This week is International Week of the Deaf, to focus attention on the accomplishments and challenges facing deaf and hearing-impaired people. A potential health care issue for this population is overcoming a communication barrier with medical providers.
Mayo Clinic ENT expert Colin Driscoll, M.D., says, “There are many patients with significant amounts of hearing loss who really struggle to follow conversations but may not always admit it. Providers don’t often recognize it or are unwilling and unable to take the additional time needed to communicate more fully.”
Eye contact between the doctor or nurse and the patient is key, says James Cartledge, a Mayo Clinic patient who is deaf.
“Talk directly to the patient because the interpreter will interpret what you are saying,” Cartledge says. “I have to look at the interpreter to get the information, but then I look back and forth to the person who’s speaking.” Here is video of Mr. Cartledge on communicating with the deaf:
You can access the full news release here.