"Ear Mark" seal project to help medical professionals to understand the communication needs of people with hearing disability

The NPO (incorporated nonprofit organization) Iwate Prefecture Association of the Late Deafened and Hard of Hearing (NIPALDHH) is working on the spread of "Ear Mark" seal project to the medical institutions in the prefecture.

The "Ear Mark" (耳マーク) is a logo symbolized with the shape of the ear. At the bottom of the seal the phrase is printed: "I have a hearing problem" to show that you will need to use hand signals with the hard of hearing. The aim of the mark is to let a hearing person know the needs of the communication needs of people with hearing disability.

Persons who have a difficulty in hearing are often misunderstood at a glance as they look normal. NIPALDHH is promoting the use of the "Ear Mark" seal. "The seal is easy to put on the consultation card and the clinical record."

It has distributed the seals to the hospitals and clinics in the prefecture through the Prefecture Medical Association this June. The professional association sent 1000 sheets (ten pieces per sheet) of the Ear Mark to about 100 medical institutions in the prefecture in September.

At a hospital in Morioka City which has introduced the seal project since about ten years ago, the staff obtains the patient's consent, puts the seal on his/her clinical record so that it is easy for the concerned staff to notice.

The Director of the hospital actually feels the effect, saying that "By doing with the seal project, the staff can communicate slowly while seeing patient's eyes."

When the name is called in the waiting room in the hospital etc. , the person with hearing disability doesn't often notice. He/She understands neither what the doctor explains nor what he directs, and easily get puzzled.

The Chair of NIPALDHH says, "The doctor or nurse sees the seal on the clinical record, and tap the patient's shoulder when to call, and by writing explains the condition and treatment. Because more people get older now, I want them to use the seal, too."

Susumu Sato (81), a resident of Morioka City and a NIPALDHH member, also says "I want many more hospitals and clinics to introduce the seal project."

Source: Iwate Daily Report, Dec. 16, 2008
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