Hospitals Resposibilities to the Deaf under the ADA

Hospitals, Physicians and Medical Treatment Facilities Responsibilities to Deaf And Hearing Impaired Under the Americans With Disabilities Act

Provided as a service by Michigan Association For Deaf, Hearing and Speech Services

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities, including deaf and hearing impaired people. There are four sections in the law: employment, government, public accommodations, and telecommunications. Each section of the ADA lists services that should be provided for deaf individuals. The ADA enhances the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Hospitals are covered under Section 504 of the 1973 act, and under Titles II and III of the ADA.

This brochure includes basic information on your responsibilities to deaf or hearing impaired persons under these laws. There are five areas covered in this brochure:

- Physicians
- Using Sign Language/Oral Interpreters
- Staff Training
- Telecommunication Devices for the Deaf (TDDs)
- Written Language

In each area, the ADA includes special provisions for different situations. MADHS can provide more information on specific situations.

In general, the ADA expects hospitals and medical service providers to eliminate anything that discriminates against a deaf person. Naturally, the foremost source of discrimination against deaf people occurs as some form of communication. The ADA requires communication that is effective and provides aids that are appropriate in communicating with a deaf patient. Deaf patients must be able to communicate with doctors, nurses, admission staff, and other hospital workers. In addition, the deaf person must choose the kind of communication that is needed such as sign language through an interpreter, written notes, lipreading, TDDs, or other assistive devices.

The medical facility must be prepared to honor the deaf patient's request. Further, the deaf patient may NOT be charged for expenses incurred in complying with ADA requirements.

A TDD should be available in the hospital for making appointments with deaf patients, giving information, and assisting in emergency situations. Portable TDDs should be set up in rooms for deaf in- patients. Telephone amplifiers and TV decoders should be available for hearing impaired patients as well as hearing impaired family members of hearing patients.;

Caring for a deaf patient means changing the way staff communicates with the patient and often with the family. Hospital staff should be trained about the special needs of deaf patients and should know how to help the deaf. MADHS can provide training sessions for hospital staff at no charge.;

Some specific areas direct care staff should remember:

- Flag the intercom buttons so nurses remember to make a personal visit rather than respond over the intercom.
- Flag the deaf patient's charts, room, and bed and alert staff to the appropriate means of communicating with the patient.
- Be sensitive to the visual environment of the deaf patient. Avoid bright lights that produce glare or make it difficult to read lips.
- Allow more time for communication. To be sure the patient understands, repeat some thoughts or phrases using different words.
- Make cards or posters of frequent questions and responses that can be pointed to.
- Many deaf people do NOT read lips. Consider other methods of communication, such as written notes. Keep paper and pen available.
- Deaf patients may not know their rights, or the availability of special services. Post signs in the emergency room, admitting office, and other areas explaining the services that are available to deaf people such as interpreters and TDDs.

Physicians have the same responsibility to deaf and hearing impaired patients as the hospitals. Deaf patients have the right to select their preferred mode of communication: interpreters or assistive listening devices. Physicians must allow additional appointments time for explanations of medical terms.;

doccomm generated by an Aldus applicationA sign language interpreter who is certified by the National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (R.I.D.) is highly skilled and qualified to interpret in medical situations, and is familiar with medical terminology. A professional interpreter can understand and express not only the message, but also convey the emotion of the message. The interpreter is there to facilitate communication in all situations where important and effective communication is essential such as:

- Obtaining medical history or consent for treatment

- Explanations of procedures or treatment options
- Treatment or surgery if the patient is conscious, or to determine if the patient is conscious
- When a patient is in the recovery room after surgery or intensive care
- Explanations of medications and side effects
- Assisting doctors or staff
- Discharge of the patient
- Emergencies

When working with an interpreter, allow the interpreter to meet with the deaf patient as soon as possible to determine the best method for communication. Speak to the deaf person, not to the interpreter. Do not allow two people to talk at the same time. Speak naturally and not too fast. Avoid using jargon or technical terms the deaf person may not be familiar with.

Sign language, like spoken language, has its own grammar and syntax. Signing is not a literal word-for-word translation, but is an interpretation of ideas and concepts. The interpreter should be well versed in the various modes of signing. Using family members or staff with basic sign language vocabulary is inappropriate since they are not qualified to interpret in medical situations. They may mis-communicate important information which could lead to an improper diagnosis.

A central office should organize services for deaf patients and develop a list of qualified interpreters who can be called upon 24 hours a day.

Written notes can be an effective means of communication if written in clear and simple language. However, writing notes is frequently time-consuming and cumbersome. Because of this, it is always advisable to use an interpreter to communicate with the hearing impaired. ;

Interpreters should also be used to assist patients in completing hospital admission forms, consent forms and pre-operative paperwork.

Whenever possible, use illustrations, drawings, or three- dimensional models to explain information to deaf patients.

--- FACTS...
One in every 100 Americans is deaf. One in every 16 is hearing impaired. Michigan has the seventh largest hearing impaired population in the United States. Accommodating and including deaf people benefits not only the deaf person, but you and your business as well.

--- For more information...

If you need more information about employing deaf and hearing impaired persons contact the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at (202) 663-4900 (Voice) or (800) 800-3302 (TDD). You can also call the Michigan Department of Labor at (517) 373-0378 (V/TDD).

If you have questions on the rights of deaf and hearing impaired, contact the Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice at (202) 514-0301 (Voice) or (202) 514-0381 (TDD).

--- This document provided courtesty MADHS.

MADHS works across the state as an advocate for deaf, hearing impaired, and speech impaired persons. We provide information to any business or organization that works with, or provides services for the deaf and hearing impaired. MADHS also provides services, information, and referrals to families and individuals who need special assistance.;

We can provide:
- Technical expertise
- Assistance in communicating with deaf clients
- Interpreter services, including statewide interpreter referral
- Speakers, orientation seminars, and workshops on deaf culture
- Information and training for individuals and businesses who work with deaf persons
- A statewide network of people who can assist with deaf issues
- A lending library of reference materials including videos, audio tapes, books, and catalogs
- Newsletters and brochures
We are here to assist you in providing services for the deaf and hearing impaired. Call or write:

Michigan Association for Deaf, Hearing, and Speech Services
724 Abbott Road
East Lansing, Michigan 48823
(517) 377-1646 V -(800) YOUR EAR V/TDD
(517) 337-1649 TDD-FAX (517) 337-4060

(c) 1992 All Rights Reserved

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