Andy Palmer: Why Cambridgeshire Deaf Association has launched DeafCards to help Deaf people get BSL interpreters at their GP

Posted on May 6, 2016

The team at Cambridgeshire Deaf Association are reminded almost every single day how deaf people are refused interpreters for medical appointments.

It’s a frustrating situation for us but potentially life threatening for the deaf people who are the victims of not being given the service that they are legally entitled to.

Find out more in this video, and read on below for the rest of the article (click here to see the video on Facebook)

The irony is that the law exists that requires the NHS to provide interpreters. Not just one law, but now two!

So we decided to do something about it!

The DeafCard is an idea from our Advocate Ruth Godden. She designed it and ordered a couple of hundred cards after yet another tense conversation with a GP receptionist who steadfastly refused to book an interpreter for one of our deaf clients. The plan was to simply give a few out to the Community in Cambridgeshire.

Here at CDA we like to move fast. Once the cards were delivered we made a quick video and put it online, only really aimed at the Deaf community in Cambridgeshire.

It became obvious pretty soon after I clicked ‘post’ that the demand for the card reached way beyond our county borders and soon four-hundred request for cards had been received. We’ve had to do another print-run and apply a small charge to cover the costs.

This shows that Deaf people just want a simple way to let the GP or hospital know that they have legal rights to an interpreter and that fact is incontrovertible. Our DeafCard is a simple way to achieve that aim and directs the person reading the card some useful tips and routes to more information online.

Hopefully, these cards will mean those deaf people carrying them don’t have their rights violated when accessing healthcare.

You can get yours at

Andy is the hearing father of a Deaf son, and is also a child of Deaf parents. He is Managing Director of  Cambridgeshire Deaf Association, runs Peterborough United’s deaf football teams and is Chairman of the Peterborough and District Deaf Children’s Society and teaches sign language in primary schools. Contact him on twitter @LC_AndyP

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Posted in: Andy Palmer