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Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Question Time: When Victoria Met Richard Benyon MP

Last Thursday, our director Victoria Williams had the opportunity to attend a Business Breakfast event with our local MP, Richard Benyon. Benyon is a Conservative MP and represents Newbury, so the event gave local businesses the chance to air issues whilst also looking for his support. Here’s what Victoria had to say.

I had already pre-empted this discussion with Richard during Deaf Lobby Day back in March. So for us, this was the perfect time to to go into detail on two of the main agenda items that are affecting Deaf people.

CSS National Framework agreement for Interpretation and Translation Services 
You may be aware that there is a current tender opportunity to be a part of a National Framework for Interpretation and Translation.  This opportunity is open to both Spoken Language Agencies and Sign Language Interpreting Agencies and has various ‘lots’ – some to provide all languages and others to provide specific contracts for Sign Language Interpreting.
This is something that is definitely happening and organisations will be able to bid for this at the end of November 2014 – this month!
While it’s exciting stuff, one main issue with this tender is that there is no stipulation for NRCPD registered Communication Professionals.  This is a great concern to the industry – not using trained and registered Communication Professionals could have serious repercussions on the deaf community.
There was a boot camp event as part of the Consultation process, and a number of organisations voiced the importance of NRCPD registration being added. So we are hoping that these recommendations will be listened to and acted upon in the final tender documents.
Meeting Richard Benyon was the perfect opportunity to further stress the importance of NRCPD registration for the CSS Framework.  This was a point that he noted and we hope that his backing will go some way in ensuring this detail is included.

Access to work scheme
As you’ll have seen, Access to Work is another ‘theme’ at the moment that has gained lots of momentum and publicity (rightly so) as well as support from the deaf community, deaf organisations and the Interpreting profession.
I really wanted to take the opportunity to stress that, while we understand that the spending on Deaf peoples support needs may outweigh other groups, reducing the funding available would be hugely detrimental to the community.  I explained that the reduction would mean that Deaf people would not have access to the high level support that is necessary. In many cases already, Access to Work teams and authorising budgets that are lower than the rates of the freelance Communication Professional!

This has impact on many levels:
  • Communication Professionals are being told to reduce their fees due to the fact that an Access to Work adviser has suggested a rate of £22 per hour for a Qualified BSL Interpreter (RSLI)
  • Rates for Communication Professionals will only continue to be pushed lower and lower due to competition
  • The Deaf person will be unable to find a Communication Professional to work with them on such a low hourly rate
  • A busy Deaf person will be unable to choose an agency due to low funds and have to self-arrange freelance Communication Professionals
  • Businesses like ours not being given the opportunity to provide any services within Access to Work budget restraints

Richard’s clear message to these concerns was that this scheme is currently under review and during this process recommendations are being considered.  If these concerns are not represented in the findings – then this is the opportunity to raise these again.
This was an excellent opportunity to speak with an influential political figure, and we hope it went some way to justifying why Access to work funding MUST NOT be reduced!

We would really like to hear your views on these issues, or how you’ve progressed any discussions from Deaf Lobby Day! Let us know here or by responding to our post on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

5 Famous Deaf People who Changed the World

Believe it or not, some of the greatest accomplishments in our world’s history were achieved by Deaf people.  Past and present figures from the arts, science and literature fields have gotten to the top with hearing loss, and created the most incredible work that is enjoyed today and will continue to be enjoyed for decades to come.

We’ve put together a list of the 5 most influential Deaf people, some of whom turned deafness into an advantage. These may surprise you!

1. Ludwig Van Beethoven

Who was he: Arguably, Beethoven is the most famous Deaf person on our list. He was a German pianist born in 1770, and is regarded as the Greatest Classical Composer ever.

Deafness: Beethoven started to lose his hearing at the age of 26, with a suspected disease called typhus (lead poisoning). And by the age of 52 he was presumed to be completely deaf. However this is when he produced some of his most important works. As his hearing got worse Beethoven struggled to communicate with people. The biggest challenge for him was conducting and performing in concerts as he couldn’t hear when the music stopped and the audience applauded.

Biggest achievements: Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, composed after he’d lost his hearing, is considered one of the greatest classical pieces of all time. Other notable pieces include Fur Elise, the Fifth Symphony and the Moonlight Sonata.


Who is he: Real name William Adams; he is an American rapper, songwriter, entrepreneur, actor, DJ, record producer and philanthropist. Born in 1975, he is best known for being part of the Black Eyed Peas, managing and collaborating with Cheryl Cole and being one of the main judges on The Voice UK.

Deafness: Will developed tinnitus in the early years of his life due to exposure to loud prolonged music. Tinnitus generates a constant ringing in the ear; once the nerves in the ear are damaged it is incurable. Having this condition can produce serious pain and the noise is said to be worse than chalk scraping on a blackboard. People who suffer from this condition tend to surround themselves with noise all the time to make the ringing easier to ignore. 

Biggest achievements: With Black Eyed Peas; he sold 31 million albums worldwide, earning himself three Grammy Awards. Will has worked with Michael Jackson, Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus, and appeared on X-Factor, American Idol and The Voice UK. He studied Design and Merchandising and has released several clothing lines.

3. Thomas Edison

Who is he: Thomas Edison is considered the most famous American Inventor of all time. Born in 1847, Edison is best known for inventing the light bulb, phonograph and Motion Picture.

Deafness: Thomas Edison had hearing problems from childhood and was thought to be completely deaf by his early teenage years. The cause of his deafness is unknown; although it did run in Edison’s family. Edison saw advantages of being deaf and enjoyed that it helped him concentrate on his work.

Biggest achievements: One of Edison's most remarkable achievements is the invention of the lightbulb, which he ensured would light a home for hours. Secondly, he designed and developed the system of electric power to generate electricity to homes, businesses and factories - a crucial advancement in the Modern Industrialised World. Edison also produced the phonograph, which was used to created motion pictures. Edison worked on it for 52 years and it’s said that this was his favourite invention.

4. Helen Keller

Who is she: Helen Keller, born in 1880, was a Famous American educator, Political Activist and writer of twelve inspirational books.

Deafness: Keller contracted an illness at 18 months called ‘Brain Fever’ which left her blind, deaf and mute, but she developed a limited way of communicating and created a basic form of sign language. Keller began a relationship with a woman called Anne Sullivan who became her guide and mentor, teaching her finger spelling and other ways of communicating.

Achievements: Keller was the first Deafblind person to achieve a Bachelor of Arts degree. She became a writer and communicated with millions of people across the Globe. Keller was also the founding member of the first organisation to support Blind adults, where she visited and gave hope to war veterans and blinded soldiers. She will be remembered for the endless work she did around the world for people with disabilities.

5. Jane Lynch

Who is she: Jane Lynch is an American actress who is most famously known for the award winning TV series Glee. Born in 1960, she is completely deaf in one ear.

Deafness: Lynch found out she was deaf in one ear when she was seven years old whilst playing a hearing game with her brother.  Jane’s hearing loss was caused by nerve deafness suspected from a very high temperature when she was a baby. Jane’s ear is stone deaf meaning hearing aids were not an option. She was determined to overcome her disability and made an exceptional career for herself in Film and Television.

Biggest achievements: Lynch has starred in some of America’s most popular shows and movies, including Friends, Glee, Desperate Housewives, West Wing, Wreck it Ralph and the 40 year old virgin.

So... are you surprised?! These five people all lived with hearing loss to varying severities, and were all game-changers because of their genius. As we write this, in a well-lit room, Edison seems perfect proof that deafness is no barrier to changing the world. It is in how the individual nurtures their brain, curiosity and creativity that enables them to achieve great accomplishments in their life.

So ask yourself this: How can you change the world, today?

We hope you enjoyed reading this. Who is your Deaf hero? Please share! And we’d love to know your thoughts on this post...J

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

5 Apps that can Change the World for Deaf people

It’s been a huge year for advances in technology for the deaf community, making access to the hearing world more possible than ever. At terptree, we have brought you many of the latest innovations via our social media channels. However, as there is very little you can say in a tweet, we’ve decided to review 5 of the most recent inventions so you can see what is useful for you and what can change your world!

   1. RogerVoice

What is it: RogerVoice is a multilingual app that has been designed for people who cannot hear on the phone. It can be installed onto a smart phone or tablet letting you use the application to make calls. It works by using live text transcription, letting you read what the other person is saying in the form of text. It was created by Oliver Jeannel who was born profoundly deaf. His ambition was to create an app like this, leading to him quitting his job at the age of 33 to make it happen! 

What do we like about it: RogerVoice is a very useful app and could potentially change the lives of deaf people. It makes it easier for deaf people to get in touch with others via the phone. Everyday general and business tasks are made easier by just allowing you to receive and answer a phone call! It allows you to connect with your social community in the way the world does, leaving you feeling involved and not isolated.  The RogerVoice team is working on new features for the app, things such as translation, text to voice and a few other elements to develop the app even further.

How much: RogerVoice hasn’t been launched yet but has achieved its kickstarter goal. This means it’ll soon be an app ready to download.

   2. The Uni

What is it: The Uni is a tablet that enables deaf people to have conversations with hearing people. It is a device that that uses motion sensing technology to convert sign language into speech, and speech into text.

What do we like about it: We think it could have a huge impact on deaf people’s lives.  However there are some disadvantages... The Uni has limited vocabulary and slow speeds which might leave it less appealing to the deaf community. It is also only currently programmed for American Sign Language. However, the technology is the magic of the device, and opens up the accessibility to other Sign languages. Will this catch on?

How much is it: This tablet will be made available in the US firstly, and will retail at $800 (approx. £500) 

   3. MyEarDroid

What is it: MyEarDroid is an android app which aims to assist the hard of hearing community in their home environment.  Once this app is on your phone it will alert you, through vibration or text, about various sounds going on around you, for example if the doorbell goes or the telephone rings.

What do we like about it: The great thing about this app is that it can be personalised to what sounds are relevant to the user.

This app sounds pretty useful right? We think it has a wide audience appeal and has the ability to be used on an everyday basis. It helps with simple things and important things which makes it appealing to a wider range of people.

How much is it: Amazingly, this app is free to Android users.

   4. Google Glass

What is it: Google Glass is a revolutionary device that you can wear like normal glasses.  You can video record with it, and even run against virtual celebrities with it. However one of its genius apps is ‘Live Captioning’. The glasses use speech recognition to help deaf people see the words being spoken by the hearing person, right in front of your eyes!

What do we like about it: This device is incredibly useful for the deaf community as it transforms speech into text in such a clever way! However will people feel comfortable wearing headwear technology or will it make the device less appealing?

How much is it: This device costs £1,000.

   5. Mobile Sign

What is it: MobileSign is a great app for British Sign Language learners. It’s a free app available on the iPhone and Androids that allows you to search a dictionary of over 4000 signs. To make things easier it automatically keeps a list of the recently viewed signs.

What do we like about it: We think this app could be really useful when communicating or working with deaf people. It’s a quick and easy tool to use which makes things simple for beginner signers. This app has the potential to go wild! But is it everyone’s cup of tea?

How much is it: This app is absolutely free!

In a nutshell there is so much technology out there for the deaf community! Our personal favourite is RogerVoice. We think this app has extraordinary potential and has so much passion behind it. The fact you can use it on your phone makes it easily portable wherever and whenever.  It’s available on a round the clock basis and is multilingual! 

We’ve enjoyed bringing you this post and seeing the potential these apps have in changing the world for Deaf people. We’d would love to know what apps you’ve come across and how your experiences compare to these ones! 

Let us know in the comments below! Thank you for reading… :)

Friday, 29 August 2014

BSL Professionals love our ‘Employment’ Webinar!

If you are one of terptree’s Communication Professionals, you’ll know how we love to take care of you! Last night, we ran our first of a series of webinars to provide BSL Professionals with the toolkit necessary for many workplace domains. Last night was ‘Employment’, and the feedback we received was excellent!

Uhh, what is a Webinar ? (Yes I heard you)

A webinar is a web-based seminar. It can be a presentation, lecture, workshop or seminar and it is transmitted over the web.  This means you can watch it anywhere, as long as you have a computer with internet access… and of course a link to access it!

Terptree are one of the first companies to run these for Communication Professionals, and we’ve done this based on feedback from a recent survey which showed that you’d prefer to learn at home than travel to a location that could be hours away!

Our webinar series, entitled Wednesday Webinars (last night being an exception!) gives Interpreters, lipspeakers, Speech-to-text reporters and  Notetakers some great info on what to expect and how to work effectively in these settings. Have a look our full list of webinars here.

Our Webinar subject last night was the domain of 'Employment', run by Wendy Ledeux and here is some of the feedback: 

"Very useful thank you"

"Lovely presentation, very clear thank you Wendy :-)"

"Thanks for this Webinar, first time for me and thought it to be a very good experience"

"Thanks Victoria and Wendy.  I have enjoyed my first Webinar and look forward to attending some more"

Victoria Williams, Director of terptree and RSLI said that there were many things that she would take away from the Webinar presented by Wendy (pictured above).

"Thank you for your excellent Webinar Wendy, your suggestions of rick lists for new clients along with the idea of selling the benefits of prep to the Deaf person so that they can see how it will benefit them throughout the interaction was great!  Also a great insight into what can be achieved through using backchannelling."

If you want to view a recording of the Webinar - we can send you it! Just get in touch with us at or call us on 01635 886264.

Additionally If you want to sign up to one or all of our Communication Professional Webinars, please check out the full list of domains and dates here!

You won’t be disappointed in what you will learn! :)

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Communication Professional of the month July 2014 - Kay White!

Communication Professional of the month 
July 2014

Kay White

 Kay White photo

Another month on and another amazing Communication Professional!

Very well done to Kay for winning Communication Professional of the month July 2014!

Kay is a Registered Sign Language Interpreter and has been chosen this month because she is an Interpreter who has only recently started worked with us, but has consistently received great feedback from a whole range of bookings undertaken.  We felt that this was excellent and made a real impression on our team.

We feel that Kay is a real role model for others who are about to start working for terptree, so well done Kay!

This is what Kay had to say "Thanks very much for choosing me for July's Communication Professional of the Month! It's a real honour and means a lot to me.  It's the most exciting parcel I've had for ages plus I've never won a trophy before!
Many thanks again, and thanks also for the lovely words in the card :)"

So we now have our seventh Communication Professional of the month and maybe August 2014 it will be YOU!     

Monday, 14 July 2014

The Facebook craze that has swept the online Deaf community!

If you are Deaf or have Deaf friends and/or relatives, you will have noticed that a craze has swept the Deaf community on Facebook. If talk of this “craze” is news to you, you’ve come to the right place to find out what it is!

So what is the craze in a nutshell?

The craze is called ‘Nomination Drenching’! Deaf people are posting videos to Facebook tipping buckets of cold water over themselves. 

Usually the video depicts the person (normally in this order)
a) thanking [sarcastically?] the person who nominated them 
b) mentioning the charity/group who they are drenching themselves for 
c) nominating a deaf friend or friends to drench themselves within a certain time frame (i.e. 24 hours) and finally...
d) The self-drenching commences!

So how did this craze start?

It began in New Zealand last week and became extremely popular. However as soon as it hit our shores, the deaf community adopted it and owned it for themselves.  You will now see members of many community sites, i.e. The Tree House, posting self-inflicted drenching videos on their Facebook page.

Even terptree’s director, Victoria Williams and her husband have gotten in on the action. You can see her clip below.

So should you embrace it?

Whether you think it’s daft, trivial, mocking or condescending, it’s fun! And is definitely raising awareness.

As the ‘no make-up selfies’ proved, we all enjoy seeing something that a) is borderline controversial and b) raises awareness of a cause or charity. And this ‘Nomination Drenching’ craze is an terrific way of getting attention, as long as it people do not go over the top.

A fatality occurred in New Zealand after a man had a cardiac arrest following a “heavy drinking session” and a “bucket of ice tipped on his head” which goes to serve as an example that extreme conditions should be avoided! 

In short, 'Nomination Drenching' should prove to be a safe, amusing and fun way to boost recognition for the deaf community and the issues people face!

So just one more thing... you've been nominated!

Get filming and have fun! :)

Thursday, 10 July 2014

UK star John Barrowman goes Deaf for the Day

Whether you know him as Captain Jack from Torchwood, or mistook him for an American sounding Hugh Grant lookalike, John Barrowman MBE is a popular and well-known British TV personality. This week, John did something significant for the Deaf Community.

John Barrowman has performed in theatre, dance, film and television programmes over the last two decades and is well liked in the UK. Recently he decided to go 'Deaf for the day' as part of a filmed study that delves into the difficulties of being deaf. 

The video firstly depicts John having gel moulds inserted into his ears, leaving him with a 60% hearing loss. What follows is John's gradual withdrawal into himself, his increased feeling of isolation, and his pained frustration of being ignored and treated differently. It is a very powerful and poignant examination of life as a deaf person.

This week he appeared on Good Morning Britain, where he presented this video account and talked about it with the show's presenters. You can see this clip below.

John Barrowman's video experiment has become a visibile headline in this week's news, given John's high profile status in the UK, doing wonders for deaf awareness and the profile of Hearing Dogs in the process. 

John remarked on his hearing dog, Robyn "Having a hearing dog gave me back my independence, made me feel safe when out in public, and best of all, this clever dog provided me with wonderful companionship to alleviate the loneliness I had felt.”

You can also read John's blog here:

Hope you enjoy!