JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia joined the international community by participating in World Sign Day, celebrated on Sept. 23.
The Ministry of Health implemented the “We Are with You” initiative to support deaf people, raising staff awareness about the deaf community. The MOH trained its staff to work with individuals who are deaf, teaching them sign language rules and basics, and helping them find ways to support deaf patients overcome challenges.
Sign language includes 35 manual symbols, each representing a letter of the alphabet, and five other symbols representing diacritics.
The Arabic language also includes numbers in its sign language system; Arabic sign language includes 53 manual symbols representing number, in single or multiple digits.
The MOH also launched the Awlawiya (Priority) Card, one of the Patient Experience Center’s initiatives to facilitate and accelerate procedures and services provided to some groups (including the deaf) inside health facilities.
Other electronic services include the Queries on Treatment Abroad Orders Service and the Mawid (Appointment) Service.
Moreover, it launched the Online Registration initiative for people with disabilities, including the deaf, through its E-Health system. The platform enables MOH officials to follow up on registration and classification electronically, as well as oversee the issuance of Transportation Discount Cards and Traffic Facilitation Cards.
The MOH linked the E-Health platform with other authorities, such as the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development and the Ministry of Education, by automating all procedures to ensure speed and uniformity of service provision. Furthermore, the ministry launched the Eshara app, which provides direct services to the deaf and hearing-impaired, and which allows them to benefit from the services offered by the 937 Service Center.
The app allows visual communication between deaf people and the remote sign interpretation communication center; the interpreter translates the signs as a third party through the digital platform by converting the sign language to spoken Arabic (and vice versa), serving as a mediator between the employee and the deaf person.
The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development launched a series of training programs about sign language basics in its branches in the Kingdom, trained its members and employees in all sectors to understand sign language, and raised their awareness on how to communicate with deaf people to ensure access of all services with ease.