Barriers facing deaf patients

DURING Deaf Awareness Week (May 7 to 13), we are highlighting the barriers facing patients who are deaf and calling on local health services to improve their access, and to commission interpreting services that use only appropriately qualified sign language interpreters for deaf patients.

Our new research shows that 41 per cent of surveyed people who use British Sign Language (BSL) as their first language have left a health appointment feeling confused about their medical condition, because the interpretation was not of an adequate standard.

And 68 per cent said they asked for an interpreter to be booked for a GP appointment but did not get one.

People who are deaf have the legal right to experience the same level of service as other patients so, to avoid unnecessary confusion, anxiety or embarrassment, it is vital that they can access communication support best suited to their individual needs.

To sign our petition calling for local health services to use only interpreters registered with the National Registers of Communications Professionals (NRCPD), which shows they meet the required standard for communicating essential medical information, visit


Action on Hearing Loss

ASLI (Association of Sign Language Interpreters)

NRCPD (National Registers of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People)

BDA (British Deaf Association)



BSMHD (British Society for Mental Health and Deafness)