The British Association of Teachers of the Deaf
Promoting Excellence in Deaf Education

Reaching deaf minds... for healthy deaf lives - SIGN Campaign

This article first appeared in the September 2003 issue of the BATOD Association Magazine

SIGN has launched a new health promotion campaign - please have a look at the web-site :

Reaching Deaf Minds is about access to primary care in the first instance, removing the stigma attached to mental health and improving the emotional welfare of deaf people wherever they are. The key to mental well-being is access to information, support and access to communication.

Posters have been designed as part of the campaign. They can be ordered from SIGN free of charge. Please place them in common rooms or corridors to draw attention to these important issues. Mental health problems are more common in deaf people than in their hearing counterparts, probably because of the stress of experiencing deafness in a hearing world and the responses to deafness. The deaf youngster's environment and barriers to services cause isolation. A lot could be done to reduce these difficulties through removing barriers to access to services providing communication support installing text phones training staff to use and maintain text phones training in deaf awareness and sign language providing accessible information materials.

The absence of these steps all play a role in making it stressful for deaf people to use the NHS. Without having easy access to GP services mental health problems can be exacerbated and their effect prolonged.

The campaign will work with other charities to highlight the needs of deaf people and draw attention to examples of good and bad practice with a view to raising service standards and awareness. It is planned to persuade decision-makers of the need to plan improved access for deaf people as part of their performance plans and to encourage PCTs to involve deaf people in planning and consultation exercises.

The web site encourages readers to provide case examples of how they were treated in the NHS. These case histories can be helpful in illustrating a more fundamental policy issue, they can serve as a backcloth to the campaign. Examples of good practice can be disseminated to other practitioners to ensure that learning gets disseminated. Examples of poor practice can serve to highlight areas for improvement.

Please contact Matthew James, Deputy Chief Executive, for further information.

Sign Charity, 5, Baring Road, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, HP9 2NB


Voice: 01494 687600

Minicom: 01494 687626

Fax: 01494 687622

BATOD members were invited to complete the questionnaire included with this Magazine when it first appeared in September 2003. The questionnaire is also available on the web-site. In addition, SIGN would like to hear more specifically about the needs of pupils and young learners for support with mental health problems and any responses by the health system.

  • Have there been occasions when it would have been useful to get access to support and this was not forthcoming?
  • What are the most frequent emotional or behavioural difficulties faced by young deaf pupils?
  • What are the reasons for them?
  • In what situations would a timely referral have helped a pupil's functioning?
  • What impact had the failure of the health system had on the young person?
  • What services would you have liked to see provided?
  • What did you do to help?
  • What could you have done as a teacher to help if there had been accessible services when needed?

Conversely, particularly good working relationships with health and social care providers should also be drawn to SIGN's attention. Productive working structures on the ground which involve service users and providers would really be of great interest. Sign would like to know about localities where joint working with the primary care services and with education and social services is well advanced and properly established. Young people are vulnerable in adolescence and clearly benefit from helpful signposting, accessible information and targeted help. If there are any LEAs which should be praised for making effective arrangements with health and social care, we want to know from you.

Matthew James

Deputy Chief Executive, SIGN