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June 24, 2004

Students to get deaf awareness training

From: Belfast Telegraph - Belfast,Nothern Ireland,UK - Jun 24, 2004

Module for medical faculty at Queen's

By Nigel Gould
24 June 2004

A CLASS of third-year medical students from Queens University in Belfast are taking steps to increase access to the health service for thousands of deaf and hard of hearing people across Northern Ireland.

It follows a report by RNID - the charity representing a quarter of a million deaf and hard of hearing people in the province - highlighting the barriers that many deaf and hard of hearing people face when trying to access health provision.

A spokeswoman said: "Having recognised the needs to improve practices at grass roots levels, Queen's University in Belfast, with the help of RNID Northern Ireland, developed a special deaf awareness module as part of its third-year medicine course.

"Students of the course were given deaf awareness training and were taught basic British Sign Language (BSL), as a means of improving their understanding of deafness and increasing their effectiveness at communicating with those with a hearing loss."

Students who successfully completed the course will receive certificates outlining their achievement.

Health Minister Angela Smith, sent a message of congratulations to all involved, saying: "I welcome this initiative by RNID and Queen's University which will help ensure that many of our future medical professionals are able to communicate with deaf and hard of hearing patients who use sign language.

"The medical students who have taken this opportunity to improve their sign language skills are to be congratulated and I wish them well for the future."

Brian Symington, director of RNID Northern Ireland, said: "This is a fantastic achievement and this is a big step in the right direction.

"This course will help to break down the barriers for deaf and hard of hearing people. RNID welcomes the efforts made by Queen's University and hopes that more medical courses in the UK follow its lead."

© 2004 Independent News and Media (NI) a division of Independent News & media (UK) Ltd