And we think the UK is badly served with 300 for 90,000......... A mere eight sign-language interpreters are serving 750,000 people suffering from hearing disabilities in the Kingdom, which amounts to one translator for a staggering 93,000 deaf citizens, said Ahmad Al-Faheed member of the Arab Federation of Organizations Working with the Deaf (AFOWD).
Approximately 3 percent of the Saudi population suffers from hearing difficulties, which is equivalent to 750,000 individuals, Al-Faheed said, quoting a report released by the UNESCO organization. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Civil Services said currently there are only eight accredited sign language translators serving hearing-impaired persons in Saudi Arabia, three of them are stationed at the technical training establishments and the remaining five work at King Saud University.
He explained that the obstacles facing people with hearing difficulties primarily stem from communication difficulties with the community in public places such as health care and recreational facilities. Another hurdle for deaf people arises in situations where they need to seek medical assistance in public or private hospitals, as they encounter great difficulties explaining their pathological condition, which could lead to a worsening of their health status, Al-Faheed explained.
He cited a personal situation he encountered in one of the local hospitals, whereby an operation for a deaf person was put on hold for one hour because they needed to wait for a translator to communicate and explain the deaf patient’s health condition to the doctor.
Al-Faheed stressed the need for interpreters to be present in important locations, such as hospitals, clinics and pharmacies to assist people with special needs, particularly those with hearing impairments.
He concluded by stressing the right of deaf people to participate fully within the community, and expressed hope that public and private establishments will provide better services for those with special needs.