Terptree is an award-winning business full of deeply passionate people who care about creating social change and truly educating and empowering deaf and hearing people. We provide deaf people with relevant knowledge and skills so that they can better access all of the opportunities in the hearing world!
New and evolving technologies inevitably lead to companies producing more innovative products. This is because these innovations add new features to their products and can often lead to better learning opportunities.
The most recent innovation has come from Instagram who have enabled users to caption their Instagram Stories videos. This automatically allows deaf people to access the videos.
Innovations often come from customer behaviour. And in this instance, the need for captions on Instagram in Stories is mainly down to people watching videos from their mobile devices without sound. In fact, research shows that 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound. This makes perfect sense, as many people use mobile phones ‘on the go’ and don’t necessarily want people to listen in too!
Here are some more interesting stats on video:
YouTube has over a billion users, that’s almost one-third of total internet users
45% of people watch more than 60 mins of Facebook or YouTube videos a week
More than 500 million hours of videos are watched on YouTube each day
72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every 60 seconds
Over half of video content is viewed on a mobile device
92% of mobile viewers share videos with others – and that includes deaf people!
One-third of online activity is spent watching video
So you have to consider, how can deaf people share your content if it doesn’t have subtitles?
If you forget this crucial step, you’re not able to communicate your message to one in six of your audience.
The move towards captioning being used as best practice, is great news. It will undoubtedly enhance deaf people’s access to information; whether that be for personal or professional use.
And even aside from providing access to deaf people, captions also offer better access to those for whom English is a second language.
It’s interesting to note however that most TV adverts are not yet captioned.
Yet research conducted by AdColony in 2017 analysed two versions of adverts from Bose, Disney, Sony Pictures and Volvo. One had subtitles and one didn’t; the subtitled versions showed positive results.
In fact, the results showed an increase of almost 10% for awareness KPIs ((key performance indicators) in movie and entertainment campaigns when subtitles were used compared to when they were not. And when they looked at intent to purchase, some adverts achieved a 26% boost – and one technology product campaign saw a 23% increase in communicating key product features when using subtitles.
As we can see, subtitles, or captions, not only directly benefit more than one in six of the population, they also improve brand awareness, intent to purchase and customers’ understanding of key product features.
So it could be a good idea to make a plan for adding subtitles to all your online video contact – whichever platform you’re using.
Registration with an NRCPD requires us as BSL/English interpreters to complete 12 hours of structured and 12 hours of unstructured CPD, enabling us to keep up with the advancement and development of our education and continue to enhance our skills.
When I first became a registered interpreter, there was no mandatory CPD requirement. But I, along with many others, would eagerly attend courses to learn more; and also network with other like-minded interpreters.
Being based in Berkshire, a train ride into London is a real benefit as most of the courses are held in the capital.
Over the years, more courses by ASLI, Interpreting agencies and freelance interpreters started to be offered across the UK which naturally correlated with the mandatory completion of CPD in 2012, with the publication of the CPD handbook in 2015.
Despite the emergence of more courses, it has long been a challenge for interpreters to find the right opportunities for learning, which is why the team at terptree found ourselves looking at how learning can be achieved in a more impactful way.
Don’t worry, this article is not to sell you the benefits of undertaking our training sessions! Just an overview of the journey that CPD has taken over the years.
Our team recognised online learning was being used a lot in many other areas and professions. For example, in business, you can access webinars for all manner of topics either by attending ‘live’ or receiving access to the recording after the session.
We took this model and shaped it to work for our profession, by starting to offer evening webinars on each domain interpreters worked in. We contacted well respected, experienced and knowledgeable interpreter trainers and ran weekly Wednesday webinars.
We are super proud to have been the first to launch this range of online training and at the time had no idea that what it could lead to. Up until now, there has been a lack of access to training – often due to location, dates, times or cost.
By providing CPD in this way, we were removing all these barriers and offering flexible interpreter education.
When we launched our live webinars, covering a wide range of topics, they cost only £10 (!) These 90 minutes of training would include a one-hour presentation and 30 minutes of Q&A.
Our aim from the start was to make CPD more accessible. To solve a problem and ultimately to move our profession forward.
This training model has been a real game changer for interpreter training in the UK, making it easier for interpreters to enhance their skills.
I also believe it has enabled interpreters to learn about topics that, due to previous limitations, they would not ordinarily have attended a course for. But now, with a flexible way of training being delivered, interpreters can learn about new topics, without it being expensive.
For example: learning about mental health. As interpreters, we never know what we will face when attending a booking. I have been in difficult mental health situations many times; such as interpreting for a GP appointment when the subject of medication for mental health issues have been discussed, (I’m sure you can relate to this!). But I have also experienced such discussions in the workplace and many other areas.
So, you may not want or choose to work in mental health but can find yourself being in a situation where this knowledge would be useful.
As Sir Francis Bacon famously said, “Knowledge is power”.
Taking this example into consideration, we are now in a position in this technologically driven age to learn about anything we want to.
CPD doesn’t have to be about playing it safe with a tick box exercise. It can be an activity that drives you to seek out challenging topics.
Areas that stretch us intellectually and emotionally can often give the most opportunity to create massive growth. So why not consider pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone and allowing this regulation to lead to a shift in your professional and personal development.
When you think about your first day at work, it already makes you feel full of trepidation. Not knowing what to expect or whether you will fit in with your team. You also want to believe that the job that you’ve wanted for so long is all that you expected it to be.
I remember this feeling well on the first day of one of my jobs. Since I’ve spent the majority of my life either self-employed or running a business, it was also one of the few posts I’ve had!
In reality this first day for me was one that would trump all others for stirred up feelings and emotions, and also for my learning.
The BDA, if you don’t know already is the British Deaf Association a charity formed in 1890. It followed the failure of an 1889 Royal commission on the education of deaf children and to consult deaf people. The charity has the aim of “elevating the education and social status of the deaf and dumb in the United Kingdom”.
Before I started, I already knew that a large proportion of the workforce were deaf sign language users and since I already use sign language, I felt excited about my new role. I was ready to use the language I had come to love every day of my working life.
This could mean I felt a level of confidence (not too much mind!) and didn’t really anticipate what this reality would feel like.
On arrival at the offices I was greeted by the receptionist (which would soon be my role and responsibility) and was asked to wait for my manager, who’d introduced me to the charity. I thought nothing of this, seeing it as entirely commonplace for this to happen. Then my Manager Michael introduced himself in sign language!
Now, in my naïveté and general lack of thought, I hadn’t even considered I would have a deaf manager. I knew I would be working for a charity where I would use the language daily but hadn’t contemplated this eventuality; and what that would mean for me.
Michael told me about his role, the charity, my role and many other things. To be entirely honest I actually understood around half of what he was telling me on that day.
He took me on a whistle-stop tour of the building, showing me where each department was and telling me what they were each responsible for. And again, despite my intense concentration I found myself walking away from each department feeling that if I needed to make contact with anyone, I would have no idea how.
In these departmental introductions, he fingerspelt (a functioning BSL which is to spell the names of people, places and unfamiliar new words) the names of each of the individuals at the charity. I nodded enthusiastically throughout, not wanting him to know the truth – that I was lost in all of this information. I was feeling overwhelmed.
Ordinarily, a first day renders this feeling, due to the enormous change that you’re embarking on. But it wasn’t that feeling. It was a feeling that I had my induction but missed so much information; and it would be extremely difficult to ask for this information again.
I was concerned that if I did, it would look like I hadn’t paid attention during the induction. And I felt that this lack of understanding (despite it being shared) would have looked like I was the type of person that needed to be told everything more than once. This could quite easily lead to my employer believing they had hired the wrong person.
I went home after that first day feeling exhausted, drained and concerned about my future and what I had thought was my dream job.
I wondered if every day would feel the same. Would my skills and BSL improve to the point that I could understand all that was said?
All of this was an unknown and added to the stresses of that honeymoon period. I loved the job, the charity, the team was super supportive, but would I keep up? Could I secure the position I had been looking for?
Over time, things became easier. But it was still leading to extreme tiredness at the end of every day, despite me being only 19 years old.
The consequent immersion in BSL moved forward my language acquisition immensely and after a short while I found my groove. My inner confidence in my ability and my second language developed, both of which enabled me to succeed in my role.
It was only years later that I would come to realise that what I had actually learnt on the first day of work.
I had experienced what a deaf person goes through in every new position they start in.
The misinformation, worrying about asking people to repeat things, feeling different from others in the team, already looking forward and wondering how long the pretence can be kept up.
The parallel experiences have stayed with me ever since, informing and influencing my understanding of what deaf people experience; not only in the workplace, but when accessing all areas of life.
It’s a lesson we could all do with experiencing, as often it’s only by going through something similar yourself that you can truly put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
Four Weddings and a Funeral first hit our screens in 1994 and featured a deaf actor; David Bower, playing the part of Charles’ brother (Hugh Grant).
The fact that such a well-loved film featured a deaf actor is still talked about today. An excellent opportunity to showcase a deaf character who is strong and assertive; which was relatively forward thinking for the early ’90s.
We saw Four Weddings and a Funeral return in a 15-minute Comic Relief special, featuring all our most loved characters from the original film.
David once again used his cheeky style to guide his brother towards a more refined ‘Father of the Bride’ speech at his daughter’s wedding.
But one of the most discussed questions in the deaf community as well as in our profession as a whole is whether it is better to have deaf people featured in high-profile TV and movies and it to not be perfect, or have nothing at all.
Of course, there are always conditions where things work best. Having deaf consultants involved in the process to make sure the best decisions are being taken; including deaf actors and scriptwriters: and ensuring that the right language is used throughout.
For example, in the recent Four Weddings and a Funeral special, there was no interpreter present at the wedding for the speeches. For someone who has a deaf brother and who uses sign language (as in the Hugh Grant character), would this be a realistic representation of that situation?
I guess the other question is, does it matter if this isn’t an accurate representation of what real life is like for deaf people? The fact there was no interpreter present at the speeches is something that we as BSL interpreters or members of the deaf community will notice, question and consider. The general public, who don’t have an understanding of these deeper issues – are gaining exposure to sign language in a way that is portrayed inclusively.
With deaf people and deaf characters becoming more and more prevalent in today’s media, TV and film, I believe that this is an area we need to continue discussing and developing our thoughts about – and also continue to influence and encourage those who are showcasing their talents.
I appreciate that in this article I’m asking a lot of questions without providing answers! However, I feel that your response to these questions somewhat comes down to your life experiences to date and your beliefs about perfection. It’s certainly an interesting topic and one I think we will be discussing more.
Despite my husband very rarely going to see our local GP, he received a GP patient survey through the post. As a society, we are all pretty time poor and for businesses and organisations trying to gain much-needed feedback, this is a challenge.
Every time you buy a product, you are asked to give feedback. Whether that’s after you’ve finished your transaction in-store and are offered the chance to win cash or a voucher for filling out feedback forms; or buying a product online and being asked to give feedback after your first purchase.
Most of the time you are asked between 1 and 5 questions (five at the absolute most), as businesses know people are unlikely to give feedback if they ask any more than this.
So back to my husband’s GP patient survey. Spread over eight pages with 63 questions, exceeding all the unwritten rules about gaining feedback!
Interestingly enough, this survey has been awarded the Crystal Mark from the Plain English Campaign. The things that they look for when awarding the Crystal Mark are:
A good average sentence length (about 15 to 20 words
plenty of ‘active’ verbs (instead of ‘passive’ ones)
words like ‘we’ and ‘you’ instead of ‘the insured’, ‘the applicant’, ‘the society’ and so on
clear, helpful headings with consistent and suitable ways of making them stand out from the text
good font size and clear typeface
plenty of answer space and a logical flow (on forms).
The focus here with the Plain English campaign is clearly language use, but the reality is that there are 63 questions in total. Whether the individual questions are using plain English or not there is a vast quantity of questions. These could be overwhelming and inaccessible for the audiences for whom plain English is necessary.
If we look at it in a practical sense first of all – very few people have enough time to sit down with a questionnaire and answer 63 questions. There is a high likelihood that they will get a very low response rate; which means there is no real insight gained about a cross-section of their audience.
The number of questions asked creates a barrier for a range of audiences: including deaf people, those with learning difficulties and those with mental health problems. The potential lack of response from these patient groups could mean that the very patients that need higher levels of support aren’t able to feed that back into the NHS in a way that is useful and conducive to influencing change.
However, it looks like they have tried to tackle this challenge when it comes to deaf patients in particular, by offering a BSL version of the survey. On the website, there is one page at: http://www.gp-patient.co.uk/bsl, where if you scroll down the page – you can watch the twelve different BSL videos explaining the purpose of the survey and why it has been sent to people. This does not tackle the sheer volume of questions, but simply offers a different way of accessing the content.
It’s also difficult to see what they are looking to gain with the feedback they receive. As questions range from: how easy it is to get in touch with your GP practice on the phone; to how helpful the receptionists are; to whether their website has useful information and whether the appointment times available are suitable. And mixed in with those basic questions are more complicated ones such as queries on a patient’s long-term physical or mental health conditions, disabilities or illnesses.
It really does highlight the need to consider your outcome and what you are looking to achieve with a questionnaire or feedback form. And on the other side of that, understanding who you may be excluding by doing things a certain way. I am sure that this was never the intention of the NHS survey, but I can almost guarantee it will be the reality.
British Airways traces its origins back to the birth of civil aviation including the world’s first scheduled air service on 25 August 1919, by Aircraft Transport and Travel Limited (AT&T), a former company of today’s British Airways.
To celebrate this centenary, British Airways is celebrating the best of Britain. One of the ways they’ve done this is to make an advert that showcases the “brilliant people of Britain who make us who we are”.
In the 90 second version, we see 12-year old profoundly deaf nonidentical twins, Natasha and Rhianna Cullen featured signing the word “trouble”.
It was fantastic to see deaf sign language users included in such a historic film, despite being a very short snippet.
The visibility of deaf and disabled people in the media can subtly educate viewers and these messages are given much further reach than they ever have before.
Customers need to relate to the businesses they deal with and see that they are represented in the services being provided; including their marketing and their workforce. This offers allegiance of the feeling of belonging.
Deaf people have long felt like a marginalised group and the opportunity of coming into the spotlight more brings not only more awareness but also offers more opportunities to engage with brands.
I recently attended the Business Disability Forum Annual Conference where there was a panel of next-generation change makers and innovators. It was both interesting and exciting to listen to their opinions on the impact social media has made on disabled people’s lives. Whether that’s being inspired by other disabled people; or sharing experiences on channels such as YouTube; they offer a way to speak your truth and share your thoughts. Once again it demonstrates the power that video media has in today’s society, and how we can share our message to millions of people with a click of a button.
We can also see from British Airways’ example (and many more) how businesses are now taking the lead and putting disability at the forefront of their message and therefore our minds. And by doing so are opening up their products and services to a broader global market worth $8 trillion.
And it’s when businesses start to recognise the financial incentives and are not doing this only from a corporate social responsibility standpoint, that we will begin to see real change happen.
I was invited to attend the press night of in the Willows on Wednesday 10th of April at Oxford Playhouse Theatre. This was dubbed as the “Explosive new British musical, with soaring vocals and spectacular street dance, starring Olivier Award winner Clive Rowe, deaf Street dancer Chris Fonseca (The Greatest Dancer) and Seann Miley Moore (X-Factor).”
With only one deaf cast member, it was difficult to know what to expect in terms of inclusion, how each of the characters would communicate and what that would mean and feel for the audience, both hearing and deaf.
What was clear from the start, is that this performance would be made accessible through the use of a British sign language interpreter throughout, working seamlessly alongside the cast, interpreting the full meaning, and mood of the music, rap, dance and language. Laura, was moving to the beat of the music, giving the deaf audience an understanding of the music style and speed. What was also interesting was how they used the lights on the interpreter – it really complemented the lighting used on stage.
When Chris Fonseca first arrived on stage, it was to the song ‘All things bright and beautiful’, in which all of the cast were singing along to. Chris turned to one of the other characters and signed “I’m deaf, I don’t know what they’re singing!” This, interestingly, gave a side adage to the deaf audience, that the hearing audience who don’t use the language would have missed. It was a great addition, creating a representation of deaf people’s experiences in real life.
There were also songs throughout where British sign language was used to enhance the theatrical experience. An example of this was in the lyrics, “read the signs”, which the whole cast signed together.
The considerations that had been made to make the performance inclusive had, in my view, gone way above the ordinary. It really did highlight the day-to-day experiences of a deaf person in society. Conversations were natural, not interpreted – making the whole flow feel much more naturalistic.
What is interesting to see is even when Chris was not on the stage, some of the cast members were signing “4th floor” – which would suggest that they were so used to having a deaf person around (as part of the storyline), that signing just happened naturally.
In addition to what was a super accessible performance, Chris Fonseca came alive performing the intricate choreography in his solo dance piece. When he moved onto his signed wrap, the voice-over was incredibly tight which made the whole presentation smooth and streamlined.
At the end of the performance, there was a beautifully produced section full of harmonies which were both signed and sung. The different layers to the harmonies were sung and signed by various cast members layering on all of the parts to create a truly original and inventive piece of theatre.
What was very clear was that not only was the performance entirely inclusive, but was also highly enjoyable for all audiences. On the press evening that we attended, there were very few deaf people, but the hearing audience as a whole seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed the enhanced experience that was offered by creating a hearing and deaf ensemble.
Four weddings and a Funeral first hit our screens in 1994 and featuring a deaf actor; David Bower, playing the part of Charles’ (Hugh Grant) brother.
The fact that such a well-loved film featured a deaf actor is still talked about today. A great opportunity to showcase a deaf character who is strong and assertive; relatively forward thinking for the early 90’s.
We saw Four Weddings and a Funeral return in a 15-minute Comic Relief special, featuring all of our most loved characters from the original film.
Here we saw David once again guiding his brother towards a more refined Father of the Bride’s speech at his daughter’s wedding, using his cheeky style.
We have come a long way since this 1994 film’s debut of a key deaf role in a popular film. Just last year, we saw the short film The Silent Child, featuring a deaf child, win an Oscar and at the end of last year, a deaf British actor appear in the box office hit; Bohemian Rhapsody.
It is a delight to see deaf actors not only appearing in deaf storylines, but within mainstream film and TV.
There have however been films throughout the years featuring deaf characters that have been played by hearing actors, which has caused quite a controversy within the deaf community.
Last year a film called The Silence was released about a deaf girl battling monsters. The decision was taken by the film’s Director, Leonetti to cast a hearing actress, to which afterwards he said: “She’s flawless like she’s been signing her entire life. She seems to have an almost innate sense of what it’s like being a deaf person.”
Well-known deaf actors spoke out about the lack of authentic casting for this film, when there is plenty of deaf talent to choose from.
There is an interesting mix of those Directors who seek to create an authentic experience and those who put forward a tokenistic deaf character, with little understanding of the reasons to seek deaf talent into the role.
Deaf actors have been included in films as far back as 1932, in a 60-minute documentary featuring the German deaf community. This film aimed to give the German public a positive perception of the capabilities of deaf people but was banned by the Nazi’s in 1934 as Goebbels, the Minister of Propaganda didn’t want the positive perception promoted.
In another film of this era, the topic couldn’t be more different. And now tomorrow was released in 1944 with the main storyline focused on curing deafness.
An interesting contrast in storylines and it shows that the differences in approach that occurred post war are still prevalent today.
I wonder where we will see a deaf actor taking centre stage again…