Sign language interpreters database created to help deaf persons visiting hospitals for coronavirus
To assist deaf and hard of hearing patients visiting hospitals for coronavirus testing or care, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) has put together a database of sign language interpreters across India. Until now, over 60 interpreters have volunteered.
Information is key to contain the coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak. It is critical that the information going out is accurate an accessible. The deaf and hard of hearing community is especially vulnerable as most of the advisories put out are inaccessible to them.
Recognising these challenges and to support deaf people visiting hospitals for testing and treatment, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) has created a database of sign language interpreters. This is in partnership with Access Mantra (AM) and Association of Sign Language Interpreters (ASLI).
The pandemic has affected over two lakh people around the world and caused over 11,000 deaths. It is spreading in India as well. The Deaf community is as vulnerable as anyone and they face the major issue of communication barrier for their hospital/doctor visits. The good news is that now we have sign language interpreter volunteers in case a Deaf person visits a hospital/doctor regarding COVID-19. – Anuj Jain, Executive Director, National Association of the Deaf
Sign language offer to help deaf community for free
The idea came about when many interpreters said they were open to volunteering if a deaf person needs to visit a doctor or hospital for a coronavirus testing. This led to the idea of creating a bank of volunteer interpreters.
A working group of members of the three associations was created on WhatsApp and deaf experts and volunteer interpreters were added. The Indian Sign Language Interpreters Association (ISLIA) joined the cause with interpreters on their team signing up as volunteers.
Videos created in sign language too
Apart from this, NAD has made accessible videos on coronavirus/COVID-19 with the United Nations so that the deaf community in India becomes aware and can clear misconceptions. You can watch them here –
“NAD took the initiative to share the instructions video, which were collected from the working group and the volunteer interpreters”, adds Anuj. These were then shared with the public.
Until now, over 60 sign language interpreters have signed up across India. They are offering their services at no cost. “This has surely brought everyone together, united to fight the virus and uphold the rights of the Deaf in having access to health services. I applaud these interpreters for doing it pro-bono”, says Anuj.
Internationally, dissemination of information among deaf communities is posing to be a problem as there is no universal signing vocabulary for the virus. Many experts have urged the World Health Organization to create an international signing convention for the coronavirus. There are 15 or more different signs being used to are currently being used to designate the coronavirus in affected countries.
Establishing clear communication is essential to avoid the risk of spreading misinformation and putting people at risk.
Watch in Sign Language
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