Back Back

Deaf and Hard of Hearing people struggle to access city’s health and social care, study finds


Residents in Wolverhampton who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing are struggling to access the vital health and social care services they need, a study has found.

A report conducted by the University of Wolverhampton and local consumer watchdog Healthwatch Wolverhampton highlights the barriers that are still in place for local residents who are either Deaf or Hard of hearing, with the lack of available qualified interpreters cited as a persistent problem.

In July 2017, two public events were held at the University of Wolverhampton which attracted over 60 attendees who shared their experiences and gave feedback on the problems they faced when trying to access health and social care services.

Numerous people explained that there is a general lack of Deaf awareness throughout the city, particularly with health professionals and frontline staff. The inability to book a GP appointment, find out test results or access Mental Health support were also repeated findings from this report, as well as the reliance on using family members to interpret due to a lack of interpreters.

The project is the most in-depth of its kind in Wolverhampton and will prove a useful tool in recognising where changes need to be made to improve accessibility to key services and also highlighting where additional resources are needed to provide equal access, both in health and social care, but also in the wider community services.

Sarah Bown Senior Lecturer from the Interpreting & Deaf Studies subjects in the Faculty of Social Sciences, said: “Since the early 1990s, the University of Wolverhampton, as part of its wider mission to broaden opportunities for Deaf people, has facilitated Deaf people’s access to Higher Education and raised Deaf awareness within all areas of society and work. This project continues this tradition by highlighting the challenges that Deaf and Hard of Hearing people face when accessing health and social care provision.  We were delighted to have this opportunity to work with Healthwatch and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities in Wolverhampton.”

Kristiaan Dekesel, Head of Undergraduate Recruitment for the Faculty of Social Sciences, added: “Our Interpreting British Sign Language/English degree programmes with their professional accreditation endeavour to address the national shortage in interpreting provision.  From September 2018, the University is launching its MA in Interpreting British Sign Language/English which includes bespoke training in health and social care settings."

Elizabeth Learoyd from Healthwatch Wolverhampton, said: “Looking ahead, we would like to see local partners adopt the recommendations made to ensure that local services are more accessible, and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community are an integral part of service planning, design and decision making throughout the city. We will continue to work with residents to ensure that action is taken and follow up on whether we see improvements to ensure this report has a real impact to real people.”

The report is available on the Healthwatch website:

Find out about BA (Hons)Interpreting (British Sign Language/English) and MA Interpreting at the University of Wolverhampton.

Further information

For more information please contact the Media Relations Office on 01902 32 2736 or 01902 518647.

Date Issued: Monday, 19 March 2018

For more information please contact the Media Relations Office on 01902 32 2736 or 01902 518647.

Share this release

Related Stories