Sign language help for medical students

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University of Liverpool medical students practising sign language. Pic © JMU Journalism.

A course teaching medical students how to interact with deaf patients has returned.

The University of Liverpool GP Society has organised sign language classes to be taught by Nicola McCabe, the owner of Talking Hands Academy, which offers signing and deaf awareness sessions across Merseyside.

The course kicked off its first week for the third year running last Wednesday and will be held on every Wednesday for five weeks.

The aim of the course is to improve communication skills and to kickstart trainee doctors into thinking about deaf patients and how they can support them.

Ms McCabe told JMU Journalism: “I think everyone should be able to communicate with each other, that includes deaf people as well. Deaf people are often left out due to communication. It’s things like when you go for an appointment and your name has been called behind a wall, or even a door sometimes – very simple basic things. It’s all about planting a seed in trainee doctors minds.

YouTube: Chantelle McKeever

“This is our third course and we’ve been doing 20 people in a class. Sometimes we do two classes instead of one, so that’s probably over 100 people that we’ve taught already. It’s very popular and very well received.”

One of those taking part in the course was third year medical student, Anthony Feeney, who told JMU Journalism: “I think it’s really useful for people in the medical community to be able to speak and communicate with the deaf community.

“You should have a way to communicate with them, if you don’t they’re sort of left out and it’s unfair to have a group of people who can’t be communicated with. I want to be able to communicate with everyone and make them feel welcome and comfortable if I’m having a consultation with them.

“I’ve learned so much already and it’s really encouraged me to take on sign language and hopefully get it to a level where I can communicate with people outside of just the session and use it in the community as well. It’s so empowering to be able to communicate with people who 10 minutes prior would have had no chance of even understanding.”

About Chantelle McKeever, JMU Journalism