To mark Deaf Awareness week, a number of deaf charities have got together to call on health care providers to improve access to their services for Deaf patients.
The charities involved are the British Deaf Association, SignHealth, ASLI (Association of Sign Language Interpreters), NRCPD (National Register of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People), Signature, Action on Hearing Loss and the British Society for Mental Health and Deafness (BSMHD).
Research carried out by the consortium of organisations in April this year highlights the poor experiences of BSL users when accessing healthcare. 84% of respondents have felt frustrated after a health appointment because no sign language interpreter was provided.
Nearly two thirds (65%) of respondents said they were either very or fairly worried that sensitive information about their health condition may have been left out in order to protect their feelings, when a family member or friend has interpreted for them. The same percentage have also felt embarrassed because a family member or friend was
interpreting for them.
Steve Powell, Chief Executive for SignHealth, added: “Worryingly, 29% of respondents have been confused about how to take their medication and 41% have left a health appointment feeling unsure about their medical condition because they couldn’t understand the interpreter.
“We feel that this is totally unacceptable and clear communication between patients and healthcare professionals is extremely important. It is essential that both parties are confident that the information has been communicated clearly.”
“We are urging people to sign a petition to give Deaf patients access to properly qualified and registered BSL interpreters.”
You can sign the petition at: http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/deafaccess
By Charlie Swinbourne