sign language interpretation

Yes, You Must Provide a Sign Language Interpreter, it is the Law:

Equality and acceptance are values we teach our children, embracing differences and finding solutions to provide everyone with the same opportunities has been a way of life, we as Americans strive for. Often times in medical settings, deaf patients are not provided with the adequate care they need due to a language barrier halting communication between them and medical staff. It’s vital in any medical setting that you provide the same superior care for your deaf patients as you would for your hearing patients. Neglecting to provide professional sign language interpretation services for your deaf patients in order to communicate effectively, can put you and your health care facility at risk of breaking the law or even worse, medical malpractice… Providing a qualified, experienced and professional sign language interpreter when a deaf patient requires aid in order to communicate, reduces risks and diminishes dangerous language barriers.

“Interpretation Services Can Help in Preventing Medical Malpractice,” delves into the potentially life threatening risks medical providers take by not providing sufficient sign language interpretation services when needed. The US government has long taken notice of the discrimination individuals of the Deaf community are subject to. Laws have been enforced that help to combat the medical neglect deaf people often times face because of communication barriers that exist between the deaf and the hearing. The National Association of the Deaf (NAD), has comprised a list of some of the more frequently asked questions for healthcare providers and it gives a very descriptive overview of the discrimination laws and how they relate to providing medical services to the Deaf community. Caring for all your patients and abiding by the law can be accomplished easily by educating yourself on the law requirements and by partnering with a reputable language service provider who can supply you with the language services you so desperately need in order for compliance.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA):

On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This legislation prohibits discrimination and guarantees, people with disabilities to have the same rights and opportunities to participate in and benefit from services offered within mainstream American society. What this means in regards to the medical provider, deaf patient relationship, is that a sign language interpreter must be provided when requested to aid in communication. To doctors, nurses, dentists, specialists, therapists, and every other health care provider, communication is key and it’s mandatory in order to provide appropriate and effective health care services to patients.

By law, deaf individuals have the right to be provided with professional sign language interpreters when needed and they also have a right to participate and benefit from health care services offered throughout this great country. The law requires health care provider’s pay for sign language interpreters, when needed, regardless of the cost, and even if the cost of the interpretation services exceed the amount the provider will receive for the services rendered. However, medical providers that have fewer than 30 full-time employees or less than $1 million in annual gross income, are provided with a tax credit. In addition, appropriate auxiliary aids may be required for effective communication. That may include video remote interpretation equipment, a sign language interpreter, assistive listening devices or telecommunications devices that potentially could be needed in order to effectively communicate with deaf patients. Failure to comply with this anti-discrimination, civil rights law can result in substantial penalties and can also cast a poor light on your medical facility caused by neglect and injustice.

Affordable Care Act (ACA), Section 1557:

Section 1557 is the civil rights provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), this law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in certain health programs or activities which receive funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The law requires that covered entities take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to all patients regardless of the circumstances. Covered providers are now required to incorporate language services to better assist with deaf patients who need aid to communicate via a sign language interpreter. Section 1557 also prohibits the use of a bilingual staff member, child or family member to be used as a sign language interpreter while in a medical setting. The use of an unqualified interpreter is extremely dangerous because these individuals are not trained to be a professional sign language interpreter, therefore important information is at risk of being conveyed poorly or completely lost in translation.

Language Services Will Help you Comply with the Law:

Providing your deaf patients with the appropriate language services to effectively and accurately facilitate communication in order to provide the best patient care possible is simple when you partner with a language service provider who will help your facility comply with the law. Hospitals, nursing homes, psychiatric and psychological services, private physicians offices, dentists offices, health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and health clinics are all in need of the aid only a language service provider can supply. Setting up language access plans that incorporate the use of video remote interpretation (VRI) and on-site interpretation services can help you better understand and communicate with deaf patients you’re caring for. Training your medical staff on how to access language services in order to accommodate your deaf patients quickly and efficiently can help you not only communicate but stay within the confines of the law. “Sign Language and Video Remote Interpretation (VRI),” describes the many advantages that this technologically advanced language service provides in helping to bridge language gaps between medical providers and deaf patients. Don’t fall short of providing the best possible care for all your patients, abide by the law by incorporating language services into your medical facility and allow Niki’s Int’l Ltd. to guide you.

Niki’s Int’l Ltd. is a WBENC-Certified Women Business Enterprise with 21 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

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