The need for sign language help for medical appointments has increased during the coronavirus pandemic. The widespread use of PPE and face coverings is making communication and lip-reading difficult in healthcare settings. Deaf people are feeling increasingly frustrated and isolated.
Many of the 87,000 Deaf people across the UK who use British Sign Language (BSL) as their first or preferred language, have encountered problems accessing healthcare at some point. When a BSL interpreter has been unavailable, they’ve had to rely on family and friends to interpret. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, patients are being asked to attend appointments alone, where possible.
In response to the coronavirus outbreak, we’ve introduced video remote interpreting (VRI) in addition to our face-to-face BSL interpreting service. We’re using Microsoft Teams so that patients can receive remote interpreting support at any location.
Here’s why sign language help is so important for healthcare appointments at hospitals, GP surgeries, dentists and other settings:
Providing a BSL interpreter, either remotely or face to face, will ensure Deaf patients understand the information they receive and can take part in discussions about their healthcare.
Removing communication barriers will help healthcare providers deliver an excellent service and retain patients.
Reduce missed appointments
Making medical services more inclusive will help to reduce the number of missed appointments.
Be legally compliant
The Accessible Information Standard is a law which ensures that people with disabilities or sensory loss are given information they can understand, and the communication support they need. Offering a BSL interpreter to Deaf patients will help make healthcare services fully inclusive and legally compliant.
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