“Great Wall of China” by matt512 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Ensuring healthcare accessibility for the deaf in China is important for promoting inclusivity and equal access to healthcare services. Quality healthcare should be available to all individuals, regardless of their situation. However, for the deaf community in China, accessing healthcare services can often be a challenging experience. Communication barriers, limited sign language interpretation services, and a lack of awareness among healthcare providers have contributed to inadequate healthcare accessibility for the deaf in China. 

Why is Healthcare Important for the Deaf

We need good quality healthcare to live productive lives. It should be up to the government to provide that to their citizens and everyone to have affordable access. Deaf people are just as prone to health issues as hearing people. But due to the lack of Sign Language in healthcare facilities, diagnoses, and test results are communicated ineffectively. That causes problems for deaf patients because they are unaware of the health issues they might have.

Not having a translator, the cost, and other facts violate a deaf patient’s right to healthcare. That is something the government could solve if it takes more initiative. 

The Accessibility of Healthcare in East Asia

“West China Hospital” by UI International Programs is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Healthcare is better in some countries and worse in others. The same thing goes for East Asia. China comes in second for the most advanced healthcare system after Japan. It is a universal healthcare system with modern and ancient Chinese medical practices. There are tiers to it depending on non-working and working citizens. One thing that remains the same for everyone is equal coverage of medical aid.

That is what universal healthcare provides. Equal access to all citizens without the messy qualifications and exuberant fees. Overall, China’s multi-level healthcare system works for hearing citizens. But what about deaf people?

China has surprisingly made some changes for deaf people in areas like education, welfare, language accessibility, and healthcare. Providing this boosts morale and a sense of self-worth. Their deafness isn’t an impairment. It is a strength. These improvements are ongoing as the deaf community gains more acceptance from society.

Hearing Tests

The World Health Organization has praised China for the programs offered to the deaf community through the universal healthcare system, which started in 1999. They conducted screenings for newborns to detect hearing loss or signs of it. In addition, they also provide free hearing aids and transplants to the population 60 and over. This program is for low-income families who can’t afford this medical equipment. It’s still ongoing. 

According to the Borgen Project, the hearing screening program has tested 95% of the population, leading to positive results to help improve the lives of the deaf community. 

The Forms of Healthcare for the Deaf Community

Photo by Brett Sayles


Since the advancement of technology, the lives of deaf individuals are becoming easier. China is providing cutting-edge resources for the deaf population. The first thing is free hearing aids. The type of aid that deaf people use is called cochlear implants. It’s an assistive technology worn behind the ear for deaf people to perceive sounds from speech. In 2017, the National Institutes of Health reported that the Chinese government distributed over 30,000 implants to deaf people.

Assistive Technology

Another form of assistive technology is speech-to applications, smart transcriptions, and real-time captioning for deaf people, developed by tech companies in Beijing. Speech technologies are used in healthcare facilities for translation purposes. This bridges the gap between medical staff and deaf people for seamless and efficient treatment. These technologies are making an impact on the deaf community. In a once inaccessible world, they are living to see a series of changes for applications tailored to their needs. 

Healthcare Facilities

Access is everything for deaf patients because life is difficult to navigate in a foreign language. In terms of medical services, this is a crucial area to make accessible. Being deaf can lead to psychological issues. Most of the time, when an individual is experiencing an illness, whether it’s mental or physical, they will seek help from a medical professional.

Hospital Programs for the Deaf

Unfortunately, for deaf people, this is an entirely different scenario. Xinhuanet News reports about a 33-year-old Chinese woman named You, who experienced postpartum depression after her baby was born. She went through episodes of emotional issues, even as far as attempted suicide. Due to her deafness, she feared going to the hospital because of communication issues. It only made things worse for her. 

Because of this, Nanchang University, located in Jiangxi province, where You is from, created a Sign Language program for the hospital. This program allows deaf patients to skip the line and registrations to streamline the medical process. Volunteers for this program act as interpreters between the doctor and the deaf patient. Yang Mingzhi, a volunteer, explains that the process for deaf people is way longer and more thorough but meaningful work. 

This program at the university also inspired others to form in Shanghai and Henan provinces. Providing this care for deaf patients alleviates so much of the stress and confusion for the community. It diminishes the fears and barriers that drive deaf people away. They no longer have to deal with psychological or physical issues until the point of no return.


Interpreters are a lifeline for deaf patients. You read previously about the language barriers in healthcare. Miscommunication leads to so preventable by providing a highly qualified interpreter. Luckily, many hospitals in China provide interpreters who assist them with routine doctors or hospital visits. It builds trust and effective communication. 

Legal Protection for Healthcare in China

Legal protection is a form of advocacy and their rights as a human. Even though injustices can still happen, this gives deaf individuals some cushion to lean on when things go wrong. 

In 2008, The People’s Republic of China established the Protections of Persons with Disabilities Act. It was amongst the first countries to do this and recognize the deaf community. This law essentially adapts to the needs of deaf people. It makes discrimination against deaf people and others with disabilities for employment, education, welfare services, and healthcare. 

While this law passed, the International Labour Organization reports that mechanisms to implement it aren’t foolproof. However, the new government voted in 2013 has made a positive impact on a community that was once invisible to society.

While there are efforts to enhance healthcare accessibility for the deaf in China, there is still progress to be made. The government, healthcare institutions, and society must work together to address the existing challenges and ensure equal access to healthcare services for all individuals, regardless of their hearing abilities.

Information about healthcare in the deaf community is available at