Nick Mears says that deaf people do not get equal opportunities in healthcare, especially information translated in sign language, which is almost nil (Letters, 6 November).
I am a health advocate for deaf people funded by East London and the City health authority, and work in a voluntary organisation.
My job is to cover four boroughs - City of London, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Newham. I provide deaf users with health information, inform them of health services available and how to access them, and provide advocacy to encourage and support deaf and hard of hearing people to make their own choices about their healthcare or treatment.
Unfortunately, my post is the only one ever to have been set up in Europe. I hope that in the near future there will be more elsewhere in the UK.
To respond to Mr Mears' comment regarding sign language interpreters - it is not easy to get interpreters while there is no funding for this kind of service. Two agencies do provide this service - Surrey Interpreting Agency, which got funding from its local HA for deaf people living in Surrey, and one in Brent: GRIP (Group of Reliable People from Parkside) - which provides sign interpreters along with other languages for the local health services funded by an NHS trust.
If you need any information regarding the issues about deaf people and healthcare please contact me.
East London Deaf Advocacy Project,
c/o CHOICE in Hackney,
2nd Floor, D Block,
London N1 5LZ.
Fax: 0171-739 8599
Minicom: 0171-739 8773.