June’s Cultural Competency Corner, Part 2: More Helpful Communication Tips
Below is the second part of an article written by Holly Gritton, our Director of Telecommunication and a member of our Diversity Committee here at University of Louisville Hospital and the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, that provides excellent tips for communicating with those who are deaf/hard of hearing.
A qualified on-site interpreter can be requested via our Language Services Department. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, a qualified sign language interpreter is “an interpreter who is able to interpret effectively, accurately and impartially both receptively and expressively, using any specialized vocabulary necessary for effective communication.”
Using video conferencing technology, we can also access qualified interpreters via Video Remote Interpreting (VRI), pictured here. This too can be requested through our Language Services Department.
We have 3 units with high quality video conferencing units that can be used in most areas of the hospital, using the wireless network and is available 24/7. Whether an on-site interpreter or the VRI unit is appropriate needs is determined by the patient and his/her health care provider.
Sign language interpreters are necessary in any situation in which the information exchanged requires effective communication. The will include but is not limited to:
- Taking a patient’s medical history
- Giving diagnoses
- Performing medical procedures
- Explaining treatment planning
- Explaining medicine prescription and regimen
- Providing patient education or counseling, or group therapy
- Describing discharge and follow up plans
- Admitting to emergency departments/urgent care
General Communication Tips for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
The following tips will allow a person with hearing loss to effectively use what hearing they have and use visual cues to receive as much information as possible. People with hearing loss often rely on visual cues for information.
Some people have difficulty knowing where a sound is coming from. Others hear sounds, but may not be able to recognize the words that were spoken. All of these tips are easy to do, but may require a conscious effort at first:
- Avoid standing in front of a light source when speaking.
- Make sure you have the person’s attention before speaking.
- Stand a normal distance from the person.
- Do not cover your mouth or have anything in your mouth when you are speaking.
- Look directly at the person you are speaking to and maintain eye contact.
- Speak clearly, at a normal pace.
- Repeat the statement, then re–phrase if the person is unable to hear the words spoken.
- Use shorter, simpler sentences if necessary.
- Do not shout.
- Use gesture, facial expression and body language to assist with communication.
- Be patient and take time to communicate.
- Try writing down a couple words or a phrase to clarify if communication is difficult.
- Remember that just because a person can hear your voice, does not mean they can understand your words.
- When writing back and forth, keep your word choices simple and sentences short. If the person understands you well and uses more complex sentence and vocabulary, you may do the same. Take your cue from the deaf person.
- When using an interpreter, speak directly to the deaf person. When the interpreter voices what the deaf person signs, look at the deaf person, not the interpreter. Avoid saying…”Tell him…”
Join us next month for July’s Diversity blog. We will be focusing on the Nepali population.