Access, Communication and planning to be Disability Friendly COVID19 update June 2020

Time for an update and here we are in 2020… in the middle of a pandemic and social isolation is all around us.

Un-lipreadable face masks.

GDPR rules…

Communication going all haywire…

Discrimination galore….

Stereotyping and ignorance….

Ahhh – so where are we now?
Please let’s just listen (I mean read) – deafness is a communication barrier.

Language isn’t a disability under the Equality Act 2010… communication is.

I love British Sign Language, Makaton, and non-verbal communication; all it’s beautiful meanings and grammatical visual descriptions that only the eye can see and understand if you know it and envelope your lives around it. I use it a little, I have my own quirky signs that only my friends know, but they “get it” – without even a word being said. Even those who hear can communicate with facial expressions, gestures, mime and so on. Communication is 70% non verbal once you start looking around you and think about it.

Communication isn’t hard when you understand how others communicate with you and vice versa. It’s unique, it’s how YOU individually interact with the world and how the world makes itself a part of your living experience. It’s a shared experience between friends and between colleagues and between you, yourself and society.

Never take communication for granted, if you lose it, you lose your identity, your confidence, your connections and your ability to make yourself understood.

Back to the present time, COVID19 isolation and all that – I’m amazed how many people have suddenly discovered something that was always there, that deaf people have always used… video calling, seeing the person, webchats, all the glories of what our tech society have actually come up with in the last 10 years since I started this blog.

Now for the future.. now is the time to remember… and respect.. Us deaf people of all shapes, sizes, colour, religion, creed, sexuality, and etc have been there, we have ideas, we have faced these barriers that society is now currently actually struggling with . Give us a chance to let you know we’ve been there and we empathise with you all.

But more importantly – make your services accessible to us in OUR way, not your outdated versions of what we need – listen to the person not the object that seems to be a solution… Independent living is a right not a choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Access, Communication and planning to be Disability Friendly

Today I say this:
You know what – this has brought back memories, and just seen on the BBC news that Capita and ATOS estimate they are going to overspend by 200 million pounds the cost to the taxpayer of the change over from DLA to PIP… well, what does that tell you when people think deafness and deafblindness is something that is easy to live with? No… it’s a complete barrier to society that is set on using voice and written words to communicate.
If you want to be all inclusive, build your access in at the design stage. Don’t try to change something to make it accessible after the fact. Think access to Communication, Mobility and information. Get educated in the needs of those who have a sensory impairment. Contact me if you want to know more.

My facebook post a year ago said this:

My rant for today – as a deaf person and it’s public. Everything in life should be accessible – from the bank to the Gov to the public meetings everyone is entitled to attend – to the opportunity to go to the cinema, to the gym – or a counseling session, or to read the news online at our own leisure (with subtitles).. or to talk to family – or friends – We have to “ring” or we have to go round and rely on someone to speak clearly – no two bones about it. If we make the effort to go round – we are told to “wait” if someone rings your phone, but we were there first! – how come? never say “it doesn’t matter – it’s not important” – never say “hang on my phone is ringing” in mid convo with you.. if we are with you – we need to communicate -and we need to follow – never go from a clear speech to a mumbled speech if someone who is hearing starts a conversation.. I can go on…

– and so many are not aware that we are perfectly competent to communicate – Now I refer to those companies and organisations like HMRC, utility companies, electric gas and councils – BUT it needs to be in an accessible format, which, to me is the stumbling block. If you are discriminated against – it means they are trying to make you communicate with them in their way – not yours. Square peg in round hole – or whatever – they can’t force you to “learn how to access their services” – they should be making “their services fully accessible”. Forcing you to break the Data protection act because they can’t “accommodate your needs” – is discrimination. Pure and simple. Forcing you to use a different language – simply because it is seen to be the language of your “disability” – is NOT the ultimate solution.

Today it is 2017 – and nothing has changed.

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Being totally deaf on a Sunday – what’s the big deal?

Often get asked this, but how do you explain something you’ve grown up with and been living with since you became totally deaf at 4 1/2 years old?

I started a book many years ago – never got it finished, but there was one chapter that I focused on what it’s actually like to be totally deaf. I can word it many different ways, this one was something that perhaps you might understand… just perhaps, because however you try – you can’t just “shut your ears” like you would “Shut your eyes” to imagine blindness. You will always “hear” something… so why am I trying to explain “total” deafness? It happens to many, be it in their childhood, or in their teens or in mid-life – or even in old age…

This is what total deafness is like.

It is Sunday. The sun is shining. You are sitting on the patio, looking at the flowers and reading the papers. The weather is warm. You feel at peace with the world.

There’s a smell in the air – it smells of petrol… then you eventually smell cut grass. You realise that the neighbour is cutting the grass, you don’t realise it makes a noise.

You see a bird flying, it meets another one in mid air and they land on the tree at the end of the garden – you see them flapping and their beaks moving, you realise they must be making a noise too… ah – well you wouldn’t have known if your daughter hadn’t come in and said that there was a racket going on and that birds were being a nusiance…

You go back to looking at your sunday papers – even then you don’t realise that they make a noise as you turn the pages…

Your daughter tells you to look up at the sky – you see a heilcopter – she tells you there has been an almighty noise just now, then you see some black clouds in the distance and realise there has been an accident on the motorway, just by the way…

You go to your I-pad, and look up the news and see that indeed there has been – but unless someone had told you  – you would have been oblivious to it.

You then go onto social media and see that friends and family have been talking about it for the last 4 hours, you had no idea… you were simply sitting in the garden thinking the world was at peace.

You go upstairs, and you put the bath on, you think it will take abut 30 mins to fill up, you go downstairs and you put the kettle on.  You then get distracted by the television showing that something is happening in your neighbourhood… you look outside, you see a ball fall into the garden..

You decided to throw the ball back realising your neighbours children have been playing, oblivious to the noise they have been making – you don’t get it that there have been so much noise going on this morning but you want to find out if all is ok  so you go back to the television and try to catch up on what’s going on…

Suddenly, your daughter comes running in telling you the bath is overflowing – you never heard it! – and finally you realise how much you are missing by not being able to hear. (to be continued)

 

 

 

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Communication support for deaf people in the UK

There are 4 – almost 5 types of communication support:
BSL/ English Interpreters – both Professional and recipient have to know BSL – including it’s grammar – at Level 5 or more. ASLI is the professional organisation


STTR – both professional and recipient have to know English as a root language and read at a subtitle pace. the professional is trained to use a palantype or stenograph machine – which plays the sounds of spoken language into a database that deciphers the sounds into words. AVSTTR is the professional organisation

Lipspeaker – both professional and recipient have to understand English at a spoken level – and the recipient has to be able to lipread. and the professional has to be able to cut out unnecessary verbal jargon. It is called “Paring down”.
ALS is the professional ogganisation

Notetaker – both professional and recipient have to be able to decipher the root message and summarise it at 150 words per minute. It is not verbatim. ANP is the professional organisation


Deafblind communicator – professional has to understand – or have an understanding of – the deafblind person’s preferred intrinsic communication needs as they cannot see the relay message be it by touch, spoken – or by the strength of the remaining sense. It is more than just a signed by touch or a sound – it needs to be matched to the recipient’s needs. There is no professional organisation for communicator guides for deafblind people.


Lipspeakers with sign – Professional  who relays totally in English – with additional BSL signs that the recipient can follow – it prevents the need to switch from one language to another. It is new. but much needed.ALAS is the professional organisation

IF a professional thinks they cannot get the message to the recipient faithfully and honestly, they therefore should not accept the assignment.

IF a recipient feels they cannot follow – or feels unconfident in the relayed message – then they should say so. You have a right to be able to follow within your own needs. Deaf people should not be used to be taken advantage of – a true Professional will make sure that their clients are comfortable and can follow – whomever books them.

If you are responsible for making sure deaf or HOH people can follow – you should only book a communication professional from the NRCPD register to make sure they are qualified to do the job, and understand the needs of your client.

No one should be pushed or put into a square box with a round hole – we are all different. It’s time to stop stereotyping deaf people into a language barrier.

http://www.nrcpd.org.uk/code-of-conduct

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Impact of communication in families

Ramblings of an old deafie – or a deafie that rediscovered herself…. or a hearie that became deaf…. it’s not that bad.

I’ve lived a life that’s full…. I lived a life in confusion – until now.

Perhaps I should have a pause for breath, social media has awoken something that deaf people have never had a chance to share… until now…. be it a sign language or a spoken language it doesn’t matter – communication is so important in families….
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I traveled each and every highway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way

I am a child of the 60’s. One of the “baby boomers”.

One of a pair of children born to a generation who lived through so much social change. yet social change is happening right before our eyes, even today.

One of this pair supported me. She is an inspiration. She was completely involved in the “Greenham women” – she shaved her head she saw babies being born in tents, she lived in caravans and she went on to become a teacher  – but she never faltered, she lives her life to make sure those who are disadvantaged by society are given her full attention. You will not know her, she is Elexi Earth, she is a name that used to be.
Greenham Women a Legacy

She and I fought all our lives, and now it’s full circle…..

Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way

But – She happened to be my sister. I didn’t appreciate it at the time. I have to say I was excluded. I was deaf. She is now understanding who I am – and who she is and we have met  – again and we are complete…

Deaf! I hear you say? Well what does deafness do to people? One word – Communication.
there is more – much more…..

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way

That was for both of us….. So I tried to be “normal” spent many a year living, bringing up children – so proud of them all. Seeing the sister doing the same – and we did it – we did it our way…

I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried
I’ve had my fill, my share of losing
And now, as tears subside, I find it all so amusing
To think I did all that
And may I say, not in a shy way
Oh, no, oh, no, not me, I did it my way

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way

Yes, it was my way…

And it was our way – this blog is dedicated to my wonderful, amazing sister.

Elexi Earth.

And for the family we have created – hearing and deaf – and now to the future.

The future will be – amazing. What we thought we disagreed on – was actually nothing more than a divide that deafness can create. Communication.

So next time you ever meet a deaf person, a deaf family member, a deaf colleague, a friend who has lost their hearing, a parent or relative who has suddenly discovered that communication is an issue, – just pause – and think – they need to know what’s happening, include, share, love, pray – and Communicate.

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A deaf person’s dream – courtesy of ABBA

I have a dream, a word to read
To help me access everything
Can you see the wonder of a lipreader’s tale
We can hold our future even if we fail
I believe in subtitles
Something good in everything I see
I believe in subtitles
Then I know the time will be right for me
I’ll cross the stream – I have a dream

I have a dream, a fantasy
To help me through reality
And my destination makes it worth the while
Pushing through the darkness still another mile
I believe in Subtitles
Totally good in everything I see
I believe in subtitles
Then I’ll know the time is right for me
I’ll cross the ford- I have a dream
I’ll cross the barrier- I have a dream

I have a dream, a word to read
To help me cope with everything
If you see the wonder of a deaf person’s tale
You can take the future even if you fail
I believe in Subtitles
Something good in everything I see
I believe in subtitles
When I know the time is right for me
I’ll cross the stream – I have a dream
I’ll break the barrier- I have a world to see

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Hardest Hit speech given in Manchester on 22nd Oct 2011

4 years on, and it’s still true.

deafcomm

The Hardest Hit campaign is a petition and protest to the Government to protect the benefits of disabled people across the UK.

The campaign has the following key messages:

  1. Disabled people, those with long-term conditions and their families are being hit hard by cuts to the benefits and services they need to live their lives.
  2. Many are living in fear of cuts to essential benefits including Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). The total cuts will mean an estimated £9 billion* loss to disabled people and their families’ incomes over the next four years, on top of cuts to many local care and support services.
  3. The Hardest Hit campaign, organised jointly by the Disability Benefits Consortium and the UK Disabled People’s Council, brings together individuals and over 50 organisations to send a clear message to the Government: stop these cuts.
  4. You can support the campaign today…

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Hearing Dogs and The hunt for the Preston Puma

Hello blog, today I’m having a bit of fun, learning how to upload videos and pictures, and talking about our Hearing dog, Oscar 🙂

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My husband, David is profoundly deaf like me. He wears a cochlear implant (CI) now, and loves it.  He has gone from being almost totally deaf, struggling to hear the loudest sounds with his hearing aids to being able to hear the grass crackling under his feet as he walks in the woods round where we live. He can’t hear “words” though, he still has to lipread to be able to follow what you are saying.
The CI gives a new insight to his hobby, he likes to go out tracking for his “Puma”. He has heard it. This video was taken before David got his CI. The rest of the blog is about Oscar, and the joy he has brought to our lives.

We have a Hearing dog, called Oscar. Hearing dogs are fantastic for deaf people. Oscar works for both of us. Oscar alerts us to the doorbell, the smoke alarm, the telephone ringing (which we ignore, neither of us can hear on it) and he will come and get one or the other of us when asked, leading the person to us. He also wakes us up in the morning with his alarm clock, and works to the sound of a cooker timer, if we want to be alerted at a particular time.

The other thing that Oscar does, without realising, is he makes our deafness visible. Oscar and Hearing dogs also give ourselves and deaf people some freedom to be confident in going out and communicating with other dog walkers and people. When you are a lipreader, the most important thing is to know the topic of conversation, and invariably if you have a hearing dog, you know people will be talking about the dog, so it gives you confidence.  Oscar also comes into places with us to support us in this way. Here’s a picture of Oscar on best behaviour, in uniform, at Chorley hospital last Monday while I was waiting for physiotherapy:

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Remember, though, if you see a hearing dog, in uniform, they are working. Please do not just think that because there’s a dog in a place where dogs are “not allowed” you have permission to just come up to them and pet them. You will be distracting them from listening to sounds they have been trained to listen to. Always ask first, and when you ask, remember the owner will be deaf, so please, make eye contact, don’t shout,  use clear speech and remember the owner will be needing to see your lips to lipread.  You’ll see them with a lead like this, some of them are burgundy not bright green, but all have the same words on them.

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If you see a dog wearing a bandanna like this one while out having a free run, you’ll know it means they’re a hearing dog and their owner will be deaf:

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If you ever want to confirm someone really has a hearing dog, or any assistance dog, you can ask them to show their “passport”.  Every hearing dog owner will have one. The passport also shows the rights of assistance dogs and their owners. Refusing access to an assistance dog means you are refusing access to their owner too, and breaking the law.

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When he’s not working, though, Oscar has a wonderful time, walking with David, helping him “hear”  the direction in which sounds are coming from by a simple “look” on his face with ears pricked up. One hearing aid, or one CI doesn’t give you the “surround sound” you are used to. you can’t place where sound is coming from.

Oscar is a lab, he loves water too. So while David is busy looking for tracks and taking pictures of possible “puma prints” Oscar is busy trying to find water to play in. We have a “doggie” cam for Oscar, and here is one short video of the pair of them out in the woods, You can say, Oscar really is part of our family, and our “ears”   !

Hearing Dogs really make a difference to deaf people’s lives, Thank you to everyone who has at some point donated to hearing dogs, you have opened our world too.

…. and if you ask, no, we haven’t yet seen the Preston puma with our own eyes, one day!

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Communication support: Remote Captions using Respeaking vs Speech to Text Reporting

Communication –  spoken words, intonation, written language, sometimes a visual expression or a sign. Communication is knowing what people are saying, feeling, and a way of expressing a want a need, a thought or an order- being part of a professional and social circle where you are fully included.

Communication is taken for granted though. If you can’t communicate, it’s not because you don’t want to, it’s because it’s not accessible to you. It doesn’t mean lack of intelligence or ignorance. Having a hearing loss is one of those things that cuts you off from communication, it doesn’t mean you are dumb, it means you are excluded. If you give communication, you are entitled to receive response in a way you can follow at the level of language you have given it.

So here I am now, with my expertise and experience reporting on communication given in sounds and words and how you can access them if you have a hearing loss that is so severe you cannot make use of aids that help you hear.

I particularly love English. Reading it, writing it, and speaking it, too. Who doesn’t? I’m one of those who will correct any bad spelling or grammatical mistakes in English. I like to know EXACTLY what is said, at the TIME it is said, not afterwards, not a summary or afterthought. I am entitled to be treated equally and to get the same information as everyone else.

Shakespeare

I’ve used Lipspeakers (“oral interpreters” they are called in the US) for many years as my preferred communication support. A Lipspeaker is a human being who listens to what is being said and relays it back to you, silently, with clear, lipreadable lip-patterns of their own. Lipreading is fine for short periods of chat, for meetings, maybe half a day, but not really for a full day. Lipreading is so tiring, you have to use your eyes and your intelligence to remember the message, but the part of your memory you use to do so is also the part that “decodes” the message, if you will. In other words, most people can hear and for them, they will be using their auditory memory as an “Aide memoire” – an extra bit of help to remember conversations. I do not have that. So lipreading takes a lot of effort, eye-strain, concentration and energy out of you. I’m also discovering as I get older, lipreading becomes a little bit harder every day.

Let me introduce you to something a little bit different. It’s another way in which you can get access to communication. It’s called Captions. Or subtitles. Or Speech To Text Reporting, STTR in the UK. Or Communication Access Real Time (CART) in the US. It is like watching subtitles of what’s being said at the time it’s said.

So when I go out to a conference, or meeting of many people for a full day and there are captions present to relay what is being said, I really enjoy myself. It is the easiest way to get full access with no stress.

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There are not many STTR in the UK, around 30 to be exact. There are a lot more in the US (CART). A STTR is a human being who uses a phonetic keyboard called a Stenograph or Palantype. They listen to what is being said and they “play” the sounds into the keyboard, which then is picked up by a connecting laptop which matches the “song” to a particular word and displays that word on the screen. Within a second or two of it being played. STTR can keep up with speech at a speed of up to 250 words per minute, some particularly skilled STTRs can go up to 300 words per minute or more. It’s a highly practised skill to be a STTR, the equipment costs a lot of money, and it takes a long time to build up a dictionary of words that match the chords input to the stenograph or palantype keyboard. It also takes a lot of practise to build up speed and accuracy. A STTR, in order to become qualified has to undergo a test which will prove their accuracy to 99% or more.

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Recently there has been a lot of publicity in the world I live in, about respeaking, and about voice recognition as possible alternatives to STTR. If it was as good as STTR I’d welcome it. But it is not. Let me explain why.

Let’s start with VOICE RECOGNITION. Breaking it down to what it actually is – It is a piece of software that will take sound uttered by a human being and convert it into words. All well and good. But the software isn’t “trained” to different accents, dialect, discourse or slang. Every person speaks slightly differently. So the user has to correct that, and tell the software which word they mean when they are speaking.This means Voice recognition has a very poor accuracy, and each person who uses it has to correct it to their own ways of speaking.

Way back in the 1990s, we had voice recognition software, so it’s not new. It was about 80% accurate for someone who was speaking in a very clear, concise way using perfectly pronounced “Queen’s English”. For someone with natural speech that uses lots of intonation, accent and slang, it could be as bad as 50% accurate. Not good enough to be able to fully understand what is being said using it.

Today, it’s not much different. About 90% accurate for a very clear speaker, who has spent a considerable amount of time updating the software to their particular voice. And you STILL have to train the software to the words spoken in your particular sound. You can’t do it in one or two months, it takes at least 6 months and even then, the quality is variable. It is no good for using as a method to subtitle, you only have to see it in action when you click on “Autocaptions” on a you tube video.

Click on here for Example of Autocaptions

Ok, so in order to make voice recognition more accurate, we bring in a human being. This human being has to train the voice recognition software to become familiar with THEIR voice. This is called RESPEAKING. Accuracy in respeaking will again rely on the perfectly spoken word that the software has recognised. So if someone is speaking very fast and the respeaker is in turn speaking very fast, the accuracy drops. If the respeaker has a cold, and the sound they are giving is muffled, the accuracy drops, if the respeaker is made to do it for a long time (ie more than 20 minutes on the trot) the accuracy drops.

Of course, the root words spoken by someone else, that the respeaker is listening to and relaying to the software have to be understood too. How many of you have picked up a phone call and listened to say, someone in India speaking with an accent and struggled to follow? How many of you who usually speak in a southern English accent can fully understand a Scottish accent in all it’s glory and be able to follow? Why do some people find a “Scouse” accent particularly difficult? You have to concentrate to be able to follow.

Now imagine you are a respeaker, you have to be 100% accurate in repeating what you are hearing and speak it, again, as it is coming to you, into your voice recognition software. At speed, under stress, with a perfect voice, for a long period of time. It will hurt. Your voice will falter over time, and you will need frequent breaks, with lots of water to keep your mouth moist and you’ll get very tired mentally because you also have to concentrate, to keep an eye on what is coming out of the system on the screen and making sure it’s the right word. Many words sound the same but have different spellings and meanings in English, they are called homophones. You have to make sure you’re using the right one.

Have a look at different homophones, click on a letter from this website:

Try some homophones

When the BBC decided to use respeakers instead of STTR for their subtitling, the accuracy and quality dropped. We all noticed too!

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There’s a newer(ish) way to get communication support these days. It uses the internet to relay the output from a person at home, listening in to what is being said, and either using respeaking or STTR methods to change spoken language into captions. This is called REMOTE LIVE CAPTIONING or REMOTE REALTIME CAPTIONING. It’s fantastic!

BUT…..

The output will be compromised by several different things.

The first one is to have a good internet connection. Some remote captioning companies will tell you that it’s perfectly fine to use WiFi. It is not. WiFi signals whether they are mobile or in-house will ALWAYS only be as good as the quality of the signal. You are best having your technology hard wired to the internet. That way you will be guaranteed a good strong signal for the captioner to hear the sound clearly. (The more people who use your in-house WiFi signal, the weaker it becomes you see).

The second one is to make sure you have a good microphone set up, and that everyone who is going to speak will be able to be heard by the captioner. So you will need to remind everyone to speak clearly into that microphone, or the direction it is in. A bit like having a talking stick to control the conversation.  The captioner isn’t in the room, they are miles away, sometimes at the other end of the world. I’ve used remote captions and skype to present to a class of students in Karachi, using a captioner based in California, with the person controlling the whole based in London, UK. So the people in the room need deaf awareness, everyone, including the deaf person has a right to follow.

The third one is to make sure the captioner, too (whomever they are, respeaker, STTR or CART ) has a good, checked working knowledge of deaf awareness. The people who book and use remote captions for deaf people, may be deaf themselves. I need to be able to contact the person at the other end, both the person who is facilitating the communication and the captioner. It goes the other way too. If the captioner can’t hear what is going on, they need to talk to me. They can’t ring me you see (I’m deaf) – and perhaps the connection to the internet has been lost, so it is imperative to have a back up plan in case this happens.

The fourth one is to make sure the captioner can understand the voices being spoken over the internet. This includes accents, slang, the topic of conversation, the jargon, the dialect and the language. And to be able to relay EVERYONE’S voice. Including the voice of the deaf person themselves. For me, many people struggle with my voice on it’s own. Many deaf people DO have a “Deaf voice”. I have used respeakers in a remote captioning situation, where the captioner cannot understand me, and I’ve spoken at conferences where I’ve been highly professionally embarrassed by the lack of captions from an particular company to my own speech. Everyone else has got their speech captioned on the screen, but not me. It means deaf people in the room who are relying on the captions can’t follow what I’m saying. It’s like committing professional suicide except that I have no control over it. This is why I blatantly REFUSE to allow anyone other than a qualified STTR / CART reporter with a checked Professional Registration proving they can work with deaf people and can understand deaf voices. So don’t assume all remote caption companies are going to be the same.

The fifth is to understand that if you are using respeakers, you will not get a word for word flowing script of captions. The output will be in blocks. So for the people you see communicating in the room, you will get the captions a lot later than if you were using STTR, it may not seem like much but even 1 or 2 seconds behind is crucial because you will not be able to get a word in as by the time someone has finished talking, you are still reading what they have said, and someone else will be able to come in before you’ve even finished following the last person. This is important, you can’t interrupt a conference, you can’t ask them to stop while you are following the last bit of information, therefore you can’t partake fully in what is going on.

So….. Whatever the provider says, respeaking will never be as fast or accurate as a STTR / CART. If you have used both, you will notice the difference straightaway. You won’t get the background “noises” like “mobile phone ringing”; “someone knocking on the door”; “fire alarm is going off”; “person is talking very softly “; “someone has just come in”; “traffic noises outside”; “inaudiable” …. that is what a trained STTR (or CART)  will give you. And that is only from a captioner who is trained in deaf awareness. You also won’t get as much grammar, such as full stops, semicolons, proper sentences and strategically placed pauses in the dialogue.

I’m going to try to explain to those who think they know what I need as a deaf person. And it seems to me that all these people are hearing. They obviously haven’t used or relied on communication support. If they had nothing to help them follow a meeting but an output that mirrors the awful recent subtitling by the BBC using respeakers, they would all be up in arms. Like listening to a badly tuned radio perhaps? If they were given a programme to listen to in which they had to listen very carefully to and try to work out what was being said and it was not clear at all, chances are they’d give up or change the channel. Unfortunately, if you’re deaf, you can’t do that, there’s no other option but to put up with a substandard service because you have no choice.

To be fair on the BBC, we are beginning to see some improvement in the accuracy of the subtitling output. But that is only because they have listened to deaf people and taken action. If we didn’t tell them, nothing would have changed. So here I am, now, a deaf person reporting on the do’s and don’ts of remote live captioning. It is the same sort of kettle of fish.

When you are using or booking live remote captions, remember to ask and listen to those deaf people who have used it if they have used it before. Don’t think that because this one is cheaper than the other, it’s better or that it’s the same thing. It’s not. There is a reason to look for accuracy and quality when booking, it will hugely affect the understanding and access the deaf person is getting, much more than you think.

I am a member of a vibrant deaf / HOH community on social media, Pardon, I’m deaf. When will you listen? We need Access for All.and I have seen and read many bad reviews as well as good ones. Here are some of them….:

Just to let you know I’ve had to put an appeal in to ATW about the cost they were allowing me for captions. I tried this Australian company for 15 minutes and could not follow the conversation. It was like trying to follow the news or a footie match, big chunks of text appearing at a time with no reference to sentence ending or phrases. We talked at normal conversation speed which was, according to this same company, “very fast”. But I can’t tell everyone to slow down, it’s not going to happen in a big conference call! So, no. Definitely not suitable!

I went to Uni of Westminster a few years back and the remote communication support for all was useless. I never use captions myself as I use interpreters but I do remember the problems involved at this event. Awful! Only worked in a few rooms (hit and miss though). Was a learning point for all I think as we all know technology can be so temperamental. Having said that it can work with correct set up and connections.

Once I was at a meeting and using onsite STTR. My manager was watching the output. She said to me “What’s going on? She is making it all up”. I didn’t know, obviously, I couldn’t hear what was being said and trusted the captioner 100%. That was scary.

One of my colleagues sat next to me on Wednesday morning, watching the remote captioner working. He was stunned and amazed at what he saw.

This is the reaction when you get access, my first ever “speeches” from my smartphone, with captions. The expressions say it all 

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Why Deaf awareness?

Still relevant, and still ringing true 4 years and 2 days later….

deafcomm

Writing a page on Facebook was my first attempt to share deaf awareness with the world.  It was clear, Facebook wasn’t enough, so here we are with our first blog. “What is Deaf awareness?” or more importantly, “Why do we need Deaf awareness?”

When you think about the people you meet and talk to in your everyday life, I wonder if it crosses your mind that one in every six has a hearing loss? That’s 10 million people in the UK and this number is growing steadily with exposure to loud noises at an ever younger age. Over half of people who are 60 or older have a hearing loss. (and one in six has a vision loss, that equates to approximately 2 million who may be partially deafblind).

So, what’s a deaf person? Most of you will think that someone is a deaf person because they use sign language…

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