Houston Deaf Rally Educates Community about the Need for Live Interpreters

Thursday, Aug. 18, despite thunderstorms, a group of advocates who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing stood up at the Houston City Hall for their right to have preference given to their choice of accommodation at their doctor’s offices or hospitals.

People all wearing white NO VRI, Video Remote Interpreters T-shirts, hold rally signs saying NO VRI.
Houston advocates represented the Deaf Community at City Hall.

Despite recent law revisions, the Deaf community braces for the education needed to ensure that a person who is Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or Deaf-Blind will receive the accommodation of their choice at appointments with their health care providers.

KPFT’s Local News Reporter, Jacob Santillan, covered the event. Listen to the broadcast here or read the broadcast transcript here below the mp3 recording.

Many doctors and hospitals protest paying for live interpreters and in many cases now, people who are Deaf are provided with Video Remote Interpreters, or VRI, without regard to their specific need for accommodation.

The resistance from doctors, hospitals, and clinics to providing interpreters has been nationwide, as evidenced by cases taken up by the U.S. Department of Justice across America as part of the Barrier-Free Healthcare Initiative.

Recent changes involve health care providers adopting Video Remote Interpreting programs to save money instead of asking patients from the Deaf community what they need.

Communication problems addressed by some of the above legal cases would make some health care providers wonder if they would save money after all, if remote interpreting services fail due to technical errors or the physical limitations of having an interpreter over a small screen with a small voice.

A woman signs to a group of people.
Advocates gather around as Dr. Angela Trahan signs. A sign language interpreter voices for people who are hearing.

At the rally, Deaf advocate Robert Yost pointed to a flaw in the Americans with Disabilities Act as the source of problems people who are Deaf have when requesting interpreters for health care.

“Once the law was being passed, it was done by the business community that made an influence on Congress people to vote and put that one word in there that says ‘Reasonable Accommodation’ and that one word is realized that businesses, doctors, medical centers, police departments, everywhere, to have a right to do the cheapest way to interpret for Deaf people,” Yost said, according to the KPFT report.

Other advocates stressed their choice to have their preference of accommodation met.

Man signs to a group of people, some filming him.
Advocate Dana Mallory signs his views.

Advocate Dana Mallory signed, according to the report, “So I am here to recognize the problems we are noticing here in the Deaf community, preferring to have in an emergency situation a live person rather than a video remote interpreter. To meet their goals, we as Deaf would prefer to have a live person. We want to be able to have the choice.”

Having news radio coverage wasn’t lost on Sign Shares’ CEO and Capsule’s Founder, Eva Storey. “This is unique. I love the fact that we get the hearing world especially public radio coming in here, because the only way to get and make effective for the Deaf community is going to the hearing world, and mainstreaming them and with education. It’s three words we use: Advocate, Educate, and Legislate, and that’s all we are here to do.”

Learn more about the event at Capsule Facebook page. Like our page and stay informed!

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