I’m not Deaf and I’m not hard-of-hearing. But I work with Deaf people (BSL users) who have mental health problems.
One of the concerns that is often raised is being able to access services to make appointments, access help in a crisis or emergency, etc. I know that this isn’t just linked to services in the area that I work. There has been research undertaken about how difficult it is for Deaf people to access services.
I’m sure that people are aware of the Equality Act 2010 that aims to protect people from unfair treatment and create a more fair and equal society. However, this didn’t set out specifically how to do it.
I wonder how many people are aware of the NHS England Accessible Information Standard that is to be fully implemented by 31st July 2016?? Here is a BSL video update about it from NHS England:
The aim of this is to ensure disabled people in contact with NHS services and social care services have access to information they can understand and the communication support that they need – this is for service users and carers.
This includes providing information in easy read format and ensuring BSL interpreters are present at appointments.
Services have five things that they have to do:
1 – ask if a person has communication needs and how to meet them
2 – record their communication needs
3 – highlight the needs on the person’s records and how to meet them
4 – share information with other organisations when they have consent to do so
5 – make sure that these needs are met and people are able to receive information in an accessible way and have communication support if needed
An easy read leaflet about this can be found at https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/access-info-upd-er-july-15.pdf or at:http://www.signhealth.org.uk/the-accessible-information-standard/
Hopefully, this is a chance for Deaf and hard of hearing people to get better access to NHS and social care services. It’s a chance to ask for information in a manner that is meaningful to you.
Rebecca Walls is a mental health nurse and has been working with Deaf people (British Sign Language users) for the past 14 years. She currently works in the community in South Yorkshire.
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