Posted by Ian Noon on January 28, 2011
And here’s another example of deaf young people breaking down barriers – a nice story from Sussex about Kathy, a deaf young person from Belfast who became a teacher of both deaf and hearing children. Very inspiring.
Any more examples out there? Any more, and I might start to think deaf people are taking over the world…
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: Deaf, deaf role model, teacher | 1 Comment »
Posted by Ian Noon on September 30, 2010
Last night, I took part in an online focus group discussion about telephony services for some research being done for Ofcom. It was great fun. I would have done it for free, and they gave me £35 for taking part. Chocolate digestives all around!
I was asked lots of questions on what I wanted from telephony services and what I thought about text relay services, where a woman from Liverpool (where the service is based) reads out what I type on a textphone to the hearing person and then types back their reply. I gave my usual spiel that I only used text relay when I absolutely had to: that it was impersonal, took ages to make a phone call and that I hated having someone else speaking for me. It almost feels like having your Mum making phone calls for you. No wonder that so few deaf children and young people seem to use it.
Interestingly, I was then asked about what I thought about other technologies, such as video relay and captioned relay. Captioned relay would mean that I could speak for myself but that an operator would listen in and transcribe the conversation on my computer screen through the magic of the internet. It’s already readily available in the USA and Australia. It would be perfect for me and I would be phoning everyone up all the time if it was available here. I would be far better able to campaign for deaf children; I’d be on direct dial to the Houses of Parliament! So I felt encouraged that the researchers were sounding out people’s views on this and looking at other options. It’s on the agenda, which is a start.
Fingers crossed that the research finally leads to some positive change in the UK and that Ofcom act on it. It’s the 21st century: deaf children and adults shouldn’t be stuck with poor telephony services that don’t meet our needs.
The research are apparently still looking for people to take part – their website has more details. And my friend Tina does a lot of campaigning on this, as you can see from her blog, as do the Telecommunications Action Group (TAG).
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: access, captioned relay, Deaf, Ofcom, research, telecommunications, text relay, video relay | 4 Comments »
Posted by Ian Noon on September 29, 2010
I got an email the other day, as you do, about some consultation on draft guidance from the Office for Disability Issues (ODI) on the Equality Act 2010. The guidance sets out an “illustrative and non-exhuastive” list of the factors that might be considered when deciding if someone is disabled or not in the courts. They say “non-exhaustive” though they clearly had a good try. An attempt to try and describe what an elephant looks like if there ever was one.
Anyhow, the email expressed fear that the guidance is saying that British Sign Language users would not be regarded as disabled. This is because in the list of what should not be regarded as a factor in deciding if someone is disabled, it says:
“Inability to converse in a language which is not the speaker’s native language”
It’s not particularly clear, but my guess is that the intention is to highlight that one is not disabled just because one speaks a different language. So people who speak Welsh are not disabled, for example. Nor is my sign language interpreter.
Does this mean that under the guidance that deaf British Sign Language users would not be regarded as being disabled? I’m not a legal expert but I don’t think so. Looking at the list of factors that should be considered in deciding if someone has a disability, it says:
“Difficulty hearing someone talking at a sound level which is normal for everyday conversations, and in a moderately noisy environment.”
“Difficulty hearing and understanding another person speaking clearly over the voice telephone.”
“Taking longer than someone who does not have an impairment to say things.”
So, on the face of it, deaf children and young people would clearly be regarded as disabled under this guidance, whether or not they used sign language. That said, the line on native languages is not particularly clear and is a bit unhelpful. I understand NDCS plans to respond to the consultation to suggest to the ODI that this should be clearer.
As an aside, it’s quite an interesting list. I haven’t yet read the whole document but considering the ODI are meant to follow the social model of disability, the list sometimes reads a rather negative list focusing on the inadequacies of disabled people, rather than the inadequacies of the world around them in failing to ensure disabled people have full access. I now also seem to be doubly disabled - “Persistant difficulty in remembering the names of familiar people” also makes it on the list. Oh dear.
Be interested, as always, to hear your thoughts.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: British Sign Language, Deaf, disability, ODI, Office for Disability Issues | 3 Comments »
Posted by Ian Noon on August 23, 2010
This could be interesting, I thought, as I sat down for my Saturday evening viewing. Pigs battling it out, a kind of “Porkie’s Got Talent” and a plethora of terrible bacon-related puns from Dermot?
Alas, it was one of many subtitling errors on Saturday’s opening to the new series. I think they meant to say “big talent”?
Yes, the X Factor is back. Which means the return of tone-deaf singers, lots of shouting from Dermot, fashion wars between Dannii and Cheryl and TRULY AWFUL subtitles.
Every year, it gets worse. Numerous typos and subtitles so out of sync with what’s being said that I only get the lame jokes around 5 minutes later. I could kind of forgive it for the live shows (though BBC news manage to at least appear to be trying to match the speech with the subtitles) but even on non-live shows, the subtitles on the X Factor are among the worse I’ve seen on any programme.
Is there some assumption at ITV that they don’t need to bother with decent subtitles because deaf people don’t listen to music? If so, then this is a pretty idiotic and offensive assumption to make. Lots of deaf children and young people watch and enjoy the X Factor. It’s unacceptable they don’t have equal access to what is one of ITV’s most popular shows.
I’ve emailed them to complain – if you want to do the same, the email address is email@example.com. I’ll keep a keen eye out for any more errors in coming weeks.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: access, Deaf, subtitles, X Factor | 4 Comments »
Posted by Ian Noon on August 17, 2010
I have competition: a young deaf person, who did some work experience for the National Deaf Children’s Society recently, has set up her own blog, called Feel the Breeze. Already she’s been talking about subtitles, the underground and Ryanair – which incidentally happen to be the three things that most often turn me into an angry deaf man, so it’s good to see I’m not alone.
It’s a great to see an example of a deaf young blog with deaf young people speaking directly for themselves. Hopefully, I will be seeing lots more.
Any other good young deaf blogs that are worth following?
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: blog, Deaf, young | 1 Comment »
Posted by Ian Noon on May 26, 2010
Image courtesy of the Northern Echo
An interesting article appeared in Guardian yesterday about Rosie Watson, a deaf mature student, who took Durham University to court for breaking disability discrimination laws.
On the one hand, it’s a very inspiring story about a gutsy deaf person who refused to let the university get away with it. On the other hand, it’s appalling what she went through what she did. The Guardian also reports that disabled students at Oxford are twice as likely to drop out and that the Students Loans Company is failing to approved Disabled Students Allowances quickly enough.
It all reminded me of own experiences at university (many years ago), which I blogged about ages back. Back then I speculated whether this was a one-off experience. I’m beginning to think that it probably isn’t.
It all raises a lot of questions. Are these one-off cases or widespread problems across all universities? Why? Do deaf students know their rights? Are they making a fuss about it or are they just “coping”? Were universities having a sick day when the Disability Discrimination Act was passed? Do they think that deaf young people are so thick that they would never think of applying, or even going to university?
What are your thoughts? Do you know of any cases where deaf students have been let down at university? Be good to hear about it.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: access, Deaf, disabled, discrimination, Durham, students, university | 8 Comments »
Posted by Ian Noon on May 18, 2010
Image courtesy of NDCS
I thought I would share a little anecdote from last weekend where I was busy volunteering at a National Deaf Children’s Society “Getting Ahead” training weekend in Epping Forest. As always, it was great to meet some deaf youngsters and see them in action learning how to develop their confidence, think about their future and pick up new skills. They all seemed to have a great time, despite the cold turkey some felt from having to go without their mobiles for much of the weekend…
Anyhow, during the weekend, the teenagers were doing some team building activities with the centre staff, who had clearly not met many deaf children before. One instructor went up to one teenager, who communicated orally and was not “obviously” deaf. Here’s how their conversation went:
Instructor: “So this is a group that’s half hearing, half deaf then?”
Teenager: “No, we’re all deaf.”
Instructor: “You’re deaf?”
Teeanger: “Yes, I’m deaf. I talk but I’m still deaf.”
It could have been a very awkward conversation but the teenager defused it brilliantly, whilst also giving some impromptu deaf awareness training to the instructors. But what made it quite a nice moment for me was that when I first met the teenager, I expected him to be like myself when I was his age – very oral and, in a way, denying and “pretending” not be deaf. Give him a few days at a NDCS weekend, he’s proudly claiming an identity as deaf and addressing it openly, honestly and confidently.
A nice little demonstration of what I think are one of the benefits of NDCS events for deaf children and young people.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: Deaf, deaf awareness, event, Getting Ahead, identity, National Deaf Children's Society, NDCS | 3 Comments »
Posted by Ian Noon on April 15, 2010
Image courtesy of NDCS
I popped along to a disability working group for cinemas yesterday and I was reminded that, however much I moan about cinema access, there have been big changes since I was a young person. And, compared to most other major countries, Britain is ahead of the pack.
Consider a few stats:
* 19 out of the top 20 UK releases last year were available with subtitles at the cinema (I think the offending omission may have been the Twilight film…)
* 300 plus cinemas have subtitled facilities, around half of all cinemas. This compares to around 20 in 2003. Those that don’t, tend to be smaller, independent cinemas.
* There are 550 subtitled films shown nationwide weekly
Apparently, the UK is the only country in the EU that offers subtitled films on this scale.
Not that there still isn’t a lot of progress to be made. Lots of subtitled films are still on only at the off-peak “graveyard” slots. “Technical problems” still crop up. And I still have a dream that one day I’ll be able to go into any cinema and ask for on-demand subtitles on any film. Encouragingly though, cinemas seem to be listening to these points, as the very existence of the disability working group shows.
But, since I’m in a good mood today, I think it’s worth praising the cinemas for the progress made so far. Do you agree that things are better than they used to be? What progress do you want to see next?
PS Just a reminder that you can see which subtitled films are showing in your area at yourlocalcinema.com.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: access, cinema, Cinema Exhibitor's Association, Deaf, films, subtitles, yourlocalcinema.com | 2 Comments »
Posted by Ian Noon on March 5, 2010
Happy day. Youtube have confirmed there will be automatic subtitling on its English videos.
Back in November, Google announced it would be aiming to do this. Today’s announcement confirms it for Youtube. The story has already been covered on BBC news and the National Deaf Children’s Society has done a statement on it..
It’s not going to be 100% accurate, as no speech recognition software is perfect. Not ideal but I know that many deaf children and adults are quite adept at filling in the gaps and working out what was meant to be said. And, of course, telling everyone about the funny bloopers. My favourite blooper is when someone on TV said “Help yourself.” The subtitles reported it as “Help your elf.” I still chortle thinking of it.
Anyhow, the Youtube announcement now puts the pressure on others to follow suit. I won’t name names because everyone knows about my grudge against the BBC’s lack of online subtitles, even for stories about deaf people. Some good news as we go into the weekend though. Are others happy about the news too?
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: BBC, captions, Deaf, google, NDCS, online access, subtitles, Youtube | 1 Comment »
Posted by Ian Noon on March 5, 2010
Back in January, I mentioned that a tremendous trio of deaf students from Heston Community School in west London went to Westminster to interview MPs from each of the main political parties on on their parties’ approach to supporting deaf children to help parents of deaf children decide how to vote in the upcoming general election.
The interviews have now been published by the National Deaf Children’s Society and are available on their website.
There are a few similarities between the different parties. To be expected: no party is ever going to stand on a platform for less support for deaf children and more bullying. But it’s worth reading the interviews to tease out the slight differences in the party’s approaches.
The students – Karen, Kevin and Maynaka – were all excellent ambassadors for NDCS and their school. They even managed to tease out information about what the MPs will do to celebrate if they win the general election. Answers ranged from having a good sleep, having a curry, and playing some Lego!
Am very proud of the students!
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: David Laws, Deaf, Diana Johnson, election, Heston Community School, interviews, michael gove, NDCS, Westminster | Leave a Comment »