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CUTS LEAVE OUT VITAL SERVICE FOR DEAF

When a person is sick the first thing he does is go to the doctor who is expected to listen and observe the patient to be able to help and heal him, but what if the doctor does not know what he is saying and does not understand the language?
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In Almeria province there are around 4,500 deaf or hearing impaired people on the census.

When a person is sick the first thing he does is go to the doctor who is expected to listen and observe the patient to be able to help and heal him, but what if the doctor does not know what he is saying and does not understand the language?

What if the patient does not understand what the doctor is diagnosing? That is the problem faced by thousands of expats, but it is not just the Brits struggling, it is a problem currently affecting Almeria’s deaf population.

Previously, four sign language interpreters were available from the Association of the Deaf of Almeria (Asoal), but now they only have a service person and, moreover, only Monday through Friday. “There is no emergency service for deaf people so if you get sick, there is no interpreter at hand.” said Javer Baños, President of Asoal, adding, “All hospitals in France, for example, have a language interpreter who signs in all medical centres and government too.”

In times of economic prosperity the service of sign language interpretation was offered within the Andalusian Health Service as a service for deaf people, but has always been funded from the Delegation for Equality and Social Welfare of the Junta de Andalucía the Andalusian Federation of Associations of the Deaf (FAAS), but now, without subsidy, the service has been cut during the month of August and those responsible for Asoal do not know whether they can return to resume again from September and from the delegation nothing has been clearly pronounced.

Asoal consists of 210 members, but in Almeria province there are around 4,500 deaf or hearing impaired people on the census. This data indicates therefore that there is a part of our local society that has lost a valuable service, somewhat excluding them in terms of health care.

If a deaf person is sick and has to go to the doctor, communication barriers start from the moment you enter, “First you have to talk to a person who does not understand or know sign language at the reception by written notes, but then to call to get a consultation from the PA system, how do they hear it? And worse, how do you know who you have to go see and in which room?” asks Baños, adding “If we had an interpreter in the hospital, this would not happen because they would listen and to seek the patient in question.” After crossing the second communication barrier, begins the third: “As we enter the consultation room, both the physician and the sick are left standing they do not know how to act. Again we must begin to use notes to communicate.” There is also the problem of terms that are used in medicine are often very specialised language that deaf people do not know or have never written. “We know that society cannot adapt completely to us, but we fight for people to make an effort for us because we already do for them,” says the president of Asoal: “All we ask is to access a minimum amount of sign language.”

This emergency service for the hearing impaired or deaf, also serves to issues as basic as logging within administrations or to call the police, “If a person needs to call the police because they have a problem.”

“In Andalusia there is only one City Council that has an interpreter and that is Malaga. In Almeria not only leave us without subsidies, but that the City does not want to hear about projects that include us in their plans,” says Baños, “We looked at three projects in less than one month: one had to do with the taxi, and the council told us no, in fact, in the end, it was Tele Taxi who personally got in touch with the association to include a whatsapp phone service so that deaf people could request a taxi without an interpreter.”

The truth is that in La Noche el Blanco, for example, there was no activity adapted to this group and “children, for example, do not enjoy the puppet shows because they are not thought of for the deaf people. Adults defend ourselves more or less, but the kid… We ask this service and it is not offered. That night there were two hundred people who wanted to participate and could not,” says Javier Baños. “We are also Almeria’s residents but why not think of our group?”

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