When it comes to your healthcare, the difference between life and death can be decided in a moment’s notice. Clear communication between a patient, his/her family and healthcare provider is crucial to making the best assessment, treatment and diagnosis. But what if a healthcare worker can’t communicate with an individual?

There are more than 700,000 deaf and hard-of-hearing people living in Arizona, many of whom are seniors and at a higher risk for needing medical care. That’s why the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing (ACDHH) has launched a new educational program to help healthcare providers give better service to patients who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The goal of ACDHH is to make sure that deaf and hard of hearing Arizonans receive the same quality of service as the hearing population, and that involves working with the hearing population to become more understanding of the techniques needed to communicate with deaf or hard-of-hearing patients.

Not only is it the responsibility of a healthcare provider to learn to better interact with deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals, it’s the law. Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities, regardless of the provider’s size or number of employees. And while it is unrealistic to expect every doctor’s office, emergency room or other healthcare office to have a licensed interpreter, the Healthcare Providers Curriculum provides valuable information on how to meet these requirements without threatening the livelihood of the business.

The Healthcare Providers Curriculum three- to six-hour training program includes:

  • Techniques and guidelines for effective communication between the hearing and non-hearing population
  • Introduction to equipment a person with hearing loss may use to communicate
  • Information on accessing certified American Sign Language interpreters
  • Information on tax credits and incentives available for businesses who make accommodations in compliance with ADA
  • Designation that the staff has been trained in this program
  • Certification for all staff that participate in the program (CEU may be available)

ACDHH is targeting emergency room staff, patient admissions and family services, but provides information to all members of the healthcare industry.

For more information about ACDHH and/or to schedule a Healthcare Providers Curriculum presentation, please visit acdhh.org or call (602) 542-3323.