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Image credit: Deaf Services Queensland

Nursing, paramedic students pick up sign language

Health students from the Townsville area have been learning Auslan to better communicate with deaf patients and help them feel more comfortable and accepted.

Central Queensland University Townsville has been hosting evening classes in Auslan – Australian sign language – aimed at nursing and paramedic students and open to any other local university health students.

Paramedic science lecturer Ashley Denham said learning the language is of high importance to ensure cultural awareness for the deaf community.

"There is a common misunderstanding amongst paramedics that a deaf person can communicate through pen and paper," Denham said. "Unfortunately, it becomes clear that English is often difficult for these patients, so often the questions asked are not fully understood, and they also find it difficult to write their answers.”

Nursing Review sat down with Denham to discuss the benefits of the classes for both students and patients and what she learned about communicating with deaf patients during her time as a paramedic.

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