ASLI guidance on communication with deaf people/booking interpreters during COVID-19

As widely discussed in the press, minority groups are disproportionally affected by the restrictions and regulations resulting from the current pandemic. Deaf people are no exception. Necessity of face masks/PPE for hospital staff and significantly reduced access to public health services due to communication issues causes additional stress and anxiety in deaf individuals and in their communities, as well as having a potential impact on both physical and mental health. Rules and regulations for booking sign language interpreters seem to vary greatly in different regions of the UK, different Trusts and different areas of the healthcare system, exacerbating the barriers for deaf sign language users to access information, support, treatment and health management advice.

The Association of Sign Language Interpreters (ASLI), in collaboration with ASLI’s Deaf Interpreter Network (DIN), the Royal Association of Deaf people (RAD), SignHealth and the British Society for Mental Health and Deafness (BSMHD), has therefore produced guidelines for organisations booking communication professionals in healthcare settings during COVID-19. Additional contributions have kindly been made by the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters (WASLI) and the National Register of Communication Professionals Working with Deaf and Deafblind People (NRCPD).

The document is publicly available on the website: https://asli.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Best-Practice-for-Booking-Interpreters-in-Healthcare-settings-during-Covid-19-FINAL.pdf

We trust these resources may be useful for colleagues, service providers, and medical professionals as well as local and national bodies when considering accessibility and safety needs as well as infection risks of deaf people, particularly sign language users, and interpreters, in all medical settings.