Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Kiosks translating in sign language.

 Looking for a simple lunch, a deaf woman recently went into an Alabama restaurant and jotted down her order on a piece of paper. The waiter hustled the request to the kitchen, where preparers tried to decipher the woman's handwriting.

But when the sandwich she wanted was delivered, it contained tomatoes, which she had said in writing she did not want.  Frustrated, the woman went back-and-forth with the waiter for a few minutes to explain exactly what she wanted. The sandwich ended up having to be remade.

"That experience might keep her from going back to that restaurant,” said Grace Vasa, CEO of technology firm Juke Slot. “Unfortunately, such communication mix-ups are not isolated incidents in the larger restaurant field."  The inability of restaurants to communicate effectively with all customers both threatens to hurt their businesses and serves as an opportunity to generate additional revenue. But what might seem like an operational hurdle actually can be an easy fix with long-term financial benefits.

Self-ordering kiosks featuring capabilities such as sign language and foreign language translations allow people with conversational difficulties to communicate more easily represent solutions that minimize order errors and strengthen the customer experience.  Such technology would enable restaurants to cater to a different segment of the population – scores of people who struggle with basic communication, not only those who are deaf.

Just as important: It’s good business, industry experts say. 

One Injection Cure for deafness...

Scientists believe that a simple injection could restore the hearing of thousands of peopleA simple injection could restore the hearing of thousands of people, after scientists successfully grew hair cells from the inner ear in the laboratory.  

Most people go deaf from damage to hair cells in their inner ear, caused by old age or decades of loud noise. We have only 15,000 hair cells to last a lifetime, which do not regenerate in people as they do in birds and amphibians.

Currently the only solution for those worst affected is a cochlear implant, which bypasses the damaged area and stimulates the auditory nerve which carries sound to the brain.  But US scientists have now found a drug combination able to grow large numbers of new hair cells in the laboratory. Scientists believe that a simple injection could restore the hearing of thousands of people.

They have created 60 times the number previously achieved, providing hope this could become a routine treatment.   The experiment worked using cells from mice, and the researchers will start human trials in 18 months, planning to inject drugs into the ear to trigger hair cell growth.
Senior author Professor Robert Langer, of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) said: 'Hearing loss is a real problem as people get older. It's very much of an unmet need, and this is an entirely new approach.'

Around one in six people in the UK suffer from some form of deafness or hearing impairment.

We can't wait for March 6th !

Flood Expo 2017.

New Comedy Sketch for ITV.

Comedy, of course, come in many different forms but the producers of a new comedy sketch show say their project is a world first. It's writer is deaf - as are all the stars of the show.

The man behind it says he's had long-standing ambition to make a show for - and by - deaf people and now it's becoming a reality.  It's been financed by the British Sign Language Broadcasting Trust.

(Maybe they  have forgotten 4 deaf Yorkshireman, or maybe it wasn't funny ?).  The Site link has a video of the interview.

Health: deaf lifestyles day

Charity holds lifestyles day for deaf community
DISABILITY charity Trafford CIL is hosting a Healthy Lifestyles Day for deaf people in the borough.

Funded by Morrisons, the event will take place on March 10 from 1pm to 4pm, at Trafford CIL’s Marshall House headquarters in Sale.  It will be an opportunity for deaf British Sign Language (BSL) users, deafened and hard of hearing people to come together and share healthy lifestyle hints and tips with the help of Brian Kokoruwe, founder of Deafinite Equality.

Brian, who is deaf himself, has set up a social enterprise to raise awareness of the importance of diet and fitness training in improving the health and wellbeing of Deaf and hard of hearing people.  Also appearing on the day is Stacey Prendergast, from Lifeline, who will be sharing information about her crucial work with the deaf community about the effects of drugs and alcohol.

Ruth Malkin, Trafford’s deaf support broker, says “This is a great opportunity for all deaf people in Trafford to come together and share ideas about how to live more healthy lives.”  She adds, “I am very pleased that Morrison’s in Chorlton has made it possible for us to run this much needed event. Being deaf should not be a death sentence, but all the evidence suggests that deaf people are not getting the same access to healthy lifestyle messages as hearing people.”

BSL interpreters will be present and there is an induction loop in the hall. A text relay interpreter will also be provided. Trafford CIL has step free access to a ground floor meeting space and flashing fire beacons are fitted. There is an accessible toilet and all written information will be available in a range of formats.

To book, contact Ruth for a booking form by email on r.malkin@traffordcil.co.uk or phone/text 0161 8500645.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Deafhood and oralism Antiquated campaigns ?

Image result for what is hate
Oralism:  "The story of the suppression of sign language is known in the folklore of the American Deaf community, but few hearing people are aware of it. In the decades following the Civil War, educational reformers waged a campaign to eliminate manualism the use of sign language in the classroom—and replace it with oralism, the exclusive use of lipreading and speech."

Deafhood:  "A term coined by Paddy Ladd in his book Understanding Deaf Culture: In Search of Deafhood. While the precise meaning of the word remains deliberately vague—Ladd himself calls Deafhood a "process" rather than something finite and clear—it attempts to convey an affirmative and positive acceptance of being deaf."

Two primary Sign - based cultural campaigns that continue to thrive on the oppression of the 19thc but bear little resemblance to the modern way of acceptance, either of sign or education. It still suits deaf activism to believe that 19thc oppositions are still why they aren't in the mainstream of things. Although access has moved on, campaigns haven't since martyrdom and assumed discrimination pulls in more support than the realities deaf have more inclusions and access now, than they ever had. It would not do to suggest Deaf have a better life now than they had before. 

When the campaigns falter under the pressures of realism, they suggest Hate and Medical advances are determined to remove deaf people from the planet.  In modern terms of psychiatry, this is termed 'paranoia', in Deaf circles, a justification to oppose advancements in access and technologies, to prevent integration happening, which they fear will destroy the social basis of deaf culture.  To that end the constant opposition to 'Cures'  (They aren't any), or alleviation, are all identified as a deliberate ploy designed by medics and society, to remove culture for deafness, and deafness from deaf people.

Deafhood was a non-starter on any level, given it is what published in great fanfare as an awareness campaign tool for HEARING people, not deaf ones. The format was never in the host language of deaf people either, and still needs endless 'courses' to decipher, not deafhood itself, but the advanced academic usage of English terminology and grammar.   Deaf people still after the publication of Understanding Deafhood in 2003, are struggling to understand what the book was about, although critics dubbed it "The emperor's new clothes.." deaf-style, and ATR was amid the first British blog to offer a simpler interpretation of what terms were being used.  Here was another online.  There apparently was no sign language equivalent to identify or clarify them, so they developed signs for a concept they still don't understand.  You can only hope when they decipher this Deaf equivalent of the dead sea scrolls it actually has a point.

The Americas saw it as a ready source of profit, and capitalised on the fact of its publicity value in Deaf terms.  They redefined what the book was about to fit.  A profit that never materialised in Paddy Ladd's homeland of the UK, where it went straight to dusty academic and dusty reference shelving. 14 years later, the Americans are still trying to sell a concept deaf do not understand apart from the book title itself.  Basically it was another term for deaf culture, with another addition of 'everyone is against us..' involved.  The UK has forgotten all about it, there was only one TV program for the deaf that covered it, and then, only once, most confused Audism with Autism too..

Image result for what is hate
Oralism is a ready, and bankable set of circumstances guaranteed to inflame deaf even 130 years later and despite having little relevance today. Clearly seen for what it isn't, a system designed not as a choice or alternative, but to replace sign language.  Facts of the time were mainly ignored, statistics on the issue even more irrelevant, less than 32% supported oralism in education, less a than 14% of areas concerned with deaf education attended the Milan Conference..  

Even today AG Bell is blamed for everything that happened to deaf people in the USA, whereas in the UK he was something to do with telephones that's all, and pirated other people's innovation mainly.  The W C Handy of deaf education.  The only revelation is how the Americas maintained such a hatred for a man dead the last 100 years, and for a system which offered alternatives to sign for those able to use that alternative, and today still includes both, the purists of sign were just not having it. Communication seemed the last issue to be addressed with it all.  You signed or you were not deaf if you spoke you were against Deaf people, you 'betrayed' them, the politics of silence..

Such is the conundrum, speech became oralism and deaf went at each other for it. Then as advances in technology or alleviation emerged, medics were hated for offering it, or even researching it, despite most deaf jumping on the access to further their inclusion.  Some Deaf areas, had developed hatred and extremism for their own, CI's were a no-no, and then ran a media campaign to suggest 'Everyone Hated the Deaf', throwing in the D or d at complete random, to score media points, and alleviation and suggested cures were just another nail in the cultural coffin, obviously  a deliberate ploy to remove sign or culture from history.  Deaf dismissed choice as a fake option, or a 'conspiracy', to undermine deaf culture, nothing more, and nothing less.  Even today various blogs suggest there are identifiable 'hate areas' designed to end culture, paranoia is the name of the game and has gone mainstream.

Fake news and Fact has become the deaf norm too.  The Trump syndrome.

BSL support: When is it 'unreasonable' ?

E.G.  You have a clinical appointment for a standard 5-minute blood test, or just a flu jab, does this demand a BSL Interpreter is supplied by the NHS or GP provision ?

Image result for deaf people having an injectionThe sheer costs of provision for very short-term support is escalating, in an area that has scant provision to support all deaf who use sign language, currently estimated at 1 BSL Interpreter per 160 sign users nationwide.  

You need to take into account many Interpreters insist on a minimum 2 hour booking fee, to cover distance travel etc.  In essence, a short GP attendance (These days regulated to be UNDER 10 minutes), can cost the NHS anything from £2 to £9 per minute on average, and up to £200 every time.

Since January this year, sheer demand for BSL support for welfare issues has quadrupled, this resulted in 60% of deaf people not getting any support to claim, because the demand for welfare support alone, far outstripped the supply of Interpreters.  None would be able to support the deaf in any other area.   This must mean deaf people who rely on sign language alone will have to be aware there are areas where that support will not be provided, not because of discrimination, but simply because the support isn't available.

The demands for recognition, laws, education,, and access are not taking into account the ability of the BSL systems to deliver.  BSL take up by potential Interpreters has gone down, not up to meet demands.  The Deaf area will be left with a lot of legal rights, but still no access. 2 years ago it was decided via Access To Work areas, that the state would 'cap', (i.e. set a limit to how much support BSL using deaf could claim for).  That cap also inclusive of state demands to investigate how that support was applied, or made more cost effective.  Some quoted £35-40,000 a year in support for deaf sign users, making their access cost more than the job they were in.

Deaf support was suggested as the most expensive disabled support in the UK.  One BSL using law student had £98,000 claimed for 1 years support alone, yet, failed to qualify or work in that field of employment.  The deaf response appears more of the same.  It is of little surprise then the state seriously looks at the viability of some access, and wants supply directed where it is most needed. There is no national program to ensure supply meets demand, there is also the issue of deaf people expressing choices as to who they actually use for support.

It is suggested 60% do NOT use a qualified interpreter,  even when offered, this means obviously, the demand is killed for that amount of sign using people.  Issues like first stated where very short times are for attendance in some areas, then BSL support would not be supplied.  There are obvious areas where it is not actually needed.  Freeing up those areas can allow better support to be applied where the shortages are, until, or as soon as, some sort of regulatory system to ensure Interpreter training is set up properly.  Logic suggests assessment of sign users capabilities needs to be done too, not least to ensure they are getting the support they need.

This means deaf 'preferences' etc have to give way to realities.  It also means the chaotic BSL or Lip-reading approach has to be abandoned in favour of a nationwide 'Communication' system. Such systems can determine what works best for the individual as it seems they do not always choose what works best for themselves, except in a social sense, which leaves them isolated in a work and health sense etc.  The deaf social over life choice is at the root of much.  If we do not address the issues of supply and demand and training, then costs will keep rising and support get even less.  We know from the lip-reading areas, lip-speakers are abandoning people on the ground to concentrate on more lucrative legal work instead. Why support a lip-reader or a signer, for £200 an hour, when you can get up to £500 in a court ? At the end of the day it's your living, you are not a charity to support deaf people, even they charge for services.  

One result was state systems trawling learner classes to get cheap support instead, either that, or the old standby of telling deaf to bring their family to support them for free instead.  There is also the issue of unregulated interpreting areas, freelance areas who are overcharging, or unprofessional, who cannot be regulated either. This seems compounded by a free-for-all in BSL tuition via class and course-work. Another area unregulated, where college courses e.g. have some standard in part, but opposed by Deaf purist groups, and others that work on regional sign approaches, that are arbitrarily adjudged, that costs a lot of money, and deters as many as 54% of trainees from continuing.  Ominously all we are reading are campaigns for more BSL and not the means to make it work.  Deaf insist be it 5 minutes or 5 days their right to support is there, we know, but their terps aren't, something has to give, and it seems 60% of deaf people already use alternatives to Interpreters. The access bank of Mum and Dad.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Concert for the Deaf...

Welsh Councils cut funding for deaf alert systems.

Chris Williams has been severely deaf from childhood
Spending on specialist equipment for people who have hearing loss has been cut "dramatically" over the past four years, figures have shown.

Figures obtained by Action on Hearing Loss Cymru showed Welsh councils have cut their spending by 15% on average - or £40,000.  The charity said the cuts were "worrying" and called on local authorities to reconsider. The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) blamed council budget cuts.

The money is spent on equipment including specially-adapted telephones, front door bells that flash when used and listening devices for people with hearing loss. The charity told BBC's Newyddion 9 programme that this equipment allows people to live more independently and reduces isolation and loneliness. More than 575,000 deaf people live in Wales but just £210,000 is spent annually on specialist equipment each year.

One of those who is worried about the situation is Chris Williams, from Penrhyndeudraeth, Gwynedd, who has been severely deaf from childhood. "Without hearing aids I can't hear a thing. This equipment is essential," he said. "I have a special doorbell that lights up, and it works with a phone too. I have a fire alarm that works through bluetooth - which vibrates under my pillow. And with a fire alarm it is a matter of life and death.

Deaf couple married for 12 years hear for first time

Neil and Helen Robinson were both deaf from birth and are thought to be the first couple in the UK to have cochlear implants. 

A husband and wife who have both been deaf since birth can now hear each other for the very first time.

Neil and Helen Robinson have been married for 12 years and have spent their lives communicating with sign language.   But now, thanks to cochlear implants, they have been talk and hear for the first time. 

The pair, from Salisbury, Wiltshire, are thought to be the first couple in the UK to have the implants fitted and are amazed they can finally hear each other. Neil, 50, said: "It felt incredible, in a happy way.   "It felt really emotional.

There is a video with the link.