Interpreters only need to know two things:
- Sign Language; and,
- Everything Else.
Interpreters only need to know two things:
ASLized courtesy of Delawaredeaf.org
Last night there was a town hall meeting at the Deaf Center discussing the failure or refusal of hospitals to give primary consideration to the the patient who is Deaf when they request a Live In-Person Interpreter and are told they have to use VRI or get nothing at all. I was in the audience and suggested a script.
Several people who are Deaf in the town hall asked, “why should we have to go through all that? Shouldn’t they just respect our request?”
Yes, of course they should. But if they did or would there would be no need for this town hall meeting. They will not change just because the Deaf community asks. They will only change if they are forced to. This script will help build a factual basis for future lawsuits which is the only thing hospitals will respond to.
(If you are in too much pain or stress whomever is with you can follow this script for you)
I require a live in-person ASL Interpreter for effective communication.
Let’s use VRI until we can get an interpreter here for you.
VRI is not effective for me because (pick the one that fits):
I am in pain/stress/destress and I can’t follow the three dimensional language of ASL on a two dimensional screen;
I’m not ordering a pizza, I’m trying to get medical care;
The screen is too small;
The picture keeps freezing;
Your staff does not know how to hook it up;
The VRI Interpreters can’t see or hear what is going on off screen and so I miss half the message;
My eye-sight is not good enough to see ASL on a VRI screen; or,
Your reason here.
Please make a note of the reason that VRI is not effective for me in my medical records so that we don’t have to have this discussion every time I come to the hospital.
But it’s after 5/it’s the weekend and there are no live Interpreters available.
That is not true. Interpreter referral agencies are open 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Please make a note of that in my medical record so I don’t have to explain this every time I come to the hospital.
VRI is the same as a live interpreter.
It is not. VRI and Live In-Person Interpreters are listed as separate accommodations under federal law. The Affordable Care Act in Section 1557 says that Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act requires you to give primary consideration to the specific accommodation I request and I request a Live In-Person Interpreter. Please make a note of that in my medical file so I will not have to have this conversation every time I come the hospital.
Well, it could take a long time for the interpreter to get here so let try VRI until then.
I will use VRI until the Live In-Person Interpreter gets here if AND ONLY IF you provide me with the following information:
1. The name of the hospital staff person who requested the interpreter on my behalf;
2. The exact time that staff person called to request the interpreter for me;
3. The name of the agency the hospital staff person called to request an interpreter for me;
4. The name of the specific person the hospital staff person spoke to at that agency to request an interpreter for me; and,
5. The time the agency estimates the interpreter will arrive at this hospital.
Provide that to me in writing and make a note of it in my medical file and I will use VRI until the interpreter arrives.
Why do you need to know all of that?
Because I need to know who has ownership of my request.
We are not allowed to give you that information.
Yes you are. None of it is protected by law. If you refuse to give me the information I request please provide me with the specific law that forbids it and also make a note in my medical record that I requested it and you refused to provide it.
We don’t put things like that in medical records.
You put all kinds of things in medical records and this is my medical record and you will put whatever I tell you to put in it.
There is not an interpreter available.
I will now call the interpreter referral agency that you told me the hospital called and verify the time you called and that there is no interpreter available. If there is in fact no interpreter available I will require you to call a different referral agency. Make a note of my request in my medical records.
We can’t call another agency, we only contract with this one.
Who this hospital does and does not contract with is not my problem. I am the patient and have a right to effective communication and if the hospital cannot provide it with the agency it uses it needs to contract with a different agency. Make a note of that in my medical records.
Do that each and every time.
If they refuse to document it then as soon as possible make a request by email to the hospital’s Office of Customer Service or Risk Management Officer that you made the request I explained above and that your nurse/doctor refused to document it in your record. Use the names of the specific people you spoke to as often as possible.
One last point, and I can’t stress this enough. Never say “I prefer a Live In Person interpreter” or “I don’t want VRI” or “I don’t like VRI.” That says to the hearing people that is just a choice you are making. The magic words are, “I need” or “I require a Live In Person Interpreter for effective communication (that comes right from the law).
If you ever want to know how much embarrassment you can take, interpret for a mediocre comedian who needs an easy target to save his act.
A couple of weeks ago Shelby Hintze, a television producer and the daughter of my cousin, asked me to review the script of a segment she was planning for a local Sunday talk show discussing the ADA’s 29th anniversary.
See if you can spot the part that I helped write, Grin.
(The prepared video transcript. I am working on a transcript for the live portion.)
Voice of Shelby Hintze
“According to the 2010 Census—nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population has some sort of disability. That’s one in five people in this country. As the Baby Boomer generation ages—that number is expected to grow a lot.
Despite the sheer numbers, the unemployment rate for disabled Americans is nearly twice the rate of their able-bodied peers. But historically, that’s an improvement. 29 years ago—our country took a big step in the civil rights of disabled Americans when President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act—also known as the ADA.
Activists argued that people with disabilities were not as disabled by their bodies as they were by their environment. They had a right to access all the services of their able-bodied peers. King Jordan, the first deaf president of Gallaudet University, said, “We’re not asking for any favors. … We’re simply asking the same rights and equality any other American has.” In what is described as the biggest catalyst to the bill’s signing 60 activists left their wheelchairs and dragged themselves up the 83 steps to the U-S Capitol, in what’s called The Capitol Crawl. The bill was signed four months later. Since 2000, 181 countries have signed disability civil rights laws inspired by the ADA.
When we think of the ADA, we often think of improving access for wheelchair users. But it’s more than that. It offers protections for the deaf community, people who are blind, people with chronic illnesses.
One of the biggest misconceptions about the ADA is how it is enforced. The law is mostly complaint based. For example, while new buildings are required to have things like ramps, accessible restrooms, and Braille on signs—there is no one who checks these regulations and must be solved through mediation or court.
For example–Under Title III of the ADA, Deaf people are promised “effective communication” but that really isn’t defined by the law. So if a Deaf person goes to a doctor for example, the doctor gets to decide what “effective communication” means. In this case, it could mean the doctor decides writing notes back and forth is enough–instead of using a certified sign language interpreter, which the Deaf patient may want. The Deaf person cannot do anything legally unless they can prove the communication was ineffective. That can be very hard to prove. If they do win the case, the Deaf person is then only entitled to another appointment with that same doctor, this time with an interpreter. Title III does not allow someone monetary damages beyond legal fees.
Just recently—a Utah family made national headlines after they were denied service at an Ogden restaurant because one of the children used a service animal. That was illegal. But outside of court, there is no way to actually make people follow the law.
The ADA did a lot to change the world for disabled people. But for many activists, it is just the beginning.“
Wash your hands if you touch anything at a hospital, including any part of the sink where you just washed your hands.
“What do ‘the Deaf’ think about X?”
Nope. Sorry. My mind link to every person on earth who is Deaf is not working.
I have been invited to present at EMIT.
I will be the evening “infotainment” on June 12, 2019 from 7-9.
The title of my “lectshow” is:
Having No Idea What I’m Doing Has Never Stopped Me Before
It will be a great evening! Can’t wait to see you there!