Archives for April 2010

Wednesday 28th of April BBC2, 1.00pm

SH Line Producer | 17:18 UK time, Wednesday, 28 April 2010

In today's programme we meet Julie Wixey, a deaf carer looking after hearing people with dementia.

For the past 2 years Julie has been working at Rivers Meadows, a residential care home in Kineton, Warwickshire and her deafness certainly hasn't stopped her making a real difference.


As a Deaf sign language user Julie is unique among the staff at River Meadows. She is able to communicate with hearing people with dementia through her use of body language and visual communication. And the residents just love her!


Now her dedication and commitment to her work have been acknowledged in her nomination for a 'Carer of the Year' award. ..

'See Hear' was there to find out and witness yet another surprise that was in store for Julie!



We also attend the first British Sign Language Islamic sermon to take place in a mosque outside London.

Sadaqat Ali first set up the Islamic Charity Al-Ishara in London in 2007 to help in facilitating Islamic education to the Deaf community by interpreting sources from the Quran, from the Hadith, into British Sign Language.


Now he wants to see it help people in his home town of Birmingham, so that deaf Muslims no longer have to grow up without a connection to their own Islamic identity within the family.

'See Hear' joins Ishtiaq and Kerry Hussain and their family on the day of the first signed sermon at Green Lane Mosque in Birmingham to find out how they feel about this landmark event in British Muslim history, how it might be a turning point in their lives as practicing Muslims and whether the event was a success.


Signed sermon will now be held every Friday at Green Lane Mosque, 20 Green Lane, Small Heath, Birmingham B9 5DB.


If you are interested to find out more, please follow this link 


Signed sermons also happen in London every Friday at the London Muslim Centre, Whitechapel alongside a range of Islamic courses.



And we accompany deaf tinnitus sufferer, Zoe Cartwright, on her journey to discover what developments have been made to tackle the condition that affects her and others throughout the UK.

5 million people in the UK suffer from tinnitus and although the condition can have a severe effect on people's lives only half a million of sufferers seek medical help.


Zoe lost a major part of her hearing at the age of three and then, on a scuba diving trip at fourteen, she lost the rest what little hearing she had left. Then the tinnitus started...


Although Zoe has dealt with her tinnitus effectively for the last twelve years she's now embarking on a journey to discover if there may be any alternative options open to her.

She is giving acupuncture a go, finds out about conventional medical advice and visits a self help group to find out what fellow sufferers have to say about living with the condition.


For more information on any aspect of tinnitus, please follow this link

Wednesday 21st of April BBC2, 1.30pm

SH Line Producer | 17:01 UK time, Tuesday, 20 April 2010

On today's programme we take a special look at the British Deaf Association, which this year celebrates its 120th birthday!

Memnos catches up with speakers and guests at the prestigious 4-day Congress in Bournemouth and See Hear joins in the celebrations.

The theme of this year's congress is the 'Deaf time-machine', which celebrates the achievements of the BDA to date and also looks ahead to what the future might hold for the BDA


We meet Peter Jackson of the British Deaf History Society (BDHS) to find out what he personally considers to be the BDA's most significant achievements over the last 120 years:

We hear about how the BDA was campaigning for the right of deaf people to get car insurance back in 1931 to how sign language was finally recognized in 2003.


If you want to find out more about British Deaf history, please follow this link


There's also another chance to see rare and extraordinary footage from the 1930s from the early days of the BDA - detailing the daily lives of association members from a bygone era. 


The film reels were accidentally found by a Polish builder when he was renovating a house. He found the reels, which were hidden for 70 years, amongst rubbish, and took them home.

Eventually they were passed on to the deaf community. This proved very important as it gave deaf historians and people who work with deaf people an amazing insight into the lives of the deaf community back then and how it has changed since...what they wore, how they signed and communicated, their attitudes and behaviour.


And we meet with Terry Riley, who is the current chair of the BDA, to see what his vision for the future is.


During its 120 year history the BDA's core aims have remained the same, predominantly focusing on the Deaf education of Deaf children.

Language has become important, as has looking at children's language development, identity and culture. Other aims are BSL recognition, advocacy, media, access to work, DLA etc.


Although the BDA's number one aim is still education, Terry feels that the BDA, like the deaf community, is going through many changes.

In the past the BDA predominantly worked through deaf clubs and deaf schools. But with deaf people having become more autonomous, new strategies on how to reach the community have to be developed.


If you want to find out more about the BDA and their latest news, please follow this link




Wednesday 14th April BBC2 1.30pm

SH Line Producer | 17:51 UK time, Wednesday, 14 April 2010

On today's programme we met deaf carpenter, Steven Heard. Although he's struggling to find full-time employment he's putting his carpentry skills to good use, keeping up his own spirits and raising money for a variety of charities.   When Steven left school he started an apprenticeship with a builders learning carpentry as his trade. He quickly qualified and even started his own business.  But business has slowed recently due to the recession so he and his wife have had to make tough decisions like selling the house.  To keep him busy and take his mind off work problems Steven hand makes toys, more specifically wooden vehicles.  It takes him about 3 days to make a lorry, a day and a half to make a dumper truck, and 2 weeks to make a campervan due to the detailing.  As they're hand-made they sell for over £100.  Steven would love to turn his hobby into a business but again in the current economy it's difficult.  He gives some of his toys to charity so that they can raise money for good causes. 


We caught up with parkour enthusiast Max Powell.  He first appeared on See Hear in 1985 when he was just three years old.  At that time he had recently been fitted with a cochlear implant.  We found out how his parents' decision has shaped his life over the last 15 years and why he has taken up the adventurous hobby of free running.  It's known as 'parkour' the French word for 'the art of moving' - it's a non-competitive sport and trains the body to use efficient movement and is very physically demanding.


If you're thinking of taking up parkour then please make sure you contact an established group.  For more advice about parkour, or to find a qualified instructor, or an accredited club please follow this link:


We also found out if it's possible to teach a computer to lip-read and what would be the benefits if you could...?  Along with sign language, lip-reading is one of the most common ways for deaf and hard of hearing people to communicate.  Learning to lip-read is difficult as it's not just about recognising the different lip shapes; we look at, or 'read' the whole face.  Some letters for example look exactly the same on your lips e.g. "b" and "p".   See Hear visited a lip-reading class at WarwickshireCollege to ask students how they were getting on with learning lip-reading.  It's one thing teaching humans to lip-read but could a computer learn?  A research project at the University of East Anglia has been doing just that.  It's a purely scientific project at the moment but there could be practical applications.  One area they have been looking at is how humans compare with the machine in terms of accuracy.   The university machines are really only capable of reading a small vocabulary.  When only lips were shown speaking words the computer was more accurate than a human as it was able to read simple shape information.  Humans had to see the full video of someone speaking in order to lip-read.  If you remove context from sentences, body gestures, and head movements etc, it's very difficult, if not impossible for a human to lip-read.  John Cassidy was born profoundly deaf and works as a professional freelance lip-reader.  His work ranges from spotting football players' rude words for lads' magazines to watching CCTV footage for the police and attending court as an expert witness.  He's had many challenging cases.  For him, a human lip-reader can never be 100% accurate, it's believed that the most you can accurately read is about 60% as you miss some of the words and have to fill in the missing gaps using context to create the sentence.  John believes technology is assistive; a lip-reading computer could compliment and support a human-lip reader.



Wednesday 7th April BBC 1pm

SH Line Producer | 17:13 UK time, Wednesday, 7 April 2010

There was magic and music in the air on this week's See Hear... Memnos tried to learn the tricks of the trade from magician Johnny Fantastica.  But could he magic up a performance good enough to wow the very discerning pupils of ElmfieldPrimary School for Deaf children?  Though Johnny Fantastica, real name John Gapp, became interested in magic at school and has been practicing magic for years, he tells us he's still learning.   In 2008 he won a prize at the Society of the World Deaf Magician's Championship in the Merlin category which is aimed at the more mature magician.  He finds performing for a deaf audience more challenging, deaf people are much more visual, they look for the trick!


We met the child prodigy who is taking the classical music world by storm.  He composes, conducts and plays the clarinet and does not let being partially sighted and deaf stand in the way of achieving his ambitions.   Seventeen year-old Lloyd Coleman is a musical star in the making.  His works have been highly commended in the BBC Proms Young Composer's competition and he's an accomplished clarinettist and a member of the National Youth Orchestra.  As a baby it became apparent that Lloyd's vision and hearing weren't as responsive as they could be.  He has nystagmus which means he has problems focussing his eyes, and he's also fully dependent on hearing aids.   Yet from a very young age he showed an interest in music, despite no family musical connections.  He was quickly enrolled in music lessons.  At the age of 14 he won a place at Chetham's School of Music in Manchester where he's continued to thrive.  Lloyd's determined to be known as for his music and not the hurdles he overcomes to make it.

We also took a horticultural trip around the world when we visited the Eden Project in Cornwall and met a deaf gardener whose passion is for growing a particularly peculiar and smelly plant.  Developed on the site of a former clay pit, the Eden project is now a world-renowned conservation attraction.  Tim Grigg is a deaf horticulturist and has worked at Eden for the past eleven years.   He'd always wanted to be a horticulturist since he was a child when he was in his Dad's greenhouse pulling out all the little grasses not realising they were leeks.   Tim mainly deals with the care of tropical plants, looking after the titan arum in the Tropical biome.  The titan arum plant flowers on average every thousand days and only stays in flower for around 48 hours.  It's also known as the corpse flower as it produces a rotten smell similar to a dead rat or dead fish.  The Eden project will also be building and showing a garden at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show in London in late May.  Their garden will be the biggest that Chelsea's ever seen, 3 times bigger than the standard show garden.  You'll be able to see the garden on the BBC's coverage of the Show, but Tim's titan arum is not expected to flower until 2011.



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