People wishing to become midwives can now enrol in a course which also teaches them sign language.
Deaf women in labour often do not get the support they need, especially in emergency situations when hospital interpreters are not readily available.
The new course should enable the midwives to better communicate with pregnant women with hearing loss.
De Montfort University in Leicester is running the course in conjunction with Action Deafness, a charity based in the city.
Bernadette Gregory, midwifery lecturer at the university, said: “We decided to run these sessions to highlight the fact that midwives are personally and professionally accountable under the new Equality Act which came into force in October 2010, to offer the best possible, non-discriminatory care to all women and their partners.
“The workshops have highlighted some of the problems faced by deaf parents accessing midwives and their unique communication needs and we hope to teach the next generation of midwives how to communicate and provide better care to these women at such an important time in their lives.
“I believe that we are the first university to run this type of training and I hope by highlighting this issue, midwives and other healthcare professionals will introduce it into their training.”
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