Thursday, 6 October 2016

Health Support Neglect but, by whom ?

Doctor with patient.
Excerpt from an ASL patient with regards to health support, so it isn't just deaf in the USA experiencing neglect and discrimination from the medical fraternity.

Naturally,this concern is directed at signed support again, but here in the UK the sign user is the BEST supported of all hearing loss areas.    

There are little or no loops for hearing aid users here,what there are aren't switched on, there is zero lip-spoken support at all, or text support, unless, you take your own pencil and paper with you and aren't in such a medical state, you can ask the questions for answers you need to de stress you as well as understand what is happening to you.

Despite numerous access laws and guidelines regarding support for the communication impaired, the deaf, the HoH the law isn't working, and UK Health trusts circumventing it blatantly by insisting (To the non signer anyway), you provide your own unpaid and unqualified support instead, even if it is an under age hearing child, it seems that is OK, despite the Social Service law deeming that child abuse.  

Legally you cannot use an under age Coda to support a sign-using parent either, but health trusts are insisting on it.  The Deaf community abuses that law itself, 70% using own family, thus, killing most demand by default.   It's a fallacy because one deaf or HoH person needs support health areas are obliged to provide it unilaterally, they go via demand.  This isolates the individual who has to find own ways of getting help.

Unfortunately this random approach by deaf and HoH to access, has led to the systems assuming everyone with hearing loss does that, even prefer that approach, so they do it as well and selling it as 'whatever best suits the patient'. For trusts it is about cost saving, for us, it is a direct threat to our well being, as diagnosis and further treatments fail, causing life-limiting issues for deaf people.  Only this week 50% of adult deaf with mental health issues were untreated, 40% of deaf children didn't get it, there, the issue is more simple, no trained staff to treat deaf patients or counsel them, combined with unreasonable demands from the deaf community to provide and train them instead of utilising their obvious existing support of BSL interpreters and existing local system support.

ATR's own experience in health interaction will be included in an intense survey and interaction by the UK's largest HoH charity into the woeful state of Welsh Health access.  By far the biggest concern, is the dual approaches to health access by the Deaf and by the HoH, this is causing more issues to us all, not helping.  If there is a lack of support in an area and a campaign is in operation, then WHY, will these two areas not combine to demand access for all ? instead of access for the few which forces each are to lobby twice for the same equal access to the same areas ?  Understand that division, means system rule !

Each according to need ? no, each according to loudest voice first and an parallel uncoordinated, entirely separate approach to access and inclusion is going on. Will things improve, no they won't. The article that triggers response is below, not a single mention of any other support but.... sign.  The complete irony, is that a joint approach of cultural clout, and HoH superior numbers, can get all we want.

Time after time I’ve read posts or watched vlogs of horror stories from Deaf and Hard of Hearing people dealing with doctor’s offices and hospital visits. I’ve experienced many of these first-hand myself.


It happens so often that I’m spurred to write this article to educate the medical community on what you need to know about your Deaf patients.

First, I’m primarily focusing on the Deaf community, those who are likely to have American Sign Language (ASL) as their first language, may not be fluent in English, and believe they are not “broken” and don’t need to be fixed by the medical community. This is the group that struggles against communication and accessibility barriers in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and in daily dealings with the public.

To ease this tension and foster a good doctor-patient relationship, follow these simple tips:

1. A certified interpreter is vital.

As I mentioned earlier, ASL is our first language and easiest for us to comprehend and communicate in. ASL is not a “translation” of English; it has its own grammar, syntax and rules. It uses the full range of hand movements, facial expressions, and body language to convey the message. Because of the complexity of medical terminology, the gravity of the medical visit, the condition the patient may be in, and the need for clear communication – a certified interpreter is required. There’s a huge difference between a certified interpreter who understands and can relay medical issues and someone who “knows how to sign.”

For example, a cardiologist hired an ASL student for a Deaf patient’s visit. The student struggled to come up with the right sign for certain words and the signing was not “smooth,” akin to someone pausing and saying “Ummm” a lot. The student signed to the Deaf patient “You have heart pain,” which the Deaf patient denied repeatedly. After several frustrated attempts back and forth it was understood that the doctor really said “You have heartburn.” The Deaf patient gave up, and wrote to the doctor “I’m leaving! I’ll come back when you get a proper interpreter!”


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