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British Sign Language interpreters help more people reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes

Throughout the pandemic, we have all had to adapt how we do things, including how we deliver our services. The introduction of the new remote option for our NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NDPP), Healthier You, enabled us to expand and improve access to the service to help even more people.

One key group were participants whose first or preferred language was British Sign Language (BSL). Our team had identified several patients who would benefit from having access to BSL interpreters to help them engage with and attend the programme remotely.

We swiftly set up a working partnership with Zebra Access (a deaf-led charity) who helped us understand what the best solution would be to improve our communications with the deaf community. The Zebra Access team helped create a short BSL video explaining how our sessions work and how to get involved. The video has been hugely successful and was the first step to improving NDPP’s inclusivity.  

Working closely with Zebra Access and other deaf organisations helped us to adapt our current referral system and service. A small team was set up to focus on the specific details and processes required for a new BSL referral to join the programme. We have since adapted how our ‘team work to discover if a new referral requires BSL and once identified, we have a new process of communicating with them via email or text rather than by phone.

Thanks to Zebra Access, we were able to increase the reach of our BSL offer to work with local BSL charities and organisations to maximise promotion and increase awareness of Healthier You.

Chris Beech, Zebra Access’ ‘Project Development Manager’, said “It has been a privilege working in partnership with Ingeus on the BSL video.  It’s important to raise awareness to the deaf community and highlight the benefits of a healthier lifestyle to prevent type 2 diabetes. We look forward to this programme being developed further and improve inclusivity for BSL users even further.”

The BSL pilot cohort, which is mixed with a non-BSL group, began in September 2021 and in February 2022 we launched our second BSL cohort after demand for the service grew with more referrals. We haven’t stopped there and are constantly looking at how we can improve further, for example, following customer feedback, we have recently extended the session from 60 minutes to 90 minutes to allow more time for questions and understanding. We also reduced our maximum capacity to 14 participants for a more personalised approach.

The BSL pilot programme has been highly successful with some very positive feedback from our customers.

“The sessions are excellent for retrieving information which would not otherwise be available. The Ingeus team have created a fantastic situation where accessing otherwise  incomprehensible information has become automatically available through the services of a skilled interpreter which is greatly appreciate by me.” Mike, BSL participant.

The ability to deliver our programme online has significantly helped us to improve the diversity of our delivery as we now look to offer sessions in a variety of other languages alongside our existing BSL and Hindi sessions.

Mike Pearce, who is the lead educator delivering the programme, commented: “We are very proud of the BSL pilot project and it is fantastic to see how much it means to BSL participants to have these sessions available. I have enjoyed working with Zebra Access and learning about some of the challenges facing those who use BSL face in everyday life. I am looking forward to continuing this and further improving the accessibility of the programme for all.”

It might be the most important thing you do today.

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