June 11, 2011

Ahem, a New Logo


Not designed by me. Perhaps a response to a certain deaf organisation who managed to celebrate a major birthday, where d/Deaf people felt they got pissed on and two fingers stuck up at them. Just sayin'.

Update: someone left a message on Facebook, "DELETE THE DEAF!"

May 26, 2011

Round Up of Deaf Organisation Support for the Italian Deaf Community

Here's a round up of deaf organisation support:

European Union of the Deaf Youth

European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters
Letter of Support - in Italian [PDF]. And with Google Translate.

World Federation of the Deaf:
WFD expressed its support for the recognition of the Italian sign language

And their letter can be found here [PDF].

World Association of Sign Language Interpreters
Letter of support in Italian [PDF] and Google Translate.

European Union of the Deaf
Letter from the EUD signed by 29 member countries

EUD letter. EUD President Berglind Stefansdottir & Board Member Humberto Insolera officially handed the EUD support letter signed by delegates from 29 EUD member countries to Sebastiano Manciagli, the board member of the Italian Association of the Deaf.

Austrian Deaf Association, Austria:
Letter to the Italian ambassador

British Deaf Association, United Kingdom:
BDA supports recognition of Italian Sign Language (LIS)

Canadian Association of the Deaf
Letter Doug Momotiuk, President CAD and the same letter in French.

The Canadian Association of the Deaf (CAD) strongly supports the recognition of the Italian Sign Language.

Irish Deaf Society, Ireland:
Press Release from the Irish Deaf Society: Vigil at the Italian Embassy, Dublin

German Deaf Association (Deutscher Gehoerlosen-Bund e.V. or DGB)

Letter in support of LIS, in English and a translation in German.

National Association of the Deaf, USA
NAD supports recognition of Italian Sign Language (LIS)

Did I miss an organisation out? Let me know - I will add them. Your national deaf organisation not on this list? Nag them, and ask them to put it online. Ultimately this is an international issue, and Italy has asked the world for support.

Press Release from FIADDA Tuscany

Whilst searching the web last night, I found this FIADDA Toscana onlus (Tuscany) a Press Release [PDF] (in Italian) on why it was encouraging people to say no to LIS. This is what it comes out as if you run it through Google Translate (so keep this in mind, but the spirit of it is there):

FIADDA Tuscany onlus
Italian Families Association for the Defense of the Rights of Deafness
Via delle Porte Nuove, 33 - 50144 Florence
tel. / fax 055-3289950 - SMS 339-2497469

An initiative illogical choice retrograde

On 13 April 2011, the Social Affairs Committee of the House began consideration of the proposal Law of 4207 (and similar), which recognizes the LIS - Italian sign language - as the language for all purposes and promote its use.

It is very difficult to recognize a language if it is not associated to a community, even spread geographically, but it is incomprehensible how one can define a community based on Common physical presence of a deficit!

The bill promotes the acquisition and use of a sign language gesture passed now by the facts, the results obtained thanks to advances in medicine: neonatal screening, prosthesis or cochlear implant (re) enable speech today to allow deaf people to adequately learn the Italian language and to integrate fully into the social life of their country.

The Italian legal system, in particular with the Law 104/92, it is very advanced level world, with assistance and protection in favor of handicapped people, including those who require the LIS as a means of communication. The real problem is putting into effect the provisions of these rules. Our legislation was not in fact still be able to ensure sufficient territorial distribution of services necessary for the treatment of childhood deafness, despite examples of excellence in this field. Therefore many families have been and still are exhausting forced to travel or even relocate to allow for appropriate intervention health and enabled their children, with all the social and economic costs involved.

In this situation the Italian today decided to focus on and invest in the future of a language of date and will disappear naturally, and even encouraging its use imposing it with the coaching of teachers and educators in LIS schools to children from the very first order, that is just at an age where there is a greater need for an important health intervention and speech therapist and then put at risk the results.

It is also difficult to believe that the bill will not impose new or higher costs for finance public: the heterogeneous distribution of deaf people - 0.04% of the Italian population, 90% with hearing parents - on the national territory will require the creation of a large number of "interpreters LIS "or the reopening of the old special school for" deaf ", with obvious consequences in terms of exclusion.

In conclusion, the FIADDA Tuscany is very concerned that after the recognition of LIS there is only one mechanism to maintain functional deaf people in a state of dependency for the mere purpose economic and power. Deaf people should have full rights and, first of all, the integration as a prerequisite for their growth and emancipation.

Florence, April 14, 2011

FIADDA Tuscany (ONLUS) - Headquarters: Via delle Porte Nuove 33-50144 Florence
cod. fisc. 94116150486 - enrolled in the Regional Volunteer with Act No. 1185 of 02/05/2005
FIADDA (ONLUS) - National President: Banner Street, 175-00188 Rome
Tel / fax. 06 45492150 - e-mail:

The main FIADDA website is under construction but there's a bit about them here and pasted below (keep in mind it is outdated - 2005 - but it gives you a flavour of who they are):

FIADDA was founded in 1973 and later spread throughout the Country. Nowadays it can be found in every Italian region.

At a national level it works through a great number of branches sharing common objectives and, at a European level, it is a member Fepeda (Fédération Européenne des Parents d’Enfants Déficients Auditifs) and member of the E.D.F. (European Disability Forum) Board.

Moreover, since July 2000, Fiadda is the seat of the Management and Secretariat of Fepeda.

Since 1986 the Manager of Fiadda, Mrs. Silvana Baroni, is a member of the Permanent Observatory established by means of a Ministry Decree in the framework of the Italian Ministry of Education, for policies concerning the integration of the disabled into mainstream schools.

Since 1990 she also takes part in a Committee set up by the Presidency of the Cabinet at the Ministry for Social Affaires.

In 1994 Fiadda has worked in the framework of the Helios Programme and in the same year it started also the Split programme in the Tide project, regarding the technological research supporting disability, in co-operation with the French association Anpeda and national and European Universities.

Recently, through the Deafnet Project, Fiadda tried to set up a national strategy, supervised by the young deaf, in order to offer new inputs to the association, according to the modern needs.

One thing that really strikes me:
1. They are a parent organisation, thus they will have a deaf child. Parents normally want the best for their children.
2. If the first statement is correct, why are parents rejecting so harshly advice from people THE SAME as their child? To do so, they are also rejecting their child. Perhaps they think that their child, although deaf, is oh so different?!
3. Why do hearing people take it upon themselves to think they know best. Substitute with British history in India, etc. It is called colonalisation, people. Except many are unable to see it, due to whistles, bells and whatnot.

So effectively: Deaf Italians want to own their experience, and want LIS recognised. It is called being political, standing on own two feet and owning your experience. Parents (of deaf children!) come along and kind of start scoulding adults! No you can't have that, sit down and do as you're told. Be a good boy. Ah, paternalism and patronisation at its finest.

To see just how absurd all this is, as a parallel, imagine a parent having a LGBQT child. Instead of being guided by the child and the community around it, it starts on a whole lets take power from you quest. Yep, that's exactly how far behind Deaf rights can be.

I am tweeting about this on @Deaf, follow me there is you want more regular updates. Use the hashtag LISSUBITO if you're joining in the conversation.

And if you've not signed the international petition, you can do so here.

See also:
Deaf Londoners Preparing for the Protest at the Italian Embassy
Press Release from the Irish Deaf Society: Vigil at the Italian Embassy, Dublin
Note from Terry Riley, Chair BDA to those Protesting
Press Release from the Belfast Protest in Support of the Italian Deaf Community
Italian Embassy Events on Wednesday 25 May 2011
How You Can Support the Italian Deaf Community
Letter to the Italian Parliament from Dr Steven D. Emery
Protest at the Italian Embassy in London this Wednesday
Letter to the Italian Embassy in Dublin by Dr. John Bosco Conama
Italy might as well say: Deaf People use Monkey Language!
International Petition to Support Italy & UK Protest

May 24, 2011

Press Release from the Irish Deaf Society: Vigil at the Italian Embassy, Dublin

A Press Release from the Irish Deaf Society, relating to the vigil at the Italian Embassy in Dublin on 25 May 2005:

At the moment, the Italian government is discussing the enactment of the Italian Sign Language (LIS) bill at the moment. However, a proposal was made to rename the Italian Sign Language as the language of mime and gesture (LMG), in effect reducing and demeaning the status of Italian Sign Language. The Italian Deaf community is horrified by this proposal and wants to protest against this proposal. It has asked the global Deaf community to join the protests. Vigils have been organised in front of Italian embassies in several cities including Belfast, London, Edinburgh, Washington DC and Berlin.

Many Deaf Italian people are rallying in Italy to protest against this proposal. Ms. Elena Radutzky will be speaking in front of the legislature on Tuesday (24 May) and a rally is being organised in Rome on Wednesday, May 25th. About 40,000 people use Irish Sign language
here in Ireland and occurrences such as this one are a serious ramification to our campaign to have Irish Sign Language (ISL) being recognised as a full and official language. So we stand in solidarity with the Italian Deaf community and the global Deaf community.

Below is an extract from Deaf man, Dr. John Bosco Conama’s letter to the Italian ambassador to Ireland:

While if the proposal is carried out by your parliament, it can have wider effects on nations outside Italy. Hence I pen this letter to express my strong concern at this proposal and share concerns with the Italian Deaf community. The proposal is clearly a serious counter to years of research, which confirm that signed languages such as LIS are the genuine languages as spoken languages. The proposal can have unimagined negative effects on the well being of current and future generations of the Italian Deaf community.

The status of the community is frequently determined by the societal and political attitude towards their language. Degrading LIS would bring negative effects on the Italian Deaf community. Should a proposal be adopted, it would be seen as a negative reaction to the
successful conclusion of UN’s convention on rights for disabled people which contains clauses recognising the rights of Deaf people to use their signed languages. (Note: ironically Italy has ratified this convention).

Your country holds an unenviable position where the infamous congress on Deaf education was held in Milan in 1880 and resolutions were passed at this congress calling for the regression of signed languages. These effects of these resolutions are still felt worldwide and this congress is a constant theme in Deaf and cultural studies worldwide. Surely, your country does not want to add on another notoriety to this unenviable position.

Irish Deaf Society
30 Blessington Street,
Dublin 7.

See also:
Note from Terry Riley, Chair BDA to those Protesting
Press Release from the Belfast Protest in Support of the Italian Deaf Community
Italian Embassy Events on Wednesday 25 May 2011
How You Can Support the Italian Deaf Community
Letter to the Italian Parliament from Dr Steven D. Emery
Protest at the Italian Embassy in London this Wednesday
Letter to the Italian Embassy in Dublin by Dr. John Bosco Conama
Italy might as well say: Deaf People use Monkey Language!
International Petition to Support Italy & UK Protest

Note from Terry Riley, Chair BDA to those Protesting

Note from the BDA Chair, Terry Riley:

24th May 2011

To all you who are marching today


The British Deaf Association is appalled, at the proposed new change in the wording of the legislation being discussed by the Italian Parliament today.. It is not only an insult to sign language but to the Deaf people throughout the world who have fought many battles to get our indigenous sign languages recognised by governments The European Parliament has officially stated and this was reaffirmed only last November In Brussels, and it also reaffirmed and has long since been proven and recognised worldwide that sign language is a language the same as spoken languages. And just as any spoken language, it has its own structure - syntax, linguistics, synonms and morphisms. It’s a rich and living language. To call it anything otherwise is a travesty and a dishonor to all those that use sign languages as their first or preferred language.

TO all those on the March my sincere thanks and appreciation, my only regret is I am unable to join you as I am attending the EUD GA in Budapest, my heart, mind and souls is with you all

Terry Riley
British Deaf Association

See also:
Press Release from the Belfast Protest in Support of the Italian Deaf Community
Italian Embassy Events on Wednesday 25 May 2011
How You Can Support the Italian Deaf Community
Letter to the Italian Parliament from Dr Steven D. Emery
Protest at the Italian Embassy in London this Wednesday
Letter to the Italian Embassy in Dublin by Dr. John Bosco Conama
Italy might as well say: Deaf People use Monkey Language!
International Petition to Support Italy & UK Protest

March 28, 2009

Hail Body Perfection!

haircells.jpgThe Daily Telegraph is carrying an article on Hairs grown from stem cells could restore hearing to the deaf.

Researchers at the University of Sheffield have created the complex hair cells and the neurons needed for hearing from human stem cells.

They found they could encourage stem cells from the inner ears of human foetuses to grow into these highly specialised hearing cells.

The scientists hope they will eventually be able to use the cells to perform cell transplants in deaf patients to replace the hair cells and neurons that are damaged in a form of deafness known as sensorineural hearing loss.

The human race has an obsession with body perfection, and judging other people's bodies. It is often said that your body is your own private entity, but too often the mainstream thinks it has a claim on this by throwing judgment (be it by the way you look, or are quite happy being deaf). If you don't conform to these parameters, then sometimes it comes with actions that you don't have the right to fit into society. I've lost count the number of hearing people who are downright horrified that I won't entertain a CI. This pressure comes from media perceptions, the images so called charities throw about, and if you don't tow the line then tough.

It goes onto state the medical time frame of this project:

He warned it could be at least 10 years before human patients could receive stem cell transplants to restore their own hearing.

But he added: "In the shorter term, these cells also provide us with a very good model for studying the development of human hearing and the effect that new drug treatments may have on them."

In the article, RNID's intolerance of deaf people who they are and gives this message out to society, shines through again:

Dr Ralphe Holme, director of biomedical research for the Royal National Institute for Deaf People, said: "There are currently no treatments to restore permanent hearing loss so this has the potential to make a difference to millions of deaf people."

Nice one! Who represents our interests again?

And before anyone slams me for it - some people want to hear yadda yadda - it would have been more tactful for them to include "difference to ... deaf people where they want it" and something about how deaf people have a right to exist and participate just as they are. Who ever addresses society pressure, and say, my needs? Instead of doing this, voluntary organisations frequently add to the problem. Do they have the intelligence to see this? Prove it, action speaks louder than words.

Daily Telegraph: Hairs grown from stem cells could restore hearing to the deaf
Dr Marcelo N. Rivolta

Photo credit: Dr David Furness, Wellcome Images via LoreleiRanveig under CC

March 8, 2009

Deaf Organisations Being Run By Hearing People & Competition With Deaf Businesses

A week ago we blogged the first half of an e mail we'd received raising some concerns. Here's the second half:

Talking to some friends the other day, it is clear that there are many hearing people out there working for “deaf organisations” such as Jackie Ballard (RNID) and Tom Fenton (RAD) who say “yes to empowerment for deaf people... but not in our time” – meaning that they purport to support deaf people but not until they retire. That is probably the main reason why they do not support successful deaf businesses such as Remark! (RNID have set up a filming studio to try to compete) or Dering Employment (RAD and RNID both feel threatened by deaf people getting jobs as it no longer justifies the existence of deaf charities)

How can we fight back against hearing people running charities? There seems to be a good number of people commenting on blogs and creating websites such as and this is to be welcomed but how do we get our issues and concerns into the mainstream? How do we raise awareness of the problems? Has anyone asked the Guardian to do some research into these “deaf organisations” and compared them to other groups such as for women or for GLBT? Is there a template letter/email anywhere that deaf people can use to send to their MP objecting to government funding for RNID, RAD and other hearing run charities?

I would be happy to be involved in something like this but do not have the skills to promote this to the wider community. Perhaps there is a need for a deaf activists website via GOD where people can access campaign material?

Ask the Readers:
What do you think? Do you feel strongly about this, either way? What should be done? Please drop us your thoughts in the comments.

See also:
RNID and Medical Research
Royal National Institute of Hearing: Imagine a World Without Money
The Sickness of Deaf Awareness Week: Imagine A World Without Sound
Debating Subterfuge (Tim Blackwell)
New RNID CEO: Jackie Ballard, Acting CEO Brian Lamb
Vlog on that new Chair appointment
New RNID Chair: Gerald Corbett
Photo Friday: Deaf Chair Now
Low: RNID CEO needn't be deaf or hard of hearing

The Regency: A Deaf Person's View of the RNID
Dishing the Dirt on the RNID
Deaf Organisations & Deaf EmpowermentJohn Maynard Keynes - Friend of the Deaf!
It Could be Australia! No Wait! It is!

March 1, 2009

RNID and Medical Research

Yesterday we received an e mail, around deaf organisatons. The e mail raised two main issues, so we'll split this up into two blog posts. Instead of me rephrasing (which no-one needs), with permission I've copied (part) of the e mail:

I have been a follower of GOD for a few months and just wanted to share my revulsion at the new RNID website.

Right in the middle of the website is a feature about medical research on deaf people. To quote:

“RNID’s biomedical research programme aims to speed up the discovery and development of new drugs and treatments that will benefit people who are deaf, hard of hearing or have tinnitus. So far, we’ve committed more than £6.5 million to hearing research, making us one of the world’s leading medical research charities tackling hearing loss, deafness and tinnitus.
Research proposals are now invited for the following funding schemes:

  • International research grants to support world-class research projects
  • Flexi grant to strengthen the hearing research field through small-scale activities
  • Summer studentships to encourage undergraduate students to enter a career in hearing research"

So... RNID are spending £6.5 million on developing drugs to feed deaf people? Since when are deaf people ill?

Rather than change society attitudes, RNID would prefer to spend money on encouraging more science students to develop careers in developing drugs to feed deaf people. It makes you wonder if RNID are trying to compete with GlaxoSmithKline in new drug development!

But haven’t the RNID missed the point? Feeding deaf people drugs is not a solution to social exclusion or communication. The only way to improve deaf people involvement in society is to empower them to access services and employment in the mainstream.

Ask the Readers:
I've got my own views on this, but I don't want to get in the way of the above comment. What do you as a reader think of the above? Do you agree or disagree? Please use the comment box below.

The Regency: A Deaf Person's View of the RNID
Charity Commission: RNID Income in 2008 (£49,836,000)

August 21, 2008

New BDA CEO makes an appearance

As seen on Sign-tube (if you can't get the below video to work, click here), the new BDA Chief Exec took to the stage at the BDA's recent conference in Cardiff...

... it seems he has been learning BSL. As he should indeed!

We at GOD didn't make it to the conference this year - did you? Any thoughts?

See also:

New BDA CEO: Simon Wilkinson-Blake

July 2, 2008

New BDA CEO: Simon Wilkinson-Blake

bdaceo.jpgThe BDA has appointed Simon Wilkinson-Blake as their new CEO. Simon was previously CEO of the British Motorcycle Federation and Director of RiderConnect.

Their new Cultural Development Officer (CDO) for Scotland is Mark MacQueen, with Sue Barry as the NI CDO.

A 100% Deaf board has obviously appointed a hearing CEO here. Hearing allies, especially with outside connections are important and powerful, however should they take a leadership role? Is the position of CEO indeed a leadership role, or do they take on a day to day administrative stance at wider led Deaf strategic direction?

Ask the Readers:
What do you think of hearing appointments? Would it ever be acceptable for a women's organisation to be led by a man, a black organisation led by a white person? Could this be a statement by the BDA that a glass ceiling does exist in the UK, and there's no-one Deaf suitably qualified? Does finances ever come before political statements? Can the two co-exist? Drop us your thoughts in the comments.

Photo credit: Simon's page on Just Giving

May 16, 2008

Royal National Institute of Hearing: Imagine a World Without Money

RNIHLogo.pngA new website by the Royal National Institute of Hearing (RNIH) has been launched.

Its theme, "Imagine a World Without Money".

Ask the Readers:
What do you think? Throw us your thoughts in the comments.

See also:
The Sickness of Deaf Awareness Week: Imagine A World Without Sound

May 13, 2008

Deaf Awareness Week: Elizabeth Foundation tops RNID

Elizabeth_Foundation_Site.jpgThe Elizabeth Foundation went one better than the RNID for Deaf Awareness Week. Instead of using hearing people to subtitle sound and make everyone cry; they used real live deaf children, and sent them off on a listening walk:

The [deaf] youngsters listened out for as many different sounds as they could and recorded it on their clipboard and tape recorder.

A highlight of the walk was a visit to the building site of the Listening for Life Centre which will be the base of Bradford Royal Infirmary's Yorkshire Cochlear Implant Service and is right next door to The Elizabeth Foundation in Smith Lane.

Run this one past me.

This was how I would interpret Deaf Awareness Week. Increase awareness amongst the hearing community that deaf people exist. Remind them of the barriers that they face, and how to work in partnership with and actually provide access.

Is that a reasonable interpretation? Yes? No? Seems not.

I don't see the Elizabeth Foundation practising none of the above? Its a hearing agenda: lets make deaf children fit into our world. Through this objective, we have a underlying oppression happening. Listen a bit harder, deafness is your problem not anyone else's.

You are broken. We can't accept you as a deaf person, pretend hearing person instead. Conform to hearing ways. Force the normalisation stereotype, and don't encourage diversity. And who decides this agenda? Hearing people, who aren't actually deaf themselves but for some unknown control issues, they would like to push this agenda.

I get some deaf people actually will use hearing aids as a means for sound, but that's not the issue here. Chucking such messages in the press such as "showed the exciting opportunities and potential deaf children have today through learning to listen". This strong promotes a value judgment around normality, conformity, lack of diversity and difference. It has a wider ripple effect on the rest of us: communication is your problem. Everyone must aspire to be normal. You fail to do so, and its your failure. This ends up having ripple effects on e.g. employability of deaf people, and lack of willingness to make adjustments.

Deaf awareness week should not be an excuse to be oppressive, or promote oppressive attitudes.

Hearing aid youngsters listen to building site!

See also:
The Sickness of Deaf Awareness Week: Imagine A World Without Sound

May 8, 2008

The Sickness of Deaf Awareness Week: Imagine A World Without Sound

Its Deaf Awareness Week, and the RNID has excelled itself at being the most patronising and paternalistic deaf organisation on planet earth.

Before I go on, its no secret that I have my reservations about Deaf Awareness Week, but that is the subject of another blog post. However, I would imagine the aim of such a week was supposed to be about deaf people - in whatever form - being accepted and respected in society. To promote equality by changing attitudes.

Or did I get that wrong? It seems so.

So what does the largest deaf organisation in the UK do? Launch a campaign called Imagine A World Without Sound. Before you read on, go and take a look around the website, and judge for yourself. Warning: the video does not contain any subtitles. UPDATE 2: Click the T on the video for subtitles (Thanks Anon).

Take a moment to imagine if you couldn’t hear birdsong at dawn or danger signals in the street, enjoy wonderful sounds like a baby giggling or listen to your favourite music.

Okay, get your violins out. Now. Also reach for your box of tissues. Hearies everywhere drop at the feet of deaf people, and all lets have a communal Wallow In Pity Session.

lionrnid.jpgThe RNID also sends staff dancing around London in fancy dress, subtitling noise. Their innovation never fails to astound.

That organisation needs to be closed down, and fast. I am fed up to the back teeth of some hearing marketers who basically don't have a bloody clue, portraying me and others to the world. And in the process wasting public money, because there is nothing positive about this.

A clueless hearing person viewing that website might take away the following messages:

- I value my hearing
- I need to feel sorry for deaf people
- deaf people can't do XYZ because we don't have people dressed up in fancy dress costume 24/7 to help them
- deafness is a terrible tragedy
- deaf people need help
- sound is important, everything in life hinges on this. Lets rub that in the face of deaf people, your existentialism (or life) is of lesser importance.


And here's me sitting inside on a sunny afternoon, having to spell this out for free to a multi million pound corporation. Whilst hearing people create this spin, and then take home up to £100k salary. That is taking the piss. Veiled as for the benefit of deaf people.

picadillyrnid.jpgThe website also runs a sound competition, in the form of photography.

Capture the sounds you love to hear.

This is not a deaf awareness campaign, this is a hearing awareness campaign. There is nothing "deaf awareness" about this.

I can see how deafened people might latch onto this mentality, but even a deafened friend has said they really do not need this. Deaf and deafened people already exist, as deaf and deafened people. They still need to be respected by those around them, and does this website achieve that? No.

Imagine if an organisation that got funding for black issues ran a campaign: IMAGINE A WORLD WITHOUT WHITENESS, and let their staff loose in the streets in some art form, with white people painted black.

Think about it; this is not a campaign about the benefit of deaf people in society, it is a campaign about how awful deafness is. And furthermore, it is extremely bad timing in a climate where deaf people have been trying to kick back on negative media attitude and spin. Instead a deaf organisation (which churns over £50 million each year) supposedly "helping" us, is actually giving the media and the government a further excuse to oppress.

The entire campaign does nothing but play on people's fears over something they've possibly not experienced before. The issue with this approach is that it does nothing to counteract attitude within society. It goes on to state:

We want [to] .. carry out vital research into deafness and hearing loss.

And the video states:

Your donation could help develop vital treatments to prevent or restore hearing loss.

In other words, medical research for hearing people to get rid of deaf people. Then they provide a DONATE ONLINE button. Sick.

Ask the Readers:
So what do you think of this campaign. Love it or loathe it? Tell us in the comments.

Gwallgofi: Perfecting the Art of Being Deaf
All the Young Dudes: Celebrating Neurological Devastation Week
SignFire: The World Without Sounds - My Entries

North of the Stupid Line: Deaf people, my ass!

All The Young Dudes: Deaf Awareness Week: People of the Lie

May 6, 2008

Jeff McWhinney vlogs

Connecting Bristol introduced Jeff McWhinney as a guest vlogger, in recognition of Deaf Awarness week. Jeff's first post is introductory and introduces a Festival of Ideas.

The first video in the post is in BSL, which is good (more BSL online please):

For those of you who don't understand BSL, the original post has English text underneath. Unfortunately the second video is neither subtitled or signed, thus I'm not sure what its about apart from a statement on social enterpreneurs and a link to Innovation Exchange.

This begs a wider question, who exactly is Deaf Awareness week for? And what's its aim? Something I want to touch on in another post.

Ask the Readers:
What does Deaf Awareness week mean to you? Is it a waste of time?

See Elsewhere:
BSL Jeff's Vlog

April 28, 2008

Poor little Deaf children


This is why deaf organisations have a lot to answer for...


The scene: My kitchen, this evening. Doorbell rings.

C (my partner):
There's someone at the door. [goes to front door, opens it]

Through the glass door, I (Jen) can see three people on the doorstep; one of whom is wearing a weird bib thing (think netball) with "NDCS" on it. I bid a hasty retreat to the back garden to throw breadcrumbs out for the birds. A minute later, C appears and persuades me to go to the door.

I go into the hall, to find NDCS Bib Man stroking our dog, who is lying across the doorway, with two very smart looking women standing behind.

Bib Man: SaysomethingbutIhavenoideawhatblahblah.

Me: [pointing to bib] Can't you sign?

Bib Man: [going red] Er, no.

Me: Can you?

Woman 1: No.

Me: Can you?

Woman 2: Er, no.

Me: [voiced over by C] You work for the NDCS and you can't sign? Shame on you!

Bib Man: [redder] Well, I've only been working for them for three weeks.

Me: [voiced over by C] Oh, plenty of time to learn then!

Bib Man:
Er, yeah. Um, have you had any services from the NDCS recently?

Me: [voiced over by C] Um, not lately. I'm 33!

Bib Man: No?!

Me: Oh yes.

C: I don't think there's much you can tell us about the NDCS that we don't know already.

Bib Man: Well. Bye then!

[they leave]

Me: And now they're going to tell our neighbours all about deaf children.

C: Well I hope they don't think it's because of you!

April 4, 2008


Go here. Says it all.

Wonder if it was for a catalogue of condoms, to stop you having deaf babies ("RNID does not support the selection of a deaf embryo for IVF implantation where a hearing embryo is available")?

And to think they churn ~£50 million smackers per annum, to look after us and again:

to promote and encourage the prevention and mitigation of deafness and the better treatment, education, training, employment and welfare of people who are deaf or hard of hearing .... to promote, safeguard and protect the welfare of such people

You must be prevented, but at the same time let all those 100k salaries care for your welfare! We pretend to do equal rights too, telling the government this and that, representing you all without consultation / telling you what's happening. But on the same coin want to get rid of you.

Also, just ignore the fact we can't get our own house in order. Deaf senior managers at our organisation, or rather a lack of, let's brush that one under the carpet. 100% hearing SMT, and a BoT not that far behind. Hearing CEO. Hearing Chair. So what?

Mixed messages? No! You're simply imagining it. All whilst you're lapping it up on benefits, because lets keep you in your place and justify our existence.

Priorities beautifully aligned, society at its zen. Ahhhh!

Here endeth the lesson

November 21, 2007

A question

Can anyone out there explain to me in clear, simple terms why deaf people need charity? Why exactly? This is not a joke question; I truly do want to know.

The Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary describes charity as:

A system of giving money, food or help free to those who are in need because they are ill, poor or homeless, or any organization which is established to provide money or help in this way.

Does this apply to deaf people? If so, why?

(OK, the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary does not know everything - nobody does - but we could use that definition just to help us to think about it. If we follow that 'rule', why do deaf people who are not ill, poor or homeless need charity?)



November 13, 2007

What is going on?!

What I'd like to know is which bright spark at the RNId came up with the downright offensive idea for an Ear of the Year* competition?!

"Ears are beautiful and amazing things and we think they have been neglected for far too long! So we've launched a search to find the UK's sexiest ears," say the RNId.

Well, I disagree! In general, I find ears rather weird to look at. Let's face it, most ears are just funny shaped bits of skin, mine included. Sexy? I don't think so. I'm much more of a fan of hands or eyes, myself.

And if your ears don't work, what's meant to be amazing about them?! Mine are useful for holding my glasses on, but that's it.

Haven't the RNId got anything better to do other than encourage people to take photos of their ears, and me to type grumpy blog posts during my lunch break?!

For heaven's sake.


* The red bit is a link. Click on it!

October 1, 2007

Learn to Sign Week (UK)

It's Learn to Sign Week this week (1st-7th October). Check out the BDA's new Learn to Sign website here!

Also, there will be a Deafie on The Paul O' Grady Show at 5pm tomorrow (Tuesday). Whoopee do!

Not forgetting See Hear is back on Wednesday, in its rather crap new 1pm mid week slot. I still object (see link below)!

Anyway, if you can't sign... this week is the week to learn!


See also:
Save See Hear!

August 13, 2007

Strategy & delivery of mental health services: in who's interest?

Here is a BBCi report on mental health services in Scotland, more to the point the rnid is calling for better services.

Now I don't dispute for one minute that access to mental health services needs to be improved. However, I've got one question: what's this news report in aid of? They want better mental health services in our interests, or are they trying to bag some more funding / expansion / organisation PR, i.e. their interests?

Somehow I suspect the latter. I've heard from various sources that the rnid was involved with some mental health steering group in Scotland, pretended to do the lets all work together thing, get the information and now it appears to be going off on its own to bag such services for itself. Not the first time its done this. If it was doing the lets all work together thing, how come there's no mention of anyone else? Actually, why not drop the organisation name, and focus on DEAF people themselves?

Now another question: would you go to a deaf organisation for delivery of mental health services? Say you became ill and needed treatment. Would you be happy to go to super sized deaf organisation to get better?

Sometimes deaf organisations need to understand they are the cause of mental health problems, or at least a significant catalyst towards this. Would you go to the rnid for treatment?

Ask the readers: what do you think of this move, is the organisation working in our interests or theirs? Would you go to a deaf organisation for mental health services? Whatever your answer is, what's your reasoning?

Deaf people's and deaf organisations interests, can they ever be the same?

Do you think public services are equipped to figure the issues when it comes to mental health delivery? Do we ever get asked what we want?

August 10, 2007

Statement from Francis Murphy, BDA Chair

At the BDA Congress, we at GOD offered Francis the opportunity to say whatever he liked to our readers/viewers, and he accepted the offer. So, here he is:

... so if you're interested in the BDA and/or Deaf education, get the next train to Southport!


(English translation for non-BSL signers below...)

Continue reading "Statement from Francis Murphy, BDA Chair" »

The unofficial BDA Congress 2007 report


I generally put my money where my mouth is, so went along to the first day of this year's BDA Congress in Southport yesterday to show my support etc. Unfortunately I can't go today, but hope this post gives readers some idea of what it was like. The theme focussed on education and our rights through language and cultural equality.

bda2As someone who's been to about 10 BDA Conferences / Congresses throughout my life, I was saddened to see only about 70 people were there. However, this actually made the whole thing feel more intimate - when Dr Paddy Ladd got up on stage for his paper, he said it was a shame there were so few of us, but that meant each of us was "doubly important" - cool way of looking at it!

Indeed, I didn't realise at first, but there was a definite air of informality about the whole thing; there were NO suits, NO grand speeches with flashy PowerPoints and NO BDA staff rushing around with clipboards. In fact, I don't think I saw any BDA staff at all, except one. It seemed to be being run by volunteers, which kind of brought the BDA back to its roots, perhaps. The atmosphere was humble and almost apologetic; new BDA Chair, Francis Murphy was open and honest throughout, and kept apologising for the lack of publicity and countless other things.

I have to say I enjoyed the day I spent at the Congress - the BDA deserves to be praised for managing to pull it off despite the hard time they are going through right now.

David Muir - Doncaster School for the Deaf and a father

bda3The first paper, Bilingual Education: Why it's the best option and how it can be improved, was by David Muir, who is a father of two Deaf girls and works at Doncaster School for the Deaf. David made it clear he was speaking in a personal capacity and his paper was generally good and informative and very PRO 'proper' bilingualism (not just pretend bilingualism where teachers can't sign fluently etc), but went on rather too long, I am afraid.

The main points David made were that the three main problems with Deaf education are that it leads to the high possibility of mental health problems, low achievement and low self esteem and self confidence. Notably, he said, Deaf people should control Deaf education. Finally! A hearing educator finally said that in public!

bda8     bda9

Dr Paddy Ladd

Next up was Dr Paddy Ladd, with a paper on Deaf Culture, Deafhood and Deaf Education. Watching Paddy made me feel more politically motivated than I have in a long time! It's just a shame there weren't more people there to watch him, because God knows, the UK Deaf community could do with a dose of political motivation at the moment. That and a kick up the arse!

bda4Paddy talked about the disastrous effects of colonalism, and how Deaf people's identities would be stronger if young Deaf people's education introduced them to Deaf culture, thus developing their Deafhood at an earlier age than now. He discussed how Deaf educators are more likely to use Cultural Holism when teaching Deaf kids, treating them as whole people, and acknowledging how the Deaf and hearing worlds are different, explaining what it means, how to live and how they have a place in the world.

Paddy said we need to be stronger and work with our hearing allies without being mistrustful of them taking over. He also said we need more hearing allies - largely hearing parents (90% of us have them, anyway!) - the media is far more likely to listen to radical hearing parents than Deafies having a demo! We need more action, a BDA education campaign group, youth camps and youth leadership programmes, volunteers and so on. We need many things!

I hope the BDA listens to Paddy because he signed a lot of sense.

bda14    bda10

Professor Bencie Woll

After lunch, I missed the first part of Bencie Woll's paper on bilingualism - I also missed the title because it wasn't in the programme, but it seemed to be a linguistic perspective. Not really my cup of tea, I'm afraid, as I'm not really a linguistic person and Bencie was a bit academic, talking about the brain and stuff!

bda5However, I was really pleased to see Bencie signing for herself, which is sadly a rare thing for hearing people do to... that was cool. In summary, she talked about how people in the Deaf community are bilingual even though they think they aren't, and gave some facts about language acquisition and the education of Deaf children, including how BSL actually helps English literacy, not the opposite, as the oralists claim. In conclusion, Bencie said that Deaf people should have the opportunity to be bilingual. Too right!

bda11   bda12

bda13    bda6


Last off, I went to Paddy's workshop on Deafhood (the other one was on linguistics) which was quite interesting, with people talking about how the DDA is actually rather crap - some people said they liked it but I am not one of them! - and discussing how the BDA could offer more support for parents of Deaf children.

BDA involvement with UKCoD

The only thing that pissed me off all day was when Francis mentioned that the BDA is thinking about re-joining the chocolate teapot of British deaf organisations, UKCoD. Yes, I know many people would agree with this, but again I am not one of them, and I stood up to tell Francis that. Apparently UKCoD is desperate to have more "Deaf" input - how very funny since they stole our BSL recognition campaign(!) - and have begged (??) the BDA to reconsider. However Francis said they will make sure they have more teeth this time round and I sincerely hope so because UKCoD has a big jawline. AGH.

Whatever. The BDA needs support at the moment and I hope that there are more than 70 people there today. Wish I could be one of them but I cannot. And I really wish more people would do more supportive things for the BDA rather than sit on their arses and slag them off! They need us now, probably more than ever before. As the late great Dorothy Miles said, and was quoted many times yesterday;

The BDA is you and me, and together we will fight for equality!

Coming very soon:

* An exclusive BSL statement from Francis Murphy, BDA Chair (shame on See Hear for not going up to film!!)
* An interview with the magnificient Dr Paddy Ladd, also brought to you on video.


Photo Friday: BDA Congress 2007


Recognise anyone?! Congress news coming SOON - watch this space!

August 9, 2007

BUAV guide to charities & animal testing, what about deaf organisations?

BUAV has published a guide, as to which charities are ethically sound when it comes to donating. It describes itself as:

to help animal lovers support health-related charities, secure in the knowledge that their donations will not fund animal research.

Such a publication has to be commended, and a step forward. It is interesting to note that the RNID is not listed so does this mean they fund animal research, and not suitable for BUAV's list? Their quest to eradicate deafness comes with funding animal testing through medical activities? Fund the UK version of this, perhaps?


As we know the CEO in waiting of the RNID - Jackie Ballard - is currently the Director General of the RSPCA, which promotes the welfare of animals. She's gone on record as supporting this, examples can be seen here and here. Will her new job contradict her old one?

Please use the comment box as to your views on the differences between cosmetic and medical testing, what is necessary and not. Are attempts to eradicate deaf people a necessary procedure?

One comment I do have to make about this guide is how it makes the distinction between funding research (which the guide focuses on) and the indirect support organisations perhaps give?

For example, NDCS is listed in the BUAV guide (see page 7), thus ethically sound and a good donation choice? (There should be a disclaimer here in the interests of transparency, Michelle Thew was once acting CEO of NDCS, now CEO of BUAV). NDCS as an organisation operates a policy of informed choice, and within this produces such publications as Quality Standards for Cochlear Implants. Whatever your views on CIs, quality standards are possibly ultimately about safety, and to ensure say a CI is safe, it will have been tested someplace else. Thus whilst not direct funders of testing, there is an indirect element here, and could be said riding on the backs of others?

CIs is just one example, and the same could be said for genetics, tinnitus even a new implant has been tested on animals in respect of balance disorders.

I do know that the same argument in respect of secondary or indirect effect, and part of a bigger system could be applied to many of the other charities that are listed on that publication, perhaps with the distinction without intervention a human dies, e.g. cancer.

Perhaps one could argue, if you can't beat the system or change the world (you are just one building block), just do the best you can to work with it. Or should people be promoting organic communication, and changing society? Where do you think charities should be the agents of change in respect of this. Who dictates direction: the status quo or the norm, or a minority group?

However, since the BDA is focused on sign language, how come its not listed? Or is that too obvious, but the point is there re promoting viable alternatives to communication, where no compromises have to be made. Or is the BDA secretly funding Koko now?(!)

My question is: where do you draw the line with support for animal testing? Where does support begin and end? Do you think deaf charities are supporting animal testing, either directly or indirectly? Would you give money to charities that fund animal testing? What do you think? Discuss.

BUAV Guide [PDF]
Third Sector

See also:
New RNID CEO: Jackie Ballard, Acting CEO Brian Lamb

August 4, 2007

The RNId's new digital hearing aid...

blingaid.jpg ... not. I don't think even the RNId can afford this hearing aid. For a start, it's made from solid 24-carat gold and is studded with 220 diamonds. It has a remote control. It is expected to sell for over £25,000.

Jeesh. And yes, it's real! It was designed by a bloke called Barry Moule for a company called Widex:

"Creating this aid required the services of Barry Moule a highly specialised London-based jeweller with a unique set of skills. “Though I have produced exotic items such as jewel encrusted mobile phones in the past this is the most unusual project in my career,” commented Moule."

... So it looks like lots of rich hearing aid wearers are going to have to fight over it. Too bad if you want a matching one for your other ear(!)


See also:
Coming soon: will you be forced to get your hearing aids from the RNID?
Autonomy and Gurning
RNId = The New Google?

August 2, 2007

Go to the BDA Congress!

signcommunitylogo.jpgI can't believe that the BDA London / South East Office was closed a few weeks ago, and they seem to have forgotten to tell us! An email to members would have done the job. [ Or even better, a blog! WISH THE BDA WOULD GET A BLOG! I volunteer to help them to set one up, if that is any use (I suspect not, but anyway) !]

Dawn, thanks for the reply to my last post on the BDA - I really do support the BDA and want to see it thrive, as I am sure you understand. So it is with this support in mind that I will be going to the Congress in Southport next week, or at least some of it, depending when I can get time off work. Hope to see many Deafies there to show their support too!

If you're reading this blog, it would be interesting to know if you're going to the Congress, and if not, why not? Comments in the comment box below, please!

There is new information about the Congress here - programme etc - thanks to Tony B for the heads up.


August 1, 2007

Debating Subterfuge (Tim Blackwell)

I would like to thank Alison and Jen for inviting me to guest blog here. You’ll never guess what I’m going to talk about! I thought I would share some of the tricks I’ve found that RNID apologists seem to use to sweep criticisms of the charity under the rug. They may not always be deliberate, but they are certainly mistakes.

First, personal attacks or argumentum ad hominem, as a clever clogs might say. This is when an RNID apologist attacks the person making the criticism rather than attempt to refute the criticism itself e.g. suppose I’ve just said that “RNID are not accountable,” then the incorrect answer is that I am a “nasty, ungrateful person who whinges, whines and carps, etc, etc.” Even if all of those things were true, it doesn’t actually answer whether RNID are not accountable, let alone refute it.

Then there is the bandwagon argument or argumentum ad populum, where it is pretended that just because a lot of people or a “majority” support something, it must be good or true. Just because RNID has 37,000 members who are quiet or disagree with the critics does not mean that the critics are wrong.

Next, we have misdirection, or diversion, where the criticism is met with something completely unconnected to it. Let’s say that somebody has said that “RNID have a terrible record on employing deaf people.” A misdirection would be to reply “Well, RNID are not perfect, but….” and then trot out the usual Brady Bunch tales about type talk, the legal casework team, the tinnitus helpline and other things that have got nothing to do with employing deaf people at RNID.

An equally cheap trick is the use of emotional blackmail, which often combines with misdirection. A basic form would be “You can’t criticise RNID because they help deaf people!” Saying that ‘it’s a little sad’ that people would protest against RNID when they ‘help’ all sorts of deaf people, including people who are ‘old and not hearing so well’ is just using people as human shields to deflect criticism.

Don’t forget the pretence of conditionality – when it is suggested that people have to do something more than simply be a deaf or hoh person before they can complain about RNID – e.g. they have to join as a member, become a trustee or have a private audience with the Duke of Edinburgh. RNID are answerable to all “Nine million” deaf and hoh people that they explicitly claim to represent.

Finally, we have the presumption of positive, when it is claimed that RNID are “positive” and doing lots of helpful things whereas the critics are “negative.” This can easily be turned around when you argue that the critics are positive about the ability of deaf people to speak and act for themselves and manage their own affairs, whereas RNID are negative. Indeed, having no deaf or hoh people in your entire senior management team is the ultimate vote of no confidence.

The bottom line is that deaf people have the right to say what they want to say to RNID and it’s apologists without being dismissed or insulted, bullied and manipulated. RNID are our agents, not our masters – it is for them to do our bidding.

July 30, 2007

New RNID CEO: Jackie Ballard, Acting CEO Brian Lamb

jackieballard.jpgJackie Ballard has been appointed the new CEO of the RNID. The official press release can be found here, and here's the wording:

RNID appoints Jackie Ballard as new Chief Executive - 30 July 2007

RNID, the largest charity representing the UK’s 9 million deaf and hard of hearing people, today (31 July 2007) announced that it is appointing Jackie Ballard as its new Chief Executive.

Commenting on her appointment, James Strachan, Chairman of RNID, said: "We are delighted to have been able to recruit someone with the exceptional ability and experience of Jackie Ballard to lead RNID through its next stage of development.

"As well as being an accomplished leader in the voluntary sector, Jackie brings her huge experience of political affairs and a public service background to the cause of changing the world for deaf and hard of hearing people.

"Jackie is joining an award-winning organisation which was recently acknowledged as one of the leading lobbies in the world for deaf and hard of hearing people. I am confident that she will build on that success."

Jackie Ballard said: "I am delighted to be moving to RNID after five highly enjoyable years at the RSPCA. It has been an honour and a privilege to work for the RSPCA and it's very reassuring that I’m moving on at a time when the Society is in such a healthy position and has achieved so much, particularly our successful campaign for the new Animal Welfare Act.

"I’m ready for a new challenge and very much looking forward to my new role at RNID. I count myself extremely lucky to be moving from one fantastic organisation to another."

Jackie Ballard takes over from John Low who is the new Chief Executive of the Charities Aid Foundation. She will take up the position on 22 October 2007.

This is the e mail that James Strachan sent to staff:

I am delighted to announce that the Board of Trustees have appointed Jackie Ballard to be the next Chief Executive of RNID.

Jackie is currently Director General of RSPCA, a post she has held since 2002. She served as Liberal Democrat MP for Taunton, Somerset, between 1997 and 2001. Previously she worked in local Government as both a Further Education lecturer and a social worker.

We have been able to recruit someone with exceptional ability and experience to lead RNID. As well as being an accomplished leader in the voluntary sector, Jackie brings her huge experience of political affairs and a public service background to the cause of changing the world for deaf and hard of hearing people. As you all know, Jackie is joining an award-winning organisation and we were recently described as one of the leading lobbies in the world for deaf and hard of hearing people. I am confident that she will build on that success.

brian_lamb.jpgJackie will join us on 22 October. In the meantime, the Trustees have asked Brian Lamb to be the Acting Chief Executive from 1 August.

I am sure that you will all give Jackie every support as she continues to maximise our impact on the lives of deaf and hard of hearing people.

James Strachan

Jackie Ballard's Wikipedia entry can be found here.

An interesting ethical dilemma

Since cochlear implants have been tested on animals, and continue to do so, one has to wonder how a person who has previously been CEO of the RSPCA (protecting animal welfare) can be CEO of an organisation which in its strategic plan wants to aggressively cure deafness (there is a source for this, anyone remember where?). Such medical research invariably comes with animal testing. So could someone please tell me how the two add up together.

Deaf involvement at the top?

We now have both a hearing Chair and a hearing CEO, with a 100% hearing SMT (7 members). On its board of trustees out of 11 trustee members: there is one Deaf person and one deafened person (please correct me me I'm wrong). This is 18 people in power making decisions, and just 2 members of its beneficiary group at the top. If its beneficiaries are failing to get to the top of the organisation or be a part of its function, how can the charity label itself as successful in what it does?

Ask the Readers:

Do you know if any Deaf / deaf / deafened / hard of hearing people applied for this post? If so please tip us off using the comments box.

Update: See this comment, which points to this link. It appears that Jackie Ballard is blind in her left eye:

Only one has a disability - Jackie Ballard of the RSPCA is blind in her left eye.

Do you think this qualifies her to understand us? Please leave a comment below.

See also:
Vlog on that new Chair appointment
New RNID Chair: Gerald Corbett
Chair BoT RNID: advert difficult to find on its website?
Photo Friday: Deaf Chair Now
Hanson Green: Deaf Recruitment Experts?
Chair BoT @ RNID only advertised in mainstream press
An international blogger tries to explain re RNID
RNID: Banging some drum, and who hears it?
John Low and James Strachan resign from RNID
Low: RNID CEO needn't be deaf or hard of hearing
John Low the soap star!

July 27, 2007

RNId = The New Google?


Well, you never know what they know.


See also:
Coming soon: will you be forced to get your hearing aids from the RNID?
Autonomy and Gurning

July 26, 2007

Coming soon: will you be forced to get your hearing aids from the RNID?

The problem with having deaf organisations communicate with the government "on our behalf" is that they are communicating THEIR interests which is NOT necessarily the same as OUR interests (Deaf people). Government departments and other bodies need to realise that the voluntary sector and individuals are not the same, and there is a massive conflict of interest happening.

Furthermore, we aren't actually consulted or information reaches us before changes happen.

Proposals for hearing aids:

The Department of Health has published proposals around contracting out services to the voluntary sector. Hearing aids are a central part of this. In other words we would go and get our ears tested, then be issued with a prescription. A bit like a prescription for glasses or medication.

It is then proposed you would take this prescription along to the RNID, and they would issue us with hearing aids. The RNID would be provided with money by the Department of Health, to issue NHS hearing aids or you could have the option of paying for private hearing aids. The RNID here would effectively become a retailer.

My initial thoughts:

- your personal details would be held in yet another one of their databases, and they have access to our medical information (used to develop other services, and become a monopoly charity?);
- they already hold a monopoly over subsidised relay serivces, and due to their hugeness perhaps other services too / no choice to go elsewhere;
- it would give more power to this organisation that has little regard over accountability to its user base;
- these proposals were available earlier this year, and I only found this by chance. Who is bothering to consult with us, and are we happy about? In my case no way;
- why hasn't this information been made available to us before now, so we could express our thoughts?

Ask the Readers:

Would you be happy if the NHS gave you a prescription for hearing aids (new, replacement, serviced, etc.), and you were then told to take this prescription along to the RNID to get your hearing aids? Do you want this proposal to go ahead?

Does anyone know where this proposal is on the DOH Procurement and Proposals site? Is there a consultation, or if there was one has it passed? This is perhaps something that we need to respond to, if possible.

Source: Third Sector (full article below).

Update: An excellent post from The Coterie of Zombies on this, go read.

Continue reading "Coming soon: will you be forced to get your hearing aids from the RNID?" »

A few random websites to look at...

... in no particular order:

The Deaf Film and TV Festival has become Deaffest, and you can find info about that here. People keep emailing me about it so I thought I should blog it!

There's an interesting interview with Sandra Duguid here. She's great in Playing God... you can still catch a performance in London or Edinburgh, I think. The Manchester one was good!

Finally, I would link to info about the BDA Congress, but I can't find any on their website. Even the BDA's events calendar says nothing is happening in August! Not true. Here's the info (and no, I do not work for the BDA... I just think these things should be shared, and I am grumpy because the BDA hasn't shared it widely. I'll probably get into trouble for saying that. Whatever.):

Theme: 'Rights through Language and Cultural Equality'
Date: 8-11th August 2007
Where: The Southport Theatre & Floral Hall Complex
Address :Promenade Southport, PR9 0DZ, UK
01704 540454, 01704 514770
Info from Sarah Murray:

As we all know, the BDA has been through a lot recently. All the more reason to go along and show support if we can! Paddy Ladd's giving a paper - don't miss that!

See you there?

July 13, 2007

Employment Tribunal: Colin Saunders personally liable

Colin Saunders has been held personally liable by an Employment Tribunal, and ordered to pay Jayne Fletcher £2,310; rather than Walsall Deaf Centre.

“Miss Fletcher has indicated that she did not want the deaf centre to close as a result of this claim and continues to believe that the centre carries out a valuable service within the deaf community."

Bringing any action against any deaf organisation for Deaf people is a difficult move, in the sense that emotional blackmail is often paid: we will take away services from Deaf people. You too don't want this, yet this smokescreen is too frequently the excuse to cover up much behaviour; and the bottom line its a form of bullying. One can only hope that such a judgment will improve future working conditions for employees, particularly Deaf ones.

Further reporting below.

Source: Charity boss held personally liable in discrimination case

See also:
Employment Tribunal Judgement: Walsall Deaf Centre

Continue reading "Employment Tribunal: Colin Saunders personally liable" »

July 9, 2007

Vlog on that new Chair appointment

If you haven't seen LEAKED - unofficial PR from RNId Chair vlog already, I would suggest you go and watch it. Humour never fails to get a point across.

No prizes for guessing what Gerald Corbett's sign name would be amongst the chattering classes.

See also:
New RNID Chair: Gerald Corbett
Chair BoT RNID: advert difficult to find on its website?
Photo Friday: Deaf Chair Now
Hanson Green: Deaf Recruitment Experts?
Chair BoT @ RNID only advertised in mainstream press
An international blogger tries to explain re RNID
RNID: Banging some drum, and who hears it?
John Low and James Strachan resign from RNID
Low: RNID CEO needn't be deaf or hard of hearing
John Low the soap star!

July 2, 2007

New RNID Chair: Gerald Corbett

geraldcorbett.jpgThe RNID has appointed Gerald Corbett, to be its new Chair. He was the former CEO of Railtrack, recently retired as Chair of Woolworths and was appointed as Chairman for SSL in 2006 (that manufactures Durex contraceptives).

So what does this man know about Deafies? What's his personal experience? Does anyone know? If you are a reader of Rob's blog, you will know that he published the job description and person specification for the Chair. Listed as highly desirable, but not essential was "Personal or close experience of deafness".

That aside, seems that RNID PR is being its usual fantastic self, and letting the mainstream first. There is nothing about this appointment on the RNID's website, at the time of writing this.

Gerald Corbett, the former chief executive of Railtrack, has been appointed chairman of deafness charity the RNID.

Corbett, who has recently retired as chairman of the retail group Woolworths, will take over from James Strachan, who has been involved with the charity for the past 14 years, as both a trustee and chief executive.

“RNID is one of the leading voluntary organisations in the country and I want to build on the achievements of James and the management team,” Corbett said. “I am looking forward to working with everyone at the RNID on making the world a better place for deaf and hard of hearing people.”

Corbett is also non-executive chairman of Britvic, the drinks company, SSL International, a manufacturer of healthcare products and Greencore Group, a supplier of food ingredients.

He takes over formally on 26 October.

Source: Third Sector

Anyone wishing to do more background reading here's Gerald Corbett's entry on Wikipedia.

See also:
Chair BoT RNID: advert difficult to find on its website?
Photo Friday: Deaf Chair Now
Hanson Green: Deaf Recruitment Experts?
Chair BoT @ RNID only advertised in mainstream press
An international blogger tries to explain re RNID
RNID: Banging some drum, and who hears it?
John Low and James Strachan resign from RNID
Low: RNID CEO needn't be deaf or hard of hearing
John Low the soap star!

May 20, 2007

Spot the Difference

Some of you may remember this on the Deaf Liberation Front (DLF) website back in 2002:


See also:
Chair BoT RNID: advert difficult to find on its website?
Photo Friday: Deaf Chair Now
Hanson Green: Deaf Recruitment Experts?
Chair BoT @ RNID only advertised in mainstream press
An international blogger tries to explain re RNID
RNID: Banging some drum, and who hears it?
John Low and James Strachan resign from RNID
Low: RNID CEO needn't be deaf or hard of hearing
John Low the soap star!

May 17, 2007

Deaf charities disabling?

Yesterday DeafDC published a post: Are Deaf Grant seekers Disabling Themselves? When I caught the title of the post, I immediately thought that this was going to be a post about paternalism, and the effect of charity can bring. However, I was wrong, and it was a post around not applying for enough grants.

This is possibly an example of how attitudes, and possibly economic conditions vary wildly from country to country. In the UK we have way in excess of 400 deaf charities. The UK isn't that big! Why do we need a number like that for?

Saltbar republished something more close to my thinking. I would suggest you go over there and read it. (Oh and be nice and leave a comment - its a new UK blog, something we need to encourage).

This article is so applicable to the situation in the UK, where charities actually take away actual consultation with Deaf people themselves. 100% hearing Board of Trustees and SMT, within deaf organisations, is not uncommon in the UK.

Due to this set up, it possibly encourages no ownership. And people wonder why there is apathy?

May 11, 2007

Chair BoT RNID: advert difficult to find on its website?

Power of blogging?

The vacancy of the Chair has finally been put on the RNID's website.


I challenge you to find it. I've given you enough clues, by the fact I've told you its there. (Navigation may be improved, so if you're reading this much later, please take this into account).

Question: has its membership been informed that this vacancy exists? Please use the comment box.

See also:
Photo Friday: Deaf Chair Now
Hanson Green: Deaf Recruitment Experts?
Chair BoT @ RNID only advertised in mainstream press
An international blogger tries to explain re RNID
RNID: Banging some drum, and who hears it?
John Low and James Strachan resign from RNID
Low: RNID CEO needn't be deaf or hard of hearing
John Low the soap star!

Photo Friday: Deaf Chair Now


Taken in May 2001, and so applicable 6 years later. Does anyone ever learn?

See also:
Hanson Green: Deaf Recruitment Experts?
Chair BoT @ RNID only advertised in mainstream press
An international blogger tries to explain re RNID
RNID: Banging some drum, and who hears it?
John Low and James Strachan resign from RNID
Low: RNID CEO needn't be deaf or hard of hearing
John Low the soap star!

May 8, 2007

Hanson Green: Deaf Recruitment Experts?


Since Hanson Green are doing the recruitment for the BoT @ the rnid, would people mind going over to their staff page and figuring out what any of them know about DEAF people? Even better, dig around Google if you can. Want know what makes them the experts to lead this recruitment, apart from mainstream stuff. For that matter, what d/Deaf, hard of hearing, deafened people will they know how to reach out to, since its a mainstream recruitment agency. So far, its not thought if they've advertised outside the Sunday Times. Anyone else know of other places?

Please feel free to comment. No-one else is bothered I assume?

See also:
Chair BoT @ RNID only advertised in mainstream press
An international blogger tries to explain re RNID
RNID: Banging some drum, and who hears it?
John Low and James Strachan resign from RNID
Low: RNID CEO needn't be deaf or hard of hearing
John Low the soap star!

Chair BoT @ RNID only advertised in mainstream press


An advert for the Chair of the Board of Trustees @ the rnid appeared in the Sunday Times over the weekend, in the Public Appointments section.

Due to the glass ceilings that exist over here, out of d/Deaf / hard of hearing / deafened, who is actually going to look there?

This has not been advertised in via official channels in the Deaf press. Instead I get someone e mailing it to me in a non official capacity flagging it and begging me to post it on DUKJ, just so people see it.

Why do we have to maintain a constant state of alert about things like this? Why has this been quietly advertised only in mainstream press that were we might not see it?

Up to this point, it has not officially been announed that Mr Strachan is going anyway, save an internal e mail which I published here. If this hadn't been done, would a new appointment have happened quietly, and no-one aware of this?

Since Low has already stated that the new CEO need not be deaf or hard of hearing, the currently SMT is 100% hearing. Now we are in a position where the Chair is being advertised quietly to the mainstream, where there's more likely to be only hearing candidates. Looks like we aren't welcome at the rnid.

Furthermore we don't actually get to see the person specification for this post, since its not posted online. The advert just requires people to send in their CV. How do we know what the criteria is? I would urge a member of the rnid to actually write in and ask for a copy of this person specification and job description. Pretend you are interested in applying for the position. I'm suggesting this, as there's zero transparency here.

Those charities have been set up for our benefit, yet it appears they are doing their hardest to ensure that there is no involvement from us.

Am I'm annoyed to have to flag this. Feels like unnecessary energy expended on picking up corporate mess, because they can't do it properly in the first place. Despite years of people telling them otherwise.

See also:
An international blogger tries to explain re RNID
RNID: Banging some drum, and who hears it?
John Low and James Strachan resign from RNID
Low: RNID CEO needn't be deaf or hard of hearing
John Low the soap star!

May 5, 2007

An international blogger tries to explain re RNID

Meant to post this last week, Joseph Rainmound over at Deaf and the City (love the blog name) posted 411: Firm of Scratcher & Low Leaving RNID; DeafRead Too American?

It might explain to an international audience some of the politics that goes on deaf organisation wise. There's much more to it than what is stated in this blog post, but its a start. If you want to read a bit more about this subject try this book as a starting point Really Not Interested in the Deaf?

Side note: again comes back to what I've thought since 2004, we really need a wiki. Would the community bite at collaboration, and take away the control of information away from deaf organisations?

May 4, 2007

RNID: Banging some drum, and who hears it?

The Third Sector is carrying some article about the appointment of a Finance Director at that huge charity that should not be named. New person is Paul Breckell, from the Christian Mission Society (I can't find a link, does it have a website?)

New appointee believes:

“The RNID has a really good reputation in all the work it has done" .... “Bob Heathcote has really taken the charity forward in terms of all the impact reporting they've done, this is leading the sector in best practice and RNID is at the forefront.”

Does anyone actually ever bother to ask its core users here? Consult with the actual objects of whom the charity is meant to serve, and exist in the first place? Do they agree? What difference has this huge charity made to your life? Is £50 million or whatever turnover they make these days, value for money? Analysis by the group of people it is intended to serve.

For those of you outside the UK, the RNID has 100% hearing senior management team (SMT), yet is the largest deaf and hard of hearing charity in the UK. In fact, I would ask a serious question here: are there any deaf / hoh managers there, including middle management. If so, who are they?

Its turnover for 2005-06 was £46,898,000, that's a lot of money for a country the size of the UK. Those in the UK, for that amount of money, what are YOU getting? What has this organisation done to change or improve your life?

In relation to Low's replacement, and for those wondering what was happening with the appointment of a new CEO:

A spokesman said the charity hoped to advertise the post in the next few weeks.

How come this sort of stuff never gets marketed or communicated direct to its target group? Instead they have been wondering. Communicate with hearies instead. Oh I forgot, there's the inconsequential factor!

Update: Tony B sez: "there is a Deaf Regional Manager for RNID North ETSS" The Church Mission Society website.

See also:
John Low and James Strachan resign from RNID
Low: RNID CEO needn't be deaf or hard of hearing
John Low the soap star!

May 3, 2007

Interpreters and the whole set up scaring me

Warning, this post is long but it raises some serious questions around the nature of interpreting, specifically in the UK. I don't even want to be typing this, I've got other things I want to do, and I'm completely irritated that it has to be flagged. Blogging this, simply because people need to get it, an education needs to happen and more importantly open conversational dialogue that is involved.

Before I get to the point I want to mention a situation I once observed at school, just to illustrate why I can't stomach this sort of stuff, and how it all ties in:

Back in the 1980s, when I was a teenager, another deaf kid at school was naughty. I don't even remember what he did, but something within the school grounds. As a way of dealing with it, the Teacher of the Deaf basically said to the deaf child, if, "I will take your hearing aids off as punishment". And they did. This deeply disturbed me at the time, and I've never forgotten it to the point it haunts me. Apart from the arguments around it played on not just an imbalance of power, but on the fact the majority can oppress. The fact that they had enforced the need for hearing aids in the first place (through an oral environment, and no other support), then used a person's basic functions as a bargaining tool. Reminds me of a form of torture.

Moving on. A decade ago I witnessed an interpreter do a similar thing to a Deaf person. Nothing to do with hearing aids, but playing with power. In a nutshell, the interpreter wanted the Deaf person to do something. In the same breath they used a situation they had interpreted, (where the Deaf person as a participant), as a subtle form of blackmail to get the Deaf person to do what they wanted. To the point where the Deaf person complied, as in doing something else was not an option. You do this, otherwise I will tell scenario. It made my blood run cold, I had flashbacks over what had happened at school. It still freaks me out each time I think about it.

I've witnessed exactly the same kind of bullying and threats many in deaf organisations too, where Deaf people are bullied into agreeing to something. I'm not even going to go there, right now.

These experiences are important, in terms of where I'm coming from with what I'm about to say below.

A few weeks back I did an analysis of VeeSee over at Noesis. I did this, as a person really interested in online space and more specifically 'social software' and its application to Deaf people. The post attracted comments, some of which were the run of the mill attacks, which can be ignored and not important in the grand scheme of things. There's interpreting issues in those comments, but these are rather academic or practical in nature, which I'm not going to address in this post.

However, one comment disturbed me:

You are playing with fire Alison .....interpreters know a lot about who they interpret for and your are exposing the deaf community by what you do and what you wish to provoke by your own shortcomings. You are a very very silly young woman in thinking you can do that.

Just the sort of comment to make me stop completely in my tracks and not forget about it.

For the boring record here, I'm imperfect. Big deal. Comes with being human. Also, noone knows me from interpreting, you just see how I interacted in a given situation from your perspective not knowing the full dynamics. The situations were bog standard work ones: team meetings, and interviewing other people. Nothing outrageous happened, and there's nothing to know. However, that's not the point.

This kind of stuff, just as a witnessed that interpreter a decade ago, brings the profession into disrepute, and makes me never to want to use an interpreter again. Except I don't have a lot of choice. Guess what, I'm Deaf and at some point need to interact with people who use spoken English! Yes I do know that there's great interpreters, but that's not the point here.

That comment comes across as something like this: Be careful what you say: as in do what you are told, please me, because I know all about you. If you don't do what I say, then you are stupid. You are a powerless Deaf person, and can't do without interpreters. Remember interpreters control you.

Makes me to the back teeth sick, and down the toilet goes my respect for the profession. It doesn't matter if I'm capable of taking the attitude of along the lines no way are you going to manipulate me in this manner, I'm still freaked.

What happens if for example a Deaf person let an interpreter into a mental health situation, exposed their innermost stuff. Then a few months or years later, they start coming out with the line: remember we know all about you.


Okay. So this terrifies me, but I'm not going to sit back into submission. However, there's more vulnerable people who might not be in a position to fight back, what about them? A bit like alleged abuse that never gets reported, easier to sweep under the carpet. So it happens to someone else.

I wanted to flag this issue up with IRP or ASLI, just to ensure the issue is being addressed.

So I go to the ASLI directory, name not there. I contact ASLI, reply I get: "if a name doesn't appear there, then you can reliably conclude that they are not a member." This was double checked, to ensure there was no gap between joining and the membership pages being updated.

Next stop CACDP directory. Not there. E mail CACDP, just for clarification. I get the reply, "Only people who appear on the Online Directory are registered".

Great. No redress.

Now I have yet more questions in my head than answers. This is why I'm blogging about this, because there's nowhere I can go.

- Is a person allowed to use MRSLI after their name, if they are not on the register? MRSLI - Member of the Register of Sign Language Interpreters. I asked someone at CACDP this, and I'm waiting for a reply.


(Click onto the image to enlarge).

- If someone uses MRSLI and they are not supposed to, what happens? Anyone got any clout?

- Who is policing the letters thing? What happens if no-one has any clout, as above?

- What about retrospective membership, and using a situation at a later date. For example, say if I used an interpreter in 2001, when they were registered, thus thinking I had something to fall back on. By 2007, they have come off the IRP register or not an ASLI member, and for argument's sake, broke confidentiality a few years later. Do the bodies actually have any power to call on a member to be accountable?

- Incidentally, the interpreter in the above situations was never booked by me but my employer and/or my employer's interpreting agency. It brings so many questions into my head around the power Deaf people have over access. You'd get the interpreter you were booked by an agency, and agencies here basically call the shots. There is a kind of mentality that goes on within deaf organisations that Deaf people themselves cannot be experts at interpreting issues, because they don't hold some qualification or other.

- Statutory registration of interpreters, would it be a good thing? Voluntary registration and regulation just by the sector scares the hell out of me right this second.

Right now I see a situation where unregistered interpreters can be booked (as a consumer how much choice do you really have)? Secondly, if someone was registered, then later come off the register, subsequently behaving in whatever manner using knowledge they've attained from assignments (perhaps years ago). Guess what, there appears to be no redress. That's apart from blogging about it.

Update: CACDP said, "People who are not on the register should not be using MRSLI after their name as this would be misrepresentation. If someone is not currently registered it does not necessarily mean that they are not qualified to be an MRSLI (although that could be the case) but they have made a choice not to register so should not be using the title.".

My comments: qualification is not the real issue here, since the core of my comments is redress and accountability, however I asked CACDP for clarification around the use of MRSLI which they gave.

In relation to misrepresentation, this is to be found in the law of contract. The issue here, is that for this to be enforced someone who has entered into a contract, to book the interpreter's services needs to flag it. Will they?

The second point is that a contract is often between the service provider e.g. conference organiser, Employer, even Access to Work and the interpreter. Not with the Deaf person themselves, who would need to bring a separate action against say the service provider. Will service providers actually get the issue, and really be bothered?

There is still a lack of power by a body to police things like this, and relies unorganised individuals to flag such things. For example, if someone calls themselves a solicitor and is not, the Law Society can follow it up, and has the necessary powers to enforce this. However, as far as I can see, noone has any real power here?

Just highlighting the weakness in relation to a potential redress or remedy on offer. Misrepresentation still does not address other issues though, and the scenario above, I fail to see how it could even be subject to contract law, and belongs to professional ethics. Only there's no statutory or case law obligation?

May 1, 2007

Charities should stop sending freebies, people say

We've all received free pens, Christmas decorations and whatever from the rnid, all in the name of fundraising. Here's a freebie, now give us your money. Are people really that shallow?

Generally, smaller charities cannot afford to employ such fundraising drives and perhaps allocate their resources more wisely.

The unsolicited freebies sent to me, go straight in the bin, I don't donate either. The biggest waste of money, and bigger crime a drain on environmental resources. The only thing the exercise achieves is further questions in my head re the nature of charities and their purpose, and getting me irritated in the process.

The Third Sector is reporting the results of a poll, on the call by its readers for charities to stop employing such tactics:

82.5 per cent of respondents answered yes to the question "Should fundraisers stop sending pens and umbrellas?" Only 17.5 per cent said no.

In four words: I couldn't agree more.

April 25, 2007

John Low the soap star!

The Third Sector is also carrying an interview with John Low.

""The RNID needs to be refreshed, and so do I .... After being closely identified with one charity, it's hard to run another with a specific cause. It's a bit like being a soap star: you align yourself closely with a role."

Low the soap star! How about actually detracting from personal status, and recognising you are supposed to be just an administrator of a charity, that exists for the benefit of a certain group of people, not yourself.

Question: Do you see John Low as a soap star?

Continue reading "John Low the soap star!" »

Low: RNID CEO needn't be deaf or hard of hearing

John Low states in the Third Sector, that his successor a need not be deaf or hard of hearing.

One liner from me: they've never got it, why are they going to start now? Don't forget, Really Not Interested in the Deaf.

Related: John Low and James Strachan resign from RNID

Continue reading "Low: RNID CEO needn't be deaf or hard of hearing" »

April 17, 2007

John Low & James Strachan resign from RNID

John Low (CEO) and James Strachan (Chair) are both leaving the RNID.

Press Release relating to Low here.

John Low is off to CAF in August, and James Strachan stands down in October.

Update: Can anyone find something in Private Eye, relating to conflict of interest over hearing aids and privatisation? Is this getting reported in a forthcoming issue?

Update 2: Here's John Low's bit:

I will be leaving RNID at the end of July to become the Chief Executive of the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) where I hope to improve the impact that many more charities can have.

Although this is an exciting new opportunity for me, it has been a hard decision to make. The last eight years, five as Chief Executive, have been both challenging and very rewarding. Most of all I have enjoyed working with such a talented and committed group of people, and have made many friends – I am greatly indebted to those who worked hard with me and have been so supportive and loyal through good times and hard.

Nevertheless, I genuinely feel that the time is right for the organisation to move forward under fresh new leadership to achieve even more for deaf and hard of hearing people. I am also convinced that RNID is well placed to do so with a strong team of Executive Directors, excellent leaders among the wider management group and high calibre, committed staff. Finances are stable and improving, fundraising is being increasingly successful and the organisation is more robust then ever with sustainable services and great plans for the future. These strengths will stand us in good stead to carry on our good work and have an ever-increasing impact.

I recognise that 2007 will be a period of change for the organisation because coincidentally James Strachan, after 13 years of involvement with either the governance or management of RNID, will stand down as Chairman at the end of his two statutory terms on the Board, at the end of October. However, the Board is confident that there will be an orderly transition. James and I will keep everyone informed of progress over the coming months.

With my very best wishes,

John Low
Chief Executive

Update 3: The Third Sector picks up on Low's departure plus new appointment.

Update 4: The RNID website quote James Strachan's biography as "a non-executive director of .... Care UK. Care UK has him down as a shareholder.

The grapevine is hot with information on an allegeded potential conflict of interest in respect of privatisation of hearing aids: private financial interest in hearing aids against being Chair of the largest charity in the UK for deaf and hard of hearing people. Can anyone verify this? Private Eye in its last edition carried this relevant article on Care UK. James Strachan is mentioned at the bottom of the middle column, but focuses on the fact he's married to Baroness Blackstone, a former government minister and a life peer. (Click on image below to make it bigger).

Private Eye Page 29

However, for years we've been pulling on this. Doug Alker had a go with Really Not Interested in the Deaf, and endless articles in publications such as the Voice. What does the Charity Commission have to say about it all?

Continue reading "John Low & James Strachan resign from RNID" »

March 21, 2007

BDA, a missed fundraising opportunity?

Okay, so the BDA is in debt, so why isn't it trying to make some money at every opportunity? Or rather, people assisting it to make money. Do we really want the organisation to disappear into a puff of smoke? I expect too many balls in the air trying to keep on top of the mess, to have a finger on each buzzer.

Last Saturday's See Hear showed the Lost Reels of Leslie Edwards from the 1930s, and I know these clips were discovered before I left London (in 2003) because I remember Tomato talking to me about them, and he had given the films to the BDA back then. 4 years plus down the road and what? The BBC shows them.

Why haven't they been made into a dvd and flogged at some stupid price? I would buy one, and judging by the interest I think some other people would too. Better still, put the clips on a site with some adverts and generate income via click throughs and/or paid upfront advertsing? Google Adsense, or another advertising programme that generates more income. An international audience would love it.

See Hear carrying footage of this programme, I hope the BBC paid the BDA some money for showing them? If not, why not? Secondly, its a shame as the programme could have been used to generate interest in this footage, and generate income from sales. Yes I know the BBC isn't meant to be an advertising arm, but how many times do you see businesses featured on Read Hear and See Hear. The BDA isn't even a business.

So where's the BDA capitalising on this then?

March 12, 2007

A message to the BDA

Its difficult to continue to post about stuff on here, without mentioning the current situation at the BDA. This is probably the most burning issue for everyone in the UK right now, and why its so difficult to focus on anything else.

I'm not the best person placed to comment on all this, since I'm not a current member plus I've not attended events and lived within Deaf community much in the past 3-4 years (compared to what I used to), nor have I directly contributed to anything on an organisational level. I'm in no hurry to go back there either. Thus I'll be the first person to state that it doesn't qualify me to write this. That said, there's no use carrying on pretending nothing is happening.

For international readers, the BDA is the equivilent of NAD in the States, and has been around since 1890, as a result of the Milan Congress in 1880. It goes without saying that the BDA is in a severe crisis right now. The insolvency experts have been called in, and its worrying that the BDA will go bankrupt and be no more. Its in the region of 1/2 million in debt, and as a cost cutting exercise has experienced many redundancies of the late. Staff who are left, face a future not knowing what will happen to their jobs.

Half the problem with this crisis, it is not producing an environment for people to be honest. There's way too much backstabbing and accusations. Perhaps some of this comes down to frustration?

I've been asked several times to say something about the BDA crisis, and apart from not wanting a lot to do with deaf organisation politics, I didn't know enough. I would perhaps only add fuel to a fire and irk someone out there. Not what a crisis situation needs. There's also an element of respect on my part, and leaving people be. However, I wonder by not contributing ideas is harmful in some way?

I know one thing that stops many people from saying something is the culture in the UK, and the interwoven relationships where its better to shut up. Perhaps a necessity of existing within such a community? However, the conversation that takes place in private is no better and hardly constructive.

The smallness of the community in the UK, can be a detriment here. Its difficult for many people to be impartial, or comment without past emotions attached. They have either been employed by the BDA, or know someone who has. Or you've been or are a member of the board. It seems if you live in London, your version of events is different to the rest of the country. There's a whole pot of emotions brewing, and everyone has an emotional view on this matter.

The smallness of the community, and the fact that we are populated by far too many deaf organisations chasing the same money (425 deaf organisations in the UK), means that sometimes you don't trust disclosing information through a fear of giving others a competitive advantage. I've been there. I'm no executive, but I've read an awful lot of blogs in the past 4 years including corporate ones, and sometimes honesty and openness is what gets you ahead.

Due to a long history of existing alongside each other, many people in out community don't like each other. This sometimes inflames the current situation, and does not produce a good environment to come out the other end of this crisis.

In fact its on many levels: people don't say anything, due to fear of their job or perhaps a job in the future. I suspect that Doug and the rest of the board is trying to juggle too many balls right now, and dropping them. I would be, and would not even want the responsibility for little or no reward.

I've also been told that much of the existing problem was inherited from the previous board. Others say that the crisis is down to the current board.

Whatever. The BDA is in a severe crisis and at a time of crisis it is imperative that communication channels are wide open, for a two way conversation. Trust needs to happen, and you cannot build a channel for communication without trust and allowing for the board to reach out. Its extremely easy to backstab, and on the same coin easy to huddle together, and attempt to keep things contained. Exposing vulnerabilities is not an easy thing to do.

However, the keeping things to oneself is not working. Confidentiality is a massive issue (a problem not confined to the BDA, but to the Deaf community as a whole), and communication is being leaked. Some of this communication should not be leaked, e.g. potential redundancies. Everyone tries to be a manager here, and does not leave things be.

However, also with a lack of communication comes rumours, and rumours that are potentially damaging. Whilst the BoT is responding to these, there is mistrust as with any PR speak, that its spin. This concept is not unique to the BDA, but all organisations.

I've said this before, and I will say it again: the BDA badly needs a vlog, to communicate with its members and the wider community. Do not keep this closed shop. It will cost nothing, you have your server, get your tech admin to install a open source platform, and just sign to a webcam if need be. As a BSL organisaton this is preferable, however in a time of crisis English would be better than nothing. Its fine to strive for idealistic principles, but sometimes it stops you from doing anything. Any communication is much better than nothing. Ditch the corporate speak: blogs are not a method of corporate speak and to treat it as a slightly modified form of PR is totally not getting it. Blogging is about a conversation, warts and all. Don't leave it for the entire board to agree on content (otherwise information will be months out of date). Trust needs to happen here, and tell it how it is but bottom line is through communicating via honesty and integrity you are showing you are trying to do the best for the BDA. That way you win trust, and perhaps more people will actually begin to care enough to help the BDA out of its current mess.

What do you think?

March 1, 2007

Delivery of mental health services

This totally doesn't get it: RNID receives a £5 million loan for a mental health project and worrying.

Finance: RNID receives £5m loan for mental health project
Helen Warrell

The RNID has received £5m from Futurebuilders to help it develop a national specialist mental health service for the deaf.

It is the second largest loan issued by the £125m investment fund, which was set up by the Government to help charities deliver public

The investment is structured as a loan of £4.7m and a grant of £284,000, which will help the units to cover their costs before they reach full occupancy. The loan is to be repaid over 16 years at an interest rate of 6 per cent.

The RNID plans to use the cash for four purpose-built residential mental health units, which will offer an alternative to hospital care for those who are deaf and in need of specialist mental health treatment.

"This project addresses a very important need," said Richard Gutch, chief executive of Futurebuilders. "Having a hearing impediment and a mental illness is a devastating combination.

"This is the sort of investment that is well suited to Futurebuilders. The RNID will be able to work with Primary Care Trusts, which will provide an income to help repay the loan."

Dr John Low, chief executive of the RNID, said: "The incidence of mental health problems among deaf people is much higher than average. Individuals are often discharged from acute care straight back into the community without intermediate rehabilitative or community-based

"This project will help to ensure that they have access to the appropriate care."

Mental health services have to be delivered independently of deaf organisations. It goes unsaid, yet well recognised that deaf organisations can be the catalyst mental health issues, and therefore the need for autonomous delivery! How can an organisation with such a bad track record of winding people up, provide an oasis and an environment in which to heal? This is not the only organisation guilty, where funding actually comes before foresight. Perhaps someone may like the organisation, but money channeled into one service, as a blanket service for everyone whose ears were broken is a massive undertaking. Can you guarantee someone hasn't come into contact with that organisation before?

If I wanted to access mental health services, would I have the option of going to an independent organisation, or service in future? Or would I be forced to use a deaf organisation, because 'there's not enough funding for interpreters, you have a 'deaf service' already available'? Where is the organisation advising an independent body to deliver such services?

Organisations are way too close together, and 'need to get on professionally' that noone actually says anything. Who is looking after the interests of the individual here, before profit? That's the thing here, everyone is too scared to say it how it really is. Or is that lack of foresight?