Health Literacy

maureen reeds from newcastle 2
maureen reeds from newcastle 2

Most Deaf adults in England have the English literacy of a nine-year-old, lack interaction through common conversations about health, and also possess significant gaps in health knowledge. Additionally, adequate health education in BSL that is both culturally appropriate and accessible, does not exist whether digital or otherwise. Many medical terms, such as artery or fibroid, do not have meaningful, or comparative BSL signs.

Current provisions are lengthy and institutionally esoteric, using Sign Supported English or English-BSL translation videos, or are ‘Easy Read’ pamphlets. These do not reach grassroots Deaf patients. Often these materials are confusing and at worst, belittling.

Poor health literacy produces woeful self-care, improper use of NHS services, and ignorance about long-term conditions such as heart disease or diabetes. This also impacts use of prescriptions. We have spoken with many Deaf patients who have prescribed medication for an acute or long-term condition, and do not know when to take it, how often, or understand its purpose or overdosing risks.


(Image courtesy of Enterprising Barnsley)