Can you believe it, Deaf Awareness Week 2014 is here! A time for all D/deaf people and D/deaf organisations to come together and raise awareness.
SignHealth have one main aim this week – we want to breakdown communication barriers that D/deaf people experience.
And this is how we’re doing it…
Firstly, we have spent the last few weeks meeting hearing medical professionals and NHS staff. We have told them about our Deaf health report Sick Of It, and then asked them to think about the service they provide for D/deaf people. Most of these hearing professionals thought they offered a good service, but after reading our report, they realised they really weren’t meeting D/deaf people’s needs. A few of the NHS staff we spoke to have made video clips explaining how the Sick Of It report has improved their awareness, and we will be uploading these for you to see during Deaf Awareness Week.
Our second mini-project involved working with D/deaf people, or people who have Deaf children/parents. We asked them to talk about their experience of accessing health services so that hearing people could see first hand how their services are received. Sadly, most of the D/deaf people we spoke to only had bad experiences to share. They too have filmed themselves and we will be uploading their clips onto our website too.
Thirdly, and perhaps most crazily (!), two of our SignHealth staff have been travelling across the country talking to members of the public about their own D/deaf awareness. They showed them our Sick Of It report and asked each person to try imagining themselves in a Deaf person’s shoes. We wanted these people to understand what it feels like to struggle booking an appointment if they need to see their doctor, or how it feels to sit in a consultation in a medical setting without an interpreter. Often they will leave with a poor understanding of their illness and medication. A lot of people had never thought about this before, but when they stopped to think, they realised how difficult Deaf people’s experiences are.
Together with your help, we want to end the communication barriers that D/deaf people experience. If you are D/deaf and you go to the doctors and receive bad treatment, please be assertive and get your receptionist to book you an interpreter, note taker or lip-speaker, or ask for them to install InterpreterNow. Make sure you are given a double appointment to allow for your communication needs, and do not leave your appointment until you have a full understanding of your own health.
To follow that up, if you see something we post on Twitter or Facebook that you agree with, please retweet it or share it with your friends, and if you meet a hearing person who has little Deaf awareness, instead of getting angry and walking away, try to show them different ways of communicating, because it won’t just help you, it will help the whole D/deaf community.