Gold-plated service

At the behest of Alison Byran of G.O.D.

Apologies for the lengthy break away from blogging. Things have been mad at work, plus an impending new addition to our new family, plus sustained efforts throughout Autumn to renovate the 2nd half of our house in readiness for the new addition. Oh well, life happened!

I started my Xmas holidays early – on 16th Dec – hee hee, Xmas glee! Whilst out Xmas shopping, I had an impromtu shear – haircut – so, as per usual, my hearing aid are taken off. Typically, I am always asked to take them off by the barber and, as per usual, the barber still try to strike up a conversation as if I am a hearing person. Continue reading


This is going to be a short vent.

This afternoon, after a long period of absent, I find myself calling Tax Credit Office via Typetalk on my minicom (picture me using my thumb to wipe the dust off the single line screen)

After a 10 mins wait in the telephone queue, a Tax Credits advisor popped up and introduced herself as Steph and then suddenly, we have a “change of operator”. 1 minute has passed, the new TT operator explained to me that Steph is not there. I told the new op, in no uncertain terms, that is because you decided to change operators in the middle of a effing call. TT operator apologised profusely but, by then, Tax Credits hung me up. At this stage, my old frustrations surrounding this decades-old cumbersome method of communications have now resurfaced and the next green-lettered sentence burbling across my screen: “Would you like to re-dial?”. Why are they still saying that? I have complained to them about this 7 years ago and they still haven’t “got it”. If you are going to make a phone call, you are going to make a phone call to reach someone on the other end. Are Typetalk operators thick or what?

My next response is “No – I just fancied waiting in the queue and having a change of operators in middle of phone call and only to get hung up upon, through no fault of my own! Guess what – I am paying for this pleasure…bibisksksks”

Needless to say, this phone call will appear on my phone bill and I did not get the desire results.

DeafBlind Communicator

Extracted from Pattaya People (Thailand newspaper)

An exciting new portable device for deaf-blind people allows them to have face-to-face conversations, make phone calls using a text relay service and communicate by SMS.

The Deaf-Blind Communicator (DBC) consists of a Braille note-taker linked by Bluetooth to a mobile phone. Using the device, a deaf-blind person can have real time conversations in pubs and shops, with sighted friends or when conducting confidential meetings – for example with a doctor or solicitor. Continue reading

Eternal Sunshine of the Cochlear Mind

Gazza, one of the Australian deaf bloggers who inhabits at The Rebuttal, posted a strong critique made by Michael Uniake, which examined the existing medical viewpoint of cochlear implants and highlighting their intransigence leads to an unhealthy legacy on the well-being of the deaf people, at large. One eminent doctor, Dr Bruce Shepherd, made a public statement that cochlear implants is the ONLY route to happiness and becoming a productive member of the society. I feel that insensitive statement will prove extremely unhelpful on the back of the hard work of Deaf professionals and campaigners Continue reading

Signing would greatly improve deaf people’s GP experiences

Deaf people have serious difficulties accessing basic healthcare services and their needs are being ignored.

Thirty per cent of deaf people in the UK are unemployed, permanently sick or disabled, according to the 2009 GP patient survey. This is three times higher than the general population. Fundamental issues lie at the heart of this statistic. Deaf people have serious difficulties accessing basic healthcare services and their needs are being ignored.

At SignHealth we continually hear anecdotal tales of appalling practice in the way deaf people are treated on the NHS, but it’s hard to get the exact detail. Some of our worst fears have been confirmed through a mixture of our own access report, statistics from the GP patient survey and anecdotal evidence.

Deaf people are facing constant difficulty with telephone appointment booking systems, verbal prompts when their doctor is ready to see them, and rarely have a clear understanding of their diagnosis and treatment. We have also found examples of GPs refusing to book interpreters because they cost too much and people not understanding their medication and taking the wrong amount.

Waiting times for interpreters in GP appointments is a massive problem. At the moment many people have to wait weeks to book a sign language interpreter who can make sure the patient and clinician are able to clearly communicate. There is an obvious link between these delays and poorer general health.

Some doctors argue that interpreters are unnecessary because a member of the family can interpret but this has clear confidentiality issues. You only have to hear one story about a deaf parent being given a diagnosis of terminal cancer through the sign language translation of their eight-year-old child to appreciate quite how wrong this is.

We recognise that there are not enough sign language interpreters and bookings can be difficult, but simple technologies are available to help.

We are urging GPs and hospitals to start using the online sign language interpreting service SignTranslate. This means that deaf people can have same day appointments with their doctor connecting via a remote interpreter at the click of a mouse.

There is also a strong cost-saving argument to solving these communication problems. Bad communication means deaf people have to see their GP on many more occasions than their hearing peers. Estimates put the number of additional appointments made by deaf people at around 625,000. With an average appointment costing £25, this equates to £15.6m each year. Research to date suggests that spending a fraction of this on making services more accessible will save the NHS millions.

The GP patient survey shows that deaf people are still the most misunderstood patient group. We can see that deafness has a profound impact on people’s wellbeing and general contribution to society and this is significantly worse than other minority groups.

At SignHealth we’re committed to highlighting these inequalities and bringing about improvements. Later this year, we’ll be leading a collaborative study into the health of deaf people. This will be the largest piece of research ever carried out in this field and we urge deaf people to register now on to bring about the changes that are so desperately needed. •

Steve Powell is chief executive of SignHealth, the healthcare charity for deaf people

Source: The Guardian

Co-operation raises £1 million for the deaf

Co-operation raises £1 million for the deaf

I am proud to announce that with the generous help of the Cumbrian public, the 37 local Co-operative stores in the area and other Co-operative businesses throughout the UK, £1 million has been raised so far for RNID (The Royal National Institute for Deaf People).

The Co-op has chosen the RNID as this year’s charity

This is fantastic news and I wish to thank all those who have donated to this very worthwhile cause at their local Cumbrian Co-operative store, even through these difficult times. This money will enable RNID to do even more to help people adjust to life with a hearing loss, and to campaign for people to take their hearing health seriously.

The Co-operative has chosen RNID as its charity of the year for 2009, and we have been overwhelmed by the support of staff, members and customers. However, it is a sad fact that it can take people up to 15 years to acknowledge hearing difficulties.

RNID’s message is simple; if you have hearing difficulties, dial nnnnnnn or visit to check your hearing now.

Chief Executive RNID

No mention of the word “deaf” in the letter by Jackie,  except for RNId’s full name.  However, the newspaper headlined the article with the word “deaf”. On the public front, is the word “deaf” now taboo at RNId?

Our representation is getting skewed here cos the letter publicly state that it is RNId’s remit to look after the hearing people’s hearing/hearing loss – which is a no bad thing – but masquerading under the “Deaf” banner is misleading and the press is not helping the situation. They should drop that from their name. I have the feeling the money will never reach the real Deaf people at grassroots and get passed around over our heads.

Everything about us, without us.

Source: News & Star

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.

Web Two point Oh, No!

Adam Rothwell

Adam Rothwell

This fella absolutely knocked the issue of charities’ transparency on head.

The gist of his article is to encourage greater engagement with the stakeholders and taking on aboard their criticisms. He also suggested that charities should be open about their activities and heed the criticisms in order to learn from it. He also advocate the use of the internet to faciliate this engagement, which will bring better transparency. I couldn’t put it any better myself.

I refer to the online rumblings that have been ongoing in the D/deaf’s quarters online, such as The Regency and the monster thread at BBC Ouch’s See Hear forum. You can also view another blog by MM, a disgruntled RNID observer/member. I never thought I would see the day when I refer to MM but do read his blog to get some background, if you can seperate the “wheat from the chaff“.

Rothwell ended his article like this:

Although it’s painfully trendy to admit this, the internet greatly magnifies the advantages that transparency can bring. The web makes it easy to communicate with your supporters – and gives them, potentially, almost infinite chances to help you.

Any organisation would be foolish if it passed up this opportunity.  But charities – which ultimately depend on their supporters for their legitimacy as well as income – simply cannot afford to let transparency’s potential pass them by.


Some background: Sorry if you heard this one before but it is relevant and a good example. Back in 2006, RNID withdrew their public forum as a draconian answer to flame war, that occurred inside forum. In one single swipe, the public have lost their platform to communicate with and within RNID. There is no sign of this forum ever being reinstated, ideally, under a more vigourous moderator. As the result, the majority of supporters have lost their “voice”, where RNID can learn from. This article would indicate that such action is a foolish move and they have ignored pleas to have it reinstated. Ever since, discontent rumbled on on blogs and forums elsewhere and it been reported that RNID are becoming increasingly distant in their ivory towers as members struggle to communicate with the higher hierarchy at RNID. By that stance, they can’t claim it is their legitimacy to represent us Deaf people if we can’t engage with them constructively. More recently, RNID’s Director of Advocacy and Policy have stated, on ThirdSector, that they recognise the importance of the internet for communication. That is rather an equivocal statement. Money. Mouth. Put.

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.