Technological, Research or Short Note

Addition of optional sign language in optometry schools for improved eye care for the deaf

Joas Ramaja
African Vision and Eye Health | Vol 77, No 1 | a453 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aveh.v77i1.453 | © 2018 Joas Ramaja | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 April 2018 | Published: 10 October 2018


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Abstract

Background: Often, a deaf patient walks into an optometrist’s practice seeking help with his/her eyes. There is a high likelihood that poor communication between patient and healthcare professional will influence the final product dispensed. This has been the personal experience of the author over the years in private practice.

Objectives: The article aims to start a debate on the quality of service given to a section of the population. The optometric services given to the deaf are in a way compromised by the communication barrier between patient and healthcare professional.

Method: A review of several studies on provision of healthcare services to the deaf was conducted. Further information was included on the importance of vision to the deaf.

Results: Eighteen full-text articles from around the world were included. The review found that the deaf use sight to compensate for their loss of hearing.

Conclusion: Deaf people rely on the sense of sight to make up for hearing loss. Training optometry graduates in sign language will improve the provider-patient communication with the deaf, thereby preventing the prevalence of deaf-blindness, which is an impediment to both development and education. A debate must be initiated on where the language can be incorporated into the already congested training programme.


Keywords

Deaf; hard of hearing; communication; amplification

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