SIGNificance of Communicating Effectively
By Connie Gonzalez
September 3, 2014
Note: See Video with CC, see link below.
It’s estimated there are as many as 50 members of the San Angelo community that are deaf. Without the ability to effectively communicate, a number of misinterpretations can be made; if this happens in a medical situation, the consequences can be dangerous.
We spoke with one woman about how essential an interpreter may be, and what to do if a person feels they’ve been discriminated against.
Communication: the interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing or signs.
Effective communication: ensuring that messages are not distorted during the process.
For over 14 years, Deafness Resource Specialist, Mark Dickson, has provided interpretation services for the deaf community in 30 area counties. He says over 50 deaf people reside in San Angelo, and if they can’t afford an interpreter or don’t have access to one they often rely on lipreading.
“Lip reading… a lot of deaf people can’t lip read,” Dickson said.
In a medical facility, ineffective communication can lead to a number of problems. Patricia Gillette says, despite her request over eight months of health care appointments at Community Medical Associates, she was never provided an interpreter. Her health quickly deteriorated, a fact she blames on communication problems.
“What they don’t understand [is] how I feel. I try to explain to them the pain that I was going through and they were just kind pushing me aside. They were just issuing me a just simple medication,” Gillette said.
She has filed suit against Community; requests for comment were denied. Gillette says, once she transferred to Shannon Medical Center, her request was granted.
“Well, having an interpreter is so much better than writing notes back and forth, because medical terminology could be easily misunderstood,” Gillette said.
Gillette is now very happy with her medical care, friends of hers, though have had serious complications stemming from communication barriers.
“The deaf person had said she was hungry, but the nurse had thought she said she was in pain so when she issued her the medication it had actually killed her,” Gillette said.
The American Disabilities Act mandates the responsibility of places of public accommodation including health care establishments, which must provide reasonable accommodations for effective communication.
“You simply can’t discriminate, it’s the law,” Dickson said.
If both parties agree an interpreter is necessary to effectively communicate, it is the responsibility of the business to schedule and bear the cost of an interpreter.
In San Angelo, you can find a certified sign language interpreter at http://www.RID.org
If a business fails to comply, the individual can file a personal lawsuit with the Disability Rights of Texas and the U.S Department of Justice.