November 19, 2011

Disability Scroungers

Today the BBC has as its top news item, GPs should 'not sign off long-term sick'.

This is yet another in a long running line up of the BBC (and the rest of the media) attacking certain adults. Which is curious, since last night was BBC Children in Need and the BBC raised money for disabled or sick children. (I am ignoring other arguments here). Except, when the same children reach the age of 18 years - in other words adults - perception changes. Should they need assistance when they become an adult, then they are stereotyped as benefit scroungers.

And no, the government doesn't just not attack adults, try this this petition as a starting point. So whilst you and your mates are busy raising money for children, a lot of it is about subsidising the government's cutting back of services. It shifts the axis from rights towards charity and begging.

So, we have the BBC News twitter feed, retweeting tweets such as:

Welfare reform minister Lord Freud: Current sickness system is 'an incubator for lifelong idleness for far too many people' #sickpay

Meanwhile there are no retweets giving opposing opinion. You make up your mind re biased reporting.

(At this point I cannot understand the BBC and I suspect they are trying to give the impression of being more right wing, due to threats of their own funding - which again leads to questions around free from political bias).

To get onto the point of the the article. It states, "A survey suggested 77% of GPs had admitted they signed people off sick for reasons other than their physical health, the report authors told the BBC." Physical health does not include mental health, and presumably the remainder of those signed off sick have been done so for mental health reasons. If so, then the reporting itself is misleading and implies. The public not familiar with language, might assume the remainder of people are a fraud by a simple lack of inclusion of information.

Stereotyping by the media has already been brought up by the National Union of Journalists, see here for more information.

The next part that raises concern:

If the recommendations are accepted people who are signed off sick would also be put on to Job Seekers' Allowance, instead of Employment Support Allowance, for a period of three months.

Here the government is proposing you to claim JSA when you perhaps might be at your most vulnerable. JSA involves turning up to the job centre each week, signing on, using the phones there, no being eligible for any form of assistance (when you perhaps might need it most).

So let's use an example, a hearing person who has lost all of their hearing overnight. They have never functioned without hearing before, and suddenly they are faced with no communication skills to manage their new situation, they don't know anything about practicalities and emotionally they've been hit by a frieght train. Suicidal thoughts amongst other things, are not uncommon. They cannot function in work, and need time to re-adjust to themselves.

First, such a person is not immediately covered by the Equality Act 2010, as any disability needs to have "lasted or is likely to last for at least twelve months". You haven't established likely yet, simply because you need to undergo tests. So yes, employers at this point could legally discriminate against you because you are not doing your job properly. You've just become deafened remember, thus you've no idea re basic practicalities nevermind anything else.

So lets suppose you have lost your job or can no longer do your job. You would not be eligible for ESA but JSA. You would need to attend the jobcentre regularly, and expected to comply with whatever terms are attached to JSA. With no support. This includes, communication with DWP staff - remember at this point you do not know how to communicate - expected to job hunt. Facilities in Jobcentres include the use of the telephone. So, good luck to the newly deafened person in their first three months figuring out how to do this. And what is more, they are not covered by the Equality Act 2010 to ask for communication support, as the likelihood test for at least twelve months needs establishing. Put more pressure on such a person, and mental health will take a nose dive. That would quite possibly put someone in hospital, and leaving a much bigger issue to solve.

Likewise, say you are newly diagnosed with cancer. Most employers would hopefuly keep you on, except this isn't the real world and discrimination exists (and you would not be covered by law). During the first 3 months, good luck being well enough on chemotherapy etc, to satisfy what is required of you on JSA.

There are several points in there somewhere, including what is National Insurance for? If you take insurance out for anything in life, be it your car, travel or your house - if catastrophe or the unexpected happens then you are insured. The insurer needs to pay up. NI should be no different except it is managed by the government rather than a private company.

My grandparents' generation set up National Insurance, and any history scholar will understand why. Here's an information video from that time (the video subtitles are bad - it is just as inaccessible to me):

There is a lot more I could say, however I am just going to pose a question. Is what the government and media doing okay with you?

July 2, 2009

Deaf Families Featured in a Government Parenting Campaign

Two videos has been produced by and for Deaf parents in the UK as part of Everyday Adventures in Parenting; with the support of the Parent Know How programme from the Department for Children, School and Families.

My Favourite Day: Lending a Hand. Deaf parents Louis and Paula get involved in their children’s school life (4 minutes 12 seconds).

Moving on Up. Two Deaf families find that after school clubs have allowed them to find new jobs and make the most of existing ones (5 minutes 8 seconds).

Its good these videos have been produced, and portrays the families involved in a positive light.

More videos have been made, and can be found here. However, before you all rush off and click onto the link: I don't see any of them being accessible.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, however, if the government is serious about inclusion it has to make accessibility part of its tendering outputs. No exceptions. Its really not okay to just subtitle two films that feature deaf people, and exclude deaf people from the rest. To do so, is breaking the law. If these films were made accessible, then that would be great.

See also:
Parliament: Deaf Parents Access to their Children's Education

Everyday Adventures in Parenting
Parent Know How
Department of Children, Schools and Families
Shiny Red TV

June 15, 2009

EHRC Human Rights Inquiry 2009: Launch Inaccessible

Today the EHRC launched the Human Rights Inquiry 2009.

Last Friday I got an e mail from the EHRC telling me there would be a webcast this morning:

The event will be broadcast live over the Internet giving you the opportunity to watch the launch of the inquiry's final report. Visit from 10:45 on Monday to join the event.

Secondly, @EHRC was reporting the event on Twitter, reminding us to watch the event. I actually wanted to watch this, because its an area I'm interested in. So by 11.15am, when there was no redirect from the earlier link we were given, I asked a question. I got a reply:


Anyway, no guessing for what came next: it was not accessible for deaf people. I even alerted @EHRC to the problem, but I got no reply.

My complaint to EHRC:

I am a deaf person. Today I tried to watch the webcast at:

For part of the webcast (when Jack Straw spoke), an interpreter was partly in the frame of the camera. This was not perfect, as the camera was so positioned that some of his signs were off screen, and secondly there was no mechanism to make the video bigger. I was then surprised, the camera angle changed position so the interpreter was completely out of the screen and I could no longer follow. This continued with wide screen shots of the proceedings. It then went back to part interpreter shots, however the angle was then quickly altered. The open floor / Q&A session, I do not see any interpreter or any other means as to how I can access this live webcast.

This is equivilent of turning off the sound for hearing people, as a webcast is broadcasting. Secondly, there was no subtitles or alternative live broadcast for deaf people who do not use BSL. I do not expect a body charged with the promotion of equality to discriminate against certain classes of people. It is rather ironic that a launch to promote human rights, excludes certain classes of people, no?

Please treat this as a formal complaint against the EHRC. Could EHRC tell me if it thinks it is discriminating against me for the purposes of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995; and if not, why not.

I shall look forward to hearing from you.

EHRC is so far removed from deaf people its unfunny. Except they cannot see it, because we're on some crusade for mainstreaming equality. Fine in theory, but there lies a central problem with such an approach: to treat everyone the same, is discrimination. Look at any anti discrimination legislation to see this, which is why you get certain schemes such as positive discrimination.

So, if the above is true, how come EHRC streamling of equality is different? Why is suddenly everyone the same from gender right through to disability, on par? Yes I can see its merits, but to also adopt such an approach, means people are starting to fall through the cracks. In fact I don't think deaf people got to the start line. You go to the main EHRC website, and tell me where the BSL is.

There is nothing more I can add, except the webcast is still running as I type this, and still inaccessible. Yep, that's right. I've no idea what the body charged with equality and supposed to be protecting my interests, is saying.

See also:
Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)

March 23, 2009

DCSF Research Funding: Speech, Language & Communication Needs


The Department of Children, Schools and Families currently is open for expressions of interest for their Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN) Cost Effectiveness Research Programme. This is under their aim to "secure the wellbeing and health of children and young people". The closing date is 7 April 2009, and we're told its "half a million pounds each year, making it to 1.5 mill, with possibility to 2 extra years". Further details:

2009030 DCSF: Speech, Language And Communication Needs (SLCN) Cost-Effectiveness Research Programme

Expected date ITT's will be issued by 13-Apr-2009

Closing date for expressions of interest: 7 April 2009

The Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Department of Health are seeking to contract an organisation to deliver a research programme to guide the development of future policy and practice in providing services for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN).

The aims of this programme are to improve the evidence base available to commissioners and policymakers in developing services for children and young people with SLCN by:

" Understanding the cost-effectiveness of different interventions used to support children and young people with SLCN and the factors that influence their efficiency

" Identifying good practice and developing recommendations that can be incorporated into guidance, future policy and commissioning frameworks to improve services for children and young people with SLCN.

The programme should encompass interventions made for all children and young people with SLCN including those with a full range of different primary and in a full range of different circumstances.

This research programme will encompass a number of projects. We expect the organisation contracted to manage the overall programme to work with others who have the relevant expertise and resources to deliver each project, recruiting new sub-contractors in the course of the programme where appropriate.

Expressions of interest should give a short indication of the way in which the contractor will approach the work (up to 750 words) and selection of those invited to tender will be on the basis of submitted expressions of interest only.

Contact details: James Vance, SEN and Disability Division, Department for Children, Schools and Families, Sanctuary Buildings - Area 1E, Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BT. Phone: 020 7783 8265; e-mail:

Length of contract: This contract runs for three years up to March 2012, with the possibility of extension for up to a further two years (2012-2014).

Estimated value of contract: We expect the research programme to cost up to ?500,000 each year (so up to ?1.5m over the course of this contract).

Closing date for expressions of interest: 7 April 2009

Any other useful info.: This research follows-up research commissioned as part of the Bercow Review of Services for Children and Young People (0-19) with Speech, Language and Communication Needs (see This specification is based on the recommendations of that research report (Lindsay, G., Desforges, M., Dockrell, J., Law, J., Peacey, N. & Beecham, J. (2008). Effective and Efficient Use of Resources in Services for Children and Young People with Speech, Language and Communication Needs. DCSF - available at It will fulfil a commitment made in the Government's action plan to improve services for children and young people with SLCN which provided a response to the Bercow Review in December 2008 (

DfES Objective Secure the wellbeing and health of children and young people

Key Research Priority

DfES Project Manager James Vance



We hope this bid would include expressions for British Sign Language, to balance out the intense focus on medical intervention and the speech therapy funding that's in place with this. Note, there is not a single mention of BSL in the Bercow Review, which speaks volumes! So much for BSL recognition, and basic status as a language. Welsh is included in basic speech and language provision. If equality is going to be achieved, then BSL has to be brought into mainstream tendering processes, to raise it into the conciousness of the more mainstream.

See also:
BSL Recognition: Tender Specification from the Department of Children, Schools & Families
BSL Recognition: Tender to Improve Access & Demand for BSL

DfES, Research Website: Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN) Cost-Effectiveness Research Programme
Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN) Action
Department of Health: Better Communciation [PDF]

June 14, 2008

Queen's Birthday Honours 2008

In line with tradition, the Queen's Birthday Honours for 2008 has been published [PDF].

The relevant Orders of the British Empire in relation to Deaf people are:

Order of the British Empire
Commanders of the Order of the British Empire

Dr John Menzies LOW
Chief Executive, Charities Aid Foundation. For services to the Voluntary Sector and to Deaf People.
(West Malling, Kent)

John Low (hearing) was CEO of the RNID until 2007. He was previously Executive Director, Research, Technology and Health at the RNID, responsible for bio-medical and technical research programmes.

Order of the British Empire
Officers of the Order of the British Empire

For services to People with Hearing Difficulties and to the Newbury Spring Festival in Berkshire.
(Stockbridge, Hampshire)

Hearing. Once the Chair of the Board of Trustees at the RNID, features well in a book by Doug Alker, Really Not Interested in the Deaf.

Sandra Anne, Mrs VERKUYTEN
Chief Executive and Registrar, Hearing Aid Council. For services to Healthcare and to the community in London and Essex.
(Brentwood, Essex)

Assume hearing, we don't know anything about her - please use the comment box.

Order of the British Empire
Members of the Order of the British Empire

John Alexander HAY
Senior Lecturer, Deaf Studies, Wolverhampton University. For services to Higher Education and to Deaf People.
(Wolverhampton, West Midlands)

Deaf. A lecturer, broadcaster and involved heavily with the British Deaf History Society, penning many publications.

Jennifer Mary, Mrs SMITH
For voluntary service to Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.
(Tring, Hertfordshire)

We don't know anything about - comments would be appreciated.

Those awards are listed in order of rank, with CBE being the highest. Looking at the explanations offered, it seems to suggest that the position of rank is offered based on national / regional / local prominence, which becomes a sliding descending order scale. The key critical question being, prominence for whom? A wider hearing society, which perhaps does not make it easy for deaf people to penetrate due to various glass ceilings that has existed? Does it not assume a society that is constructed in one manner, through one construct?

As a deaf person, I am always left asking the question, why do we tolerate such a system awards a higher rank to those who many deaf people would claim have oppressed them, yet they get awarded "Services to Deaf People"? Did anyone actually bother to ask deaf people if they've actually been a service when in fact they could have brought nothing but total anguish and misery? Awards for, "highly distinguished, innovative contribution in his or her area of activity", and being a "notable practitioners known nationally". Is this really the only justification for an award?

To quote from the Honours website:

An honour, decoration or medal is a public way of illustrating that the recipient has done something worthy of recognition.


What does worthy of recognition mean? Now Low was earning £100k per annum, and carried out duties in the usual course of a job. So my question is why? Is a mode society praises the voluntary sector, and/or redeems itself towards a feel good factor? Why not award the person who works for no money, at your local Deaf club or on the ground who keeps the links in the chain together, communicates with Deaf people? Is this system actually about leadership? If so, what is leadership?

Whilst any interpretation of contribution is ultimately subjective, surely the group to whom an award is in respect of should be asked? Little does the system able to do enough self analysis to understand that its promoting oppressive attitudes and ultimately underpinning the status quo.

If I was dishing out those honours, it would be John Hay that would get the CBE. Livermore would be knocked right off the list, because history has drawn up otherwise. Did anyone ever bother doing some basic within relevant communities research here?

Ask the Readers:
Do you think the Honours system is flawed? Do the above people deserve the awards bestowed on them? Throw us your thoughts in the comments.

See also:
New Year's Honours List (2007)
2008 New Years Honours
Low: RNID CEO needn't be deaf or hard of hearing
John Low the soap star!
Photo Friday: Deaf Chair Now
Spot the Difference

March 16, 2008

Parliament: Departmental Translation Services

Recently there was a parliamentary question on the proportion of translation services contracted out to commercial providers:

Roger Gale (North Thanet, Conservative)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of his Department's translation and interpreting work is outsourced through framework agreements with commercial providers; and if he will make a statement.

Anne McGuire (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Work and Pensions)

Under the Race Relations Amendment Act (2000) and the Disability Discrimination Act (1995), the Department has a responsibility to make appropriate provision to communicate with customers who do not speak English or Welsh, or who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, or who provide the Department, at our request, legal or official documents written in a foreign language.

The Department for Work and Pensions provides a national range of translation and interpreting services across all of its agencies that include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Use of multi-lingual staff, who are willing and able to interpret or to undertake an interview in a foreign language

  • Face-to-face individual interpreters and signers for local office customers

  • English to Welsh translation for documentation which is partly done by the small in-house Welsh Language Unit and the remainder by external providers

  • Ethnic Translation Services of a large number of written documents in a wide range of languages

  • Written English and Welsh to Braille translation and Braille to English and Welsh translation

  • Formatting of printed documents into easy-read format

  • Telephone interpreting service (multi-lingual)

In order to deliver these services on a national basis the Department for Work and Pensions has established a number of framework agreements via full open tender processes with a number of external providers.

All of the above services are outsourced except for a small number of multi-lingual staff who offer their services on an as required basis within their local office.

One has to ask two questions, how much is demand outstripping supply here and are translation services value for money? Is the government able to look at the bigger picture, and readdress an economics equilibrium?

As a general observation, shame the government can't heed its own legal advice and translated information into BSL or consulted directly on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. Sometimes a lot of this policy is just talk, and no action!

They Work For You

December 29, 2007

2008 New Years Honours

The 2008 New Year's Honours List has been published.

The relevant Orders of the British Empire in relation to Services with Deaf People are:

Order of the British Empire
Members of the Order of the British Empire

Mrs Dorothy Ann Rebecca HEGARTY
For services to Deaf People in Northern Ireland.
(Dungiven, Londonderry)
[Hands That Talk]

Thomas Joseph KEOGAN
Consultant for Deaf Services, Darlington Borough Council.
For services to Deaf People.
(Coatham Mundeville, Durham)

Ms Rose-Ann O'MALLEY
Founder, Talking Hands Organisation.
For services to Deaf People.
(Northampton, Northamptonshire)

Mrs Elizabeth WARD
For services to Deaf and Hard of Hearing People in Northern Ireland.
(Altnagelvin, Londonderry)
[Hearing Therapist at Altnagavin Hospital, Londonderry, Hearing Dogs article, Hearing Concern snippet - page 2]

Additionally, for Services to Disabled People, there was one noticable honour:

Order of the British Empire
Commanders of the Order of the British Empire

Rachel Mary Rosalind, Mrs HURST, OBE
Director, Disability Awareness in Action.
For services to Disabled People.
(Hullavington, Wiltshire)

See also:
[2007] New Years Honours List

May 1, 2007

Lip-Reading Surveillance Cameras in the UK?

Slashdot is carrying a post about Lip-Reading Surveillance Cameras

Now the British government is considering taking it literally by adding lip reading technology to some of the four million or so surveillance cameras in order identify terrorists and criminals by watching what everyone says.

Infowars expands on this:

Computer-based lip-reading technology would help video surveillance systems spot people planning a crime or terror attack by literally watching suspects’ lips for clues. Once it finds someone speaking certain key words or sentences, the system would automatically send an alert message to a central console, mobile phone, or other communications device. Police or security agents could then be dispatched to the scene to question the individual.

Lipreading is difficult enough for humans, thus how does the government expect a computer to do it? A case of artificial intelligence overtaking human intelligence? Has anyone bothered to figure how you lipread the difference between PAPER and BABY for example? Since criminal trials expect a standard beyond all reasonable doubt, how is this going to be admissible in court?

I've got a better idea. If this ever pulls off, how about trying this out on the next generation of speech to text captioning? Perhaps we could expand our access when it comes to accessing some of those spoken language vlogs we are currently unable to?

March 9, 2007

UK Parliamentary Round Up 1

Going to test how blogging about a parliamentary round up might work, perhaps on a regular basis depending if people find this useful or not?

Will take this information from, I encourage you to interact over there. I've subscribed via RSS to appearances made my my local MP for a couple of years, however, as far as I am able to tell you can't get a RSS feed for keywords. Only way of getting keyword updates is via e mail alerts. So old school. Does anyone know if a keyword RSS is possible, and if so how to do it? Whatever, should address this as a matter of urgency (either by enabling RSS, or making it easier to find).

Deaf people and parliament in 2007, to date:

Waiting Lists for audiology: in the south east

Pathways to Work: How many deaf people are registered, and for a statement.

Sign Language Support: sign language support in education, touches on interpreters

Access to Fair Access to Care for deafblind people: if a specific assessment of access has been done in relation to deafblind? Answer: no.

Numbers of compensation for people in the armed forces, who've been made deaf: numbers not available.

Number of deaf people unemployed: numbers unavailable, as not collected by the Labour Force Survey.

Information for deaf people on Disability Equality Duty: says can access information by BSL. (Can we? I've not seen any BSL publications on this, especially during the crucial consultation period). Also states there's an Accessible Written Information Standard. (The fact that its called written, excludes BSL since sign languages cannot be written).

Numbers of defence personnel who have been made deaf in Iraq and Afghanistan: don't know numbers.

Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill: family with a deaf child referred to magistrates by a local authority. Local authority did not state all the facts, and state the child was deaf.

DLA Higher Mobility: available to those who are deafblind.

Special Educational Needs: restriction of speech and language therapists.

Welfare Reform Bill: attitudes from employers re deaf people and employment.

Concessionary Bus Pass Travel: to include deaf people.

Digital Switchover: access to digital television.

Deaf people: interpreters: interpreters in the criminal justice system.

Sign Language Courses: funding for BSL classes has not been withdrawn, and no statistics held re: number of courses.

Children's Rights Survey: includes NDCS being involved. Was this survey available in BSL?

Access to Work Scheme: what is the criteria to assess communication support? Answer: look at cases individually, take into account cost effectiveness. Advisers use standard questions to determine number of interpreters and what qualifications they should have. Government really doesn't get it.

Parliamentary Questions: RSD Cheadle: recognition of work carried out at this school.

Interpreters for job interviews: someone refused interpreters for work focused interviews. Minister will look into.

Audiology services in Northern Ireland: waiting times.

December 4, 2006

2011 census, my take

I'm told its silly season out there re picking up on the 2011 census, and who gets credit. My take: who bloody cares. Its done, just everyone else pull their finger out and campaign for something. Reminds me of other campaigns that take place, and just watching everyone jump on a bandwagon as time moves forward.

The need for accurate figures has been around for years, and something I got into back in 2000 through writing the BSL recognition policy document for FDP. Sat in some pub Islington with Doug (Alker), and we discussed figures and the census. How the census could be a by product of recognition (as many other things), and how there was a need for some decent figures. In the following year, someone works at the National Statistics Office, had warned me about how early questions gets decided thus 2001 was definitely out. I then made a conscious decision to watch this one. Within the Deaf community, people moaned but little action taken.

Away from this, I had been involved with family history research, and naturally taken a keen interest in census returns. Over the last year I have transcribed census returns from 1841 to 1901, in a parish spanning 8 miles by 3 miles, for a one parish study I'm co-ordinating. That's 566 documents of data, and RSI and very sore eyes at the end of it. Through my own family history research, where I've discovered half my family was "Deaf and Dumb", via census returns, something previously unknown to me. (This was a standard question from 1851 to 1901). Too many questions came out of this discovery, re how my ancestors communicated, and who to. In all this, my appreciation and importance of national records grew, and the deep desire to make it applicable to modern times. No such clues were visible via census returns now, and became increasingly frustrated over this.

It was via family history I got the wind of the practicalities of consultation time frame for the 2011 census, and via family history received notification of last year's consultation (even though the need for BSL to be included in census returns had been recommended prior to this). I subsequently posted this on Deaf UK, some 20 months ago. Had I not been involved with family history, and being able to overlap two areas, it would have been a bit more difficult.

Interests can influence each other. This doesn't only have benefits for those who use BSL, but for future family historians. They will get to learn about how their ancestors spent their time, and what language was used.

There's people out there with many interests, and with these interests they can bring skills that can be utilised in other circles, and of mutual benefit. I wish more time was spent merging and transferring these skills, with a vision to do so, instead of doing a lot of banging on a drum and generally complaining.

December 1, 2006

2011 census: question about sign languages & deafness

A test census has been released in preparation for the 2011 census.

For the first time, this includes a question about British Sign Language (Page 6), which asks in relation to language usage:

- No ability
- Understand sign
- Sign

This is a major step forward, and acknowledges that BSL is a language in its own right, it might put to bed conflicting statistics once and for all (only a small number of people use), something that can only be encouraged.

However, here we have a question IN ENGLISH, asking about other minority languages. If the government acknowledges other languages are used in the UK, then it needs to start producing the census in these languages, as it is required to do by law with Welsh.

Where's the BSL version of the census? This could be put online, with a householder code, as an option to respond in BSL. There's obvious questions how to record BSL here.

Whilst other languages have the box to write, it is taking a rather narrow definition of write here. As in pen and paper. Recording (or writing in a broader sense) of BSL has been done in previous decades by video letter, and the advent of the internet allows writing or recording of sign language via vlogs, signed attachments to e mails, and so forth. To exclude this, pushes the assumption that sign language is somewhat of a lesser language.

In addition to BSL, the census allows space for other sign languages, and leaves this field blank. What happens if you know more than one additional sign language, which I can can think a few people might do.

The above was something I pushed for last year at consultation stage, and this is what I posted on an e mail group:

Mon May 16, 2005 11:16 pm

2011 census consultation

An opportunity to push for BSL to be included on the census? I know the Welsh / English / both language question has traditionally been asked in Wales. What about other languages?



Date: May 16, 2005

A consultation programme to identify the topics for possible inclusion in the 2011 Census was launched today by the Office for National Statistics.

A document 'The 2011 Census: Initial view on content for England and Wales' has been published as a focus for the consultation and can be seen on the National Statistics website at:

This provides a first view of what the 2011 Census questionnaire might include for England and Wales. ONS is placing strong emphasis on maximising responses from households and individuals. This might include making the questionnaire less complex and limiting the number
of questions. This emphasis comes as a result of lessons learnt from the 2001 Census.

Reducing complexity could mean significant changes to some questions traditionally asked in censuses, such as people's work and working arrangements.

Some new topics are also being considered. Two key areas are:

* Collecting information on whether people have more than one address or home (a second address) and on visitors present at an address on Census Night. This will improve understanding of how people in the UK live, and, in particular, provide information on those who regularly
spend time at different addresses. This could include children whose parents have separated and people who live away from the family home at certain times for work reasons.

* Income. Information about income in broad bands would be used to identify areas of deprivation to help government when developing policies. A question on income has never before been included in a UK Census.

The consultation deals with potential census topics for England and Wales and similar exercises are being carried out in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

ONS officials will be meeting groups of the main census users during visits to the regions of England and Wales in early summer. Written responses from groups and individuals to the consultation should be submitted by Friday 5 August 2005. Details of how to respond are
provided in the document. The consultation has been designed to allow time for questions to be developed for public testing in 2007.


1. Link to the GROS consultation website:

2. Link to the NISRA consultation website:

The other question is on page 9, which asks if you have "deafness or severe hearing impairment". This is rather subjective, and how many old age pensioners who have been hearing all their life, will end up ticking this box, when they've just got some disposable hearing aid from Boots?

On a positive note, perhaps it will counteract some of the ridiculous statistics that keep flying around, such as the DRC says there's 10 million disabled people in the UK, with that corporate charity saying there's 8,945,000 deaf and hard of hearing.

If there's 8,945,000 deaf and hard of hearing, there can only be 1,055,000 other disabled
including: blind, partially sighted, mental health, wheel chair users, dyslexic, aspergers, autistic, diabetes, epilepsy etc. Right? Wrong?

Parliament debates what will actually be included in the census in 2009. We can only hope that BSL is still included, then roll on to 2011.