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Assessing Deaf patients in the neurology clinic
  1. Matthew J Harris1,
  2. Joanna R Atkinson2,
  3. Katy Judd1,
  4. Maureen Bergson1,
  5. Catherine J Mummery1
  1. 1 Dementia Research Centre, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London, UK
  2. 2 Deafness, Cognition and Language Research Centre, University College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Matthew J Harris, Dementia Research Centre, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London WC1N 3BG, UK; mjharris{at}


There are over 87 000 Deaf people in the UK with British Sign Language (BSL) as their first language.1 Few healthcare professionals receive training in Deaf awareness or in BSL, and missed diagnoses and inadequate treatment of Deaf patients are estimated to cost the National Health Service £30 million per year.2 Neurologists are likely to encounter Deaf BSL users in their practice, but without prior experience may find consultations challenging, especially within the time constraints and pressure of a standard clinic. In this article, we provide guidance on consulting with Deaf people in a neurology clinic, drawing on experience from our cognitive clinic for Deaf BSL users where effective communication is essential.

  • dementia
  • cognition
  • clinical neurology

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  • Contributors MJH drafted the original article. JRA, KJ, MB and CJM provided clinical expertise and critical appraisal of the article.

  • Funding CJM is supported by funding from the National Institute for Health Research, University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Next of kin consent obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed by Mark Manford, Cambridge, UK, and Nicola George, Cardiff, UK.