Health Resources Needed in Deaf Community

Posted: Apr 06, 2017 06:53 PM Updated: Apr 06, 2017 06:53 PM

EDINBURG – Diabetes can strike anyone at any age, even if there isn’t any family history of the disease. Even individuals with existing health problems or disabilities can be susceptible to it.

Dr. Shawn Saladin is an associate dean for the UTRGV College of Health Affairs. He’s also legally deaf.

“We are just like everybody else,” he said.

Saladin said just like others in the Rio Grande Valley, people will find diabetic patients in the deaf community.

“Having hearing loss doesn’t necessarily lead to diabetes, but not having the information about how to eat healthy, how to control blood sugar, that leads to diabetes and other health complications,” he said.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS’ Heart of the Valley series has highlighted the lack of access to healthcare and health literacy in many parts of the Valley. Many people don’t know how to live healthy.

In the deaf community, the problem is the lack of resources, people who can properly educate those with hearing loss on health issues.

“There are communication barriers. And the communication barriers are the interpreters. The need for interpreters in order to explain what the issues are and what diabetes is,” Saladin said.

Not just anyone can translate what a doctor says to a person who can’t hear. The interpreter has to understand the medical terms themselves to be able to explain in American Sign Language or Mexican Sign Language.

“If you don’t know how to take care of it, then it’s going to get worse. And it’s going to cause other problems, like we haven’t even touched on diabetic neuropathy yet. You know, when you’re deaf and then you start losing your vision, that’s really scary,” Saladin said.

Saladin said about 15,000 people who are legally deaf live across the area from Brownsville to Laredo. And not enough medical interpreters to serve create issues.

“People get confused at… not hearing means you don’t understand. Not hearing just means you didn’t hear it, it hasn’t been explained to you because you didn’t hear it,” he said.

He added the deaf shouldn’t be forgotten in the fight against diabetes.

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