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Deaf persons face difficulty in hospitals due to communication problems.

ySTANBUL (CyHAN)- Hearing impaired people report facing difficulties in hospitals and other public institutions, such as courts and schools, as there are no staff members able to communicate in sign language available at these agencies.

Individuals suffering from hearing impairment complain of a lack of staff in public institutions trained to communicate in sign language and that they consequently experience difficulties accessing public services provided by such institutions in Turkey. Hearing impaired people have also complained of receiving inadequate or incorrect treatment, such as the wrong medication, in hospitals as they cannot explain their symptoms to medical staff. Doctors are at risk of wrongly diagnosing health problems and causing harm or even death to hearing impaired patients due to the communication barrier. Hearing impaired patients say a member of staff with knowledge of sign language should be available in such institutions.

Cahine Deler, who suffered a burst appendix two years ago, told Today's Zaman she had been brought back from the brink of death. "I had to wait for my daughter in order to go to the hospital because I knew there would not be any person who would understand me there. I waited for my daughter because she knows sign language and could give details to doctors about the symptoms. There are hundreds of deaf people who have experienced the same problems across Turkey; they are unwilling to go to a hospital, although they have medical problems," she said.

Another person with hearing loss, Muharrem GE-neE-, described to Today's Zaman one of his experiences with a doctor who did not understand sign language one year ago. "I went to a hospital one year ago for a backache. I tried to explain to the doctor that I was suffering from a sharp pain and that there might be a serious problem with my back. However, the doctors didn't understand me at all and only wrote [a prescription for] some painkillers and sent me home. I have been suffering from the same backache since then," GE-neE- explained.

Because there is no staff capable of communicating with deaf people in hospitals, communication between the hearing impaired and medical staff occurs with the help of relatives and friends of patients. Deaf persons who have no relatives able to use sign language sometimes have to arrange and finance sign language interpreters in order to communicate with hospital staff, or to obtain services from other public institutions.

E[pounds sterling]mran KE[micro]ksal, the relative of a hearing impaired person, told Today's Zaman that on one occasion she was required to participate in a surgical procedure in order to maintain communication between staff and the deaf patient.

ARABAE[currency]LIK Sign language interpreters should be present in hospitals

There is no legislation setting out the rights of hearing impaired citizens in Turkey, home to thousands of people with hearing-related disabilities. A sign language interpreter should be allocated to each hospital in order to facilitate communication between hearing impaired persons and staff. One possible solution to the problem is a video-conferencing system, where doctors or nurses would be able to contact sign language interpreters on screens. Examples of such systems can be found in the United States and some European countries.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, hospitals and other healthcare institutions have to take necessary measures to assist hearing impaired persons. This act requires hospitals or other healthcare providers to offer various options in order to solve communication problems with hearing impaired patients. Among these options are sign-to-voice interpreters, a telecommunications device for the deaf known as a TDD and noise-cancelling headsets. Apart from these means of communication, hospitals in the US also provide sign language translators and lip readers.

Sign language is regarded as the official language of hearing impaired persons. The presence of interpreters to facilitate communication between deaf patients and doctors is seen as a patient right. In Sweden, one of the most advanced countries in the world in regards to patient rights, there are sign language interpretation centers catering to hearing impaired persons. When a deaf patient decides to go to a hospital or any other place, they are able to contact these centers to obtain sign language interpreters. The cost of the service is covered by the state.

(Cihan/Today'S Zaman) CyHAN

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Publication:Cihan News Agency (CNA)
Date:Jul 16, 2012
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