Imagine that you are in the waiting room of a hospital. You know that you are about to be called up by the nurse any minute and are feeling incredibly apprehensive about being there. The anticipation of the appointment is nerve-wracking, as you are half-expecting the doctor to explain that you have serious complications to your health such as a terminal illness. In this scenario, you would naturally rather hear the news directly from the medical professional, but due to the fact you are a deaf person, a family member or child is waiting with you. Not only do they have to hear the news first, but this family member has to look you in the eye and explain the bad news to you directly, assuming they understand how to communicate medical terminology, to begin with, and all because the hospital has no BSL (British Sign Language) interpreter. This is the daily reality for deaf and hard-of-hearing persons in medical settings and we want to see those responsible for these settings book BSL interpreters.
Scenarios like this are naturally stressful for most people, but for deaf people, placing family members in the seat of a medical professional has the potential to cause immense damage to the mental health of both the patient and the interpreter, and can even lead to them being disregarded as a family member themselves. Direct Access wants to see the presence of a BSL interpreter at medical appointments become law, but it shockingly remains to be the case that it is not a legal requirement of hospitals and doctor’s offices all across the UK.
Direct Access would like to encourage everyone to sign the Change petition linked in this blog. Every signature increases the chance to normalise BSL interpreters as the method by which medical professionals communicate with deaf and hard of hearing people seeking medical help. For too long CODA’s (Children of Deaf Adults) and family members have been required at appointments which is an equality of access issue we do not take lightly as an organisation with profoundly deaf team members.
Raising enough signatures has the potential to stop this from continuing and allow the presence of qualified BSL interpreters to become law. Please search the hashtag #bookaninterpreter to follow the campaign.
Direct Access delivers sign language interpretation services through an NHS SBS framework. However, the onus is on the medical professional if they want to book an interpreter.