Lack of British Sign Language Interpreters Putting Deaf People at Risk

Queen Elizabeth Hospital Offers The Latest Technological Advances In Its Care

It is traumatic enough being rushed to hospital in an emergency, but what if you couldn’t understand the doctors talking to you about what was wrong – and you woke up after an operation still not knowing the full story? That is what happened to profoundly deaf patient Elaine Duncan when she was admitted to Dundee’s Ninewells hospital. Although British Sign Language is her first language, Duncan wasn’t given access to a sign language interpreter at any point during her 12-day stay, which included surgery to remove her appendix. “I repeatedly pointed to an interpreter services poster on the wall, and I handed staff a BSL interpreter’s card on two separate occasions, but I was left abandoned and ignored,” she explains. “It was a terrifying experience, leaving me feeling scared and alone, like I was in prison.”

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