Monday, January 24, 2011

Turkish state doesn’t hear us, deaf people complain

From Hurriyet Daily News:

ISTANBUL -- Turkey’s 2-3 million people with hearing disabilities, who have difficulties in expressing themselves in public, have requested translators to bring an end to their communication problems.

“I am just a person with a hearing disability, not a person with obstacles in life. [However,] having a hearing disability means being oppressed. Since doctors and nurses do not understand me, they give me a prescription without understanding what my problem is,” said Serkan Köseoğlu, 25.

“I ask the state to put translators in every public field. We need translators in the hospitals, police departments, schools, airports and in other places in public life,” said Köseoğlu.

The problems experienced by Köseoğlu are faced by millions of Turkish people with hearing and speaking disabilities. While a United Nations report says the number of people with hearing disabilities in Turkey is 2.5 million, the Turkish National Federation of the Deaf says that this number is approximately 3 million.

The main problem that deaf people experience is not being understood. While some suffer allergic reactions from prescriptions written by doctors lacking any knowledge of sign language, others spend up to three days trying to explain their problems for a health report at the hospital. Some have even died due to incorrect diagnoses. Therefore, they want their sign language, which is their native language in their own terms, to be recognized as a constitutional right.

“The doctors do not understand a thing. They just write a prescription and send us back. A few years ago, I had a serious allergic reaction. Due to my fear, I cannot go to a doctor without the company of my father or mother. A deaf friend of mine died because they had the wrong medicine prescribed,” said Tığral Makul, who is hearing-impaired.

In an attempt to address deaf communication problems, some hospitals have started to give sign language education to their staff, including doctors and nurses. Hospitals such as Şişli Etfal and Dünya Göz are among the institutions receiving sign language education from the Turkish National Federation of the Deaf. Some universities are also preparing to give sign language as an obligatory course to students studying in nursing departments.

The federation’s Chair Ercüment Tanrıverdi said no schools give education in sign language. Istanbul Hearing Disabilities Tourism, Education, Culture and Solidarity Association head Seçil Tanrıverdi said the state doesn’t hear the voices of deaf people.

“We do not want to be remembered only on Dec. 3, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. How much can a person who cannot articulate himself exist in society? We can only communicate with our native language, which is the sign language. We need translators who know sign language. The recent steps by hospitals are positive; we need that in every field,” Tanrıverdi said.