Friday, 18 September 2020


One of a number of charities and individuals, cashing in on poor access for deaf people instead of lobbying the state provision of it as a right.  Twitter is heavily involved on ensuring access for the BSLusers via COVID etc, but a glaring omission of the reasons many sign-using deaf have issues with the NHS is conveniently set aside.

E.G. SignHealth and online interpreting company InterpreterNow, have together launched ‘BSL Health Access’ which enables the provision of immediate, on demand access to British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters for communication with Deaf people in health settings free of charge during the current Coronavirus situation.

More than 70,000 Deaf people across the UK use British Sign Language (BSL) to communicate as our first and preferred language, but we know from research that Deaf people’s health is already much poorer than hearing people’s. Deaf people often rely on asking family and friends to interpret for them but they can’t do that with the current social distancing and stay at home policies.

When people wear PPE it makes communication and lip-reading impossible and Deaf people are being left frustrated and isolated. We need to be able to communicate with doctors and nurses now. As a result, SignHealth have teamed up with InterpreterNow to provide a solution, to fill the gaps in BSL interpreter provision in health settings and provide on demand BSL interpreting when it’s really needed.

SignHealth: James Watson-O’Neill, SignHealth Chief Executive, says:

"We are optimistic that NHS England or another government body will pay for this service but in the meantime, SignHealth has agreed to pay for the service so that it can begin immediately. Deaf people cannot wait. “I am proud that SignHealth has agreed to fund this service and look forward to it being funded by the public sector in due course. Deaf people must be able to access healthcare, whether to visit their GP, have a scan during pregnancy or be treated in intensive care for coronavirus. We should all be able to talk to our doctors and nurses, and for them to talk to us.” "

A response to SignHealth on twitter by ATR was attacked strongly when we stated:-

"This makes no sense, why is SignHealth demanding the NHS uses their paid services whilst at the same time refusing to address the reality 63% of ALL BSL-using deaf are not using terps at ALL?  Since campaigns run by charities such as the British Deaf Association, The NDCS and even the AOHL accept it is a deaf RIGHT, to allow the use of own family? regardless of bias, neutrality, or the fact 95% of family support have no qualification in British Sign Language, a qualification demanded by others in the system.  

At one point they even insisted hearting children of deaf parents were a right and support regardless if underage or lack of knowledge on medical issues or jargon.  There are hearing ADULTS who don't follow medical Jargon. Who carries the can when a mistake is made?  The NHS? and NOT the fact your hearing relatives misunderstood?    Even the BSL interpreter CANNOT be held to account or quoted as a witness to errors.  In reality, the Deaf have no protections.

Attempts to 'demote' family help purely as family support, but NOT as sole facilitators was met with anger and cries of discrimination against deaf people.  The UK Social Services Dept insist using an underage child as deaf support is a form of abuse.   This resulted in the NHS still including General practitioners and clinics/hospitals 'advising' deaf of the right to use own untrained help, be it family or a friend next door, of course, this also meant deaf support was FREE so the NHS and others incurred no costs, so very obviously they support the deaf 'right' also, but not for access reasons!  

Both the deaf who insist on family doing the work and the NHS itself contribute by default to a lack of DEMAND for qualified BSL support.  The result is less demand for trained BSL interpreters or carers etc.  Yet we see SignHealth and others not admitting where the issues really are. This is own goal BY SignHealth and others who want their paid and BSL provision used more widely, they aren't demanding the Deaf do their bit and demand it.  

Bank and support of Mum and Dad rules, and this means hearing relatives losing work as well, to be support without payment, and without professional qualification too, you would think the fact your family are the last people you want making your health decisions wouldn't you? or respecting the deaf right to privacy in medical matters.  Of course, family want to help, but the best way is to ensure professional support does that. They are making a rod for their own backs and also when they aren't able, then leaving their deaf relatives unsupported. So making things far worse.  There are deaf who still have no idea how to ensure they get a BSL terp, in the NHS and elsewhere in systems it is already a legal right, all you have to do is ask for it.

E.G. Just think if you have an issue that is sexually related etc do you really want Mum and Dad there discussing it with your Doctor?  They are going to assist in your best interests, erm... maybe not.  Do you want them to know even?  Is there ANY point these deaf demanding a right to something they are never going to use?"

Scope for improvement?

A campaign to reclaim the pavements for pedestrians bearing in mind issues disabled, the deaf and the blind face.  However, SCOPE seems unaware some disabled are abusing others themselves.

SCOPE BLURB: The Government have repeatedly forgotten disabled people during the pandemic.  Today, with 30,696 of you, we’re telling the Prime Minister disabled people #WontBeForgotten. Today we deliver our open letter to say the Government must prioritise disability equality, through the pandemic and beyond.

"Disabled are dispensible, the government is only interested in young healthy people who can pay taxes. Issues with COVID is just one example where 'survival of the fittest' is the norm and apathy and neglect toward our most vulnerable is 'acceptable' collateral damage.  Ergo, The oldies can stay in isolation, the younger element should not be restricted as COVID doesn't really affect them.

As regards to pavements, it is no longer safe to use them in my area, you are dodging cars on kerbs, bicycle riders, prams and now motorised scooters, all these should be on the roads, not the pavements. I've been hit by OTHER disabled on buggies and electric wheelchairs who told me to get a deaf aid and get out of the way, rammed from behind by mothers with prams impatient because you don't hear them telling you to get out of their way.  I have been deaf for 50 years, nothing changes, you would expect other disabled to be more aware, we are seeing the most selfish of views being accepted as some norm, what price discrimination, when SCOPE doesn't accept its own charity and membership is part of the problem."