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Here’s Why Deaf People Hate the Medical Community

Here’s Why Deaf People Hate the Medical Community

Time after time I’ve read posts or watched vlogs of horror stories from Deaf and Hard of Hearing people dealing with doctor offices and hospital visits.

I’ve experienced many of these first-hand myself. It happens so often that I’m spurred to write this article to educate the medical community on what you need to know about your Deaf patients.

First, I’m primarily focusing on the “Deaf” community, those who are likely to have American Sign Language (ASL) as their first language, may not be fluent in English, and believe they are not “broken” and don’t need to be fixed by the medical community. This is the group that struggles against communication and accessibility barriers in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and in daily dealings with the public.

To ease this tension and foster a good doctor-patient relationship, you need to understand the following points:

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A Certified Interpreter is Vital

As I mentioned earlier, ASL is our first language and easiest for us to comprehend and communicate in. ASL is not a “translation” of English, it has its own grammar, syntax and rules. It uses the full range of hand movements, facial expressions, and body language to convey the message.

Because of the complexity of medical terminology, the gravity of the medical visit, the condition the patient may be in, and the need for clear communication – a Certified interpreter is required. There’s a huge difference between a certified interpreter who understands and can relay medical issues and someone who “knows how to sign”.

For example, a cardiologist hired an ASL student for a Deaf patient’s visit. The student struggled to come up with the right sign for certain words and the signing was not “smooth”, akin to someone pausing and saying “Ummm” a lot. The student signed to the Deaf patient “You have Heart Pain” to which the Deaf patient denied repeatedly. After several frustrated attempts back and forth it was understood that the doctor really said “You have Heartburn”. The Deaf patient gave up, wrote to the Doctor “I’m leaving! I’ll come back when you get a proper interpreter!”

Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) is not Accessible

Many hospital and large medical offices are relying on VRI, which is a laptop or monitor connected by Wi-Fi to an interpreter located off site. As cost effective this may be on administrative paper, it is not an accessible or effective means of communication for Deaf patients.

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As a matter of fact, we HATE it!

Forget the fact it takes forever to sign in, enter hospital name, department number, hospital floor, head nurse name, room number and patient name and account number, etcetera.

It uses the hospital’s Wi-Fi connection, which as many patients know, is very slow, frequently drops out, and requires frequent sign-ins. Then there’s the problem with viewing:

  • the screens are clumsy to position
  • it’s sometimes hard to see the screen from where we’re laying in the bed
  • the interpreter may not be able to see the Deaf patient or their Deaf family members
  • because of the Wi-Fi connection, there are frequent screen freezes so there are a lot of words missed
  • and lastly there are those who also have vision problems, or are deafblind, who prefer tactile sign language, rather than straining to see a flat screen.

This humorous clip demonstrates the frustrations of VRI.

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Stop Assuming We Are Mentally Deficient

Just because they are Deaf doesn’t mean they can’t grasp what you’re explaining to them. A missing sense doesn’t translate into missing brain functioning.

I have met countless of doctors, nurses and other professionals who upon learning that I’m Deaf and legally blind, automatically assume I’m incapable of daily self-care; then they’re surprised I actually have a Bachelor’s degree, married with children and independent and don’t need a “caretaker”.

We are fully capable of understanding you, and are able to participate in health decisions once the proper communication method is in place: which is an interpreter. Writing back and forth and lipreading is a lot less efficient than doctors realize.

Don’t Question Our Deafness

Many Deaf patients feel frustrated at doctors insisting on questioning them about the cause of their deafness when it’s irrelevant to the medical visit. Don’t ask why they do or don’t wear hearing aids or get cochlear implants.

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Like I said earlier, Deaf people feel that they’re not broken; they concentrate on what they can do with their rich culture just like anyone else, instead of concentrating on hearing, speaking, and assimilating into the “hearing” world.

Don’t Be Dismissive

Many Deaf parents, like myself, are frustrated by the dismissive attitude of doctors and nurses when they bring their children in for appointments or to the ER. The medical staff starts communicating with the child and don’t address the parent at all.

This may seem easier to deal with, but the child is still a child and do not understand the complexity of their medical needs. Children also don’t relay the full information back to their Deaf parents either which is also why you shouldn’t use them as interpreters as well.

Because of these frustrating experiences by Deaf patients, they tend to avoid seeking medical treatment, skip regular checkups and have an overall mistrust of the medical community.

So to better serve your Deaf patients and avoid costly lawsuits, it would be a good idea to simply use common sense, drop the stereotypical assumptions, and follow these simple tips.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay.com via pixabay.com

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Tracy Stine

ASL Tutor, Freelance writer & Blogger

Here’s Why Deaf People Hate the Medical Community

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

5 Reasons Why Tidying Your Room Can Change Your Life

5 Reasons Why Tidying Your Room Can Change Your Life

You step into your room and stumble upon something hard that hurts you, you have to tiptoe your way to your bed because there is not enough space to walk, your bed has huge piles of clothing spread everywhere, your table groans under books, newspapers, cups, and all other kinds of stuff, and your closet looks like a ransacked outlet store post-Black Friday. If that’s a common scenario for you, then you are living in a space that disrupts your ability to use it well.

Your room is the place where you start and end your day. Whether you are aware of it or not, the physical space in which you live and spend a lot of your time has an important role to play in how we behave. Having a bedroom in such a messed state can have a variety of effects on your life. Our mind cannot live completely independent from our environment; therefore, keeping the room tidy, organized, and clean is significant. A straightened room with a made bed and pile-free floor will not only bring happiness and organization to your life, it will also change your life!

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Video Summary

Here are five reasons that can spark the desire in you for tidying your room to create change in your life.

1. You will know what resources you have

Do you find yourself looking everywhere for your matching bracelet or clothes when going for a party or out with friends? Or does it happen that you buy a pair of pants, only to find out later that you had a better one to match the shirt you were wearing to the event? Keeping your bedroom tidy will let you know what things you have – the shoes, clothes, jewelry, books, magazines, and stationary – that are among your belongings so that you don’t have to rummage for them everywhere or go and buy new things when you already have better alternatives.

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2. Your thoughts will also be tidied up

Tidying your place also tidies up your mind. It is suggested by psychologists that a messy room is a representation of a disorganized mental state. When one is tidy and organized it also builds into their life, helping them in everything.

As Marie Kondo states in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, “From the moment you start tidying, you will be compelled to reset your life. As a result, your life will start to change.” So, if you want to bring a change to your life, go ahead with cleaning and organizing your space and start a tidying marathon.

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3. Tidying your room can save you time

Tidying your room and organizing your space not only lets you know about the stuff that you have, but it can also save you a lot of time, since you will know where to find something when you need it. Now, when you wake up early in the morning, you don’t have to search frantically as minutes tick by for your special pair of shoes, your watch, or the blouse that you really wanted to wear. The start of your day will be a smooth one instead, and you will be able to make it out of the door to your work or college on time.

4. You will be more social

Would you like your friend to see your messy room? I would probably be too embarrassed if my friend came over and got to look at my room in a messy state. When you are ashamed of the state of your bedroom, it is less likelihood that you invite anyone over. On the other hand, when your house is clean, you are ready for company and are also more likely to invite or welcome someone over on the spur of the moment. Tidying your room helps in preventing the creation of a boundary around you; therefore, you will become more social.

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5. Your health will improve

Tidying your room also bring with itself some health benefits. When your bedroom becomes a peaceful and ordered place with no clutter around, you will feel less stressed and less distracted. This means you can spend some relaxing time before bed and go to sleep calmly. From studies, it has been found that those who have cluttered bedrooms full of their hoardings take a long time to fall asleep and their sleep quality is also poor enough that it leads an increase chance of depression and stress. It’s clear enough. Tidying your room will have a positive effect on your health and the thought of going to the bedroom would be a pleasant and calming one. Not just this, but a tidy room will no more be home to bacteria and viruses that can compromise your health.

Conclusion

No doubt, cleaning up a really messy room and streamlining your surroundings is no easy job but, with a little determination and taking a methodical approach, it is totally doable. You just need to get started. Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, one of New York Times Best Sellers, can serve as the perfect manual to guide you. Happy Cleaning!

Featured photo credit: Allen Goldblatt via flickr.com

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