Two videos have been launched to coincide with the British Deaf Association’s Sign Language Week to help deaf and hard of hearing women recognise the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.
How to be breast aware and A guide to the breast screening appointment – feature interpreters using sign language to get across vital, potentially life-saving information on how to be breast aware, and to help deaf and hard of hearing women understand what to expect during a mammogram.
The videos have been produced, with the help of the deaf community, by The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust which runs the Dudley, Wolverhampton and South West Staffordshire Breast Screening Service, and the digital media team at the Ron Grimley Undergraduate Centre at Russells Hall Hospital.
They were commissioned by the charity Zebra Access to ease fears and anxieties during breast screening appointments because women in the deaf community often feel isolated and frustrated when accessing healthcare.
This has been particularly difficult during COVID.
Robina Ajimal, who was born deaf to hearing parents, has worked for an interpreting agency for nine years and appears on How to be breast aware.
“I have regular appointments, with the dentist, GP and at hospital, and these can prove difficult if there isn’t an interpreter. It can make a ten-minute appointment an hour long as notes are passed back and forth writing down our conversations and misunderstanding jargon”, said Robina.
“Masks during COVID have been a particular issue. I went to the GP practice hoping to lip read but the receptionists refused to take their masks down,” she added.
“These videos are great and a very useful resource. Deaf people like to see information visually to get an explanation of what’s going to happen and see the process in our minds.”
Linda Beasley works for Zebra Access, a charity dedicated to ensuring that all deaf people, both adults and children, enjoy equal participation and access without communication barriers.
“A guide to breast screening is a very clear, step-by-step guide of what to expect during a mammogram which gives much needed confidence to deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind people,” said Linda, who has also been deaf from birth.
“Deaf people like to see by example rather than going into the unknown. Not knowing what to expect can make them nervous. This video will reassure many deaf people.”
Chief executive for The Dudley Group Diane Wake said one in seven women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime and this causes 10,000 deaths annually in the UK.
Diane stressed the importance of attending mammogram appointments when invited.
“Research shows some women don’t attend their breast screening appointments out of fear, language barriers and a lack of breast cancer knowledge,” said Diane, who is also the senior responsible officer for elective and diagnostics and cancer for the Black Country and West Birmingham.
“Equal access for all women is vital and these videos, specifically aimed at the deaf community, hopefully provide the reassurance they need to attend an appointment without fear or anxiety,” she said.
A video guide to the breast screening (mammogram) appointments has also been produced for the hearing community.
The videos can be viewed here:
More information is available at the NHS Breast Screening Programme website.