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Deaf Ministry: Sign Language interpreting in childbirth

Deaf Ministry: Sign Language interpreting in childbirth

Elena Daniele Duca (left) with Taida Rivero

More than a day of pain, moments of anxiety and... no communication barriers!

January 14, 2019 | Castellón, Spain | T. Rivero, Revista Adventista, EUD NEWS.

Hospital del la Plana, Vila Real Castellón, Spain. It lasted 30 hours, from the hospital admission of a young Deaf girl, Elena Daniele Duca, and her husband, Costantin Liviu Duca, also Deaf, in the hospital room. More than a day of pain, moments of anxiety and... no communication barriers! All thanks to the presence of members from the Ministry of the Deaf and its Director, Taida Rivero, who were selflessly with them throughout the process.

The anxiety of the Deaf in front of the medical professional

It's not easy for a Deaf couple be in such a situation. Deaf people feel lonely and anxious when interpreters are not available in hospitals. They feel tremendously helpless and isolated. They often don't understand what the doctors tell them, and they can't explain what is happening to them. This situation generates a terrible anxiety. In addition, contracted interpreters are usually only available for a specific period of time, and in the case of childbirth, you never know.

The most special moment of their lives, the arrival of a child, can become traumatic. This is especially for the mother, and even more so if she is a first timer and does not know what to do in these cases, because she does not understand the doctor's indications.

The best question

When you arrive at the hospital and say that you are a deaf person, the most common thing is to be asked the usual three scary questions: "Don't you hear? But do you talk? Do you read lips?" Hearing professionals who have to deal with Deaf people are confused. Sometimes they think that Deaf people are also dumb, or that all Deaf people should know lip-reading. The most appropriate question would be “What do you need to access the information?” Each case is different. For example, we have Deaf people who can read lips; others who prefer to communicate in writing, or in Sign Language; and yet, for others who have auditory rest, the only thing they need is that their interlocutor always stands in front, to help themselves also with lip-reading.

The difficulties of having an interpreter in childbirth

The Deaf Oral Communication Support Act recognises the right of deaf people to have a Sign Language (LSE) interpreter to communicate with health staff, just like any other patient. In practice, this right is not always effective, according to the State Confederation of Deaf People (CNSE). They themselves plan for the presence of an interpreter in the consultations -not from the centres, nor automatically-, but they must do so two days in advance, which makes it difficult for them to be present at a birth if it is not scheduled. In addition, interpreters "have no specific training for such a delicate, intimate and respectful situation". On the other hand, an interpreter will not be on duty for more than one hour, and it is normally very difficult for a delivery to end within that time.

Ministry of the Deaf at the Service of the Adventist Deaf

It is not the first time that the Ministry of the Deaf has had to resort to such a situation. But in this specific case, the health staff of the Hospital de Vila Real treated this couple in a very special way. Almost all of the health personnel made an effort to work with this couple. They tried to speak to the wife slowly and make themselves understood as clearly as possible. In addition, the teamwork that was done, together with the Sign Language Interpreter, was extraordinary.

There was only one complication during a shift change, when a member of the health staff forbade the entry of the deaf husband because only one person could enter as a companion. This situation was quite unpleasant, given that the support, comfort, and strength that the mother who is giving birth needs is that of her husband, as well as that it the husband’s right as a father. However, the presence of the Interpreter was necessary to facilitate communication between the mother and the health personnel. Finally, thank God, the health team allowed the father to be with the mother and see his baby, Karen Rebeca, born.

The Church will always be there to help its members, and the Deaf Ministry is also happy to be able to serve in these situations.

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