It is important to remember that the world around us is set up for hearing people. It is easy to take for granted all the unconscious information that is received and processed through hearing.
It is also easy to take for granted how people access information, services and support; all by communicating with spoken language.
Although many of the sexual health issues faced by people who are deaf or have limited hearing are the same as for hearing people, it is the access to easily understandable information and support that may present the greatest difficulty. Service providers and their front-line staff really need to be aware of these issues and consider how they might modify their communication methods.
To help with the use of any services, including GPs, Sexual and Reproductive Health Clinics (formerly Family Planning) or Integrated Sexual Health Clinics (formerly Genito-urinary GUM), it is possible to have an interpreter go along. This is available free of charge, but does need to be booked in advance (usually 2 weeks); and service providers need to use BSL interpreters. Public information should also be made available in BSL formats. There is support and information available from the British Deaf Association (BDA), in particular, their health promotion department produces a range of leaflets and resources.
They can also provide information, advice and counselling on a range of issues including:
- General sexual health.
- Sexuality and relationships.
- Safer sex for men and women.
It is hoped that the range and availability of resources for deaf people, particularly utilising information technology and the internet, will soon be increased. Also BDA is continuing a campaign to have British Sign Language more widely recognized and incorporated into standard communications.
For more information please go to : www.bda.org.uk
Making an Appointment:
If you are deaf or hard of hearing and would like to make an appointment to access sexual health services, via text:
- Please text message on 07826 874190
- You will then receive a text back confirming your request
- A nurse will be in touch with you by text
- To discuss which type of appointment you require
- You will be asked if you require a BSL interpreter at the appointment.
At the Clinic:
- Check in with reception staff (you can show text confirmation)
- They will advise the clinical staff that you have arrived and
- You will be approached by a member of clinical staff and taken into the clinical room for your appointment.
There is a wealth of information around sexual health and relationships available on the Lanarkshire Sexual Health Website (www.lanarkshiresexualhealth.org). There are also a number of agencies that can offer information and advice on a range of issues for you if you are deaf or hard of hearing to help you access healthcare services:
British Deaf Association: www.bda.org.uk
The National Deaf Children’s Society – www.ndcs.org.uk/mylifemyhealth information to help young people access healthcare services
Action on Hearing Loss – www.actiononhearingloss.co.uk – provide support for people with hearing loss