Complaint to BBC

Wrote a complaint to BBC. This lack of regard can’t go on.

I wish to make my feeling known that I am thoroughly disappointed to see no sign language provision for such an important event. Mandela represented freedom from oppression and celebrated diversity. I am crestfallen that South African news saw fit to provide sign language in their news segment where BBC did not. BBC is supposed to be world leader in terms of broadcast quality and reach but unfortunately you have failed to step up to truly reflect the true vision of Mandela’s philosophy which is to be inclusive. Pleased correct me if I am mistaken in thinking BBC is a public service where we have TV licence users who’s primary language is British Sign Language.


Here’s what happened on SA News:

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Now – the lady in the blue box is the bonafide and fully trained interpreter. But, who’s the hell is that guy next to world leaders? Well, we are not quite sure. Here’s the story:

Deaf News: ‘Fake’ sign language interpreter mars Nelson Mandela service for Deaf people worldwideFor many UK-based Deaf viewers of the Nelson Mandela service today, something didn’t seem quite right about the sign language interpreter (scroll down for video) who stood to the side of the various speakers, ‘interpreting’ what they were saying for the benefit of South Africa’s Deaf population.

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Google Play – subtitles/captions on films

I queried Google Play about making their films database searchable for captions/subtitles. This is their response.

Thank you very much for contacting me this evening. Currently, closed captioning is available on a portion of our content.

Accessibility of our products is extremely important at Google, so we’re working hard to expand our closed captioning offerings, and make it easier to search for them on Google Play. If you have any further questions, I’d be happy to help.


Elijah The Google Play Support Team

Using Captcha on

Recently, I complained to the Government’s epetitions about the use of Captcha and whether it was necessary especially when we are providing our home address. I brought this up as I am aware that Captcha are a bugger to use for people who are blind/deafblind/usher. So I fired off a short but concise email – hoping that it will makes some difference.

Here’s their reply:

Thank you for your message regarding e-petitions.  I am sorry that you are experiencing problems with the site, and for the slight delay in responding to your e-mail.

We have recently introduced new anti-spam ‘captcha’ software, following the previous software used on the site becoming more difficult to read.   Any ‘captcha’ software is necessarily somewhat difficult to read, as it is intended to reduce the risk of automated systems being able to fraudulently add signatures to the site; however, we do monitor the software and will consider alternative options if this too becomes too difficult for users to read or listen to.

If you are continuing to experience problems with the captcha software, the following solutions may help.

  • If the text box is not visible, you may find that forcibly refreshing the page (Ctrl+F5 on Internet Explorer, for example) will ensure it displays.  Alternatively, if you use advert blocking software in your browser, you may find that disabling this will allow the text to be visible.   Our technical team are looking into reports that some browsers are not displayed the captcha, however this does not appear to be happening routinely with any specific browser.
  • If you are unable to read the text, links below the text box allow for alternative combinations to be displayed.  In many cases, errors occur when users may misread the letters L, I and the number 1, or the number 0 and the letter O for example.
  • If the text is too obscured for you to read, an audio version is also available.
  • If none of these options work, you can respond to this e-mail with details of your name, address and a link of the petition you wish to sign, and I will be able to manually add your signature.

Finally, in some cases, individuals have contacted us, believing to be having problems with the captcha software where in fact they had already signed the e-petition and the error messages normally reflect this.   These cases are especially frequent for e-petitions backed by large organisations who send repeated e-mails to members/customers/supporters to sign their e-petition.   If you are attempting to sign an e-petition as a result of an e-mail sent to you in this way, you may wish to check your previously received e-mails from the e-Petitions website to check you have not already signed the e-petition.

I hope this information is helpful.

Yours sincerely

Ben Sneddon
Assistant Private Secretary- Office of the Leader of the House of Commons

My letter to the Press Complaints Commission

Good evening, Press Complaints Commission

This is the first time I have taken this further than an odd grumble or rant to close friends and family members – either face to face or on Twitter/Facebook.

Today, in ‘The Mirror’ (see below), you can see another usage of the term “deaf and dumb”. My wife and I are profoundly deaf since birth and we communicate fluently through British Sign Language. Just because we don’t speak in English, we are dismayed to have this negative connotation attached to the likes of us yet again – which only serves to fan the flames of discrimination and victimisation as well as undermine our self determination to be equal member of the society. Even Mr Lansley does not deserve such abuse, as much as we loathe his policies.

However, this term, along with the “fall on deaf ears” terminology, are widely prevalent in the mainstream press. It was only last week that Daily Mail used the wordings of “deaf and dumb” when reporting a young girl being smuggled into UK and used as a sex slave for 10 years in Manchester. This evening, we witnessed an uproar when Richard Pallot described black players as “coloured” on ITV News this evening, which is – in my view – a much less negative term than “Deaf and dumb” but this is not to detract from the seriousness of Mr Pallot’s error.

For the media journalists/editors to use these headlines, it is degrading, demonstrate laziness and ultimately archaic. It should be confined to the Dickensian era.

I would like to make an official complaint about this and I will be encouraging my peers to do likewise. But, first, I will appreciate advice on how to make an effective complaint.

Yours sincerely,
Tony and Genevieve Barlow
Profoundly Deaf and BSL users

I have no idea if this will works but nothing ventured, nothing gained……..

Anytime, anyone….except you(!)

I am currently looking to reduce my telecomms bills at the moment – ever since I’ve been made redundant back at the start of September. Since then, my monthly phone/broadband bills have increased somewhat between 60 to 80%. It is all because of the 08xx numbers linked to various Government services, notably the JobCentre and Tax Credits office – plus other ad-hoc calls linked to my current predicament.

In short, I got to pay if I want information about jobs. There are free phones provided down at the JobCentres but they are no good Continue reading

Subtitling of Music

Received this in my email in box from a subtitler who’ve commented on this site before.

“A survey that may be of interest to you has come to my attention and I wondered if you might post the link on your blog.It’s regarding subtitling of music on British TV. This provision is still relatively new and this survey marks the start of some research into its reception and use by the deaf and hard of hearing audience. Ofcom are also starting to see it as a specialist area.”

Here’s the link:

Don’t shoot the messenger!

A few days ago, I was contacted directly by someone who works in the subtitling industry. I thought the request should not only be directed at me but have it thrown open to the public. He kindly gave approval as after all, this is regarding a public service. You have this opportunity to state your preferences regarding subtitling:

OK, I have a confession. I am a subtitler and manage access services for a number of smaller UK channels. We are one of the few channels in the UK that cover all subtitling in-house, namely me doing all of it.

I trawl the internet a lot looking out for preferences from viewers as well as industry conventions. Having been doing this for some years now and after a lot of work with other subtitling conventions and media, I hope we have a good balance of what is standard and what our viewers want. One of the main things my viewers feed back to me is positioning and to combat covering music videos’ content (after all a director spent a lot of time making it look pretty), we settled on raising subs to the top of the screen. What do you think?

I would be interested to hear from you about any other preferences you may have and whether you think the genre of subtitled material should also influence the style and convention of a subtitle file.

Is it mainly C4 and BBC that you have issues with regarding positioning? What about ITV and any of the digital or satellite channels?

I look forward to hearing from you,


and, an excerpt extracted from the 2nd email:

I have been working in subtitling for about 6 years after completing an MA in subtitling and translation (audio visual language transfer etc.). I also train subtitlers and have worked for a vast range of broadcasters and DVD companies here and abroad.

I have often thought it would be a good idea to reassess what viewers want. Ofcom have oft said the same but it’s never gone beyond some minor changes to their “recommendations”. We are, of course, always limited by technology and cost but I am very keen to know what people really want.

Although, the hub of the question concerned music video’s content, you can offer your opinions on any other programmes in general. Personally, I think subtitles should be at the very bottom of the screen and to disappear after adequate time to read it – rather than let the same sentence hang in mid-screen. Also, I really appreciated the differing colour of texts back (more commong in analogue service) to show who is saying what.

It’s bad, bad, bad!

Lately, my wife and I have noticed the subtitles are getting higher and higher in the television pictures. It won’t be long before they end up smack in the middle of the screen. All the subtitling of the Channel 4 programs this evening have been located consistently high and blocking the pictures. Channel 4 is not the only culprit as BBC is starting to do the same, especially during Wimbledon (blocking out the scores). Sometimes, they let the subtitles “hang” when the spoken dialogue have already been uttered a long time ago and there is a lack of dialogue on screen.

I will be making a complaint regarding this as it is lack of thought on the subtitlers’ part as it is really annoying and spoiling our viewing pleasure. Does anyone else share the same irritation as we do?

Okey, whinge’s over.

TAG calls for Government action after independent Ofcom report on deaf telecoms

TAG is calling for Government action to improve deaf telecoms services following a new report from Ofcom that highlights the benefits that modernised telephone relay services could have on the employment and everyday lives of deaf people. The independent report, Voice telephony services for deaf people, was commissioned by Ofcom as part of its work to tackle the most critical issues that disabled people face with communications services.

The report says that modernised relay services – in use in several other countries, but available to only a very few people in the UK – could enable deaf people to be significantly more productive at work, help reduce their feelings of isolation and loneliness at home and make everyday telephone interactions less stressful and much faster.

Ruth Myers, chairman of TAG said “We are very pleased that this independent report for Ofcom has highlighted the all-round benefits of modernised relay services to deaf people and that they may even be more cost-effective than the existing basic text relay service. We now want the government to act promptly to ensure that modernised services can be available to deaf people at fair prices.
“The report echoes what TAG has been saying for a very long time: that the existing basic text relay service is very frustrating for its deaf users principally because it is too slow and does not allow natural fluid conversations. As the report indicates, the newer captioned and video relay services enable much faster, less stressful and far more effective means for deaf people to contact hearing people by voice telephone.” The continuing importance of voice telephone calls for the general population despite the growth in other forms of text communication like SMS texting, email and instant messaging is also highlighted by the report. Although voice calls by the hearing population have decreased a little in recent years, they have now stabilised at an average 90 minutes per week. Deaf people are therefore largely missing out on a vital mode of communication, an issue that could be addressed through the widespread availability of modernised relay services.

TAG is gaining support for its campaign from MPs of all the main political parties, many of whom are raising the issue in Parliament.

The Ofcom report on deaf telecoms is available at TAG is a consortium made up of the British Deaf Association, Deafness Support Network, deafPLUS, Hearing Concern Link, National Association of Deafened People, National Deaf Children’s Society, Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID), and Sense.

Related links:

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