There’s a bit of a departure from the usual column this week, because I want to tell you about a friend of mine, who recently got in touch to say he was going to be a dad.
I was so pleased for him – since I became a dad myself, I’ve become a bit of a softie about all things kid-related.
Now, I know what kids mean, the change they bring, the way that life’s made about a thousand times better (and more knackering) after they arrive. All of it. And soon, he’s going to know too.
I was all set to message him straight back asking when the due date was, whether they were going to find out the baby’s gender, and how his girlfriend was feeling, when I read to the bottom of his email, where it all got a lot more downbeat.
The reason? Their maternity unit were stalling on providing an interpreter at their 12 week scan.
My mate’s deaf, you see. But his girlfriend isn’t, and the unit were asking her to translate for him, to save money.
He was gutted.
From his point of view, this was their first step on the road to becoming parents, and he was going to start off a step behind. They’d argued their case during several long phone calls using text relay, but it hadn’t made any difference at all.
He asked me whether I could help, so I gave them a hand with a letter to the maternity unit. We soon got the head midwife’s email address and we set about trying to change their minds.
In the email, we referenced the Equality Act and argued that he should have an interpreter so that he would have equal access to what was said during the appointment – in the same way as any other father.
We wrote about the importance of a father being an equal part of the process – after all, he would be supporting the mother through the labour and beyond.
The other thing we wrote about – that worried him most of all – was what might happen if something was shown to be wrong in the scan.
I for one know people who’ve been told devastating news after 12 weeks. The more I thought about it, the more angry this made me.
If anything were to go wrong, his girlfriend would know before him. She would then be forced to break the news to him while herself feeling deeply shocked and upset, and he’d spend the time in between in limbo, wondering what was wrong.
It’s a horrible thought, isn’t it? We outlined that scenario in the email too, and sent it off.
It’d be nice to say that this email prompted them to change their minds, but as of writing this, he still hasn’t had a positive response.
Let’s hope he gets better news soon.
Update: One week later, an interpreter was booked for the scan. Cue relief for both parents, who can now go along to their 12 week scan with the same access to communication as anyone else. Phew.
By Charlie Swinbourne, Editor
Read the first two Deaf Dad columns here.
The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
The site exists thanks to our supporters. Check them out below:
- Signature: Leading awarding body for BSL qualifications
- Ai-Media: Remote captioning. Find out the benefits of live captioning at university!
- Bellman & Symfon: home alerting solutions
- Deaf Umbrella: sign language interpreting and communications support
- BSL Zone: TV programmes in BSL for the Deaf community
- Stellar Communications: Speech-to-Text services
- Appa: Communication services for Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing people
- SignLive: Online video interpreting for Deaf people
- SignVideo: Instant BSL video interpreting online
- 121 Captions: captioning and speech-to-text services
- Eyewitness Media: TV and film from a Deaf perspective
- The National Theatre: Captioned and BSL accessible theatre in London
- Doncaster School for the Deaf: education for Deaf children
- Signworld: Learn BSL online!
- Helen Foulkes Translations: BSL translations
- RAD Tax Advice: Tax and Tax Credit info for Deaf people
- Performance Interpreting: BSL interpreting at concerts
- National Deaf Children's Society: The leading charity for deaf children
- Signed Culture: Advocating for BSL access to arts and culture
- SignHealth: healthcare charity for Deaf people
- CJ Interpreting: communication support in BSL
- British Society for Mental Health and Deafness: Promoting positive mental health for deaf people
- Action Deafness Communications: sign language and Red Dot online video interpreting
- BSLcourses.co.uk: Provider of online BSL courses
- Association of Notetaking Professionals: The professional body representing Electronic and Manual Notetakers
- Sign Solutions: communication support, training and translation
- InterpretersLive: On demand BSL video interpretation
- Hamilton Lodge School in Brighton: education for Deaf children
- Lipspeaker UK: specialist lipspeaking support
- Hearing Choices: Australian hearing aid specialists
- Elmfield School, Bristol: Inclusive education for Deaf pupils
- deafPLUS: BSL advice helpline
- Exeter Deaf Academy: education for Deaf children
- Royal Shakespeare Company: Captioned and BSL interpreted performances (see dates here)
- Royal School for the Deaf, Derby: Residential education for deaf children