We have a range of projects, services and campaigns, all aimed at improving the health of Deaf people.
SignHealth is probably the country’s biggest employer of Deaf people, and most of the staff in our projects and services are fluent sign language users.
You can read a little about the main projects and services here, and click on the descriptions to get much more detail.
Therapy for Deaf people with depression, anxiety or similar disorders. Sessions are carried out entirely in sign language, with a therapist who is fluent in sign. It means there is no interpreter in the room, which would slow down communication and reduce the intimacy which is important to this kind of treatment.
DeafHope helps Deaf women and children who are suffering domestic violence. The service is run by Deaf women and gives help and advice on how to be safe, and where to find refuge. At the moment the service is available in London, and we’re trying to expand it elsewhere. The service also runs Young DeafHope which works with young people, teaching them about the rights and responsibilities which are part of good relationships.
SignHealth’s Advocacy service helps Deaf people to understand the complex dealings of government departments and the legal system. For many Sign Language users English is a second language, and Deaf people can struggle to understand complex documents and ideas which are written in English. Advocates help Deaf people to understand what is happening, and the choices they have. It does not give advice on which choice a Deaf person should make.
Our Outreach service helps vulnerable Deaf people to cope with the challenges of everyday life. Workers visit the Deaf people they help where-ever they’re needed, often that’s in the homes of the elderly or infirm. Getting clients involved in clubs and societies is another way we help, because reducing isolation improves health and wellbeing.
InterpreterNow is an online interpreting service for people who are Deaf, deafened or hard of hearing. The user communicates with a hearing person live, through an interpreter, using computers or mobile devices which have a camera and are connected to the internet. The service operates using sign language, text or lip-reading. Users can use the method which suits them best to communicate with doctors, consultants and major companies and organisations. It offers deaf people a service equivalent to the telephone service which hearing people use.
Our care homes for Deaf people with complex and long-term mental health problems are how SignHealth first began, and they are still a hugely important part of our service. We have six houses which give tenants their own bed-sit flat, and the care-home staff help the residents to build independence and increase confidence. Al the residents and staff are sign language users, which helps to end the isolation which is a major cause of mental health problems for Deaf people.
Campaigning is an important part of our work, trying to change the way things are done so that Deaf people get an equivalent service to hearing people. We are raising awareness among the hearing public, offering solutions to health-service workers, and pushing for change from the NHS and government. 2014 sees the launch of scientific study of the health of deaf people, “Sick Of It”, which proves that Deaf people have poorer health than hearing people, and reveals how they are disadvantaged.
SignHealth Uganda works with deaf children, their families and communities in Uganda. Deaf children are often isolated as they are unable to communicate and they also face prejudice due to cultural taboos surrounding deafness. We support schools where the children can learn to sign, giving them the gift of communication, often for the first time. We also work with the community to tackle the stigma around deafness.