Sign of the times
Deaf patients have specific communication needs. Following on from last month's article about interpretation, Channa Panagamuwa and coauthors consider the role of sign language interpreters and the legal obligation of doctors to provide them
- By: Channa Panagamuwa, Kate Wellman, Marije Davidson
Britain's Deaf community, like many other minority groups, has a language and a culture of its own. But unlike hearing minorities, access to the majority language and culture is limited by disability. Access to society is also severely limited by prejudice and a lack of understanding of Deaf people, their language, and their culture.
Have you ever tried to access healthcare services in a country where you don't speak the language? How do you explain what's wrong - by gesture or drawing? How confident do you feel to consent to an operation, take prescribed drugs, or accept that you are “OK”?
For Deaf people who use British Sign Language (BSL), access to health services is almost always in another language. It is a common misconception that BSL is a visual representation of English and that it follows the grammar and word order of English and simply substitutes signs for words.