15 to 21 March 2021 is Sign Language Week, aimed at promoting the importance of British Sign Language (BSL) for all.
Derbyshire has the second largest Deaf BSL community outside of London, and many have still needed support to access healthcare through the Coronavirus pandemic. Thanks to Communication Unlimited, this has been possible.
Interpreters have continued to work during the pandemic, often going out to different GP surgeries, hospitals and community health venues.
New challenges have emerged throughout the last year as a result of restrictions including difficulties with communication when face masks were required, which meant Deaf people could not lip-read or see the facial expressions as easily which added to their anxiety of attending a medical appointment.
Communication Unlimited have some great examples of how they have adapted to the challenges faced over the last year.
A lady in her 80s needed to talk to her doctor but did not understand how to use video chat. She had a smart phone and staff took several attempts to explain to her via text but this was not successful.
Someone from Communication Unlimited went to her house and explained to her how to do it through her living room window using sign language and their phone to demonstrate. The staff member stayed to ensure she understood how to pick up the video chat when called, and have her conversation with the GP and one of our interpreters.
Since then she has made several calls with confidence to her GP and other health professionals over the months.
At the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, Communication Unlimited was contacted by several GP surgeries and community health services as they needed to contact their Deaf patient but didn’t know how. They explained how we could assist via a three way telephone call using two telephones; one for the Health professional and the interpreter to talk on and the second phone using video chat - mostly WhatsApp - where the interpreter would sign to the Deaf client and voice over the client’s responses back to the Health professional.
Some Surgeries were initially reluctant to use this service but as the pandemic continued they have come back and used the services of Communication Unlimited. They have received positive feedback along the way, including ‘that was easier than I thought’ or ‘this is so easy to use’!
Find out more about Sign Language week here: http://signlanguageweek.org.uk/
And how Communication Unlimited may be able to support you here: https://cu-bsl.co.uk/about/