The best way of making Deaf people’s health better is to stop them getting sick in the first place.
SignHealth campaigns for changes which will make access to healthcare as easy for Deaf people as it is for hearing people.
We also campaign to make health information available to Deaf people in ways that make it easy to understand and to use.
Deaf people are twice as likely as hearing people to experience mental health problems, yet they do not have equal access to services. Therapy in BSL via SignHealth’s BSL Healthy Minds has a 75% success rate compared to 44% for therapy for hearing people. We know therapy in BSL works for Deaf people but provision varies from area to area. Many Clinical Commissioning Groups expect deaf people to access hearing services with therapists who don’t sign and don’t have an understanding of issues that affect deaf people. If therapy in BSL is available, there is often a long wait for an appointment due to funding difficulties.
SignHealth’s Therapy, the Deaf Way campaign is asking the government to provide a nationally commissioned psychological therapy service for Deaf people in British Sign Language.
In July 2015 the NHS in England published a new set of rules called the Accessible Information Standard. The standard will commit health services to improve access to health services in what could be the biggest change England has ever seen in the healthcare of Deaf people.
SignHealth worked long and hard to make sure that the new rules included the changes we called for in our Sick Of It report. We succeeded.
Now we all need to work together to make sure that the rules are obeyed when they finally come into force on 31 July 2016. Healthier Together will share stories of success, put pressure on health professionals who aren’t changing and give Deaf people the tools they need to make doctors and other staff change.
The stories we hear and the people we meet make it obvious that, in general, Deaf people have poorer health than hearing people, because access to doctors and to health information is made difficult when sign language is your first language. Now we’ve carried out the world’s first scientific study into the health of Deaf people compared to hearing people, which proves it’s true and tells us why it happens.
The report is being used to launch a campaign to get government, the NHS, doctors and other healthcare workers to change their ways. We want sign language to be easily available in medical settings, to make access to healthcare for Deaf people equivalent to the access that hearing people get.
SignHealth has joined forces with other charities for deaf people to try to improve the standard of sign language interpreting which is available at doctors’ surgeries, hospitals and the rest of the health service.
It’s important that interpreters are accurate and that they don’t miss things out. So our campaign is asking for all interpreters to be fully qualified and to wear a badge which proves it. We want interpreters checked out before they begin the important work of helping Deaf people get the medical help that they need.
Mental Health Charter
A charter detailing the service deaf people should expect by right when they are receiving treatment for mental health problems.
The Deaf Health Charity SignHealth works to improve the health of Deaf people. We do that by offering services and projects to help individuals, and by campaigning for improvements to help the whole Deaf community.