Queen's Belfast News Release


23rd November, 2010

Queen’s awarded for breaking down communication barriers

Queen’s awarded for breaking down communication barriers (L-R) Jim Edwards, Signature Chief Executive; Brian Symington, Director of RNID NI; Jayne Woodside, Queen's and Bobby Bailey, Sign Language Tutor, RNID

Queen’s and RNID Northern Ireland have won a national award for their work in ensuring future doctors are better equipped to communicate with deaf patients.

Queen’s School of Medicine, Dentistry and Life Sciences received the Organisational Achievement accolade at the annual Signature Awards for its Specialist Module on Deafness. The awards, hosted by leading deaf charity Signature, recognise those who have made a significant contribution towards achieving a society in which deaf and deafblind people have full access to society.

Second year medical students at Queen’s are offered the specialist module which is delivered by the RNID in British Sign Language (BSL). It ensures that future doctors are better equipped to communicate with deaf patients, and includes information on deaf awareness, deaf culture and healthcare issues for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.  Students also work to develop a health-related video British Sign Language Directory.

Speaking at the awards, Signature Chief Executive Jim Edwards said: “Queen’s University Belfast has shown great commitment to helping the deaf community overcome communication barriers, and great credit should go to the team. These vital skills will ensure a legacy of inclusiveness for deaf patients in Northern Ireland. They thoroughly deserve the recognition this accolade brings and should be very proud.”

Following the success of the module, both Queen’s and the RNID now intend to make the module available to all healthcare-related undergraduates at the University, through the development of a website funded by the Higher Education Academy.

Dr Jayne Woodside, who runs the specialist module and is developing the new website, said; “This course is an important opportunity for medical students to develop deaf awareness and communication skills, and we are very keen to both maintain and develop these links with RNID. Following its success, in the future, we are planning to make our new website available to undergraduates in all healthcare disciplines.”

Director of RNID NI, Brian Symington added: “We are campaigning for improved access to healthcare for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.  Having doctors who are able to communicate effectively with their deaf and hard of hearing patients is a major step forward in making healthcare services in Northern Ireland accessible. The success of this course is due to the excellent partnership working between Queen’s, RNID and Signature.”

Further information on the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Life Sciences at Queen’s is available online at www.qub.ac.uk/schools/mdbs/

Media inquiries to Donna McCullough, Communications Office, 00 44 (0) 28 9097 5391

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