Providing Interpretation Services is the Law:
Complaints over the quality of sign language interpretation provided for deaf patients has the University of Vermont Medical Center scrambling to find solutions to strengthen their offerings. Patients complained the equipment used for video remote interpretation (VRI) consistently does not work and staff at the hospital are not properly trained in accessing on-site sign language interpreters. Barbara Prine an attorney with Vermont Legal Aid, was assigned to the case in which she worked on behalf of the seven deaf individuals who were subjected to substandard care due to a lack of sufficient interpretation services. Prine says that going forward the hospital plans to ensure remote interpretation is in working condition throughout the entire hospital. “They’ve agreed to train their staff on working with deaf patients, understanding how to work with deaf patients, getting in-person interpretation,” Prine also says, “They’ve also agreed to have a complaint process so that they know when they’re not doing what they’re striving to do.” The hospital will be monitored by the Vermont Human Rights Commission to ensure compliance with its new commitments are made over the next two and a half years. Providing optimal care for deaf patients is not an option but a requirement by law, and contacting a language service company in order to access professional sign language interpreters is the best way to stay compliant.
Laws have been put in place that help combat the medical neglect deaf people oftentimes face because of language barriers that exist between the deaf and the hearing. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination and guarantees people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities to participate or benefit from services offered within mainstream American society. In addition to the ADA, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Section 1557 prohibits discrimination on any basis in certain health programs or activities which receive funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Covered entities are responsible for taking reasonable steps to provide meaningful language access to all patients regardless of the circumstances. These anti-discrimination laws have been put into place to protect the rights of all citizens of this nation. Navigating these regulations can be difficult, but it’s easy to comply with the established laws by partnering with a language service company to ensure communication is facilitated.
Regardless of the Law, Interpretation Services are Oftentimes Sub Par:
Despite it being required by federal law to provide deaf patients with access to interpretation services, inadequate and unprofessional services are often times what are made available. Deaf patients are saying interpreters are not provided regularly and on many occasions the interpreter does not stay through the entire appointment. Equipment freezes up and poor internet connections drop video remote interpretation sessions. Kelby Brick, director of the Governor’s Office of the Deaf & Hard of Hearing in Maryland said, “Communication is very critical so medical providers can understand what patients need and patients can understand what kind of care is being provided to them.” Brick also stated, “Without that information the providers are operating in the dark, and that can have devastating consequences for the patients and increase liability for hospitals.”
Almost three dozen hospitals, doctor’s offices and other medical facilities have been sued for failing to accommodate deaf patients. Caroline Jackson, an attorney with the National Association of the Deaf Law and Advocacy Center stated, “It is difficult for people to understand how dehumanizing it is to have people moving in around you poking and prodding without communicating with you.” Laura Miller, a deaf mother of three said her son of two years old has undergone several reconstruction surgeries for a cleft palate and one time an interpreter left half way through the surgery because she had only been paid for two hours of interpretation. On another occasion, when the surgeon finished operating on Miller’s son, he gave her the thumbs up sign to let her know everything was ok, which was completely inappropriate and unacceptable. When a language barrier exists in medical situations professionals should be called as protocol to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Hiring A Professional Language Service Company:
Providing reliable and working interpretation services in order to accommodate deaf patients is easy by partnering with a reliable language service company. On-site interpretation can be pre-scheduled for appointments and in the instance of a last minute visit or an emergency, video remote interpretation (VRI) can be accessed on-demand. Video remote interpreting is a video telecommunication service that uses a sophisticated web-based platform to provide sign language or spoken language interpreting services. VRI can be accessed using a computer, smartphone, or tablet, and a high speed Internet connection with sufficient bandwidth. In order to abide by the law and sufficiently provide optimal care for deaf patients, hospitals should invest in the one time cost of setting up reliable equipment needed to access VRI services. Once the equipment is set up, conducting a training session that teaches hospital workers how to login in and access a sign language interpreter is key. If employees are unsure as to how to use VRI, they are less likely to use this interpretation service that could bridge the language gap. Making sure everyone is confident on how to access an interpreter will help make the service a standard protocol when caring for deaf patients. Providing optimal care for all patients is the goal, if utilizing an interpretation service is the best way to facilitate communication, providing those services shouldn’t be a question.
Niki’s Int’l Ltd. is a WBENC-Certified Women’s Business Enterprise with 20 years of language service experience. A global network of highly skilled interpreters and translators are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for on-site, telephonic and video remote interpretation services. Our linguists are available in over 350 languages and dialects, and our network includes certified interpreters and translators. Our work is guaranteed with a $1 Million Errors & Omissions policy, so that you can be confident that your project will be completed with the highest level of quality and professionalism within the field. For more information contact us at 1-877-567-8449 or visit our website at www.nilservices.com.