Deafblind People’s Views on the Long Term Aims and Ambitions

Deafblind NAG meeting in Perth, 2nd August 2016

Feedback on Long Term Aims and Ambitions of the BSL National Plan

BSL Ambition for deaf and deafblind children under 5s

  • Deaf and deafblind children under 5 should have access to BSL, as should their families.
  • Hearing parents need to be enabled to learn BSL.
  • Teaching, nursery staff must able to communicate in BSL
  • Screening for dual sensory impairment

BSL ambition is for school education.

  • For deaf and deafblind children, going into mainstream school, that they have a support worker or interpreter provided, mixed and not separated.
  • Schools have to know their responsibility to provide interpreters and not come from the children’s families.
  • Deaf and deafblind children should not be left struggling for information. BSL children can be confident!
  • Hearing people should be taught English. It should be taught in schools. Should be compulsory, to the same level as the English language

BSL Ambition for further/higher education.

  • Colleges should be paying for communication support workers to improve their skills and not just bringing people in ad hoc.
  • Guide/Communicators should be provided where required across education.
  • What level of service would you expect from the language professionals? Ideally interpreter level but not realistic in the short term so there should be Continuous Professional Development to contribute to that development.

BSL Ambition for employment.

  • Firstly, most deafblind members haven’t worked for a long time!
  • Access to Work should provide interpreters and Guide/Communicators
  • Provide deafblind awareness for colleagues.
  • Extra time for meetings and one to one.
  • There are additional barriers in finding a jobs and issues with health and safety, such as getting an interpreter who can use hands-on BSL.
  • Deafblind Awareness in the job centre and for employers and what they can do to support a deafblind person into mainstream employment.
  • Discrimination is an issue as there was not the current levels of health and safety in the past. Some employers may think “a deafblind person? Too complicated to employ!”
  • A Deafblind person can be put off from applying for a job due to access to English or translation in your preferred language.
  • Advantageous if deafblind person could have 1 person who can provide communication AND guiding skills and not into the interview with an “army” of support.
  • Should be support to apply for jobs and to prepare a CV.
  • A general lack of awareness for communication issues for deafblind people who use BSL.
  • Additional Travelling issues for deafblind people.
  • More job opportunities outside of the deaf world.

Ambitions for health and social care.

  • Doctors and nurses (medical staff generally) need deafblind awareness including some basic deafblind manual skills.
  • Deafblind Communication support.
  • Sighted guide training.
  • People should be aware that in some circumstances deafblind people have a Guide/Communicator and the significance of this.
  • If need to go to the toilet in hospital you can press the button for help but staff often don’t know how to guide me.
  • Deafblind awareness training in Mental Health Services.
  • Awareness of the effects deafblindness can have on mental health.
  • Be useful if a counsellor could communicate with you directly without an interpreter.
  • Access to appointment letters via text rather than Typetalk, which is out of date
  • Bring technology up to date across services more generally. Everyone uses online things.
  • On appointment cards there should be e.g. a red and white stripe (or something similar) that identifies me as a deafblind person so that someone can assist me.
  • People identify the white cane but don’t understand the red and white. Awareness needed here.
  • Interpreters need to be experienced and skilled at Hands-On BSL as often not so.
  • For a deafblind parent of a hearing child, some doctors don’t think about the communication for you as a deaf or deafblind parent of the child being seen by the health professional.
  • More time for communication support in medical settings.
  • There should be specialist social workers for deafblind people.
  • There is considerable Deaf awareness, but little training for deafblind awareness. Social services need to address this. Some of us have similar communication needs but some have very different communication needs.
  • Generally agreed DW should pose a special question to Local Authorities: How many local authorities have specific services for deafblind people, for blind people only and for deaf people only?
  • One deafblind person said SW don’t know to categorise me as deaf person who has lost their sight or a blind person who has lost their hearing. I get passed about!
  • Government should provide funding for a specialist team for deafblindness.
  • Finally, there is an issue of older deafblind people who need to go into a nursing home or care. What facilities and communication support are there for those people?

BSL ambition for justice

  • Interpreters should be available for people going to court or to talk to their lawyer. Often not so.
  • Guide/Communicators needed. Generally anything legal, courts, lawyers, advocacy. If someone is imprisoned they need communication support. In legal issues, interpreters need to have right level and skill.
  • Should be qualified and appropriately trained in deafblind manual and hands-on. Crucial they have 100% of the information on legal issues – often not so. Anyone working in the legal field should have training and awareness, including members of the jury.
  • Important to consider children in the legal process. Must be able to access the language for children too. Not the responsibility of the interpreters to accommodate this. Should come from legal services themselves.
  • Paperwork should be accessible before it is sent out. Plain language and access to information as language in Court settings most find difficult to access whether using English or BSL as our first language.
  • There must be 2-way language skills from court to the BSL user.
  • Responsibility for making info accessible which must include formats of Braille, Moon, etc

Public transport and information systems

  • All means of transport, especially at airports, require deafblind awareness.
  • If that deafblind person is a solo traveller, there should be more assistance.
  • More easy access to information at train platforms and buses – Visual, audio and tactile.
  • Information on layouts of stations and the layout of toilets.
  • Emergency communication needs where technology can be used? Screens with a signing person on it.
  • Appropriate training for deafblind people’s support needs.
  • Subways are very difficult – darkness for deafblind people, and no-one to communicate with. Most deafblind people avoid it. If staff there had some degree of training would that be sufficient? Basic BSL and deafblind awareness skills. Again, Guide/Communicators should be free on public transport.

Ambition for culture, leisure, sport and the arts, theatre, leisure centres, etc.

  • More subtitled films. Deafblind awareness in the cinema and theatres. Deafblind people would have to be guided to safety, so basic deafblind awareness for emergency situations. But Cinemas are in the business sector but is still a point to raise. Museums etc. are covered in the BSL Act and should have sign language and other ways of accessing information.
  • Guided tours and talks in establishments should be for deaf and deafblind people too so you can ask questions when on a tour.
  • If deafblind people were going to the theatre, their guide should be free? Theatres come under businesses. If they are run by councils, accessibility can be covered. Need to be mindful that this only relates to BSL matters and public bodies.
  • Guided tours are expensive, and often useless for deafblind people. No access signs and no sign language support. And you still have to pay. If tours are not accessible you should report this. Comes back to training about deaf and deafblind awareness and improving the information they provide. One DBNAG member went to Bath around the Spa area and was given a handheld device that had information in sign on all the exhibits.
  • More Interpreted Theatre and tactile BSL provision, if these are Council run. Again free entry to Guide/Communicators.
  • More BSL video accessibility and Print sizes available for deafblind users. BSL on tablets to describe different exhibitions.

Access to Public Services Access to services such a broad area. Numbers 1 to 8 are specific.

  • Paper information you find on the availability of services and how that could be translated into BSL. Often materials are translated into foreign languages but not in BSL. This must change.
  • One member said I go into shops and don’t have anyone to help me because insufficient support hours with my Guide/Communicator. But because shops are private this might not improve for a while. Think about your right to a Guide/Communicator to do shopping; this is about persuading the local authority about your right to that service and perhaps you should not have to pay for it.
  • Suggestion of looking at number 2, education and sign language? As children grow and learn BSL as a second language then go to work in shops. Maybe 10/20 years this will improve. Businesses in the future will have hearing people with BSL as a language option. But what to do now? If school and education is going to be the primary consideration right now, maybe 2020-2023 this has impact.
  • Start teaching teenagers now? Great if we go into shops there are signing members of staff. And where it says loop system, it would be great if there was a sign saying sign language provided too!
  • Early years are vital. The deaf child needs parity with hearing children. In the future we would have a hearing child using English and BSL. Potentially a community, hearing/deaf, all using sign language. Wonderful! Then if sign language becomes more common, the situation for deafblind people who need hands-on BSL would be improved.
  • Finally many documents require to be made format appropriate for deafblind people, and many more BSL videos. Communication support hours for deafblind people are restricted and rare for staff to be able to communicate.

Voting and elections and being able to be represent others at an elected level.

  • One member explained the difficulty in voting recently. In the run up to the voting process a lack of information provided in BSL. .
  • Very poor awareness of deafblindness. People come to your door and walk away when you say I’m deafblind. If going around the doors should have interpreters with them or more knowledge to meet our needs.
  • Another member felt that information accessibility regarding the election and the EU referendum was terrible. Can the Scottish Parliament translate information into BSL? If they want to encourage voters they should ensure information is accessible to all voters. Members reminded that No 10 was also about the potential of Deaf and Deafblind people to be able to represent others at a local or national level given the right level of support. This was very difficult.

Q11 on Deafblind Questionnaire: Is there something missing from The Long Term Aims and Ambitions as they stand, from a deafblind standpoint?

  • That there requires to be explicit mention of tactile BSL in the Long Term Aims and Ambitions of the BSL National Plan
  • Dementia and home care, older deafblind people in residential care
  • It is unfair that whilst deaf people are not charged for many aspects of communication support, a deafblind person must contribute for their Guide/Communicator service which includes their communication support
  • Lifelong learning is made possible for some Deaf people through the provision of BSL interpreters but Guide/communicators are not provided to allow deafblind people to go to college.
  • There aren’t enough BSL interpreters available for NHS appointments, Social work, or police interviews. A BSL interpreter should be on call 24 hours a day in a health board
  • There is not enough information available in Moon
  • Must add “Tactile” in the Long Term Aims and Ambitions and refer to Deaf and Deafblind BSL users.
  • There needs to be more BSL patient’s details in the NHS system – For example – add the NHS code for BSL and Tactile BSL in their medical record. E.g. Eye department referral to Social Worker for the blind results in common unawareness that the client is a BSL user. Or GP referral to Physiotherapy department, but they are still unware that patient is BSL user.  Also that they may be unaware that the client requires tactile BSL
  • Deafblind people must have the choice of a Guide/Communicator and/or Interpreter. I don’t want an Interpreter, I want a Guide/Communicator to support me and that’s my choice. If go to court must have someone with me that I trust and have confidence in. It is the same as when I am travelling.
  • When phoning I would like companies to believe that the Guide/Communicator is phoning on my behalf without it causing me distress
  • I want to make sure that the Guide/Communicator service continues. I cannot go to meetings or to the GP or buy shopping etc without a Guide/Communicator.
  • I would like all Interpreters to be qualified and for there to be more Interpreters skilled in Hands-on BSL
  • If an Interpreter is required deaf people can meet them at a particular point, but I have to pay for the Guide/Communicator service. It’s not fair! This needs to be changed.
  • The NAG should always add Tactile BSL too at DBNAG meetings so that NAG are constantly reminded to focus on issues involving Deafblind people
  • Inform Scottish Government via NAG the importance of providing relevant training for guide/communicators to become more fluent with BSL
  • Inform Scottish Government via NAG the importance of providing relevant training for all Interpreters to have Tactile BSL training