSL trainers... money for old rope they know hearing haven't a clue.

#6 There was a campaign to stop family assisting deaf people wasn't there?  because it was killing access campaigns and demand other deaf were campaigning for, seriously hampering neutral support, and confusing inclusion demands.  One deaf area at odds with the other.

#7  Yeah I saw that the BDA and RNID challenged the campaign as an 'attack on choice'.    The campaign also lobbied NHS insurance companies on the grounds if a family assist, created health issues for their deaf relative, then the NHS could be sued for non-provision of neutral support.  Hearing relatives were known to withhold health details.  Justified on the grounds their deaf relatives wouldn't understand them. 

#8 Yeah cushty if the deafie is making a will, or needs banking help lol.

#9 Haha, attack on the BDA/RNID/SIGN HEALTH money-making scheme more like it.  Suggesting poor access as a drive for more demand for their help, more help means more reliance means more help etc... a charity perpetuation scheme.

#10 It was pointed out every time a hearing relative was used, deaf were not getting neutral advice or help, and relatives were making decisions for them, which was the campaign's primary point, but it seems a lot of deaf are more than happy to let relatives take the decisions for them, even using underage hearing children, which is, in fact, illegal in the NHS and social services could get involved.

#11  Can you actually imagine a deaf person attending an STI clinic with their family, an unwanted pregnancy, or a vasectomy e.g?   There has to be a limit on how much anyone deaf or hearing would want their family there making those decisions or calls, or knowing about them, doesn't the Hippocratic Oath matter any more?

#12 Nope, although the deaf patient should be asked to sign a form exonerating the NHS if a hearing relative fouls up.

#13  This should apply to Interpreters, but. a legal case said there is no blame can be attached to an interpreter who gives wrong or poor advice, or has misunderstood themselves what a medico was saying, or misunderstood the level of understanding of their deaf client, by default it becomes 'hearsay' so not admissible as evidence.  When a deaf person uses 'support' they accept that, even in dealing with social service systems.  The deaf has to accept that by using an interpreter they are happy with what is relayed to them.  Ditto the interpreters, they cannot be held responsible for the fact deaf haven't understood clearly, because there is no way to determine how much detail they can follow.

#14 Interpreters mostly do not have any specialisation in health matters at all, e.g. a level 4 qualification is NOT a qualification in health matters, which requires specialist training over and above 'he said she said'.  Level 4 BSL interpreters were used in a mental health deaf clinic in England and were cited as unqualified to be doing that job as they had no experience in mental health, which eventually resulted in deaf patients being abused.  The assumption was a qualified BSL interpreter or assistant is qualified in every area.

#15 This isn't for a lip-speaker, where specialisation has to be undertaken before they can work in specific areas e.g. courts, it is concerning sign support demand little or no specialisation.

Thursday, 28 January 2021

Counselling Hearing Loss.

The Canadian approach seems to go along with the stat view hearing loss is an issue primarily for older people, they even call it a 'seniors' set up to hammer home the point.

They do seem to not be aware that hearing loss can start at BIRTH, and even young adults from 16yrs of age onward start suffering hearing loss, a lot caused by ignoring volume levels on music equipment etc and playing it back far too loud.  Clinically at age 21 approximately, they will lose access to higher frequencies by default.  It seems to mirror in part the UK's RNID set up which looks at hearing loss as a clinical issue more than a social thing.

They too promote amplification aids and auditory equipment and such.   They do seem pretty vague on 'inclusion' and maintaining hearing loss to hearing peer inclusion.  Obviously, technology has been vital in maintaining contact, albeit ZOOM and other platforms don't have a viable speech to text inclusion and there are costs involved for those who want it.  It is suggested large groups will present issues for those with hearing loss.  The plus with ZOOM is people cannot or should not talk over each other, in that respect makes it easier to follow, but we have lobbied for years that open meetings are badly run and don't insist people speak one at a time and allow backchat to occur that makes it difficult to follow even with help.

Counselling trauma is vital we would like to see this a norm in the UK but it has no system at present that works and there are still cross-communicational issues via sign language usage and lip-reading tuition, education etc that again are non-viable in the UK due to polarised approaches and views on what actually constitutes inclusion.

For those with minor to severe loss, the primary view is maintaining some sort of bridge between them and hearing people.  To that end hearing aids, CI's, captioning, subtitling, amplified telephones, are the way they proceed.  They also view lip-reading as some 'holy grail' and image, that will make them 'hearing' once again, despite a 90% failure rate of most pupils to attain any realistic skill at it, because of age, disposition, or lack of basic abilities to master, what is a very difficult skill to attain.  

A db here or there makes your participation in a class hit and miss, as they are designed to maximise what hearing of use you still have.  As classes are open to all where they exist, then the entire class set up can fail if one or two attending, just do not have enough useful hearing to proceed and need obvious one on one help.

This raises a point as to what exactly is the point of them? it isn't obviously assisting those with little useful hearing or those who believe they have more useful hearing that is actually evident to others.  In actuality, this means those most in need of counselling and communication help are unlikely to benefit from or able to participate, in such class communal approaches.  We are told few tutors expect any real skill to emerge, and the class point is to erect some sort of mini-social set up as an alternative, 'like with like', which will fail obviously once you leave the class.

Trauma can only be alleviated WITH effective hearing options to many, which of course is not the point of the counselling which is to assist you in coping with the fact your limited hearing makes that unviable, facing facts. Even so, no guarantees hearing won't deteriorate with time anyway.  This suggests a lip-reading class merely delays the inevitable in that once hearing deteriorates to non-useful status, the pupil can be back to square one, as lip-reading relies on what you may no longer have i.e. useful hearing.  Turning your hearing aid off, means the class is pointless.

There doesn't seem to be much organised about hearing loss and how to address or alleviate communication issues.  Most of the awareness is over-simplistic and frankly unviable and they all seem to adopt the same mantra which isn't working and has been offset to a large degree by technology, not peer to peer inclusion which, is the whole point, or should be, in addressing hearing loss, not acquiring the latest gizmo.

People need people, and people need to bridge communications between each other face to face, not video to video which suggests isolation no longer exists.  Counselling needs to be brutal in part in laying out realistic goals and addressing misconception and denial, it is not clear clinical assessments are the start point.  They appear to be treating people that turn up ad hoc.   Sign language isn't a magic bullet, or the user of that mode would not need help in following everyone else and demanding nation-wide support to do that,  and lip-reading demands skills perhaps you don't have and lip-speakers are not an actuality in the UK as such so if you master it you cannot call on those.

What most need to be told, is reliance is NOT an inevitability of hearing loss IF appropriate tuition and support at day one is there to use, and not given 'Hobson's choice' of this mode or that mode.  The reality is that a form of total communication is the best approach and not an and/or one.  That enables whilst the other options tend to maintain the status quo.  I wonder if counsellors tell patients which they need to acquire? or do they still sit on the fence and 'recognise' cultural views on communication, prioritise over actual need and abilities, adopting the horses for courses approaches?

They don't need to consider cultural want, their patients won't be from those areas.  They will need to clarify what the reality is by patients who ask should they go to that area?  If hearing is still your bag, then the answer is no, stay clear of cultural area support.  As counselling is taking a clinical view of loss, then they should not be sitting on any fence but saying 'this may suit you, but that won't'.  No point taking advice if you are not going to follow it.

Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Deaf Trauma

Deaf Trauma 2021 from Keyring Media on Vimeo.

Canada needs to do what the UK is doing and close down 'specialist' deaf schools that operate in isolation from mainstream, and thus are unregulated and unmonitored. Research taught us in the UK less than 15% of ALL deaf children require a school with specialisation and with adequate support can manage mainstream ( I emphasise adequate because someone inexperienced taking a few notes and an ABC of sign won't cut it).

The UK also showed that inclusion of deaf children won't happen if they are educated apart from the mainstream, not even as adults since the 'die is cast', after that time.  Large areas of the UK no longer have any deaf schools, one area (Wales), has none at all and statistics do not appear to show deaf children there have suffered as any result as academic attainment has risen, where previously, deaf schools stagnated, and as Canada saw, children, suffering ignorance and abuse.

Many myths abound of deaf adults extolling the virtue of deaf schools, primarily because they formed a self-reliance social set up in those places to combat the abuses and isolation, but they don't support the educational side of deaf schools, which left them as adults unable to compete with hearing for work, health or enabled any realistic inclusion via empowerment.

In Ireland, the church abused deaf children and in Scotland too, one deaf school very recently there was investigated.  The issue is abuse is passed off as 'misunderstandings' by the deaf via their 'learning difficulties' it is how abusers kept up their abuses so long, nobody believed the deaf child.

Unfortunately, as deaf schools continue to function, activism exploits that fact and holds up deaf schools as a model to return deaf children to, because it is the basis of their culture and social lives, ignoring the fact abuse is what drove deaf to do that at the start.   Schools were deliberately set apart from others.  Deaf children saw exclusion as a norm.  Deaf groups and leaders show few skills or reliability to ensure child safety and already promote separatism as a justification for the deaf to stand apart, aided and abetted by a poor system of deaf child support in the mainstream.

Most of the drive is activism knowing deaf community starts in deaf schools and want that maintained even reinforced, putting abuse and ignorance as a price worth paying. What will overtake deaf activists will be choice, even they can not stop that happening.  School days are the happiest days of deaf lives?  so many were in complete denial, so many lies from older adult deaf who still justify it.

It's good these issues are raised, but unless they address why they happened.... compensation won't stop it.

Village Idiot Diaries (The first bit).

Call me Ishmael (no better not, that's been done hasn't it ?).... I'm 3rd generation as a profoundly deaf person, having a mother and grandmother suffer this disability, and other family members also have some hearing problems. I discovered quite by accident that makes me a bona-fide 'cultural' deaf person, genetically  (Which is one above being a mere sign user, thus making me an elite).  but there is no money in it so I just use my status to annoy those who allude to it instead.  Basically its the only fun I still get other than tripping up people on crutches or letting wheelchair tyres down.. 

I've had years as a Hearing, Hard of hearing, a severely deaf person, and now as profoundly deaf one, and a dozen other identities in between since I was 11, so have managed to form some views on it, which I would like to pass on to you for a very small fee and can supply you with a cuddly toy with a hearing aid on it, or a deaf ABC if you are that way inclined, as well as regular updates as to how I will spend the cash you send. I ask only you read these sad tales of woe, discrimination, hearing persecution, deaf genocide, and more identity issues than most schizophrenics can ever hope for...  because you have to inject some issues or they think you are taking the proverbial.  It's a personal experience, and I trust no-one else has to go the same road, so please pay attention, as I will be passing the hat around later...

I write as I recall, and leave you the reader to assess as they find. It is a waste of time the sign user taking an interest they banned inclusion, speech, or reading years ago, so I can write or say what I like really they won't know unless they break ranks and trip themselves up by letting on that was all bull manure.  It's a voyage of real discovery and derring-do (And a few derring-don'ts it has to be said),  into the thoughts and mind of an individual with hearing loss, who lives, laughs (Mostly hysterics), and loves life (Just not the deaf one), whilst still avoiding rubber wallpaper, going to deaf clubs, and telling everyone it's half-past two.  

We all of us with hearing loss, have to go through the agonies of poor awareness, lack of focused support, and enduring discrimination from society, and from other deaf people, at our schools, at the workplace, and suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous uniformed and patronising Support Systems in it for the cash, as a bonus.  Whinging is what we care about most.  

If you add that as those losing hearing, or lost it down the side of the chair somewhere,  we spend the first dozen years in complete denial as well pretending we can still hear and nodding our heads off like Indian coolie's, that about describes it for most. Hell, even my cat took the p.i.s.s. out of me...

Anyone who thinks it's rough today support-wise, obviously don't get out much, or are members of this mythical community with their own version of dodgy handshakes and face distortion.  I expect they are probably on holiday at this time in the Seychelles spending their hard-earned disability handouts, or perusing which  4 X 4 new roadster they will drive this year.   We can claim 5 times any wage just to turn up for work.   We've made millionaires of some BSL interpreters.

I opted for deaf arts initially, because nobody has a clue what that is and you can do what you want, all you need are hands and learn how complain with them without hitting anyone.  I got a grant of £9,000 last year to set up a charity to explore issues deaf people have with hearing, money for old rope really. Basically, I tell people I can't hear them, and you get a decent laptop.

It occurred to me that many cultural deaf people e.g. feel the need to write about themselves and issues, about how life in an institution (Sorry deaf school), located in the middle of some obscure field, with only sheep for company, being abused, or learning how to work for themselves because no-one else would hire them, while being unable to make themselves understood with sign language, was the best time of their lives etc.   They tend to curse their parents for being hearing and made paranoia an Olympic event.  

It's life, just not as most know it possibly.  I'm a prime example of one db too far (Or not far enough).  I thought there is a few quid to be made, and some reference to Mr Pulitzer on the cards, and if moaning at all and sundry gets me a living and recognition, (Or hard cash) hey, don't knock it.

Initially, I did try an American spell checker to write this opus, but it ran out of vowels or something. I tried a European one they didn't have anything but consonants but did do wonders for my football skills. I even tried a welsh language approach but the pages got soaked and were unreadable.  I couldn't find 'll' 'ch' or 'ff' keys on my keyboard.

I thought it might make a change to you dear reader, to read about the trials and tribulations of a deaf person who doesn't put it all into a cultural context, and rambles on about what happened to people like me 200 years ago in Italy and long before the UK had ever heard of pasta. I often 'take the knee' for deaf inclusion, (It's getting up after, I have issues with).  

If this book/paper/blog, incoherent ramble, and passable alternative to war and peace, minus the cannons, is an aid to awareness in any way at all, gets up people's noses, or even triggers debate about it, and instigates a drunken punch up, I'm happy, just send me money, I have all the sympathy and issues I need thanks. 

If it raises awareness and creates inclusion, then we can all enjoy the same issues hearing have, sod's law innit...  The point being you should not link my story with anything concerned with a capitalised D, or small d (As this invites some form of childish ridicule for some reason), it's what you do with it, that counts as we all know.  

NOTE: The tome' does not by its nature endorse anything to do with oral versus deaf, Deaf versus sign language, Social versus Cultural definitions, D versus d, or deafness versus disability. These people keep adding to it, so by the time you read this, they have declared war on Neptune as well I expect.   Please understand they have a desperate need to keep re-inventing the wheel. My view is they are all whingers, so why not me?  Equality in Action.

I think us poor sods and sod-esses with hearing loss, have been neglected too long by all. I'm now an old fart, so beyond worrying about criticism, so up yours, vote 'Deaf prime Minster now', 'Deafness for deaf people only',  and give us loadsa welfare money, you know it makes sense to fund us to go live in the Bahamas somewhere and stop annoying you for a job, support, or inclusion.


Monday, 25 January 2021


A response to ATR who suggested to a youtube poster that a refusal to adopt English was making things harder for deaf people. (Apart for the fact the poster uses English to make the point!).

#1 It's the hearing world that needs to be more inclusive, but it depends on government policies, government goodwill and the hearing society willingness too. The poliglotic approach could be an option, Prince Philip's mother (Her Majesty's mother-in-law) was deaf and learned many languages, but in a flying world a wingless bird being said that it must fly to survive is impractical, society through government must do it's part for it to thrive. It could be harder, I know, but acceptance by actions would go beyond and succeed. Teaching written English to deaf people as deaf not as if they were hearing people may help a lot. The hearing world, English speaking and writing included, needs to reinvent education so to really include the deaf world.

ATR: Everyone should sign to the deaf?  That wouldn't help me who is deaf and doesn't sign or 6m others who don't would it.  Deaf sign users who keep insisting education is a form of discrimination, need to look at the world as it is and not from an enclosed space that confines people to ignorance. They aren't the only deaf people in the world, and most now do understand acquiring their country's language is essential, it's not a discrimination process!   Illiteracy impoverishes the deaf signer as much as the hearing peer.

I think dragging up Prince Phillip's mother is stretching credibility a bit too far, he is near a 100 years old now, and, he ridiculed deaf people at an event he attended!  FYI His mother was a lip-reader who lip-read English and German but didn't sign, she was also a  schizophrenic.  The only 'royal' who had a stab at sign was princess Diana, another schizophrenic and a depressive who never got beyond spelling her own name with it.

Teaching English isn't a choice option, it's a necessity for deaf people to advance, I don't see where speech comes into it, for those with no ability to speak nobody is forcing them to learn.   There is no written sign language and everything is visual, so no signed reference work deaf people can use.  ATR published last year a deaf scientist having to invent his own sign, but without a reference work to understand those, again extreme difficulty for other deaf to do the same as he did.  He was taught orally...

Above is the American attempt to 'write' sign language.

The sign language does not exist for the deaf to advance in education or science to highly advanced levels, without an understanding of English the textbooks are meaningless and there are no signed ones.  Not only are you suggesting some sort of immersive and total signed approach for deaf people that has nothing but a disputed dictionary and no technical reference, but no teachers or system to make it viable.  If you started now we are talking many years assuming the visual textbooks are being developed.

Opposition to the only means they have of learning to read this.  Mainstream won't adapt to you, OK you will get an interpreter to maintain your reliance on hearing but.... because systems know sign is an incomplete language they can use for teaching, and they would need to know mainstream will accommodate that.  I think deaf need to use their heads more and their hearts less, or remain left out.  Unless they really want to spend their lives as some sort of Don Quixote tilting at windmills...