Best Practices When Treating Patients Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
Learn tips for communicating with Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals, and best practices when using an ASL interpreter to communicate.
TIPS FOR COMMUNICATING WITH DEAF AND HARD OF HEARING INDIVIDUALS
Here are a few strategies for providers interacting with patients who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing:
- Keep eye contact. We “hearing” people often speak to each other without keeping constant eye contact. But ASL is a visual language, which makes looking at one another a critical component.
- “Deaf” is not a bad word. Hearing individuals grow up learning politically correct terms like hearingimpaired. In the Deaf community, the word “Deaf” refers to a community with a shared language, values, and traditions. Deaf individuals don’t see themselves as impaired.
- Be mindful of facial expressions. In ASL, facial expression is a very important part of the language.
- American Sign Language is not universal. Each country on our planet has its own distinct form of sign language.
BEST PRACTICES WHEN USING AN ASL INTERPRETER TO COMMUNICATE
Using a nationally certified ASL interpreter demonstrates to your Deaf and Hard of Hearing patients that you are aware of national standards set forth by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and are culturally sensitive to their communication needs.
When using an ASL interpreter:
- DO: Speak directly to the patient
- DO: Use words like “I” and “you,” i.e. “What’s your name?
- DO: Speak in a normal tone and pace
- DON’T: Speak directly to the interpreter
- DON’T: Use words like “her” and “him,” i.e. “What’s her name?”
- DON’T: Speak loudly and slowly
Here are a few ASL signs that could be helpful:
REMEMBER, WE’RE ALL HUMAN
There’s no reason to be afraid of interacting with people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. Just remember that at the end of the day, we are all human, and a smile and an eagerness to communicate goes a long way whether we communicate in the same language or not.