To whom it may concern,
When my wife first started experiencing labour pangs, we immediately went to the hospital. We were then taken to the birthing room where my wife was checked by a mid wife. She spoke to my twelve year old daughter who was put under pressure to relay to us in sign language what the midwife had said. My daughter felt very stressed due to the fact that she was being used as an interpreter when the staff should have made more effort to make arrangements for one. Especially if it is in their policy to provide one. Children are not there to be used as interpreters, in any sense. Be it a foreign language or sign language. It is not fair on them and it is potentially damaging. Please do not allow this to happen again in future. If my daughter was not present, how would the staff have dealt with the situation?
From a personal point of view, of which I am sure many other deaf people share a mutual natural concern, what would happen when we (the deaf community) suddenly have a car crash – how would the medical services deal with us? How can they feel 100% confident that they have covered all the medical questions and satisfied they have all the information they need? How can they reassure us? When they have no knowledge of sign language or a deep awareness of deaf issues. How can they do their job properly?
Being awarded a piece of paper after going on a deaf awareness course does not qualify them or the hospital in deaf awareness. Deaf awareness is not only about speaking clearly, tapping them to get their attention and so on. Deaf awareness is about knowing and understanding the predicament deaf people have to face every single day. The language barriers we have to encounter, the discrimination we feel, lack of dignity and inequality we see. Being treated as second class citizens. Holding at least a level 2 or 3 sign language qualification would not only benefit the staff and patients but the hospital too. Only then, can one say they have qualified in deaf awareness.
This is why a qualified and registered sign language interpreter must be provided to protect both the patient and staff in order to relay and convey the questions and answers to prevent any misdiagnosis being given, a more serious predicament from happening which is inevitable. One day a patient who is deaf WILL die from a misdiagnosis, a result of not being treated as an equal to that of other patients who are hearing.
Please prevent this from happening by taking heed and “listening” to our pleas. For change, action, equality and inclusion.
I would like to point out that a friend of mine (Sara Jae) has kindly transcribed my views in sign language into words for your reading ease. As I am unable to put pen to paper in order to convey my thoughts and concerns with confidence. This is my wife and I badly needed an interpreter during her ten day stay in hospital. She had to endure being manhandled, being given injections, watching our new born son being given injections – all without fully knowing what the injections are or what for.
Thank you very much for your time and patience.
How long before a deaf person dies in hospital for want of an interpreter? – This is inevitable.