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.

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 http://tiny.cc/fntjS 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:

News’ source

Ofcom report 2009 – for Deaf people – in plain English

Taken from this page when alerted by this blog.

Voice calls for deaf people


Everyone depends on communications, and most of us take for granted that we can pick up the phone, turn on the TV or surf the net. However, these everyday services can pose real difficulties for some disabled people.

At Ofcom, it’s part of our job to make sure that everyone has an equal chance to enjoy the benefits that modern communications can bring. That’s why we announced in our Access and Inclusion consultation (March 2009) that we would tackle the biggest problems faced by disabled people.

To begin with, we’re looking at the text relay service. We know this service is very important to people with hearing difficulties as it helps them to use the phone. However, it relies on technology that is 30 years old and, of course, many innovations have arrived since then including email, texts (SMS) and instant messaging.

To help us understand the issues, we asked the independent consultancy Plum to find out what people with hearing impairments actually need from communications. We also wanted to know whether those needs are being met, and whether new relay services can provide a solution.

Plum’s report has told us a great deal, and we’re pleased to present a summary of it here. We’re also grateful to the many people and organisations who helped with this important piece of work.

We are firmly committed to making sure that people with disabilities can get more from communications. At the same time, this is not just a matter for Ofcom: a wide range of issues needs to be discussed with government, the communications industry and disability groups.

We will have more to say on this important work later this year.

Ofcom July 2009

Voice calls for deaf people

A summary of the independent report by Plum Consulting

What the study covered

We all need phone services, and it’s a need that is growing all the time. We need them to find work and earn a living; to keep in touch with our family and friends; to find information and shop for things we need; and simply to take part in life.

But if you have serious hearing problems, the simple act of making a phone call isn’t simple at all. So in this study we looked at what deaf people need from phone services. We looked at whether those needs are being met, and asked if there are other services that could meet them better.

Services for deaf people: the situation now

There are around 850,000 severely and profoundly deaf people in the UK. For them, making a normal phone call is either difficult or impossible. Of course, there are other ways of communicating and many deaf people are heavy users of email, texting and instant messaging. But although this puts them on equal terms with hearing-people, none of these options is quite the same as a phone call.

After all, a call is about natural and flowing conversation with all the emotions and subtleties of the human voice. That isn’t the job of an email or text, and the time lag between sending and receiving makes this kind of ‘conversation’ painfully slow.

However, there is a service created especially for deaf people. It’s a basic text relay service which is funded by BT and operated by the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID). It’s available throughout the UK, 24/7, for the price of a normal phone call.

Although deaf people told us they value the text relay service, it only has 11,000 regular users and the figure is decreasing. People in our discussion group told us that the service:

  • is slow, providing a typical conversation speed of just 30 words per minute. This means they can’t get much work done, and even simple social calls are a frustrating experience;
  • doesn’t allow natural, fluid conversation;
  • often suffers interruptions as relay operators change shifts or take emergency calls;
  • doesn’t work well for inbound calls. Hearing-callers often don’t know they need to dial a prefix to trigger connection to the relay centre;
  • won’t work with the automatic systems used in many call centres;
  • suffers from high hang-up rates by hearing-people who receive basic text relay calls; and
  • can suffer from mistakes when the conversation includes professional jargon or detailed information. This can be a real problem in many jobs, and when ordinary customers are dealing with businesses.

Continue reading

Cancelling it all out

Terp all sold outA thought struck me last night. Ow!

Recently, there was a public event in which I have been badgering the organisers for some time to provide an BSL (British Sign Language) interpreter. It was a job recruitment/open day for a new hotel opening and I have been telling my clients to go and attend.

Later, it transpired that the interpreter never turned up and I had disgruntled clients complaining about that fact. So, I tried to get to the bottom of it and discovered that the interpreter cancelled the booking at the last minute.Yes, you read that right – cancelled. But the event was not cancelled to 500 hearing people who had no problem in vying for 25 jobs that need to be filled.

I do not know the full reasons behind the cancellation but there was deaf people who travelled a long way to be there and it was a complete waste of time cos no interpreter. I feel if the interpreter cancel the booking then it should be their obligation to find a replacement – no question nor quibble. If they have to use a very expensive emergency interpreter, yes I would insist. It is an opportunity not to be missed.

I would insist because it is also a well-known fact that interpreters will charge YOU cancellation fee if you cancel the booking or change the booking in any way. I do know that some interpreters would usually have a backup job or have no trouble filling up the booking – to double their money.

What happened if the interpreter who cancel the booking or fail to turn up?

How about I start charging BSL interpreters a cancellation fee because of my time have been spent on informing people about availability of interpreter, printing out leaflets, posting it and pestering job centre with phone call after phone call to provide an interpreter? Oh yes, and not forgetting the travel costs and food for the deaf people who turned up on the day. I wish I could put a price on frustration and despair bubbled up on the day and add that to the bill.

It is not a healthy consumer market as we are at the mercy of these service providers. We, the consumers, should be able to have more power to redress these things and whenever we book, it stay booked.

Can you hear the birds singing?

Inspired by recent GOD post:

Excerpt from: RNId Imagine a world without sound

I used to work in a school with hard of hearing children. We had one girl who came from a family of five. Both her parents were profoundly deaf, as she was. She had a younger brother who was severely deaf and an older sister who was the only hearing member of the family.

One summer morning, she came into the unit and said in a disbelieving voice “My sister says that she hears the birds singing in the morning and it wakes her up. Do you hear the birds singing?” It totally wrung my heart and I vowed never to complain about being woken by them ever again…

The Deaf perspective:

I used to work in a school with hearing children. We had one girl who came from a family of five. Both her parents were hearing, as she was. She had a younger brother who was severely hearing and an older sister who was the only deaf member of the family.

One summer morning, she came into the unit and said in a disbelieving signs “My sister says that she use an under-the-pillow vibrator and it wakes her up. Do you ever get vibrated in the morning?” It totally wrung my heart and I vowed never to complain about being woken by my Silent Alert ever again…

Good morning, America

In response to the latest post by MM, there are certain things which doesn’t quite rings true or got me baffled.

The title “Wake Up, America” is confounding. Wake up, America, to do what? To watch the whole drama to unfold on a distant shore? MM alerting USA as an early warning system to prevent similar Bill being drafted in USA and thus preserving the strain of genetically Deaf people well into the 22nd Century? Perhaps not….

The last time I read is that the couple in the video are very likely to utilise the IVF programme due to Paula’s age.

The argument is not about pro-this and anti-that. It is about upholding the democratic principle on freedom of choice, which MM have rightly touched upon but presented it to suit his views. I, myself as parent, still wouldn’t know which path to take if I am faced with this situation. The principle in this case is about freedom of choice which I fully support and I concur that MM is correct to say it is down to the parents to make that choice. I ask, does that apply to all parents regardless of their belief, religion, culture? If that is the case, then we have freedom of choice. If not, I do wonder.

In certain area of the HFEB, it was shown that the Bill have set out to remove the choice of a Deaf parent for a deaf child whereas permit the hearing parent to choose a hearing child. To a hearing person, that would strike as a logical choice and I would like to emphasise that it *is* logical to a hearing person and to a person who thinks like a “hearing person”. What would strike as a logical choice for Deaf parents who is so confident of their cultural upbringing? I have a good idea but I wouldn’t like to second guess that and, at the same time, I would not want to take away that choice. You cannot be prescriptive about what are other parent’s choices are, at the risk of coming across didactic and intolerant.

Ultimately it is down to the parents. Not interference from the Government.

You can go back to bed now!

Give Me A Sign

A plug for DeafParent.org.uk…..

A new teen blog and novel exploring deafness ‘Give Me a Sign’ for young adults, will be published by Flame Books on 1st July 2008.

About the book

Bullied at school, unhappy at home and seriously lacking in self-esteem,16-year-old Liz’s world is transformed when she meets Doug, who is deaf. But can their relationship survive the clash of culture between Deaf and hearing worlds?

About the blog

On the GIVE ME A SIGN teen blog at www.givemeasignlaunch.blogspot.com, the novel’s narrator, Liz will share her feelings for Doug and invite your comments.

Deaf young adults are encouraged to participate in the blog to share experience and views and to help educate hearing young people who may not know much about deafness.

Please spread the word to all deaf young adults,parents and educators. Follow the fictional web diary of 16-year-old Liz and post your views for others to read.



from Vimeo & all rights reserved.

A young Deaf woman attends a social event, a 70s fancy dress party, for the first time after the death of her mother. She is still struggling with her grief and with facing people until she met a mysterious stranger, who entertained her. He makes her comfortable with herself and then disappeared when she is able to enjoy the party, only to crop up later on in the most unexpected place.

Format : Beta video / Colour / Music / Subtitled / BSL (British Sign Language)

Visual Aspect : 35mm 1.66:1 Ratio

Duration: 13mins 36 secs

Year: 2002

My comments

Here it is. I hope the quality is now good enough to view on your monitors. This film was a collaboration between me, Gene (my wife now!) and Patrick Wright. Bim joined in as our director and got this vehicle moving with his experience. Of course, none of this wouldn’t be possible without the volunteers who have made a fantastic effort to make this film possible as we were on £2,000 budget

By the way, It looked miles better on the big silver screen. We didn’t have any experienced lights person hence the moody and surreal atmosphere. I think it actually added flavour to the film.

It was memorable experience and I so wanted to carry on after that if it wasn’t for the need to earn a decent crust. As soon as I can afford a camcorder and more powerful computer, I am going to give film-making another go and create more films as I really enjoyed it.

Happy viewing and credits to all who was involved or contributed towards it.

The World without Sounds – My entries

In the light of the patronising RNID Deaf Awareness 2008’s campaign – entitled The World without Sounds, there is a photo competition where we can submit the sounds that we Deaf people are deprived of.

These are the entries which RNID have failed to include. Without further ado and In no particular order…..

Further readings:

Perfecting the art of being deaf
The Sickness of Deaf Awareness Week – The World without Sounds
Satire: 2 Songs – Fundraising Machine & Gimme, Gimme, Gimme

Ode to Joe

For he’s a jolly good fellow, for he’s a jolly good fellow
For he’s a jolly good fellow (pause), and so say all of us
And so say all of us, and so say all of us
For he’s a jolly good fellow, for he’s a jolly good fellow
For he’s a jolly good fellow (pause), and so say all of us
I have even changed my tagline to pay tributes to all those lovely Welsh people out there and my life would be a poorer place without them. Gwlad to y’all!
Mwah! x
P.S. Joe, thanks for pointing out the fault in my blog. Can I stop arse-licking now?