Hello, my name is Simeon Hart and I am a freelance Project Officer for Deafway, focussing on the Deafway project entitled ‘Equal Rights Equal Lives?’.
This project is aimed at Deaf people who want have equal access to any service. We need to provide documented evidence on issues that Deaf people face and not just anecdotal evidence.
We would like to share some useful evidence which has been drawn from this research:
Just over 50 Deaf people took part in this research, which we thank very much from our bottom of our hearts, your time is much appreciated!
Highlights from this evidence provide a clear indication that improvement needs to be made to meet the needs of Deaf people in Lancashire:
• A massive 84% of Deaf people need help with translating written correspondences and need support for writing response to letters etc.
• 54% of Deaf people said that they sometimes had enough communication support and 34% said that they didn’t, meaning that in total there was a significant number, 88%, of these people needing this support. The fact that even 54% highlighted that they sometimes were in need of this support is an indication that there were areas in which the were not managing.
• A large percentage, 86%, of respondents aren’t accessing Social Services. Their comments on this were as follows:
o Social Services is not accessible for Deaf people and there is a lack of Deaf awareness
o I don’t know what Social Services are doing!
o There are cuts in social care, to save money, leading to people having to contact them via online services or via a telephone. Barriers to services and information are worse than ever.
• 68% were not happy with the council’s access for Deaf people which is dreadful for Deaf people who have been forced to use pen and paper or to use lip reading to communicate with them.
• An alarming 70% of the Deaf people surveyed are unable to access advice or legal support. Comments on this were as follows:
o When I have been for advice, most of time the advisor has talked to my mother at my appointment, instead of with me and so I have felt left out.
o I need advice about my flat which is damp as this issue has prevented my daughter from coming to visit or stay with me and this has made me feel upset and down.
o I paid for my solicitor’s fee but also had to pay for the interpreters fee which I felt was wrong and unfair but I have no choice as I wanted my situation to be resolved.
o There are barriers with access to support for Deaf people, for example, there is a list of foreign languages that are provided for but none for BSL.
• Police – There is still issues in communicating with the police. 67% of respondents commented as follows:
o My brother helped with communication with the police. I would rather talk to the police on my own, without the help of my brother, with the assistance of an interpreter, if this could be made available.
o My mother in law helped to sort out my issue. This caused me to feel left out as the problem was mine.
o I was once drunk and was arrested by the police as I had made a lot of noise in my flat. In the end, I had to stay in police custody overnight and then had to wait for 12 hours for an interpreter to arrive.
• Employment – 59% of respondents said that they had been discriminated against. The following comments were made on this:
o I had to complete additional jobs or do extra work that wasn’t part of my role!
o I always work harder than any of my hearing colleagues and this has affected me, adding to my levels of stress.
• Relating to employment generally, the following comments were made:
o I notice that gaining employment for Deaf people is harder than it was before. Deaf people find it hard to get a job.
o Deaf peole are still not treated equally in employment.
o The Job Centre is very poor at providing information.
• Leisure – I picked one problem that Deaf people complained about, which was that of subtitling in cinemas. Comments made were as follows:
o Subtitled showing were always in the daytime and not available every day. Sometimes these are cancelled last minute.
o There are only a few subtitled showing in the evenings.
o Subtitled showings are not available on Friday/Saturday evenings and are often only on late in the evening or at the weekend.
• Health – most problems encountered in hospital were in A&E. Around 46% of respondents said that A&E hadn’t provided BSL interpreters. Comments were as follows:
o I was admitted into Lancaster hospital, due to collapsing with a heart problem, where I stayed for 3 days. They didn’t provide an interpreter and I felt so depressed.
o I was admitted into Lancaster Hospital due to a sprained ankle where there was no provision of an interpreter and the nurse there has a very poor attitude toward me.
o Two years ago, my son had to be rushed into hospital due to an allergic reaction to nuts. No BSL interpreter was provided and so the doctor talked to my son instead of me. I felt annoyed, as I am his mother and so the doctor should have talked to me directly.
• Accessible Information Standard. An alarming 86% did not know what this is. This document should be translated into BSL to enable us to understand what it covers.
Issues needing to be addressed in the NHS:
• Governmental cuts and new NHS contracts are driving down interpreter fees which leave many qualified interpreters choosing not to take work that is not financially viable. Trainee interpreters are therefore open to and happy to take on many bookings without question of their ethics or capabilities for each job. This is having a dramatic impact on the deaf community – we are the ones to suffer with a lack of access to good quality interpreters and often left not bothering with appointments and/or holding in emotions and stress that could have detrimental long term affects.
• The NHS should use qualified and assured BSL interpreters because deaf people have their own rights to have full access to their health. In addition, A&E should provide BSL interpreters too.
• On deaf people’s record on hospital system, they should put a note on each record indicating that they are deaf so they will know and be able to provide a BSL interpreter automatically.
• There should be the provision of VRS.
• There should be in-house interpreters.
• There needs to be more support for deaf people.
• Automatic booking of interpreters should be made when deaf people are referred to a hospital via their GP. A&E departments should automatically request an interpreter when a deaf person says ‘I am deaf’ on their arrival at A&E.
Other areas need to be considered:
At big events – e.g., festivals that are put on by local councils or by LCC should have the inclusion of BSL interpreters to give information during the event, e.g. The Warrington Disability Partnership organised a Disability Awareness Day at which there was the provision of BSL interpreters to allow Deaf people access to information and the event.
We will be visiting deaf people in Preston, Lancaster and Rossendale to provide feedback on our research. After this, the project will continue and the opportunity will be given to meet with services, councillors and MPs with our support. A hard copy the report will be made available to enable providers to improve their services to meet Deaf people’s needs.
If you would like any further information about the project, please contact us.