Deaf father-to-be's relief as firm offers interpreter for birth
A PRIVATE company has stepped in to provide a deaf father-to-be with a sign language interpreter at the birth of his first child after he was refused one by the NHS.
Adam Bassett, 31, of Hull, says Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust discriminated against him when they told him they would not be able to provide an interpreter.
Mr Bassett says he has already missed out on important appointments and birthing classes with his partner Toni and feared he would not know what was going on in the birth without one.
Now, the couple are receiving help from Sign Loop Interpreting Services Ltd – a company that has a mission to help raise deaf awareness.
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The company has agreed to fund an interpreter for the remaining antenatal classes and the birth.
Mr Bassett said: "We feel so relieved they offered to help out.
"That's really fantastic for them to do that and they have been wonderful, supporting us and understanding our situation totally.
"Offering to be present for the birth has taken away a huge strain and worry from Toni to be able to concentrate on being relaxed and have an easy birth.
"However, Sign Loop shouldn't have had to offer their services for free, the NHS has money available for interpreter services, which should be used in this case."
Mr Bassett said although he is relieved that he will now know everything that is going on at the birth, he still worries about the future.
He said: "To be honest, it's not over because I still worry about the future though and what would happen with our daughter if only I were present at any appointments for her health.
"I also worry about other deaf fathers and fathers-to-be. Who would help them?
"I would love to see a charity set up to solve those future problems and for the NHS to recognise that fathers want to be fully involved and offer services to do this to all expectant fathers."
Lucy Doig, director at Sign Loop said: "Mr Bassett just wants to be involved in the pregnancy and learn with his partner.
"It's a real shame they have faced such a fight. It has been stressful for them both.
"Unfortunately, something like this happens on a daily basis for deaf individuals.
"It comes down to budget. This is not an isolated case.
"We got involved because we believe an interpreter should be there."
The trust does provide British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters and interpreters in 30 different languages for patients, but the couple cannot have one because Mr Bassett is not the actual patient.
Under the equality law, organisations that provide a service for deaf people are required to make that service accessible for disabled people.
Shelly Davy, of Sign Loop Interpreting Services Ltd, said: "There seems to be a bit of a grey area over providing an interpreter for the birth because Adam is not the patient so the service is not offered to him.
"However, birthing classes are a service provided to the mother and whoever she wishes to bring along, so the NHS are expected to make reasonable adjustments for the person who has the disability to be able to attend and not to be at a disadvantage.
"By putting this person at a disadvantage because of their disability can be a form of discrimination."
The trust told the Mail it provides interpreter services for all "patients" who need them.