Statement by Signature 20th January 2014

It has recently been reported that a hospital failed to provide a deaf couple with a sign language interpreter during the traumatic birth of their son, causing uproar within the wider deaf community.

New parents Hulusi Bati and Nadia Hassan have claimed that the lack of communication they received at University College Hospital, London, following the birth of their child, amounted to discrimination as they were not given access to the information that a hearing patient would have received.


Signature, a national charity which campaigns to improve the standards of communication for deaf and deafblind people in the UK and is also the UK’s leading awarding body for deaf communications, is calling for more hospitals and public-facing organisations to recruit staff qualified in British Sign Language (BSL).


Jim Edwards, Chief Executive of Signature, said: “Here at Signature we are striving to break down communication barriers and help prevent discrimination against deaf people. The treatment of Hulusi and Nadia caused the couple great distress and sadly for the majority of deaf people, this is an all too common occurrence in our hospitals. This case illustrates the crucial need for more individuals in the NHS and other public sector organisations to understand the needs of deaf people. It is imperative that they provide NRCPD registered interpreters when dealing with deaf patients.


“It also comes back to the point that it is vital that people have access to BSL courses in their local communities. Signature urges more colleges and education providers to offer British Sign Language (BSL) courses and the NHS must ensure that their staff have access to training in BSL”


With more than 10 million people in the UK living with some degree of hearing loss, Signature is committed to working with both deaf and hearing people to understand the issues faced by the deaf community and provide qualifications which will actively address these problems.


Jim continued: “Our vision is to create a fully accessible society by encouraging people to learn BSL by undertaking Signature’s OFQUAL accredited qualifications.”

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