Friday, July 24, 2015

Deaf Communication Choices in Hospitals

Imagine this:

You are pregnant. You know what it is like to give birth. You are deaf. You ask hospital in advance for a live on site interpreter for the birth. Hospital says no. You sue. You lose because hospital convinces a magistrate that video remote interpreting (VRI) is good enough.

Despite reports in news that they will give you a live interpreter when the birth happens you are forced to have VRI. AND the VRI fails as you are giving birth!

You are having surgery. Then at an important time before surgery, in recovery, or in the hospital room, VRI fails.

You are in the emergency room. Right when it's needed the most, like during treatment or post-treatment instructions and discharge, VRI fails.

There is no backup and the hospital refuses to call for a live interpreter. All attempts at getting the medical people to write are failing.

Just how unacceptable are these scenarios/situations?

According to the National Association of the Deaf position statement on VRI, "If a deaf person uses sign language, hospitals should provide a qualified sign language interpreter..."

Seems there's no consensus in the courts about what "effective communication" actually means.

There's a petition going around related to the case mentioned above:

Bethesda Hospital East: Apologize to Margaret Weiss and Respect Deaf Patients' Needs!

Use this hashtag in social media and Twitter! #DeafChoice