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SignHealth says the Government needs to help Deaf people

30th January 2013

The Government should do more (January, 2013) to protect Deaf* people and their culture according to the national healthcare charity for Deaf people.
 
Figures released in the national census today (January 30) show there may be far fewer people using British Sign Language (BSL) than previously thought and SignHealth wants public services to help.
 
Steve Powell, Chief Executive of SignHealth, said: “Just 15,487 people said BSL is their main language in the survey compiled by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and this highlights the fragile nature of the community. 
 
“This is the first time the Deaf population using BSL has been represented in the national census. These figures, which are much lower than previous estimates, show they are very much a minority and therefore protection needs to be even greater.”

SignHealth says public services need to have coherent plans to meet the needs of such a small and marginalised population.
 
Steve added: “We urge health bodies to work together to tackle the barriers faced by Deaf people. With such small numbers, tackling the barriers to access is not going to be costly but co-ordinating these efforts and sharing best practice will make measures even more cost effective.

“Better recording of whether someone prefers to use BSL would be a major leap forward and public services would then be able to see how their Deaf BSL users compare to their other users.”
 
ONS is the UK’s largest independent producer of official statistics and the recognised national statistical institute of the UK. Its people play a leading role in the development of national and international good practice in the production of official statistics.
 
Census statistics provide a detailed snapshot of the population and its characteristics, and underpin funding allocation to provide public services.
SignHealth, which has its headquarters at Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire, provides a range of services for Deaf people, including supported living, advocacy, outreach, psychological therapy and health promotion, all within a BSL supported environment.

*It is the convention adopted within the Deaf community of using an upper case D when referring to those who identify themselves culturally and linguistically as members of the Deaf community. Typically they are prelingually Deaf and use British Sign Language (BSL) as their first language.

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