User research with people who are deafblind: it makes Sense by Joanne Schofield

The lovely Simon Hurst​ has shared yet again another link (on behalf of his colleague) with the Tree House dwellers in the hope that we could all share it, comment on it and help them to perfect PIP that bit even more so.

“Often the people who need to use government services the most are those who find it the hardest to do so. They don’t want to interact with us – they have to.

I’m a Content Designer with the team building the digital Personal Independence Payment (PIP) claim, a benefit for those who have difficulties as the result of a health condition or disability.

We want to make the digital PIP claim as effective as possible and I make sure what we write meets the needs of the users clearly, simply and quickly. If you’ve seen the existing paper application form for claiming PIP, you’ll appreciate this is no mean feat.

I recently joined our user researcher, Simon Hurst, at Sense, a national charity that supports people who are deafblind. Deaf-blindness is a combination of sight and hearing loss that can affect a person’s ability to communicate, access information and get around. There are about 250,000 people who are deafblind in the UK, many with varying degrees of vision or hearing.

We met with five deafblind users to get their views on how we could improve our latest version of the digital PIP claim….”

Please visit and comment on the *original source* to read the rest of her entry. Thank you very much.

Joanne Schofield -content designer, DWP

Joanne Schofield – content designer, DWP.


We Can Do Everything Except Hear? By Mervyn James


More grist to the ever-growing mill of deaf independence and the myth that it actually exists. Savage cuts to UK deaf and HI support are throwing out of work what jobs deaf people were able to get, and removing hard-won hard of hearing financial support and back up, because they are labelled the same as those cultural deaf despite not using same systems or communications or allude to a culture.

Much anger is being seen recently online over UK ‘gestapo’ state attacks on support to get deaf and disabled into a job, with the main Minister showing real signs of clinical schizophrenia, and the UK media targeting the poor and disabled as a drain on the workers, most of whom are claiming extra welfare support to top-up their wage, because UK Employers won’t pay them a living wage to live on, indeed, the low-paid employed are the primary recipients and dependents of the welfare state at present… not the disabled the elderly or the deaf.

The assessment of need process is seriously flawed, primarily, the issue of hearing loss is non-applicable mostly to any impingement on your physical state. It’s a sensory loss. Most of the early issues revolved around the DWP using physical testing/assessment to determine how your hearing loss affected that. E.G. if you can talk or lip-read, you aren’t deaf, so a fraud, if you can walk you aren’t disabled, so again a fraud, a scrounger, taking money from hard-working taxpayers etc…   Regular checks were made to ascertain IF, your hearing had returned every 12 weeks…. As a result most deaf got nothing at all, now it’s reverting to that again.

It’s prejudice from the rabid UK media mainstream and major human rights abuse and discriminations from the system. It is not helped by ‘Deaf’ people insisting:

(A) They aren’t disabled, and

(B) They can do everything except hear,

So they are taken at their word and will get no allowances for it, or allowances they did get, are now being removed or cut. I hope they can cope with what they wished for, others cannot… We are all deaf but we aren’t all caring about others with it. Which is fair enough for those who manage, but is visibly being attached as a stat view to those others with hearing loss suffering real hardship and getting deprived of support as a result of a very curious belief, deafness is no issue for deaf people, and everyone else makes their life difficult.

This is a core issue of major dissent between cultural deaf (By far the BIGGEST group of deaf people getting financial allowances and needing support), and the HI others who are getting pilloried because the DWP says nothing is wrong with them. Awareness never worked and still doesn’t plainly. The irony of the last statement seems totally lost on most, how can you be culturally deaf and independent without  your support? and support, costs money. Do they understand the word ‘relative’?

Definition of relative:  Something dependent upon external conditions for its specific nature, size, etc.

We only have to look at recent UK A2W issues to see who has claimed the most that way, hardly suggestive deaf are not needy, not disabled, and in no need of help either. They benefit by far from state help, for sure they would know real hardship without  it, and funding underpins their cultural output too.

There has to be a fight back, and an acceptance deafness and hearing loss IS a real issue that blights lives, destroys families cuts you off from life, from friends, from work, destroys self-worth, leads many elderly into their twilight years totally alone and isolated, makes some suicidal, if not the financial means to cope with those things at least a recognition of those facts needs to be accepted by us all. Families don’t help each other much anymore they lead busy lives are struggling themselves so are leaving deaf and HI to the vagaries of state help, which actually isn’t there any more.

Obviously money is an issue wherever you are, but the underlying assumption we don’t have any issues to address, is a killer in more ways than one. We all know what follows pride too…

By Mervyn James

Thick Skinned by Sensory United.

I subscribe to this page which is called “Sensory United” and they have kindly agreed to let me share their posts with the Tree House to help inform people. Their posts are quite humbling.

Here is their latest one:

“I do like to make people laugh by virtue of cracking a witty one liner or telling an amusing anecdote. However I do not really enjoy making people laugh simply because they find my sensory loss funny. Tonight in a Weatherspoon’s in Cardiff, I sat with my girlfriend. We are both deafblind; my first language is English and she prefers BSL. We are minding our own business and talking to each other through sign and speech. Then Mr and Mrs Fugly (fictional names) sat down and within minutes were rinsing themselves laughing. Presumably my attempts at sign and my girlfriend’s speech were hilarious to them. They made a big point of looking at us and doubling up with laughter. I was so embarrassed for them. It must be awful for their parents to have to look at what they spawned and let loose on the public. I felt like giving them a sympathetic hug and a lolly – how awful it must be to be them. I am proud of our sensory loss identity. If people don’t like this they can go back to their caves and consume White Lightning until they pass out.”

By Sensory United.

To visit their Facebook page please follow this link.

Thank you for taking the time to read.