My name is Louise Hart and I’m an audiologist with the charity Action on Hearing Loss and I also work as an audiologist part-time in the NHS. Regardless of what disability that we have, we all have the same rights to get the same access to healthcare and hearing loss shouldn’t impede that access. So it’s important that just as we would want to enable a wheelchair user to get into appointments easily, we should make sure that a person with a hearing loss or a British Sign Language user has the facilities that they need to. So, make sure that everything is signposted; make sure that the person’s heard what you’ve said and that you’ve tried to provide the
best appointment that you can for them. Make sure that you provide written information or BSL-related information, which is British Sign Language information, that’s really important. One problem that deaf and hard of hearing people have is often appointments with healthcare professionals and hearing what has been said, regardless of whether they wear hearing aids or not. Gwen: If there’s no interpreter you just
feel scared. How am I going to understand? I don’t understand anything. How am I going to decide by myself, how am I going to decide what treatment to have? It’s a problem for lots of deaf people, reading letters. Often the English on the letters I don’t understand. Louise: They could miss really important information and that will definitely affect how they access their healthcare and it may affect their prognosis, because if they’ve missed some important information that could actually make their journey easier then you’ve made their journey
a lot harder. So the most important thing that the health professional can do to make sure that the person with hearing loss that’s in front of them is actually accessing all the information that they need to is by making sure that they’re sitting directly in front of them; that they have good lighting, that it’s a quiet environment, that there’s not too much noise around. Not saying too much in a sentence, for instance, now I’m stopping and giving a break and that gives the brain a little bit more time to process the information that’s been said. Making sure you write important facts down, making sure that you ask the individual whether or not they heard what you said, particularly if it’s a particularly important bit of information. Always check that they’ve understood what you’re trying to say, in the context you’re trying to say it in. Deafness awareness training is really helpful, and that’s often provided by lots of hospital audiology departments so you can ring your local department or there may be local organisations that can provide support also.