Friday, July 24, 2015

Deaf Communication Choices in Hospitals

Imagine this:

You are pregnant. You know what it is like to give birth. You are deaf. You ask hospital in advance for a live on site interpreter for the birth. Hospital says no. You sue. You lose because hospital convinces a magistrate that video remote interpreting (VRI) is good enough.

Despite reports in news that they will give you a live interpreter when the birth happens you are forced to have VRI. AND the VRI fails as you are giving birth!

You are having surgery. Then at an important time before surgery, in recovery, or in the hospital room, VRI fails.

You are in the emergency room. Right when it's needed the most, like during treatment or post-treatment instructions and discharge, VRI fails.

There is no backup and the hospital refuses to call for a live interpreter. All attempts at getting the medical people to write are failing.

Just how unacceptable are these scenarios/situations?

According to the National Association of the Deaf position statement on VRI, "If a deaf person uses sign language, hospitals should provide a qualified sign language interpreter..."

Seems there's no consensus in the courts about what "effective communication" actually means.

There's a petition going around related to the case mentioned above:

Bethesda Hospital East: Apologize to Margaret Weiss and Respect Deaf Patients' Needs!

Use this hashtag in social media and Twitter! #DeafChoice

Friday, May 22, 2015

Uber Isn't A Public Transportation Service?

First it was NYC with too few accessible taxis, then the mayor claiming that the taxis were a hazard, and now this...

Uber, Lyft, and other similar ride-sharing organizations, are claiming that disability laws do not apply to them.

Uber: Disability Laws Don’t Apply to Us

Say what? What are these guys smoking? Can I have some?

Uber IS a transportation service, not a "technology" company, because it's similar to a car service and taxis. All of them use a vehicle to take a passenger to a requested destination. Denying those with disabilities, or separating them from the non-disabled crowd, is still discrimination. Maybe they'd be a "technology" company if they used a teleporter, but no such luck.

No matter what, Uber's UberWAV and UberASSIST programs should be like how other taxi companies are set up, with the vehicles being used for disabled and not, and treated the same way without being charged too much more.

Want to know something else? Uber's also flooding the job boards with listings that say something like these:

"[job title] - Need to Earn More Money? Join UberX as a Driving Partner Today!"
"Having Trouble Getting A [job name/title/type] Job? Have A Flexible Schedule As An UberX Driving Partner Instead!"
"Entry Level Job Not Paying The Bills? Join UberX & Have a Flexible Schedule Driving Your Own Car."
"Make up to $xxx this Weekend in fares Driving Your Car. Join Uber Now!"

Personally, I'd avoid them til they clean up their act.

Monday, May 18, 2015

What Purple Should Have Done With The Relay

As I've said before in a previous blog post, there were things that Purple could have done that would have been easily programmed. Before I continue, those who ported their numbers to Sprint had to present a drivers license or another form of ID with their address on it including something like a utility bill. I will bring this up again soon.

Over time, I was wondering and thinking about how Purple could have better done their internal protections against the abuse that was being done. To refresh everyone's memories:

Here's Why Purple's in Deep DooDoo!
FCC Did Not Require Monitoring of IP-Relay Calls

What could Purple have done? Plenty! Their non-action led to the death of their IPRelay services, to them discontinuing it, over the FCC's responses. Think of what Sprint did in order to port our numbers over. Here's what Purple could easily have done. I'll be making reference to an "abused number," which would be a number that was used to place fraudulent calls. Four things they could have done:

1. The abused number would be deactivated and not reactivated until the owner would present some form of ID.

Our relay numbers are basically accounts with Purple. Unfortunately, the way Purple set things up, they shot themselves in the feet with a cannon by not requiring some form(s) of ID like Sprint did.

2. The new number would not be activated until owner would present ID.

Some accounts out there are not activated or given full access until a second action is done, like receiving an email with a URL which validates the new account to a degree. Others go further by requiring that plus ID. This is how Sprint protected themselves against the ongoing abuse from moving to their systems.

3. A database of IPs with "associated numbers" or numbers that were most often associated with that IP with notes.

Many help desks and customer service have "notes" which are associated with the customer's account. In this case, the frequently-abused numbers would be entered into a database together with the IPs that were associated with the incoming calls. This way, if a new number was created that was replacing the disabled one, this was a way to help the service keep on top of things. The only issue with this is that IPs can be spoofed but a good searchable database will still give some usable results.

4. Giving the operators more power.

This was probably THE most biggest complaint of all operators, not having enough power to stop or prevent the calls. Help desks and customer service had more power than this. There were forums and websites that talked about this including some Facebook posts.

So, Purple, can you do it?

We need our AIM relay back! The web interface isn't doing the job right.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Live Long and Prosper - Spock

Up to his passing, Leonard Nimoy had a longing for knowledge and learning, which he included into his Star Trek character Spock. It was fun at times to watch Dr. McCoy and him clash, calling him a "green-blooded Vulcan," with his classic eyebrow raise. That Vulcan salute and quote "Live long and prosper" has become ingrained in all of us.

Star Trek has always had something going for all of us, even those who barely watched the series, if at all. It aroused interest in the stars and science out there, even getting people to clamor for their own versions of devices seen on the series. From the communicators, we got cellphones. From the padds we saw Captain Kirk write on, we got tablets. From warp speed, we get the wanderlust of wanting to go further out in the stars without it taking so long. From the transporter, we want to spend a longer vacation without the time it takes to get there. From the phasers, come laser pointers and various uses of lasers in the military and commercial/private sectors.

From the Enterprise, both starship and space shuttle, we want to be able to go where no one's gone before.

Two of the best quotes from his character Spock can be found in two Star Trek movies.

In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, in the reactor scene after he saves the ship, his final words to Kirk were "I have been, and always shall be, your friend." He says it again at the end of Star Trek III: Search for Spock after the ceremony, "I have been and always ever shall be your friend."

Powerful stuff. Classic scenes and excellent quotes. Brought many a tear inside and out of theaters. Star Trek's not going to be the same without him, McCoy, or Scotty.

His final tweet on Monday - "A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory."

His place is in the stars somewhere on a Genesis planet.

Live long and prosper.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Case for AIM Relay - Part 2

Many of us have had our personal relay numbers switched or ported to Sprint IP Relay. Their procedure was more strict than Purple's was, in terms of our having to provide some forms of ID to prove who we are. Why couldn't Purple make more of an effort to reduce the fraud calls? It would have been a much more simpler effort to do.

When I mentioned the medical part of using my number in my previous post, this was a very serious use after a very serious major surgery. Suppose trouble happened to me post-surgery? Say something like a doctor needing to contact me and quickly about some health-related issue from the surgery and couldn't, thus possibly leading to more serious things happening? Or maybe I had another infection. I could easily have come down legally on Purple, with them being legally responsible for what happened to me due to their behavior and actions.

Sprint IP Relay is web-based as we all know. In most cases, that's not a problem. Calls can be made and received on it and the font size and colors can be changed, which is great for those with vision issues. But, there's another issue in terms of incoming calls. Unless you're actually watching the page, it's VERY EASY to miss a call.

In my case, I have missed EVERY SINGLE INCOMING CALL, except for one. There is no blinking window like many instant messengers have. Every web browser I've seen doesn't flash the page. All it does on that page is darken it and show an incoming call popup that's not very noticeable. Very easy to miss if you're in another window. That plus how many other calls were received before this one?

Yet it would be easy enough for them to create a popup window that would display as an alert in front of everything else displayed to the user. So why haven't they done this?

Jobsearchers and medical are possibly missing out on important calls. It gets worse if the caller just hangs up without leaving a message. I'm not the only one who may be missing calls. It may result in employers just calling the next person on their list, and that next person may get the job instead of me because I couldn't answer quickly enough! This is what hurts our jobsearch abilities.

It's not enough to be the "only game in town." It's too easy for that provider to just stop services. Fortunately, TDI and the FCC are working towards getting more text relay service providers.

Again, shame on you, Poople, for your actions.

FCC;s current list of Internet-based TRS Providers

Update 3-10-2014:

I had a recruiter call me earlier. He said

"I tried calling your phone but it directed me to a dispatch center."

Then a bit of time later, I got another call from someone else, saying that they weren't sure if they reached me. But of course, no wonder there's so much confusion due to Sprint's answering announcement.

"Sprint IP Relay operator XXXX one moment while I connect your call"

Poople had a customizable answering announcement which allowed you to put your name in there.

So, in short, Sprint Relay is screwing us over in two ways... The first is the difficult if not impossible to catch incoming calls and the answering announcement.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Looking back on 2014

This was a much better year than 2013, which was a rather stressful year. Graduating was the high point.

2014 led to many more improvements. I was finally able to get started with jobsearches in mid-January. A few interviews came up including one gov't interview. With this gov't interview which was 3 weeks after the surgery on the right hip, even though I asked for an interpreter, I didn't get one. Still wasn't quite the same even though all the questions posed me were on paper. But when the interpreter coordinator heard about it, she passed it on to a couple other people. From what I last heard, up pretty high. It was about 3 weeks later that I had a second chance at interviewing with them, and made the best of it.

I had an internship with Sprint from June to August, right after I went from walker to cane. Though I used the wheelchair to get to and from my workspace, I used the cane at times to get to a meeting room or someone's cubicle. That impressed my two supervisors and it showed on my final performance appraisal. I managed also to improve one of their badly-written documents by updating it with better descriptions and screenshots.

But it was also the entertainment industry where we lost a number of well-known people.

Perhaps our biggest loss was Robin Williams, what with his madcap style of comedy. We knew him from Mork and Mindy, and I believe it was his oddball audition performance that got him the part. Probably one of his best quotes, and he's right...

"You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it."

And probably one of his best - "O Captain! My Captain!" and "Seize the day!" from Dead Poet's Society.

Thank you, Robin, for being around.

2015 should be a better year for me, health-wise and my jobsearches.