Hellingly teenagers campaign for sign language interpreters at GPs

Lara Goring, 18, is campaigning for interpreters to attend GP's surgeries
Lara Goring, 18, is campaigning for interpreters to attend GP's surgeries

Two Hellingly teenagers who were born with rare speech disorders are calling for sign language interpreters to attend GP surgeries.

Lara Goring and Eddie Osborne, both 18, are calling for a change to current system to make access to interpreters easier for people with speech and language disorders.

Under the current system Lara and Eddie, who both attended St Mary's School in Bexhill, are forced to take their parents to doctor appointments to help communicate, which the say can be embarrassing if they are discussing personal issues.

Unlike deaf people, patients with speech, language or communication needs are not entitled to an interpreter when visiting the doctors. They can apply in advance for an interpreter to attend, but must give plenty of notice.

Lara said: "If there is an emergency you can’t get a speech and language interpreter to come in instantly, so it would help to already have those rights there."

Lara, who can talk but finds signing more comfortable, was born with a rare disorder called Cat Eye Syndrome, which affects various organs in the body as well as speech.

She said: "I don’t like talking in appointments. I find it difficult to process things and I don’t know what to say or how to say it, so I just stay quiet.

"To make things worse, if you’re a teenager and you’ve got private issues, having your mum as your interpreter can be really embarrassing.

"I think sign language should be taught in schools. If you can make it more universal it will open the world up to people with difficulties."

To highlight their message Lara and Eddie teamed-up with Fixers, a young people's charity which gives people a platform to highlight causes.

Both Lara and Eddie, who was born with Joubert’s syndrome a disorder which affects the brain, appear in the film to discuss their concerns.

He said: "I communicate using an app, but it takes a long time to write things down and show people."

Lara adds: "Eddie can type into it and it can speak for him but they don’t always work properly. If you make a spelling mistake it doesn’t self-correct it and it just speaks it out loud.

"Apps can’t express emotions and explain the nuances of things. You can make somebody understand you’ve got a pain in your arm but that doesn’t exactly describe how it feels - you can’t describe that it’s a burning pain or where it’s located."

Lara hopes the film will demonstrate the need for interpreters in healthcare environments and encourage more people to learn sign language.

Fixers works with young people aged 16-25 across the UK by providing them with resources to help them campaign on issues they feel strongly about.

The charity has helped more than 19,000 youngsters across the UK to have a voice in their community on issues such as cyber-bullying, self-harm, suicide or transphobia.

For more information on Fixer projects, visit www.fixers.org.uk

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