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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Capsule: For the Love of Advocacy!

Sharing contributions with the world & future generations, one Capsule at a time! 

On August 16, 2016, Sign Shares, Inc./International announced the website publication of a new business on Facebook:The Capsule Group, known as Capsule. “We are proud to announce our advocacy group’s website is now live!!! Right before the August 18th rally at Houston, City Hall, well that just gives us goosebumps!”

Man uses sign language for interpreter and captions read: "My friends said 'VRI Deny. We choose a live interpreter.' That's a great idea."
Deaf Advocate Robert Yost signs about the right to choose a live interpreter.

The Aug. 18 Houston rally is a consumer-demanded event to address the Deaf Community’s response to the increasing use of Video Remote Interpreting, or VRI, at medical appointments without asking people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing about their preference.

At focus group meetings, advocates who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing urged Capsule and Sign Shares’ staff to help them make a stand for their civil rights.

The rally is just one of Capsule’s time capsules–“sharing contributions with the world & future generations.”

Eva Storey picture: a woman with dark hair smiles.
Detective: Eva Storey, Founder of Capsule.

According to the Founder of Capsule, Detective: Eva Storey on Facebook, “Our late founder asked me one day to bring my passions for all disabilities forward and collaborate my love for advocacy. This includes a main focus on the Deaf & Hard of Hearing communities from local, statewide, to international. It is far time for a different way to advocate, educate & legislate beyond the scope of interpretation and with flexible, creative freedoms.”

Storey has a disability herself, which informs her about the needs for a better way of supporting others with additional needs. “I myself am a five-time stroke survivor with an auto-immune deficiency, but I don’t go around introducing my disabilities. I introduce myself, raw & real. ‘Hi, my name is Detective: Eva Storey, founder of The Capsule Group.'”

Capsule’s mission is “to advocate, educate, and legislate on behalf of people of all disabilities to have unlimited access to resources and support needed to achieve life!”

According to Capsule’s website, the business exists “For the Love of Advocacy! A Different way to Donate! Advocate, Educate, Legislate!”

By creating Capsule, Storey became the first Capsuler. Meet the rest of the Capsule team.

Register to Join Capsule and begin making your own capsule here.

Fill Your Capsule With Love. Launch.

Follow Your Capsule. It Will Be Loved.

Click here if you would you like to create your own capsule by donating the following for a person with a disability:

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For the Love of Advocacy, Follow Capsule on Facebook.

 

 

 

Deaf Community Holds Rally about Video Remote Interpreting

Capsule and Sign Shares' LogosOn Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, The Capsule Group, known as Capsule, along with Sign Shares, Inc./International, will sponsor a Houston rally for Deaf rights in partnership with the Houston Center for Independent Living, or HCIL.

The community-demand rally, “Deny VRI – Video Remote Interpreting,” will be held on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Houston City Hall.

The meeting will begin at 10 a.m. on the steps of Houston City Hall facing Hermann Square.

Map shows participants will meet at the intersection of McKinney St. and Smith St. at the Houston City Hall.
Once parked at the library, participants will meet at the section of City Hall that’s at the intersection of McKinney and Smith Streets.
Shows map of Houston library and how it's close to Houston's City Hall.
Rally participants can park at the Houston Public Library Central Library and walk from there to nearby City Hall.

Parking will be at Houston Public Library. Parking is on Lamar Street and is $2.00 an hour. Participants will meet at the library and march to City Hall.

The Houston City Hall is located at 901 Bagby St, Houston, TX 77002.

The rally concerns the Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing, and Deaf-Blind communities that experience barriers to proper language communications access by healthcare providers within medical based settings, with the improper use of Video Remote Interpreting, or VRI, rather than giving patients the right to choose the use of a live interpreter(s).

To view advocates who are Deaf sharing about the rally or to learn more details, visit the Capsule event page here.

Woman shows confused expression and captions read: "The Deaf person is completely confused."
Darla Connor, an advocate who’s Deaf, signs about the confusion a person with deafness has when they receive a Video Remote Interpreter at a medical appointment instead of a live interpreter.

“Now VRI…” Darla Connor, an advocate who is Deaf signed,”a Deaf person requests for a sign language interpreter and the doctor says, ‘Yeah, we will go ahead and provide that interpreter for you” and so they [the person who’s Deaf] says, ‘Fine, thank you.’ So the Deaf person is sitting there waiting and surprisingly what do they bring? A VRI screen, and the Deaf person is completely confused. Because they say, ‘I didn’t request for VRI.’ They didn’t clarify.”

Patients’ rights are being sidelined due to healthcare district budgets. Budgets should not jeopardize a person’s medical urgencies and well-being. This is a human rights’ issue and a violation of civil rights. VRI is being pushed upon the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities.

CGLogo_Confetti_ROUNDEDThrough research held by The Capsule Group, known as Capsule, the group learned that people who are Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing, and Deaf-Blind, are not given their patient rights, or civil rights to be consulted about their preferences, options, or freedom to choose a video remote interpreter versus a live interpreter, since theirs is a 3D, gestural language.

Woman signs showing a small computer screen. Captions read, "Let me explain to you about that."
Dr. Angela Trahan signs about the VRI video screen, showing how it reduces the size of communication.

Dr. Angela K. Trahan, an advocate who’s Deaf, signed, “Now a long time ago, you used to have live interpreters and now we are being given the video screens. We don’t like that, but if we continue to accept that, that means maybe in the future, we won’t have any live interpreters.”

Man uses sign language for interpreter and captions read: "My friends said 'VRI Deny. We choose a live interpreter.' That's a great idea."
Deaf Advocate Robert Yost signs about the right to choose a live interpreter.

“They are oppressing me and they are not giving me my choice,” signed Deaf advocate Robert Yost, “and I am hoping all deaf people will complain about that word ‘reasonable.’ Remove that word and let’s add ‘choices.'”

Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act revisions that went into effect this past July affirm the obligation under the Title II regulation of the Americans with Disabilities Act “to give primary consideration to the choice of an aid or service requested by the individual with a disability.”

Sign Shares boat logo with blue handsSign Shares Inc. was the first sign language agency in the United States, four years before the American With Disabilities Act came into fruition. When the ADA arrived at the laws to be written around the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities, they contacted Sign Shares Inc. to provide them guidance around these communities.

In 2016, Sign Shares reached their 30-year mark within the industry and after seeing the hardships, the denial, and injustices within the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities, Eva Storey, President and CEO for Sign Shares Inc., founded Capsule, a cross-disability business with a mission to advocate, educate, and legislate on behalf of people of all disabilities to have unlimited access to resources and support needed to achieve life.

The CEO of Sign Shares and Capsule’s Founder, Eva Storey, said, “We have been interpreting for 30 years for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people. Now we are interpreting for the entire community’s voices.”

For more information or to reserve your space at the meeting, visit the Capsule Event page on Facebook.

Deaf-related Exhibits at the Houston Abilities Expo

The Houston Abilities Expo takes place Aug. 5-7 at the NRG Center. They will have more than 100 exhibitors.

We’ve made a list of exhibitors that would interest people who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or Deaf-Blind.

Exhibit Booths

Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deaf-Blind Services

Sign Shares boat logo with blue handsSign Shares, Inc./International Booth: 625

Locate an interpreter for the Houston Abilities Expo at the Sign Shares, Inc./International Booth 625.

Sign Shares is the nation’s oldest provider of Sign Language Interpreting Services, created four years before the Americans with Disabilities Act was formulated. Our claim to fame will always be within sign language, but our reputable family has grown. We are pleased to announce our extended family. We are now a full-service, turn-key, Interpreting agency, serving both Deaf and Hearing/Foreign Speaking individuals on an international level. Proudly reaching a Global Scale.

Advocacy and Education

Capsule Group logo with black background and white word Capsule and confetti streaming from word.The Capsule Group and Sign Shares, Inc. Booth: 625

The Capsule Group, known as Capsule, along with Sign Shares, Inc./International, holds monthly meetings together with the Houston Center for Independent Living regarding important issues for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deaf-Blind Community. Request a “My Choice” card at the booth if you want live interpreters and no Video Remote Interpreters for your medical appointments. You can also order the cards online. Learn more about your rights at the Capsule/Sign Shares’ booth.

Houston Center for Independent Living (HCIL) Booth: 627

The Houston Center for Independent Living provides services to people with disabilities by people with disabilities. They promote and advocate for the full inclusion, equal opportunity, and participation by consumers with disabilities in all aspects of society. Their services include peer counseling, advocacy, information & referral, employment assistance, independent living skills training, accessible housing and relocation services from institutions to the community, and more.

Houston Commission on Disabilities Booth: 335

The Commission is responsible for advising and making recommendations to the mayor, City Council, department directors and the individual designated by the mayor to head the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.

Southwest ADA Center Booth: 333

The Southwest ADA Center is part of the ADA National Network. The center provides free information, guidance, training and resources to the public. To get free technical assistance, call 800-949-4232.

Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities (Houston) Booth: 633

Special Education Advocacy Booth: 224

Assists parents with the IEP/ARD process in public schools. They work with families, students and schools to bring about goals, expectations and services to meet each child’s unique needs.

Assistive Technology

Relay Texas Booth: 622

Relay Texas-Free Telephone Access for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Deaf/Blind and those with Speech difficulties.

Texas Technology Access Program Booth: 231

The TTAP promotes independence for Texans with disabilities through access to technology. The program offers short-term device loans, sponsorship of demonstration centers to provide hands-on equipment experiences, device reuse, as well as training and technical assistance for Texans with disabilities, their families,and qualified professionals. Last year, the booth had a staff member who was fluent in ASL.

My Service Dog, Inc. Booth: 246

My Service Dog, Inc. trains service dogs for all types of disabilities. Other services include hearing dogs and dogs who assist with diabetic alerts, seizures, and Autism.

CaptionCall Booth: 532

CaptionCall uses voice recognition technology and a transcription service to provide written captions of what callers say on an easy-to-read screen. It works like a regular telephone – speak and listen using a regular telephone handset. The captioning service is free and is paid through a fund administered by the Federal Communications Commission, Americans with Disabilities Act.

Clear Captions Booth: 411

ClearCaptions provides text of phone conversations for people with hearing loss. ClearCaptions offers communication services  for personal computers, mobile devices, and home phones.

Arts & Entertainment

CosAbility Booth: 259

Join CosAbility to ncorporate your disability when dressing up like your favorite superhero or character from a loved show. Participate in or watch Abilities Expo’s First Cosplay Competition. The contest is open to anyone on Saturday at 4:00 p.m.Visit their booth to learn more about how you can become a cosplayer and buy a T-Shirt.

Healing Fibers Foundation Booth: 449

Healing Fibers’ mission is to bring traditional fiber arts as a means of non-medical therapy and relaxation for those of all abilities. They will demonstrate:

Knitting, Crocheting, and Spindling. After completing a free beginner’s lesson, participants will receive a free kit to continue their new art at home.

VSA Texas Booths: 513, 512

VSA Texas, through their Artworks: Creative Industries program promotes visual artists through exhibition opportunities, mentoring, and workshops. Visit the Artist Market to see and purchase artwork by artists with disabilities living in Houston and surrounding areas.

Healthmate Forever Booth: 430

HealthmateForever combined TENS & PMS units are nerve stimulators for pain relief and muscle stimulators for muscle conditioning that use self-adhesive electrode pads to target specific nerve and muscle areas.

Houston Museum of Natural Science Booth: 223

The Houston Museum of Natural Science preserves and advances knowledge about natural science and enhances enjoyment of natural science. Ask if they have coupons!

Health and Cosmetic Products

U.S. Pain Foundation Booth: 210

The U.S.  Pain Foundation serves those who live with pain conditions. It was created by people with pain for people with pain. U.S. Pain exists to offer hope, present information, share stories and honor those whose lives have been affected by pain.

Click Heaters Booth: 261

Push a button to heat up fluid-filled bags that can be reused again by boiling them.

Vine Vera Booth: 607

Vine Vera was formed to offer customers the resveratrol-based products that present innovative solutions for your skin care regimen. Resveratrol is found in the skin of red grapes. It is thought to cleanse your body of impurities and helps in preventing the appearance of aging signs such as fine lines and wrinkles. They use resveratrol all their products, but also add other beneficial ingredients – essential oils, nutrients, antioxidants, natural extracts, vitamins and minerals. This company is known for their demonstrations and free samples.

Hawaiian Moon Booth: 321

Hawaiian Moon Organic Aloe Cream helps to repair and moisturize the skin. They suggest the cream makes a good gift too.

Legal

Marc Whitehead & Associates, Attorneys at Law Booth: 545

Have you been denied disability benefits? Marc Whitehead & Associates, Attorneys at Law assists in obtaining disability compensation for Veterans, claimants of long term disability insurance, and individuals who are disabled and eligible to apply for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income.

Texas Legal Services Center Booth: 432

Help is available to pay for Medicare premiums through the Medicare Savings Program and Extra Help. We can assist you or call your local Area Agency on Aging Benefits Counselor for more information. Texas Legal Services Center provides free legal service and referrals for  legal needs for low and moderate income Texans.

Southwest ADA Center Booth: 333

The Southwest ADA Center is part of the ADA National Network. The center provides free information, guidance, training and resources to the public. To get free technical assistance, call 800-949-4232.

Accessible Programs

Adaptive Sports-Houston, Pasadena, and Pearland Booth: 358

Each city has a recreation facility open to use, free of charge! Includes: wheelchair sports, aquatic programming, weight room, locker room facilities, meeting rooms, tennis courts, day programs and more.

Center for Higher Independence @ Providence Place Booth: 214

Center for Higher Independence of San Antonio works with young adults with disabilities and those who are deaf to provide work and life skills training to live more independently. Their 18-month program teaches work and independent living on a 25-acre campus with dorm and apartment living options. Funding options are DARS or Private Pay. Last year, they had booth staff who were fluent in ASL.

Insurance Companies/ Healthcare

Ask your insurance company about questions you have about what your health insurance coverage provides. If you have had problems with your insurance, ask them row to contact a consumer advocate or other person to assist you.

Amerigroup Booth: 610

UnitedHealthcare Community & State Booth: 534

UnitedHealthcare Community Plan serves over 300,000 members in commercial and state health care programs.

Register for the Abilities Expo here.

Directions to the Houston Abilities Expo.

 

Featured Abilities Expo Workshop: Accessible Travel with Cory Lee

At the Houston Abilities Expo on Saturday, Aug. 6, accessible travel blogger Cory Lee of Georgia will present a workshop, “Traveling Curb Free: How to Explore the World in a Wheelchair.”

Lee is Founder and CEO of curbfreewithcorylee.com . He writes about accessible travel while using a power wheelchair.

According to Lee’s website, “I want to share my accessible (and to my dismay, sometimes not so accessible) adventures with you. My life goal is to visit every continent, even Antarctica.” He hopes his blog will “inspire you to start rolling around the world.”

Sunrise or sunset over a bridge.
Cory Lee’s recent travels to Pensacola Beach, Florida led to the discovery of a company that rents out power beach wheelchairs. photo credit: The Glorious Daybreak of Gulf Breeze via photopin (license)

Lee’s presentation will offer new options for travelers with mobility needs. “Learn how to properly prepare for accessible travel, what destinations and modes of transportation are suitable for your needs, and even how to deal with those unexpected circumstances that often arise while traveling in new places.”

The accessible travel blogger has written an ebook, Air Travel for Wheelchair Users, which, according to his website, is “entirely devoted to alleviating any fears that wheelchair users may have when it comes to flying.”

Giraffe walking through the wilderness.
Cory Lee travels to an African safari this fall. photo credit: Jaunt I via photopin (license)

South Africa is his destination this October.

His workshop will be from 1:00-2:00 p.m. this Saturday in the workshop area.

Sign Shares boat logo with blue handsAlong with Lee and many ability-oriented presenters and exhibitors, Sign Shares, Inc. and Capsule will be at Houston’s Abilities Expo, Aug. 5-7 at booth 625, next door to the Houston Center for Independent Living’s booth, 627.

Sign Shares is the event’s American Sign Language interpreter sponsor.

The three-day Abilities Expo is free. The event has exhibitors, workshops, and day-long events.

Register for the Houston Abilities Expo for free at this link.

The Houston Abilities Expo has more than 100 exhibitors, including businesses and organizations that support independence, awareness, and advocacy for people of all abilities.

The event will be held at the NRG Center, which was formerly Reliant Center, at Hall E.

Business Provides Medical Access Cards to Celebrate Health Care Law Revisions

Sign Shares boat logo with blue handsIn honor of new Section 1557 revisions that place first preference on the person with a disability’s choice of accommodations with their health care providers, Sign Shares, Inc. will provide free wallet cards for individuals who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or Deaf-Blind.

Sign Shares is an interpreting agency for all languages, and is Deaf and Hard of Hearing friendly, providing services 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.

Through Galveston and Houston focus groups in partnership with The Capsule Group, or Capsule, as well as advocacy calls, the company has discovered that many health care providers don’t ask individuals which accommodation they need, causing problems for members of the Deaf Community.

One recent example is when providers offer Video Remote Interpreting, or VRI, without consent of the individual needing services. Some individuals don’t know what it is, while others insist on face-to-face interaction for important events concerning their health. Other problems result from the denial of interpreters, or pressure for individuals to use unqualified friends or family members to interpret for them.

According to the company’s website, “Patients who are Deaf & Hard of Hearing, now must be given an option for their choice of proper language communication access. They make the choice, since they know their language. It is their human right to choose. A Deaf person’s language is 3D – a flat screen device does not do justice towards their voice.”

Wallet cards will give those with hearing loss or deafness the ability to “Keep your rights, right by your side!” according to the website.

The Galveston Daily News article says At Galveston rally, a call for live sign language interpreters
Galveston resident Janie Morales demonstrates how she can use the cards to point out her rights.

Orders your free cards here. Scroll down to enter your contact information.

The Sign Shares’ website has also provided a countdown for when Section 1557 goes into effect, which you can see here by scrolling to the bottom of the screen. As of today’s writing, it’s 20 days away, but complaints may be filed now.

Complaints may already be filed because the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, who drafted the revisions, determined that existing laws that impact Section 1557 already required that health care providers attempt to use the patient’s choice of accommodation as a first choice.

Want to keep up more with Deaf Community news? Like Sign Shares on Facebook.

 

New Law Revision Gives Deaf Patients the Choice of Accommodations

Question mark symbol
Many people who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or Deaf-Blind have questions about accommodations they may receive at their doctor’s office or local hospital. photo credit: question mark via photopin (license)

If you read Deaf blogs or Deaf organizations’ websites for information about requesting and receiving live sign language interpreters for medical appointments, you probably won’t find recent news about a law revision giving patients who are Deaf many rights.

Revisions to part of the Affordable Care Act bring more rights–including:

  • the right to choose which accommodations work best for you,
  • how health care providers need to post notices with information about how to get an interpreter or other accommodations, and
  • requirements for interpreters your health care provider uses to communicate with you.
Quote: Heaven on Earth is a choice we must make, not a place we must find. Wayne Dyer
A beautiful life is the result of choices we make, and now, Section 1557 brings more choice to the Deaf community. photo credit: Wayne Dyer Heaven on earth is a choice we must make, not a place we must find via photopin (license)

The National Association of the Deaf’s website has a “Position Statement on Health Care Access for Deaf Patients” that doesn’t include the most recent information about laws that now give patients who are Deaf the right to choose: the best communication method for them, whether they need a live or remote interpreter, and more.

Deaf Organizations Provided Input for the Law Changes

We’ve examined the most recent law revisions for you. We asked the National Association of the Deaf’s Policy Counsel of the Law and Advocacy Center, Zainab Alkebsi, Esq., why the latest law revisions aren’t on the organization’s website. She said that the National Association of the Deaf, or NAD, gave formal comments to Health and Human Services regarding the revisions to a part of the Affordable Care Act that now gives patients who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Deaf-Blind, the right to choose.

Changes Section 1557 Brings

The part of the law that provides the changes is Section 1557.

Woman holds up sign that says I'm Deaf, No VRI
Galveston resident Janie Morales prefers a live interpreter. Photo Credit: Anthony Butkovich

Here are changes Section 1557 addresses, when your medical provider:

  • denies you an interpreter,
  • tells you to bring your own interpreter,
  • asks you to use family members or friends as interpreters for your appointment,
  • or when you are told an interpreter can’t be provided because they are a small practice.

All of the above excuses are now removed by Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which Health and Human Services has revised.

The changes are so broad, this is probably one of the reasons Alkebsi said the NAD is transitioning their website to a new one.

The Biggest Change the Law Brings for the Deaf Community

The language for Section 1557 is complicated. One of the most important revisions for the Deaf community says healthcare providers should give individuals a choice about how they will communicate.

Section 1557 says medical providers should “give primary consideration to the choice of an aid or service requested by the individual with a disability.”

Woman holds stomach in pain while doctor touches her back to reassure her.
When a patient is in pain, communicating in their language is the best way to understand them. photo credit: Deadly Listeria Food Poisoning: Who are at Risk? via photopin (license)

In a time when many health care providers are considering providing remote sign language interpreters, often without asking patients who are Deaf what is most appropriate for them, Health and Human Services reaffirms federal laws to defend the individual’s right of choice to determine what accommodations will help them understand their health care providers best.

Section 1557 revisions are based on Health and Human Services interpretation of the Americans with Disabilities Acts’ Titles II and III.

Title III says that public service providers need to provide accommodations for people with disabilities.

Doctor enters information into an iPad.
Part of good medical care is recording information correctly. This is done through communicating in the patient’s language. photo credit: NEC-Medical-137 via photopin (license)

The department’s interpretation of Title II has brought the most changes, because anyone who receives government funding such as Medicare or Medicaid or other financial resources, which includes almost every medical practice and hospital, must follow the law. And the department determined that the law calls for the health care providers to give “primary consideration,” or first choice, to the person with a disability.

Removal of Economic Burden as Reason for Not Providing an Interpreter

Before, smaller health care practices, such as a clinic or dentist’s office, were allowed to give an excuse for not providing interpreters if the costs of the interpreter was a “burden” to the practice.

Boy testing eye sight in front of eye chart.
Section 1557 revisions require all health care providers, no matter the size of their office, to provide accommodations for patients of all abilities. photo credit: Boy testing eye site via photopin (license)

With the Section 1557 revisions, claiming a financial burden for providing barrier free healthcare with sign language interpreters is removed.

Why Using Family, Friends, or Inexperienced Interpreters May Not be Appropriate

Street sign with multiple emotions names, such as Greed, Happiness, Fear, Love.
If friends and family members aren’t trained to interpret without involving their emotions, their ability to interpret is affected. photo credit: Greed Happiness & the Rest via photopin (license)

Each individual has a choice about their needs. It’s sometimes difficult to know what’s best, though.

Health and Human Services determined that interpreters should be familiar with medical vocabulary, or “terminology,” as well as how healthcare providers communicate, or “phraseology.”

According to the revisions, “…we added the words ‘terminology’ and ‘phraseology’ in both definitions to align the final rule’s description of the requisite knowledge, skills, and abilities an interpreter must possess with those recognized within the field.”

Federal law has already determined that having people under the age of 18 should not interpret for anyone. Why? It can be psychologically damaging to children to interpret for others and feel responsible for their health. If things go poorly, the child may feel responsible for injuries or death. Besides this, some material covered during health care appointments may be too advanced or mature for children.

Stamped paper reads: confidential health information to be opened by addressee only
Will your friends and family members keep your medical appointment confidential if they interpret for you? If not, let your health care provider know! They have an obligation to make sure your information is kept private. photo credit: Geez LabCorp… via photopin (license)

When selecting whether a friend or family member should interpret for your medical appointment, consider if they will:

  • understand medical vocabulary,
  • keep your medical appointment confidential, and
  • avoid getting emotional.

Required: Notices about How to Request an Interpreter or File a Complaint

Sign shows little girl pointing away and says: Complaint Department that way 200 miles.
Your health care provider’s notice should point out where to file a complaint. Hopefully, it’s not far away! photo credit: 12/28/15 Complaint Dept via photopin (license)

Section 1557 also requires providers to have notices with information about how to request an interpreter or other accommodations, as well as information about who to contact if you have a grievance, or complaint.

If your health care provider doesn’t have this notice, they can find examples of what language to use on their notices on the Section 1557 web page, under the Appendix Section.

Those Receiving Government Money Can’t Discriminate

Health and Human Services cited many disability laws, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which doesn’t allow for any government contractor–that is, anyone receiving money from the federal government–to discriminate against patients, even if the cost of interpreters is more than the money they make from patients.

Tax Assistance for Health Care Providers

While this could seem unfair to health care providers, if they make less than $1 million a year and have a staff of 30 people or less, they qualify for a tax deduction. This allows them to get their money back.

The IRS saw this coming, because their 2014 Fact Sheet said, “Follow the person’s cues to determine the most effective accommodation.”

Even the IRS recommended asking the person who is Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or Deaf-Blind, which accommodation they needed, and not assuming it or basing the decision on the health care provider’s choice.

Health care providers should discuss interpreter costs with their financial professional to determine which tax credits and/or deductions they can take for these expenses.

More Ways for Providers to Save Money

Save Money sign.
Some health care providers qualify for tax credits, while others can write off some interpreter expenses. Avoiding lawsuits by providing qualified interpreters is another way to save money. photo credit: Education Save Money via photopin (license)

Certified and/or qualified interpreters protect providers from liabilities that may arise from patients who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or Deaf-Blind that don’t understand them and whose conditions worsen as a result. Cases like this may result in lawsuits, some of which the U.S. Department of Justice joins.

Lawsuits can be more expensive than personal damages alone, because health care providers may be required to:

  • provide staff training,
  • document their processes,
  • undergo government supervision, and
  • potentially have to assign or hire staff to manage accommodations requests.

You can learn more about these court cases and read the decisions here.

Lawsuits are Rarely the Answer: Education and Advocacy Are

CGLogo_Confetti_ROUNDEDWhen we at The Capsule Group and Sign Shares, Inc. communicate with the Deaf community as advocates, they often ask about us how to file a lawsuit. While going to court is an option, it’s a choice that involves a lot of time and effort.

Only serious incidences usually end up going to court, such as when not understanding a health care provider resulted in serious health problems or worse.

Art of the ASL alphabet in glass
Many health care providers don’t understand that the ASL alphabet is different from English, as well as all vocabulary words. photo credit: ASL Alphabet & 0-10 via photopin (license)

First, educate your health care professional about your needs. You can also send them to the Section 1557 website at http://1.usa.gov/24j8z7j to learn about the changes and your right to choose an interpreter or the services you need to communicate with them.

Violations of Section 1557 can already be reported to Health and Human Services. These violations are Civil Rights Complaints and can be completed online.

Educating yourself and others about the changes in the law is one of the quickest ways to make sure everyone knows about them understands them.

If you know of anyone needing this information, please share this article or link with them.

 

Focus Group Explores Deaf/Hard of Hearing Community Needs

Capsule Group logo with black background and white word Capsule and confetti streaming from word.Friday, March 25, Sign Shares, Inc./International and the new advocacy business, The Capsule Group, known as Capsule, hosted a focus group in Houston regarding the needs of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community at the Heights Neighborhood Library.

The group provided attendees with opportunities to discuss their needs regarding medical access. Attendees also took a Medical Access Needs Survey, which provided input about whether their communication needs are being met.

The meeting provided Certified Hearing and Certified Deaf Interpreters, as well as CART live captioning.

Attendees learned about The Capsule Group, which is a modern day business formed to educate, advocate, and legislate for people with all disabilities.

Capsule’s founder, Detective: Eva Storey, says, “As American citizens people of disabilities have national rights and as Texans, we have our very own state rights. Well, certainly we should be cushioned, but that’s not the case with many situations within disability rights. The Capsule Group, referred to as Capsule, is an organization that will set the standards, and the census, based upon the one-on-one time, voiced by the communities of all types of disabilities. We started off with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community, since they are such an underserved community all because they are unable to hear. Can you imagine being denied services all due to a simple language barrier? We are here to be a spring board to educate others that may not understand the life of a certain disability, advocate for those that may not know their rights, and legislate on behalf of their rights, creating a focused movement with solutions. Capsule is a person’s legacy, specially time-stamped, and we will soon launch, informing those who wish to start a Capsule for someone who has a need in the community. So please stay tuned, it’s going to be something different!”

Survey results will be compiled to create data to share with state legislators about the needs of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community.