Thursday 28 July 2016

Deaf Girly and subtitled LIVE iPlayer

OK, so regular readers will know how much I rant about lack of accessible content online. Things like out of time subtitle on a programme that aired two days ago and was pre-recorded – There's No Such Thing As The News – although to be fair, the @iPlayer peeps on Twitter were great at sorting that out.

Or subtitles that quite simply aren't there on some days – which is the case of my favourite Australian soap opera on Channel 5 – on writing to them, I was assured that these were problems that they hoped to iron out in the future.

I've got around the live TV problem at home with a clever dongle in the back of our computer which then attaches to the TV arial and creates a primitive digibox service of sorts (And yes, we have a TV licence). It's good – although the sizing is sometimes wrong and the subtitles start in the middle of the screen and come out the other side, which is really quite distracting and tests your speed reading abilities.

However, the app for this gadget is only available on my log in for the computer so when FJM is logged in, he will live stream the BBC from iPlayer.

The other evening as I was making my salad for the following day's lunch, he had live BBC one on and I was watching along and laughing to a repeat of Mock The Week. I laughed along for about 10 minutes, while washing tomatoes, chopping chicken and putting a pan of quinoa to boil on the hob – yes that sounds unbelievably tw*tty but it's cheap and filling and I'm broke at the moment.

About halfway through the episode FJM and I looked at each other and had a sudden realisation – I WAS LAUGHING ALONG TO A PROGRAMME HE WAS STREAMING LIVE OVER iPLAYER... and it was then we both noticed the subtitles, which I had been reading for the last 15 minutes, without realising.

iPlayer went and got live streaming subtitles and I didn't now about it!

But that's awesome news right?

I had a look on the iPlayer website and sure enough it says:

'We’re also trialling subtitles on our live TV Channel streams. Currently, they’re only available in Flash and on our HD streams (so computer browsers only). We hope to improve the appearance and roll it out further over the coming months. Only our England, Northern Ireland, Scotland & Wales (Nations) streams are HD capable. You can change region from the location selector at the bottom of the page.'

Amazing huh?

I always get incredibly excited about things like this because it means that new technology is arriving, people are finding affordable ways of incorporating it into existing services and hopefully a whole area of inaccessibility will soon become accessible.

So thank you iPlayer – thank you for leading the way. Please now tell all the other channels how you did it and let them do it, too. It's better to share after all, isn't it?

Happy Thursday peeps


Wednesday 20 July 2016

Deaf Girly and the cinema

Regular readers will know that I love going to the cinema but rarely go due to the lack of times and venues showing the movies I want with subtitles. And I know I am not alone in my plight.

Recently, I've been keeping quite erratic working hours which rather brilliantly means I've been able to attend the 3pm screenings of movies with subtitles, but with my working hours now returning to normal, I'm back to needing evening screenings. And they are rare as hens' teeth.

Like most of us, YourLocalCinema is my go-to website for subtitled showings and when the new movie Absolutely Fabulous arrived on the big screen, I was desperate to go. The first week, there were no showings local to me – or at a time I could make.

I tweeted Vue to ask whether they would be showing any subtitled showings of Ab Fab and to be fair, they were great at getting back to me. They asked me where I wanted to go, and I chose a massive cinema complex, thinking that the many screens would mean at least one could be given over to subtitles for the evening.

And they tweeted back to let me know that there was as subtitled screening at 6.45pm in the evening one day this week. Who goes to the cinema at 6.45pm? Who runs out of work at breakneck speed and legs it, without a drink or any time for dinner to sit through a two hour movie?

Well apparently, cinemas think that deaf people do. But not this deaf person. All I want is to go to the cinema in the evening. About 8pm or later, so I've got time to come home from work, have a bite to eat, buy some extremely calorific snacks and head off to see a movie with FJM. A proper date night. An evening out.

And so, while staking out the YourLocalCinema website, I have finally found a cinema that has put on a showing at a civilised 'date time' – that's not a mad dash from work, and that will hopefully sell calorific snacks in abundance.

Hopefully this week will be the week I get to watch Absolutely Fabulous. More than two weeks after it opened at cinemas. Hopefully it will be Absolutely Fabulous.

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Wednesday 6 July 2016

Deaf Girly and the tax man Part 2

I am now in year three of doing my self assessment for HMRC – having never done this before in my life, I liken my capabilities to that of a Year 3 school child, but one that needs extra coaching at every turn.

When I decided to quit my job, rent out my flat, become and au pair and write a book, I didn't envisage that the most stressful thing in all that would be filing my yearly tax return. Oof, the paperwork, oof the maths, oof the organisation of keeping everything in a folder so that you don't drop any figures, receipts, numbers or important details that might risk one of those very stressful letters from the HMRC saying they're investigating your self assessment.

Year one of my self assessment was a complete success. Why? Because I discovered – via one of my amazing Twitter pals – that you can email HMRC and organise a face-to-face appointment with them at a nearby location to your home address.

So this was what I did – read all about that here. And a patient man talked me through all those boxes I needed to fill in, all the things I needed to say yes or no to and then explained why I wailed at him, why I had to put MORE money on account after having just paid my tax bill.

Last year I thought, hey, I got this so didn't bother to organise a one-to-one and tried to answer all my own questions myself, which obviously was never going to go well seeing as those little question mark blobs on the self assessment form are about as much use as a chocolate teapot – only less edible.

I filled in everything and hit send. And I got a tax rebate. Marvellous eh?

Until three weeks ago when one of those very unmarvellous letters turned up saying my tax return had rung alarm bells and they thought I owed them quite a bit of money complete with interest and a rather nice fine for my stupidity.

And it turns out that the tax man is rarely (most likely never) wrong.

So after parting with ALL my money – bye bye summer holiday – I fired of an email to the peeps at HMRC to request a meeting regarding this year's tax return and also so I could ask them just how I stuffed up so incredibly on last years. And also to ask whether they would consider waving the fine – I figured the last one couldn't hurt right?

Within 20 minutes I had a reply. Within one hour, I had an appointment confirmed for just five days later. And yesterday, I made the short 15 minute journey to the serviced office where the HMRC man awaited me... and my file of paperwork, and my slight hysteria over self assessment.

He was brilliant. He checked my file and confirmed that my prompt payment of my outstanding balance meant that my additional fine had been waived! HURRAH! He talked me through just what I'd done wrong. He went through all my many printouts and details and answered all my questions far more efficiently than those little clickable question marks and I left with a near complete tax return and the reassurance that there was NO black mark against my name for last year's stuff up.

And so today, I filed my self assessment for 2015/2016 and parted with yet more money. But hopefully with the confidence that I will not have to part with any more money after this or get one of those letters again.

I can't recommend this service enough. It doesn't take the place of an accountant if you have a complicated self assessment set up. It doesn't take the place of learning how to do it yourself. But what it does do is provide the same support that you'd get at the end of the phone if you were a hearing person. But without the tinny hold music and endless wait to speak to someone, which I think means that deaf peeps have a better access option than hearing peeps don't they?

Happy Wednesday peeps


Monday 4 July 2016

Deaf Girly and 4th July

Eighteen years ago today, two of my favourite people got married. On Independence Day. The very best date for those two people.

It was amazing. It was hot and sunny. Everyone was happy.

And I played my flute during the signing of the register. It was one of the last times I played my flute in public. And it was definitely the best time.

Sometimes you live specific days and don't realise the significance of them at the time. That day is one of them.  A day where everyone was happy. Even Pa who got more than a couple of parking tickets on his car. Even the happy couple who could have paid for their honeymoon with the bill for the cigars. And even the guests who had to sit through the most insane 15 minutes of interpretive singing ever.

Happy Anniversary you two. I love you.


DeafGirly: How I feel about being deaf at work

It's been a whole year since I posted a blog on here. Life's been happening. And I guess I am no longer 'deaf in the city and ha...