Friday, 12 October 2018

Should pharmacists learn British Sign Language?


Saffah Huseeba Danial is a second-year pharmacy student at the University of Lincoln
Erm, HoH too!  Technically the UK state encourages all BUT those with hearing loss to use pharmacists as a consultation area for 'low level' health issues like colds etc, and issues of using tablets and medications that may clash.    But the legal reality, is they are prevented from actually doing a  diagnosis, the BMA states they aren't qualified to do that.

The inclusion in many pharmacies of hearing loops for aid users is as far as Pharmacies went because when challenged to provide signed support as the state told them to do, no one could sign or was willing to pay for it, and most don't switch loops on.  At the UK's largest one (BOOTS) and they said although they DID advertise access for sign users, they relied on staff who had attended taster sign sessions, and, she had left their employ 3 months ago....  After we left they removed the posters stating they were BSL accessible.  The problem we have with this item is no one is mentioning access for those who don 't sign and cannot benefit from a loop, deaf-blind need not apply.  So what's new?  Learn a bit of finger spelling?

Saffah Huseeba Danial is a second-year pharmacy student at the University of Lincoln. Have you ever wondered if sign language is communicated the same universally? I have — so I decided to delve further into the subject by booking a British Sign Language (BSL) taster session organised by the careers and employability department at my university. 

The session was delivered by someone who had lost their ability to hear after contracting meningitis as a young child. There were around 15 students in the session. I was the only pharmacy student; most of the others were studying psychology. I felt very excited to participate in such a rare opportunity, but I also wondered how people like me, with no previous experience with BSL, would be able to understand a session delivered in sign language. 

My query was resolved a short moment later: the teacher was accompanied by a translator so that we newcomers could understand. First, we were taught each of us what our names were in BSL. As the session progressed, I learnt that not only are there different versions of sign language around the world, but also different dialects of sign language in the United Kingdom. We studied the alphabet, how to tell the time and common phrases. I also discovered some of the many struggles that deaf people regularly encounter, such as people shouting in frustration and being impatient. 

However, I came to realise that something that is quite upsetting for the vast majority of deaf people is when someone gives up attempting to communicate altogether and walks away. We also learned that some signs in BSL would be considered profanities by the general public, regardless of the fact that the signs mean something completely ordinary in BSL, and are not profane at all. This was one of the points that I felt the need to raise awareness about. The session was by far the most interactive session I have ever experienced and I learnt a great deal about a subject I previously knew nothing about. 

After the session concluded and many questions had been answered, I began to ponder how my learning could be applied to the practice of pharmacy.

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