The Toronto Star reported yesterday if you are Deaf in Canada you are not allowed to donate blood. When I first read the article I thought I was reading something from 100 years ago, not 12 hours ago. The Canadian Blood Services (CBS) agency isn’t outright blaming the Deaf for their disability and their inability in the Canadian health system to donate blood — no, that would be too obvious and vicious — so the CBS instead attempts to take up the banner of honor and thoughtfulness by claiming it is a privacy violation for the Deaf to donate blood because they use interpreters.
The CBS argues the Deaf will not be honest on their written medical questionnaire and when verbally questioned in person by a nurse about their sexual history or their drug use or their mental state if an interpreter is present. Instead of giving the Deaf the choice to waive the right to an interpreter or to use a certified interpreter sworn to abide client/interpreter privilege — the CBS have a blanket policy that no Deaf are allowed to donate blood.
For the Deaf who use voice or pen and paper to communicate instead of an interpreter, the CBS has an answer for them as well — you must be able to speak and write English or French. The sole arbiter of who passes the fluency test for “understanding” and “writing” and “speaking” English or French belongs solely to the CBS.
No Deaf have passed the interpreterless speaking and writing part of the blood donation screening process. I find it hard to believe donating blood in Canada is such a thrill for the Deaf that they line up outside clinics to cheat on the questionnaire and lie to a nurse just so they can lose a pint instead of downing one.
The cruelty is obvious and transparent — the CBS believes the Deaf are physiologically unfit to donate blood and to prevent them from participating in the system, the Canadian Blood Services agency created false barriers and Straw Man arguments. This indefensible CBS public policy reminds me of how some believed a century ago the reason the Deaf were deafened was because they had been taken over by the Devil. This kind of current day scarlet lettering by a government agency against a disabled population they are mandated to serve is unfortunate in the specific and irredeemable in total.
It would be The Gift of the Magi-perfect if the head of the Canadian Blood Services agency’s child needed a life-saving bone marrow transplant and the only donor in the world who was a match was Deaf. How quickly would the CBS policy change concerning the fitness of the Deaf as donors?