Podcast Transcript June 14, 2024: Emergency Service Equity for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing and Tackling Period Poverty in Indigenous Communities | The Optimist Daily
Today’s Solutions: July 19, 2024
Episode Description

Emergency Service Equity for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing and Tackling Period Poverty in Indigenous Communities

This week’s solution news:

Arielle and Karissa are excited to be sharing solutions again after a three-week break. Today, they focus on health-care-facing solutions! Arielle starts off by discussing the North East Ambulance Service’s new British Sign Language initiative that makes emergency care more inclusive and equitable. Then Karissa dives into a new federal effort in Canada that hopes to reduce period poverty in the country’s northern and remote Indigenous communities.

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Theme music 

00:00:02 Arielle 

Hello and welcome back to the Optimist Daily’s Weekly Round-up. I’m Arielle. 

00:00:07 Karissa 

And I’m Karissa and we’re working hard to put solutions in view and optimism in movement. Hello, we’re back from our little three-week break. 

00:00:17 Arielle 

Yes. And now we’re back with a brand-new season. I guess you could call this season three of the Optimist Daily’s Weekly Round-up. And yeah, we’re excited to be back, feeling pretty refreshed. 

00:00:29 Arielle 

Or, I can only speak for myself. But how are you feeling, Karissa? 

00:00:32 Karissa 

I’m feeling good, a little bit strange to be back to work. 

00:00:35 Arielle 


00:00:37 Karissa 

I think we’re both trying to settle back in. 

00:00:39 Arielle 

Yeah, just get back into the flow of things, because like, I am refreshed and I’m ready to be back at work. It’s good to have more purpose in my days I suppose. But Karissa, you and I were talking before… and my trip was amazing… but it wasn’t necessarily the most relaxing.  

00:00:47 Karissa 


00:00:56 Arielle 

It was more like adventure and experiencing new things. 

00:00:59 Karissa 

Those are fun, but yeah, definitely take a lot out of you. 

00:01:03 Arielle 


00:01:04 Karissa 

I was in Hawaii so I thought that would be a little bit more relaxing, and not that I’m mad about how it went… It was great, but we did do a lot of exploring and a lot of running around so, by the end of the day… 

00:01:14 Arielle 

Yeah, you were. You were like, in a volcano, or in a volcano tube or something? 

00:01:15 Karissa 


00:01:19 Karissa 

I was in a volcano, on some black sand, so lots of things to experience. And yeah, it was funny. While I was on the volcano, I was thinking of some Optimist Daily solutions that we shared. We had one while we were gone from the pod about… 

00:01:32 Arielle


00:01:35 Karissa 

…I think it was energy storage and volcanic ash. So I was really thinking about that when I was there. 

00:01:40 Arielle 

Yeah. Sometimes you just can’t take your mind off work. 

00:01:43 Karissa 

But, luckily for us, we have work that, you know, is really cool and these solutions keep us thinking even outside of work and I hope they keep all our listeners and readers of the Optimist Daily thinking too. 

00:01:55 Arielle 

Well, speaking of solutions, I suppose we’ll just dive in.  

00:01:56 Karissa 


00:01:58 Arielle 

Do you mind if I go first, Karissa? 

00:01:59 Karissa 

Yeah, of course. Let’s see what you have for us today. 

00:02:04 Arielle 

It’s good that you said “See” because I’m actually going into an article that is very 

00:02:09 Arielle 

Visual, and it’s titled: The innovative Sign Language Ambulance Service revolutionizes emergency care. And this article discusses a groundbreaking development that’s set to make a big difference for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.  

00:02:25 Arielle 

The Northeast Ambulance Service in England has rolled out a British Sign Language or “BSL” Relay Service. And this innovative step promises to make emergency services more accessible and save lives in critical situations. 

00:02:38 Karissa 

Yeah, that sounds really fascinating. How exactly does this new service work? 

00:02:42 Arielle 

Basically, all ambulances in the Northeast region have been equipped with iPads running an app called SignVideo. 

00:02:50 Arielle 

So, this app connects ambulance personnel to a video interpreter 24/7. 

00:02:55 Arielle 

Because if you think about it, when a deaf person contacts the ambulance or an emergency service, more times than not, the personnel isn’t proficient enough in whichever sign language. So, for American Sign Language, it’s ASL. But since we’re talking about England, it’s BSL. So, a deaf or BSL-using patient needs help and paramedics can quickly communicate with them through a live interpreter. 

00:03:20 Karissa 

Yeah. It’s like having a translator on call all the time. That must be a really big game changer for first responders because obviously you need to communicate to understand what’s happening. 

00:03:30 Arielle 

Exactly. So, Mark Johns, who’s the engagement, diversity, and inclusion manager at NEAS; that’s short for Northeast Ambulance Service, highlighted the significance of this initiative. He mentioned that delivering high-quality patient care and effective communication in emergencies is crucial, and this service ensures that all patients, 

00:03:50 Arielle 

regardless of their hearing ability, can receive the care they need and deserve. 

00:03:53 Karissa 

Totally, and this can make such a big impact because real-time communication can be the difference between life and death. 

00:04:00 Arielle 

Absolutely. They even demonstrate how the service works in a video. I think if you go to their site, a paramedic writes a note to the patient letting them know they’ll contact an interpreter via the sign language or via the SignVideo app. And then within seconds, a video interpreter is on the call, facilitating a seamless exchange of information. And this helps the patient explain their symptoms clearly and allows paramedics to get informed consent before starting treatment. 

00:04:25 Karissa 

It sounds like this could also reduce a lot of stress for deaf patients in emergencies because, you know, not being able to communicate must add so much anxiety to an already very stressful situation. 

00:04:36 Arielle 

Yeah, definitely. I mean, thinking of myself in emergency situations, I’d like to think I’d be calm and cool and collected and know exactly what I want to say,  

00:04:43 Karissa 


00:04:44 Arielle 

But, chances are I’d be a little bit chaotic… 

00:04:46 Karissa 


00:04:47 Arielle 

…adding a whole other level of communication barriers would be extremely stressful. 

00:04:52 Arielle 

So ,this can only have a good impact. Rachel Austin from the heart Pool Dev Center Praise initiative, noting how Def BSL users often struggle to access services due to communication barriers, and she believes this new service will make a huge difference. 

00:05:08 Karissa 

Do we know how many people this could potentially help? 

00:05:10 Arielle 

So there are about 151,000 BSL users in England, Scotland and Wales. 

00:05:17 Arielle 

With 87,000 of them being deaf. And this program is a huge step towards equity for a group that has already faced significant hurdles in getting emergency care. NEAS is just aiming to improve these patient outcomes. 

00:05:27 Karissa 


00:05:30 Karissa 

It’s really impressive to see such a targeted approach to inclusivity. What is the history behind the SignVideo app? 

00:05:37 Arielle 

Oh, good question. SignVideo was founded in 2004 by deaf entrepreneur Jeff McWhitney. The technology has been widely adopted across various sectors in the UK, so that includes government, health care, and emergency services. 

00:05:53 Arielle 

The 999 BSL service, for instance, allows Deaf BSL users to call for emergency help via a video hotline. And then, SignVideo handles over 100,000 BSL video calls each year with an average response time of less than 45 seconds. 

00:06:10 Karissa 

Yeah, the quick response time is crucial, especially in emergencies. 

00:06:14 Karissa 

I feel like this technology could also be useful for non-emergency purposes, right? 

00:06:19 Arielle 

Yeah, exactly. It’s used for community participation and staff training as well. So, looking ahead, NEAS plans to train their frontline staff on this technology throughout the next year, aiming for complete adoption by spring of 2025. And even though it’s currently limited to… 

00:06:36 Arielle 

North England, it does set a model that could be replicated globally.  

00:06:41 Karissa 

Yeah, definitely.  

00:06:41 Arielle 

Rachel Austin. So, I mentioned her before. She’s from the Hartlepoole Deaf Center. She is very optimistic about it as well. 

00:06:48 Arielle 

And she mentioned that it could help remove barriers and provide a vital tool for communication. So, it’s basically just a huge step towards greater equality. And I don’t know why this wasn’t installed earlier. 

00:07:01 Karissa 

Yeah, exactly. It’s something that, you know, I feel like probably a lot of us didn’t even consider. I feel like I definitely didn’t think about it. But it’s such a real problem. 

00:07:10 Arielle 

Mmhm, I didn’t think about it either until I read this article and I think that’s why it is so important to have, like things like Diversity Boards, so we can. 

00:07:17 Karissa 


00:07:19 Arielle 

Experience or consider things from another perspective. And it made me really curious about what’s on offer in the United States for people who are hard of hearing or deaf. And I just did a quick Google search. So, this is by no means a comprehensive thing. But I did see that most states have a text-to-911 service. 

00:07:40 Arielle 

So, people who are hard of hearing or use ASL, they can text, but there’s always a possibility that they might get a bounce-back text, which is pretty limiting. And then they’re encouraged to try and access these services through another means… 

00:07:57 Arielle 

…which, if you’re deaf, you can’t really call or like you can call, but you won’t be able to explain, so that’s… yeah, it’s just very limiting. There is one other source that I found on the Massachusetts government site, and it has, like, emergency service cards. So it’s basically… 

00:08:16 Arielle 

A big chart that has images and words such as… Actually, I have it opened here. 

00:08:24 Arielle 

Yeah. So it like has a diagram for the level of pain and it has like, things like sharp pain, throbbing pain, dull pain, ongoing tingling, swelling. But it is a pretty vast chart because you want to be specific when you are communicating these things. So that means the person will have to, like, take the time to go through all of this. 

00:08:44 Arielle 

And like try and explain via pointing at pictures basically, what they’re going through and… 

00:08:50 Karissa 


00:08:52 Arielle 

You know, as you said before, real-time communication could be the difference between saving lives. And then also, if someone is in a lot of pain, then they won’t necessarily be focused on trying to find these symbols to communicate what they’re going through. So, I think that maybe other emergency services. 

00:08:59 Karissa 


00:09:11 Arielle 

In the States, in Canada, I didn’t even check it out for the Netherlands, but if we don’t already have something like this, then I think it’s an amazing service. 

00:09:15 Karissa 

Yeah, I’m really thinking so much about how scary it must be as a deaf patient or if someone you love is deaf too. It must be so scary to… 

00:09:28 Karissa 

…like you know that possibility if the technology isn’t out there? Yeah, life or death. So, I think this is great. I hope more people, more regions follow and adopt this technology. 

00:09:31 Arielle 


00:09:40 Arielle 

And I think your solution also has to do with healthcare? 

00:09:44 Karissa 

Yeah, it does have to do with healthcare. Something a little bit different because we are talking about free period products for remote Indigenous communities in Canada. 

00:09:54 Karissa 

So, if I can switch into my solution then I’ll tell you about it.  

00:09:56 Arielle 

Mm-hmm. Go ahead. 

00:09:58 Karissa 

I picked the solution this week because I was just saying how I am once again on my period this week, so, I feel this one. 

00:10:07 Arielle 

Mm-hmm. We don’t really live in remote areas. So, I mean, I have access all the time to period products. 

00:10:10 Karissa 


00:10:14 Karissa 

So I can’t even imagine like, you know, not being able to get easy access, this new federal effort aims to reduce period poverty in Canada’s northern and remote indigenous communities. 

00:10:18 Arielle 


00:10:24 Karissa 

According to recent polls, one in every five Canadians struggles to buy period supplies. And the problem is considerably more severe for Indigenous people living in remote locations. According to an indigenous-led period equity group, 74% of Indigenous respondents have difficulty acquiring these critical items.  

00:10:44 Arielle 

Whoa! I was already thinking one in five is quite a lot, but 74% is a really large percentage. 

00:10:50 Karissa 

Yeah. Nicole White, the founder of Moon Time Connections, the only national indigenous-led period equity organization in Canada, agrees with this and says: 

00:10:59 Karissa 

We should be making menstrual products as readily available as toilet paper. 

00:11:02 Arielle 

I mean it’s, it’s just as essential as toilet paper. 

00:11:05 Karissa 

At least half the population goes through it. The federal menstrual equity fund pilot project, which has allocated roughly $18,000,000 to Food Banks Canada, intends to provide free administration supplies to low-income people and increase awareness about period poverty. 

00:11:22 Karissa 

Moon Time Connections will get $2.4 million in financing to target rural and northern indigenous communities expressly. 

00:11:30 Arielle 

That’s cool. 

00:11:30 Karissa 

And then over in Wood Buffalo, Alberta, the local food bank has noticed a considerable increase in demand for period products. 

00:11:37 Karissa 

People are having a hard time supporting just their basic needs. Menstrual items are within that, explains Michelle Hand, who is a communications and development manager at the Wood Buffalo Food Bank. 

00:11:49 Karissa 

The Food Bank, which serves towns as far north as Fort Chipewyan, has seen demand rise from 600 to over 1000 households every month in the last year or so.  

00:12:00 Arielle 


00:12:01 Karissa 

Considerable increase. One thing that is great about Moon Time Connections, is that it allows people to request things using online forms, offering discreet and direct service. Because, you know, at the end of the day, we haven’t destigmatized periods yet, so. 

00:12:13 Arielle 

I wish we could get rid of the shame altogether, but of course, having the option of having discrete services is good. 

00:12:21 Karissa 

In Yukon, attempts to enhance access to menstruation products are also underway. So Heather Sealey, who coordinates volunteers and community programs at the White Horse Food Bank, recalls how clients used to have to request sanitary goods. But the food bank’s lobby now has a dedicated shelf filled with various menstruation products that are available whenever the lobby is open. 

00:12:42 Karissa 

And she says how it’s really important for her clients to be able to have a choice to pick the things they want. Options of different period products are also very important. 

00:12:50 Arielle 

Yeah, everyone’s needs are individual.  

00:12:53 Karissa 


00:12:54 Arielle  

Not every woman. Not every womb-bearing person. Not every preference is the same. I mean, it’s a really intimate thing. 

00:13:00 Karissa 

And we definitely want to be comfortable during this time; it’s great that they have the choices and that, you know, it’s on hand and it doesn’t have to be requested.  

00:13:08 Arielle 


00:13:13 Karissa 

The Council of Yukon First Nations, CYFN for short, has also been involved in this effort, working with all 14 Yukon First Nations since late 2022 to give free supplies. Shadelle Chambers, who is the executive director, expresses optimism about the new federal initiative. She says, “We are excited to hear about this new initiative that could have period products be accessible by a lot more Yukon, First Nations, and Yukoners who need this.” 

00:13:36 Karissa 

And so, since late 2022, CYFN has spent $1.2 million to provide menstruation supplies. Moon Time Connections, which we were talking about earlier, reported a rise in demand with fresh inquiries from 90 towns in 2024, more than doubling the previous two years. These results highlight the urgent need for more outreach and education, but it sounds like they’re doing a pretty fine job so far and expanding. 

00:14:00 Arielle


00:14:01 Arielle 

The money spent, 1.2 million and then I think there was something else… 2.4 million… this would all be money spent by women in these communities, which is a pretty high price tag for something that we can’t, like… Women don’t have a choice. We have to we have to have this. 

00:14:10 Karissa 


00:14:18 Karissa 

Yeah, I was thinking about these high price tags too. Yeah, definitely necessary. And I’m glad that the attention is being turned to this. 

00:14:25 Arielle 

The attention and the funding, for sure.

00:14:27 Karissa 

Yeah. And Nicole White again emphasizes the need for cultural teachings about menstruation to help destigmatize it. As we were talking about earlier, as well as practical education on how to use period products, which is definitely another thing. Even, you know, like in the states where we have easy access, we don’t really talk about using them properly. I think we were talking about, you know, the personal preferences of what you wanna use for period products. But a lot of people don’t even know how to use a tampon. 

00:14:52 Arielle 

Yeah, it depends on, like, the quality of your, I guess health classes in school. And also, I mean, some families aren’t very comfortable talking about this topic either. 

00:15:03 Karissa 


00:15:05 Arielle 

And I think since I was in health class. 

00:15:09 Arielle 

Back, way, way back in the day, the options were like pads and and tampons. But now there’s so many more options. 

00:15:17 Karissa 


00:15:18 Arielle 

If we don’t talk about them, then how are people going to know what they might be drawn to? 

00:15:24 Karissa 

I’m really curious if they offer the period cups that you insert, that could be a good like long-term solution and there’s also… 

00:15:28 Arielle 


00:15:32 Karissa 

We’ve written on the Optimist Daily about just kind of like reusable pads that have been, you know, there was one girl who, like, made a lot for people. 

00:15:36 Arielle 


00:15:40 Karissa 

I think during the pandemic.  

00:15:44 Arielle 

Yeah, I remember that story. And then there’s like, period panties as well, which I haven’t tried, but I’m… I’m interested. But yeah, there’s so many other options for your comfort. And yeah, just also for different activities that you might be doing. It’s great to be educated about this. And it’s great if it doesn’t always have to be put on the families to disseminate this information, yeah. 

00:16:05 Karissa 


00:16:06 Karissa 

Yeah, it seems like they’re doing a really good job. You know, organizations such as Moon Time Connections and CYFN are taking this comprehensive approach to solving period poverty and guaranteeing equitable access to menstrual products for everyone. So, I really like this. I really like any Women’s Health stories. So yeah, this was good to see. 

00:16:25 Karissa 

And hopefully more things like this come about. 

00:16:28 Arielle 

Well, that was a great roundup of solutions. We have some other great solutions from this week that you can find on our website, optimistdaily.com, and they include. 

00:16:39 Karissa 

As the weather warms up, here’s how to help animals handle a heat wave. 

00:16:43 Karissa 

Breakthrough blood test detects breast cancer recurrence earlier than ever before. Why do fish swim in schools? New study reveals unexpected benefits. And, Coldplay’s sustainable tour triumph: reducing carbon footprint by 59%. Oh, I really am excited to look more into that story because we’ve been following Coldplay for a while. 

00:17:03 Arielle 

We also have: Claudia Sheinbaum becomes Mexico’s first female president. 

00:17:09 Arielle 

3 habits of the happiest people, Big oil to pay for climate change damages in Vermont, and, could injectable treatments help California’s homeless mental health patients. 

00:17:19 Karissa 

Yeah. Sounds like we have a lot of great solutions that you can go check out on optimistdaily.com 

00:17:24 Karissa 

And if you want to start your day off right, make sure to subscribe to our free daily newsletter to get our solutions right to your inbox.  

00:17:32 Arielle 

We also have a lot more on our social channels. You can find us @OptimistDaily on all of our platforms, including threads and Pinterest. The only difference is on X, previously known as Twitter. On there we are @OdeToOptimism 

00:17:45 Karissa 

And we’re a small team of optimists working hard to bring you positive news. If you want to support our mission of bringing optimism into the world, click the link in the show notes to find out how. 

00:17:53 Arielle 

And remember that support doesn’t always have to be financial. You could just recommend our podcast to a friend, leave a positive review on Apple or Spotify, forward a link to someone you love, or share a solution on your socials. Anything like that is also a huge help for us. 

00:18:07 Karissa 

Well, that was a great roundup with you, Arielle. I’m glad to be back and sharing with our listeners. 

00:18:13 Arielle 

Mmhm, yeah, it’s fun to be back on the podcast. We’re a little bit rusty, so we’re just going to ease back into it over the next few weeks. 

00:18:20 Arielle 

But yeah, it’s always a fun time going over solutions with you. 

00:18:23 Karissa 

Yeah, I’m looking forward to sharing more solutions in this new season. 

00:18:27 Karissa 

Until then, I hope everyone has a great weekend and we’ll be back next time 

00:18:30 Arielle 

Alright, bye!  

00:18:32 Karissa 


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