Deaf people to receive better care as doctors learn to sign
Cai Wenjun/Shanghai Daily news
Neighborhood Health Center in Changning District became the nation's first
hospital providing doctors with basic sign language skills to serve patients
with a hearing disability.
Fifteen doctors passed an examination from
teachers at a deaf school yesterday. The doctors specialize in different types
of medicine at the hospital.
Officials from Changning District Health Bureau
said the bureau will promote the course to more hospitals in the region if the
pilot program runs smoothly at Xinhua. They will also introduce the course to
city-based health authorities.
There are about 175,000 deaf people in the
city. Not one hospital has sign language translators on staff. Thus it's very
inconvenient for deaf people to receive treatment. They are forced to
communicate with doctors and nurses through gestures, writing or a family member
who can sign.
"Gestures can be misleading and writing takes a long time,"
said Dr Liu Shuo, the initiator of the program. "Doctors may just give therapy
on the symptoms and not find the cause of the problem. To prevent misdiagnosis,
doctors always have deaf patients take more tests, which is a financial burden
to many people."
Liu, who previously taught medicine at a school for the
deaf, introduced the course for doctors at his health center with cooperation
from professional teachers and experts.
They created a textbook for medical
staff, matching signs with medical expressions.
Hospital officials said
doctors' understanding of sign language can not only streamline medical
services, but also be helpful when promoting medical information at the
There is a serious shortage of people who understand sign
language in both the city and the country.
There are six deaf people's
schools in Shanghai with 1,000 professionals who can sign. There are no amateur
sign language translators in the city.
"About 5 percent of people who can
hear know how to sign in the West," said Liu. "It's less than 0.1 percent in
China. There is a huge demand for such people, especially during big events like
the Special Olympics."
The municipal government is taking steps to improve
the situation. The Shanghai Labor and Social Security Bureau is expected to
provide licenses and examinations for sign language translators this