In this age of internet and smartphones, 45% of Deaf sign language users can still only make an appointment for themselves by walking into their doctor’s surgery. When they get there no-one can use sign language.
Most surgeries make no note of the way Deaf patients would like to communicate. They don’t have a simple system to book interpreters which all staff are aware of. That makes every visit a struggle for Deaf patients. It’s demoralising, discouraging, and unnecessary.
70% of Deaf people who hadn’t been to their GP recently had wanted to go, but didn’t, mainly because there was no interpreter. Difficulties don’t end with booking appointments. It’s shamefully common for Deaf people to be called from the waiting room by staff shouting their name. Getting access to test results is difficult, as is having them in an accessible form.
Most health professionals seem to be completely unaware that these barriers exist. Audiology departments and Ear, Nose & Throat specialists treat a high number of Deaf patients, so you might expect them to be far more aware and accessible. Shockingly, it’s not the case.
Deaf awareness training, and rapid movement towards online and SMS text bookings, are among our Prescriptions For Change at the end of this report.[clear-line]