Saturday, 14 March 2020

Coronavirus Update (UK): No support in sight.

Image result for coronavirusBecause of the current outbreak, there are serious issues arising regarding how the UK NHS health system can accommodate 10m with hearing loss issues.  ATR is receiving reports hospitals, clinics and surgeries are not offering support to this sector.  An area that relies on lip-reading was told there is no support available, in fact, there was no system extant at all and never has been.

Patients with hearing loss who can benefit by text support were told again 'No system is extant the NHS can contact for that.'   They were later told to use SignRelay when they don't sign.  It was pointed out Hard of Hearing did not use sign language and unless it had real-time captions, then no use at all, then the NHS suggested facetime which also had non-capability of real-time captioning.  That 68% of clinics, 84% of hospitals had no viable loop systems either hearing aid access is a real issue too.

Hard of Hearing were concerned as were deaf people that mask-wearing made communication even more difficult.  Worse is following as Interpreters for the BSL user suggested they would NOT support deaf people in hospital with this virus or the flu because they had to protect own families first.  This led to anger older deaf and others in care homes were going to be left with no help and even home carers refusing to turn up there.

It is all very well telling people to stay at home for 7 days, but when you are already with ongoing health issues, or elderly in a home there is nowhere else you can go but to a hospital.  It would seem the hardest hit will be near 10m with hearing loss as the BSL user has a number of established access avenues already, but that may not be the case if it gets worse.  Other suggestions are to use family support despite state advice to stay away from them as you offer a risk to own family.

With 86% of all health areas offering no viable loop access either, if anything, this virus should concentrate the apathetic 10m minds and encourage them to start thinking about their own access requirements in a serious fashion or, suffer very real and serious consequences.  If we are all to rely online then the huge majority of vulnerable and older people at risk and need help, won't get any,  because statistically, they ARE NOT online.

ATR Contacting 3 BSL terps yesterday for advice was told if we contracted coronavirus DON'T call them, they need to protect own families first, so it seems even the well-supported sign user is going to get issues too.  Advice is one thing, the daily reality is going to be something else entirely.

Will the coronavirus offer real impetus to the access needs of us all?  it does not look like it.  Technology may help if you have a speech to text app that is reasonable, but again there are still deaf people demanding BSL instead, it is time to bury politics of the deaf kind, before coronavirus buries YOU.