Trust Promotes Deaf Awareness Week with New Interpreting Service4th May 2023
“I now have a choice that I didn’t have before. I am able to request either face-to-face interpreting or remote interpreting so I am very grateful for this service.” The thoughts of Samantha, a service user with hearing loss who is now able to avail of the new Regional Interpreting Service in the South Eastern Trust.
This new free interpreting service is online and is a remote interpreting service for British Sign Language users (BSL) and Irish Sign Language users (ISL) in Northern Ireland. It initially provided the Deaf community with access to Health and Social Care services during the Covid-19 pandemic and is now established as an on-going service within Health and Social Care. For example a person with hearing loss can now phone their GP, optician or social worker and the interpreting service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Health care staff can also phone a person with hearing difficulties using the Sign Video service and book a virtual appointment. Face to face appointments can also be booked through Sign Language Interactions (SLI).
The aim of Deaf Awareness Week is to raise awareness about the communication needs of deaf and hard of hearing people as around 1 in 6 people experience hearing loss.
7 in 10 people affected by hearing loss are over 70, which is expected to increase by 50% in the next 20 years. This week is about trying to encourage people and services to work together to create a more inclusive society so that deaf people have better and improved access to communication. Deaf and people with hearing loss may have feelings of being misunderstood, isolation, unheard or even feeling invisible. That is why the Trust has introduced the new face to face interpreting service with Sign Language Interactions, to give people in the trust area greater access to communication tools and services.
One of our Deaf service users, Samantha who has availed of the new face-to-face interpreting service with Sign Language Interactions (SLI), comments, “Being able to communication with Sign Language Interactions is brilliant. I received a text message to let me know who the BSL interpreter would be for an upcoming appointment without me even needing to ask, which is just amazing. I now have a choice that I didn’t have before. I am able to request either face-to-face interpreting or remote interpreting so I am very grateful for this service.”
Interim Assistant Director Disability Services, Clare McStay has said, “Trust staff have found this new service very helpful. It gives us the option to use the Sign Video service and communicate at short notice with a Deaf person in their own language. This enhances communication, reduces misunderstandings and saves time by being able to resolve an issue over the phone or in person using a virtual interpreter.