Going on safari in Serengeti National Park, scuba diving in Zanzibar, diving into mouth-watering cuisine in southern Thailand.
For those of us who are avid travellers, these kinds of experiences are all the more enticing amidst the current worldwide travel lockdown. But experienced travellers know that, while backpacking across Europe, Africa and Asia can sound wonderfully romantic, it can also be a logistical nightmare….err challenge.
So, imagine being on the road in a strange country, trying to deal with locals speaking a foreign language: all without being able to hear anything.
By doing that, you’d be putting yourself into the shoes of Scott Jeffery, PHSA’s newly hired sign language service coordinator for the Provincial Language Service (PLS).
Scott has been Deaf since birth but that certainly hasn’t limited his wanderlust. In fact, it’s made him more determined to see the world, as he’s now visited more than 40 counties in his relatively young life.
He sees his new PLS role as an exciting new adventure, minus the sometimes troubling logistics of getting from country to country.
With years of experience in supporting the Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing (DDBHH) community, Scott is well aware of many of the issues faced.
“I’m a freelance Deaf Interpreter, and I’ve been a Medical Deaf Interpreter for 10 years,” he says. “I’ve worked on the frontlines with health-care providers, administration and DDBHH patients and their families,“ he adds.
“My goal is to help take down barriers that our patients or clients encounter every day.”
Some of their biggest challenges from his perspective?
“In general, people sometimes make assumptions about DDBHH patients or clients,” he says. “It’s really important that we ask patients directly what they need."
“Some will need support, while others don't.”
While support for a DDBHH patient often comes through assistance from their family, in the case of medical issues, Scott says that’s often not the best avenue for the patient.
“In many cases, a family member won’t know the correct signs for medical jargon or be trained to interpret health-related information in ASL,” he explains. “Even more importantly, the patient will have no independence or privacy if a friend or family member accompanies them.”
As someone who lives as a Deaf person with experience in the interpreting field, Scott felt he had a lot to contribute to the PLS team. His 15 years of experience at Provincial Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services in a variety of roles have him committed to helping ensure that DDBHH patients and clients have the ability and opportunity to participate fully in the decision-making process around their health.
Despite being a part of a growing household – his 18-month-old daughter is to be joined by a brother or sister this fall – Scott is a long-time supporter of Family Network for Deaf Children’s summer program, Deaf Youth Today. The group offers American Sign Language summer camps, similar to the one he first attended as a teenager.
“Deaf Youth Today was my first DDBHH camp experience, and it shaped me to whom I am today,” he recalls. “Prior to that, I was the only Deaf person at the hearing camps I went to.”
“It was always challenging to understand what others were saying and it can be a little bit lonely. I didn’t want other DDBHH children in the province to go through that. So, I help Deaf Youth Today bring DDBHH children together to experience a summer camp in ASL and form the lasting friendships that can come out of that experience.”
While he’s not sure how many DDBHH patients or clients currently go without ASL medical interpreting, Scott’s keen on making sure that everyone – patients/clients and care team members – in health authorities across the province know that sign language interpreting is available to them.
“Awareness is one of our biggest challenges,” he adds, “and is something we’ll be making headway on in the months to come.”
For more information on the many PLS services, check the PLS web pages
. To book an interpreter, staff from any health authority can call 1-877-BC Talks (228-2557).