Our six month study, “Mental Health Wellbeing for Deaf Young People through Digital Technologies” which we undertook alongside Deaf Aspirations has been featured in the Henley Standard on March 26th 2021.
You can see the article below – it is transcribed beneath for accessibility. You can read the study report itself on our homepage.
Two charities founded by a Henley man have helped make digital platforms accessible for deaf children learning at home. A pilot study involving AACT4Children and Deaf Aspirations took place over six months to see how online communication is affecting young people’s mental wellbeing during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ken Carter, 84, of Greys Road, founded the charities as he wanted to see how digital platforms could be adapted to help deaf children learning at home while school were closed due to lockdowns.
The National Lottery Community Fund gave researchers £9,750 to introduce platforms such as Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp etc to deaf children and young people with associated speech, language and communication difficulties.
Mr Carter, whose daughter Dawn is deaf, led the project. He said: “Deaf people are still missing out as many of the remote learning situations are difficult. You really need an interpreter there as you don’t always get subtitles and people speak differently. We thought we would focus on young deaf people, especially as mental health is such a big subject at the moment and a lot of them have to cope on their own.
“Boris Johnson has his frequent televised updates but there’s never an interpreter there, whereas there is in Wales and Northern Ireland. The Conservative party in England don’t bother and deaf people are annoyed about this and feel left out.
“This project is me trying to be positive and finding out how digital technology can be beneficial instead. We wanted to show people that everyone is at home with the same technology so how will deaf people cope?”
The study, carried out by researchers Ruth Montgomery and Rubbena Aurangzeb-Tariq, showed that digital technologies can be “reasonably simple and accessible” for young deaf people to be able to video chat with friends, send and receive video messages, share ideas and import/export videos.
Mr Carter, who was a teacher and lecturer at the Oratory School in Woodcote, said: “It wasn’t a huge project but it was meant to find out more about what is going on. We hope to get the word out and we can do something bigger, such as computers for deaf youngsters. We want to make sure every young deaf person is equipped when they are at home. Communication is so important due to remote learning and there’s an awful lot of children at home and learning for life is very important.”
The charities hope to follow up the pilot and make it a large research-funded project covering the whole of England. This could include coding lessons for youngsters, accessible gaming consoles, the inclusion of interpreters in apps and games, training for deaf people and more.
Mr Carter, a former Royal Marine, has set up 10 charities or companies dedicated to researching how communication for the deaf can be improved. In 1985, he founded Deafax, a charity which uses technology to help deaf children communicate, and his wife, Helen Lansdown, is the chief executive.
One of the honorary presidents of the charity is Dr Vint Cerf, an American scientist who is acknowledged as one of the inventors of the internet.
In 2007, Mr Carter was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine for his contribution to preventative medicine and healthcare.
In 2009 he was awarded an honorary degree from Loughborough University, where he had played fly-half for the first XV, which included 10 internationals.