Polycom business media phone

24 04 2009

Frances commented on my last post regarding the new Polycom phone which is fantastic for deaf people who use speech and lip read. I have reproduced her comment here as a post, to ensure that it is seen (rather than hidden in comments) as she made several excellent points. Thank you for these – I was unable to hear the video demonstration so you have helped massively.

Frances said -

There are a number of features on the Polycom VVX 1500 PBX/IP phone that interest me as a professional stenographer and lipspeaker. The big one is it time-stamps video and audio recording on an IP platform and that can be archived and retrieved on demand. It has been developed in a way that has considered the needs of deaf people and will not interfere with heaing aids. It has visual indicators if you have a video or voice mail and shows you how many. I have ordered a couple of phones for starters so that I can telework remotely with the public services. This phone is a real dream come true for STTRs, Captioners, court reporters, realtime voice writers, lipspeakers and interpreters. Stenographers have all been waiting for technology to catch up with what the possiblities are for remote unified communication. Our software can handle integration of video. We have audio already, but this is HD audio. This phone can stream content and interact with IP wireless devices and remote fixed HD video conferencing devices for unified interactive multipoint communication, the exciting bit is it is works on a Web 2 interactive platform, so is ready for interactive realtime applications and content that can be streamed to websites via a secure bridge and can interact with big screen multipoint video conferencing systems. Video phones are not new, but what this one can do is unique and will mean a lot of new services and products for deaf and hearing people available on a scale and at a price that will be make it a very disruptive technology.





Phone calls for deaf people are a step closer

23 04 2009

Ofcom are carrying out a comprehensive review of telecommunications services for deaf people. Hopefully this will pave the way for opening up possibilities of implementing new and more efficient and suitable telephone systems that will work with the existing digital networks in the UK. I went to a consultation meeting with Ofcom, along with two other deaf people. The three of us had used captioned telephony and Typetalk, and explained the pros and cons of each service.

The Guardian reports upon the TAG campaign to have a modern telephone service for deaf people in the UK, see HERE for the full article.

It’s very frustrating when you can’t hear on the phone and your option is to get an analogue line installed so that a minicom or Typetalk can function, or use an interpreter to relay your call via an ordinary telephone. I will be be so pleased to be able to, without a second thought, pick up the phone and transfer an incoming call to a colleague, or make a phone call to a number that is likely to have a number of automated options to choose from such as my bank, or make a call without worrying whether the hearing person at the other end will hang up on me or not.

Changing track slightly, a new possibility has emerged. A new phone was launched last week by Polycom, the VWX 1500 business media phone. This phone is interesting as it has IP capabilities, it is able to simultaneously stream high quality audio and video – a potential winner for deaf people. It has a flashing light on the top right corner of the phone and it is possible to save conversations for later recall.

Polycom have a roadshow and will be in London on 14 and 15 May.





Flying Fridays

17 04 2009

It’s Friday evening and everyone heads to the pub. One of the popular haunts of my work colleagues is the cafe at RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art). Everyone wants to chill and let off steam after a busy week. So they head out for a nice relaxed evening. For me, it means more concentrating, more work as I have to lip read and try to understand what’s being said. It’s very tiring and no fun at all at 5pm on a Friday. I’d rather be in a hot air balloon and soar off into the sky with a bottle of plonk and a couple of people to talk to – hey it’s QUIET up there!

The problem at places like RADA is that there are too many hard surfaces – walls, tables, floors, ceiling – which bounce sounds off surfaces. There is too much background noise echoing off these surfaces – people talking, plates, cutlery, glasses, chairs scraping, coffee machine – and the resulting noise is very loud, it’s actually almost unbearable at times. When you’re tired, this is harder to cope with. Hearing people forget that by 5pm, a deaf person is going to be shattered from concentrating on communicating with hearing people all day (unless they work in finance, hiding behind a computer).

The solution?
1) Turn off hearing aids and rely totally on lip reading. Do-able if speaker is clear (not usually!) and I’m not too tired (meaning I can’t keep this up for very long).
2) Find somewhere outside to drink as it’s quieter.
3) Pick a clear speaker to talk to.
4) Make it a very short drink and concentrate very hard on lip reading, ask people to slow down, then vamoose.
5) As a last resort, do the deaf nod. I used to say yes to everything but that got me into a few scrapes! I think a lot of deaf people do this.
6) Meet up with a bunch of deaf people instead. They totally get good communication.
7) Go home. Have a bottle glass of wine. Chill. Properly.





Changes to CEA Card scheme

17 04 2009

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If you’re registered blind or in receipt of Disability Living Allowance / Attendance Allowance, you can obtain a CEA card for £5.50, entitling you to a free cinema ticket for someone accompanying you to the cinema. 90% of UK cinemas support this scheme. You can download an application form HERE. Check if your cinema is participating in the scheme HERE.

There will be changes to the CEA Card scheme from 1 March 2009. All CEA Cards issued after 1 March 2009 will have a period of validity of one year, instead of the current three years. Additionally, a new set of terms and conditions will apply.

CINEMA EXHIBITORS’ ASSOCIATION CARD – NEW TERMS & CONDITIONS

General

1. The CEA Card is issued by The Card Network on behalf of the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association (CEA) and remains the property of the CEA. Any participating cinema operator reserves the right not to honour the CEA Card or to retain it where they have reason to believe it is being misused or used outside of the terms and conditions set out in this document.

2. In applying for the CEA Card, a person is deemed to have fully accepted the terms and conditions set out in this document. Where a cardholder is suspected of wilfully contravening these terms and conditions, the CEA or any participating cinema reserves the right to retain the card pending further investigation.

3. The terms and conditions set out in this document, its use or concessions are not materially affected by the cardholder’s possession of any other disability- or age-related pass or permit.

Terms of use

4. The CEA Card will not be valid unless it displays a photograph of the cardholder. The Card is not transferable and only the cardholder shall be entitled to use it. Any participating cinema operator reserves the right to ask for some additional form of identification from the cardholder. Where it is suspected that a card is being used fraudulently, the cinema operator reserves the right to retain the card pending further investigation.

5. The CEA Card allows the cardholder to obtain ONE free ticket for a person to provide assistance required as a result of the cardholder’s disability during their visit to the cinema, provided that a full price ticket is purchased by the cardholder for the same film. In providing a free ticket for another person to assist them during their visit, the cinema is offering one way of meeting its duty to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for the cardholder under the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act.

6. The free ticket will be provided on the assumption that the person accompanying the cardholder is able to provide appropriate assistance. Illustrative examples of such assistance might include the ability to assist the cardholder in an emergency evacuation of the cinema, accompany and/or assist the cardholder in using the cinema’s washrooms and so on. For that reason the presumption will be that the person accompanying the cardholder should be aged 16 years or over. However the cinema operator reserves the right to make a judgement on the ability of any person to assist the cardholder during their visit to the cinema, and to refuse the provision of a free ticket where it deems it appropriate.

7. One cardholder cannot benefit from the free ticket provided to another cardholder. In all cases, one full price ticket must be bought for each free ticket allowed. The cinema operator reserves the right to make other arrangements for two or more cardholders attending the cinema together.

8. Use of the card is not limited during its period of validity, provided that on each occasion the cardholder observes the terms and conditions set out in this document.

9. Use of this card does not give cardholders any additional rights of entry compared to those enjoyed by non-card holders, apart from those set out in these terms and conditions. Use of the card will be constrained in terms of programming and cinema capacity for a cardholder as they are for any paying customer.

Period of validity

10. The CEA card is valid for a period of one year from the date of issue. This validity date must be clearly legible at all time on the card, as should all other information present on the day of issue. Cinemas reserve the right to not accept or to retain any Card where any details are no longer legible.

Renewal or loss

11. On expiry of the CEA Card, or where a card has been lost, or where it is no longer legible, a full new application, including the administrative charge, must be submitted to the Card Network.

Appeals

12. Where a cardholder has reason to appeal the limits placed on the use of his or her CEA Card, or to question the actions of a participating cinema operator, this appeal will be made in the first instance to The Card Network.

Further information

13. Further information on the CEA Card, including a list of participating cinemas, can be found at CEA Card





Conference: Communication in the Information Age

16 04 2009

EFHOH Congress, London 2009

This year the European Federation of Hard of Hearing People (EFHOH) is holding its’ annual conference in the UK and its’ theme is Communication in the Information Age. The event will focus on opportunities to achieve equality in communication services and will look at the political effort necessary to bring about better communications networks. They will also look ahead to see what technologies may be empowering deaf and hard of hearing people in the future.

RNID members, and their friends, are invited to come to the events conference on Saturday 25th April. It will be held at the Park Crescent Conference Centre, the nearest tubes are Great Portland Street or Regent’s Park, admission is free to RNID members and just £10 for non-members.

To register for the event
Please go to Communication in the Information Age Conference 2009 and complete the online form. Alternatively ring 020 7296 8280 (voice) or 020 7608 0511(text) to speak with one of the RNID team who will register you for the conference.





Bus problems?

15 04 2009

If you have problems getting access to buses because you have a hearing dog with you or simply because of your hearing loss (I do get some offensive drivers), here’s a useful site called Bus Users UK, which you can complain to.





Captioned telephony in France

13 04 2009

A bit of international news! France will now have video relay telephony, provided by Viable and Websourd.

Way to go!