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African Journal of Disability (Online)

On-line version ISSN 2226-7220
Print version ISSN 2223-9170


MASUKU, Khetsiwe P.; MOROE, Nomfundo  and  VAN DER MERWE, Danielle. 'The world is not only for hearing people - It's for all people': The experiences of women who are deaf or hard of hearing in accessing healthcare services in Johannesburg, South Africa. Afr. j. disabil. (Online) [online]. 2021, vol.10, pp.1-8. ISSN 2226-7220.

BACKGROUND: Despite legal and adopted frameworks purporting access to healthcare and rehabilitation services, which are both a human right and key to developmental issues, women who are deaf and/or hard of hearing (HoH) are still excluded and experience barriers when accessing healthcare services. Largely, this is attributed to communication barriers between healthcare professionals and women who are deaf and/or HoH. There have been limited research studies carried out on women with invisible disabilities, such as deafness, especially amongst African women. OBJECTIVES: This study sought to gain insights into the communication experiences of women who are deaf or HoH when accessing public healthcare services in hospitals in Johannesburg. METHODS: A qualitative research study employing semi-structured interviews with 10 African women who are deaf and/or HoH residing in Johannesburg, South Africa and attending government healthcare facilities was conducted. Participants were purposively selected. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. RESULTS: Data revealed the following themes: communication barriers resulting in compromised quality of care and infringement on participants' right to confidentiality; accommodation that is not accommodative and negative attitudes of healthcare professionals CONCLUSION: The findings of this study confirm the alienating, exclusion, marginalisation, discrimination, invisibility, lack of independence and autonomy of women who are deaf and/or HoH when accessing healthcare services. Therefore, this study argues for a need for the conscientisation of healthcare professionals on communication needs of persons who are deaf and/or HoH. This has implications for the implementation of training programmes that will address communication, reasonable accommodation and attitudes of healthcare professionals.

Keywords : access; healthcare; women; deaf; South Africa.

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