Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The use of Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) at hospitals

When a patient who is deaf arrives at an emergency room, instead of providing an in-person sign language interpreters, some hospitals offer them VRI, which is immediately available. If the hospital were to use an in-person sign language interpreter instead of VRI, there would be a delay in providing the service, often several hours, depending on the travel time for the interpreter. Where time is of the essence, provision of a sign language interpreter through VRI makes sense, and is a reasonable option, despite the drawbacks of VRI, which will be discussed further below. However, where time is no longer of the essence, VRI should not be used - instead, an in-person sign language interpreter should be provided. 

According to the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and a position paper by the National Association of the Deaf (NAD):

"If at any time the deaf consumer is not comfortable with the physical set-up, the technology and/or the remote interpreter, it is the consumer’s right to decline use of VRI in medical settings." http://www.rid.org/UserFiles/File/pdfs/Standard_Practice_Papers/VRI_SPP.pdf#page5.

According to RID:

"As with any medical situation, assessment of the individual’s communication needs and the nature of the event will determine which service is optimal for effective communication. Medical situations that may not be conducive for VRI include:
• Some mental health settings (see the Mental Health Section for more information);
• Initial meetings with a specialist;
• Highly sensitive communications (e.g., diagnosis of a serious illness);
• Eye exams;
• Some occupational and physical therapy sessions;
• Patient transport.
An onsite interpreter may be preferable in these situations due to the communication and logistical complexities involved. A patient’s stress level is often elevated during a medical visit; introducing a new technology may increase their discomfort."

It is important for hospitals to be aware of the concern of patients who are deaf, regarding use of VRI. When a doctor is conducting an examination of a patient, communication occurs not only through what is said, but also through body language and physical gestures. Where VRI is used, the patients ability to observe the doctor's body language and physical gestures is severely compromised. As a result, use of VRI in these circumstances likely violates the ADA, since effective communication does not result, due to the failure to provide the appropriate auxiliary aid or service. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

CILSF's Deaf Advocacy Program Brings About Improvements To Services, Through The Work of Natalie Basna

The Advocacy Program of the CILSF has had a series of successes in our efforts to improve services to the deaf community, and none of it would have been possible without the efforts of the CILSF's Natalie Basna, who has been instrumental in identifying issues affecting the deaf community, working with consumers who are deaf, and negotiating with businesses on behalf of our consumers. Natalie is a graduate of Gallaudette University, and brings an intelligence and sensitivity to her work that serves our consuners well. She is a powerful advocate, a proud member of the deaf community, and an excellent role model. We are all proud to work with her.

With Natalie's help and insights, we have improved services to the deaf community that have brought about systemic changes, including doctors, dentists, podiatrists, and hospitals that now provide patients and their companions with sign language interpreter services. We have also improved services from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles, ICE (U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement), the Social Security Administration, Traffic Schools, and others. Together, we have accomplished these improvements without resorting to litigation, though education and negotiation. Natalie's work has changed lives, and she has shown an understanding of the ADA that has garnered the respect of those she has helped. As Director of the Advocacy Department, I want to express my appreciation to Natalie for her excellent work. She can be reached at natalie@soflacil.org or at 786-975-1825. Feel free to contact her if you ever need her assistance. 


Friday, November 07, 2014

Did The Lack of Accessible Restrooms At Polling Places Cost the Democrats the Election?

There are 67 counties in Florida. Governor Scott won reelection in Florida by 66,127 votes statewide. How many voters with disabilities were denied the opportunity to vote because of a lack of accessible restrooms at polling places on Election Day?

There will undoubtedly be many opportunities to assess what caused the Democrats to lose so many seats, in Congress and in state houses across the country, and many explanations. Here's one more to consider - voters with disabilities, across the country, may have stayed home on Election Day because they feared long lines and feared that they would be assigned to a polling place on Election Day that lacked an accessible bathroom. How many voters with disabilities were assigned to polling places on Election Day that did not have a bathroom at the polling place they could use?

Many voters with disabilities remember that in the 2012 election, voters had to wait for a long as 7 hours in line to casr a vote on Election Day. How many stayed home fearing that they would encounter long lines again, and would need a bathroom? How may were assigned to polling places that did not offer an accessible bathroom, or an accessible Portapotty? How many were assigned to churches, which are exempt from the ADA, and lack accessible bathrooms? How many voters who are on diuretics, or have MS, or Colitis, or Crohn's Disease, simply gave up and did not vote?

How many votes did that cost? And will the situation improve for the Presidential election in 2016?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Firefighters and the Deaf Community - Enhancing Services

See http://www.fr-dat.com/assets/ListPage/ADA-Guide-for-Firefighters-and-EMS-Personnel-daef-HoH.pdf

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Broward Mental Health Court Under Attack


"When it was conceived a decade ago, Broward County’s felony mental health court won widespread praise — and inspired imitators around the country — because of its groundbreaking approach to the handling of mentally ill defendants.

Howard Finkelstein, Broward County’s elected public defender, was one of its biggest advocates.
Now, Finkelstein has soured on the court, saying its mission has shifted from treating mentally ill individuals with compassion to patching up their mental well-being so they can be punished for behavior that was beyond their control when it happened. Finkelstein, whose office has more clients than anyone in Broward, wrote a letter in June to Broward Chief Judge Peter Weinstein, saying his office would no longer refer clients to the court."

Thursday, October 16, 2014



As Second Dallas Nurse Diagnosed with Ebola, Are U.S. Hospitals Failing Healthcare Workers? http://m.democracynow.org/stories/14711

Infected Workers, Slow Deployment, No Vaccines: Ebola Response Shows Pitfalls of Privatized Health    http://m.democracynow.org/stories/14712

Dr. Atul Gawande: Ebola is "Eminently Stoppable," But Global Response Has Been "Pathetic" http://m.democracynow.org/stories/14692

Continued at http://m.democracynow.org/tags/873

Follow The Money: How An Ebola Outbreak Would Make A Lot Of People Filthy Rich

 Ebola In the Workplace – What Employers Should Know

Subscribe to our ADA Expertise Listserv and get information sent directly to your inbox. To subscribe, send an email to Marc Dubin, Esq., at mdubin@pobox.com. Include your name and contact information, and write "subscribe to ADA listserv."

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