Tag Archives: hard of hearing

Sign Shares will be at Houston Abilities Expo this August

Sign Shares boat logo with blue handsCapsule Group logo with black background and white word Capsule and confetti streaming from word.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.

According to their website, the three-day Abilities Expo is the nation’s leading disability event. Admission is free. The event has exhibitors, workshops, and day-long events.

The Houston Abilities Expo has 133 exhibitors listed, 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.

Here is the time schedule:

  • Friday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Saturday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Sunday 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Below are links for more event information:

Register to attend (free)

Map and list of exhibitors

List of Events, including Service Animal demonstrations

Directions, Parking, and Transportation Information

Community Ambassadors

Closer to the date of the event, a list of exhibitors for screen readers will be provided. Hands raised in blue light.

Register now to attend, and indicate any accommodations needs, including the need for sign language interpreters or CART captioned workshops.

 

 

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Texas Cities Open Cooling Centers to Cope with Heat

man in suit and tie sweats profusely
Texas cities brace themselves for hot temperatures. photo credit: Misery via photopin (license)

Houston and Dallas have opened cooling centers across their metropolitan areas for people to escape the heat.

Houston-area cooling centers

With temperatures forecast in the upper 90’s all week, and heat indexes making it feel like it’s in the mid-100’s, the City of Houston has activated its heat emergency plan to provide cool places for people to spend hours or the day.

Words read Air Cooled
Spending time in cooler air helps the body prepare for the stress. photo credit: air cooled – Phoenix via photopin (license)

Most of the locations are libraries. Some run regular business hours, as early as 8 a.m. to around 4, 5, or 6:00 p.m. Others stay open as late as 9 p.m. The cooling centers are open different days, with many being closed on weekends or having certain days open.

Click here to locate a Houston-area cooling center near you.

To arrange for transportation to a designated cooling center in Houston, call 3-1-1.

Dallas-area cooling centers

In the Dallas area, Salvation Army has opened cooling stations. According to CBS DFW, centers have weekday business hours, except for the homeless shelters, which provide cooling seven days a week.

Locate a Dallas-area cooling station here.

man dumps ice bucket over his head
Before dumping an ice bucket on your head, maybe you can visit your local cooling station! photo credit: Mission Accomplished – ALS Ice Bucket Challenge via photopin (license)

Planning for heat safety

The Houston Fire Department has many suggestions for heat safety, including:

  • drinking water before going outside,
  • wearing light, loose clothing,
  • avoiding leaving children, seniors, or pets in hot cars, and
  • working early in the day to avoid the heat.

Heat exhaustion or heat stroke can be caused by too much exposure to the heat and/or not enough fluids. Learn more about the symptoms for these two illnesses here.

Deaf heat safety video

Watch an American Sign Language Extreme Heat Emergency Information Video.

The video was produced by the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Northeast Texas Public Health District.

 

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.

 

Deaf Advocates Stand for Live Interpreters at Galveston Event

CGLogo_Confetti_ROUNDEDThe Capsule Group and Sign Shares Inc./International held an event in Galveston, Texas on Friday, June 3, to address Deaf community concerns regarding the use of Video Remote Interpreting, or VRI, in health care settings.

The event was held at the Galveston City Hall.

The Galveston Daily News covered the event.
Woman holds up sign that says I'm Deaf, No VRI
Galveston resident Janie Morales prefers a live interpreter.

According to the report, Galveston resident Janie Morales, who is Deaf, wants a live interpreter.

When Janie Morales goes to the hospital, she doesn’t want to speak to a computer screen,” according to the report.

One of Morales’ chief complaints was that VRI was on a small screen and it was difficult to see.

Attendees requested more information about how to request live interpreters and shared their experiences with healthcare interpreting in general.

The group also discussed revisions to healthcare law Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which will now hold the higher standard of giving preference to the individual with a disability’s choice of accommodation. While revisions to Section 1557 go into effect in July, complaints are active now, since preference for consumer choice was already in effect under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

If you’re concerned about not having a choice about the use of Video Remote Interpreting with your healthcare professional, you can call Video Phone: Deaf / Hard-of-Hearing: VP1: 832-431-3854 or VP2: 832-431-4889 to discuss it with Sign Shares advocates.

ASL is Now at the Law of the Land

Gavel above picture of planet Earth
A group of Deaf lawyers have been sworn in at the highest court in America.

This Tuesday, 12 Deaf lawyers were sworn into the U.S. Supreme Court bar.

According to an Upworthy report, the first Deaf lawyer argued in front of the Supreme Court in 1982. Now, U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts communicated in American Sign Language from the Supreme Court bench.

“Some deaf or hard-of-hearing lawyers doubt that they can actually practice law,” Howard Rosenblum, one of the lawyers who was sworn in that day, told the Washington Post. “But the real practice is based on intellect and deaf people have that in spades,” according to the report.

Upworthy also took a stand on Deaf issues: “Deaf people, like anyone else, are capable of amazing things. But if we’re going to make them find their way in the hearing world, the least we can do is talk to them on their terms.”

Well said, Upworthy!

Houston Internship Opportunity with Disability Advocacy

Pink cherry blossoms in front of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington. D.C.
With this internship opportunity, you can travel to Washington, D.C. License: (license)

If you’re currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program at college, this internship opportunity provides training in disability advocacy and laws, and an opportunity to travel to the nation’s capital to attend a national conference regarding disability issues.

According to a recent announcement from the Independent Living Research Utilization program, the internship includes a $2,160 to $3,600 stipend and will last six to ten weeks during the time frame of June 6 to August 12, 2016.

Travel to the National Council on Independent Living in Washington DC, July 25-28 is required. You can learn more about this annual conference here.

The Independent Living Research Utilization program at the TIRR Memorial Hermann Research Center in Houston, Texas seeks applicants for its 2016 summer undergraduate internship program.

Interns will learn about research, the Affordable Care Act, disability laws and policy, and disability and independent living history and philosophy.

The interns will be supervised by Lex Frieden and Richard Petty at ILRU and will be mentored by other researchers in the Collaborative on Health Reform and Independent Living.

According to the announcement, interns will attend the annual conference of the National Council on Independent Living in Washington, D.C., where they will gain additional exposure to disability issues, policy and the disability movement.

Interns will also assist in conducting town hall meetings regarding centers for independent living, learn from disability leaders, and visit federal agencies and meet federal officials in the disability network.

Applicants should submit:

  • a cover letter indicating their interest and availability,
  • an up-to-date resume,
  • transcript, and
  • a letter of recommendation.

See what a cover letter looks like here.

Need to make a resume? Resume Genius has templates you can download to make sure you cover important topics in the resume and that it looks good.

Submit your application package to Richard Petty at Richard.petty@bcm.edu by April 22, 2016.

Applicants will be evaluated on:

  • Academic performance,
  • previous research experience,
  • writing ability,
  • experience with disability,
  • experience in healthcare, and
  • interest in the field.

Applicants should include the above information in their cover letter and/or their resume.

Applicants should be enrolled as undergraduate or graduate degree-granting students.

Final selections will be made by May 9, 2016.

A majority of ILRU’s staff have disabilities and they provide reasonable accommodations, including:

  • meetings with Interpreters and CART live captioning,
  • TTYs,
  • screen readers,
  • accessible office furniture,
  • chemical-free work spaces,
  • emergency evacuation chairs,
  • flashing alarms,
  • accessible offices, parking, paths of travel, equipment and furniture.

ILRU’s offices, parking, paths of travel, equipment and furniture are physically accessible and convenient for access of staff and visitors with disabilities.

 

DeafSpaces: Architecture for the Deaf Community

Vox and Curbed created a video and article to demonstrate how DeafSpace differs from spaces created for people who hear.

The close captioned video begins with the open captioned words: “We live in a world built for people who hear.”

A concrete and red brick wall.
Bricks walls and painted concrete aren’t Deaf-friendly because they don’t provide reflection, aren’t transparent, and the red can be tiring to the eyes of those trying to read sign language. photo credit: Rothkoesque via photopin (license)

Curbed houses the article, “How Gallaudet University’s Architects Are Redefining Deaf Space.”

Gallaudet University is America’s only liberal arts college for people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

According to the article, “Deaf (with a capital D) is a cultural identity that stems from pride in signed language and what Deaf Studies professors call ‘Deaf ways of being,’ or shared sensory experiences and cultural traditions.”

“DeafSpace is an approach to architecture and design that is primarily informed by the unique ways in which Deaf people perceive and inhabit space,” according to the video.

The video explores some of the five basic principles of DeafSpace.

Space and Proximity

Teacher signs to student writing on whiteboard at the front of a classroom.
This student needs to see the teacher’s facial expression and hands while signing. This requires extra space, whether at the whiteboard or in the hallway. photo credit: A teacher works with a hearing impaired student via photopin (license)

According to the article, “Facial expressions are important in ASL. So are body movements; to be able to sign comfortably, a person needs adequate space—more than is typically required for someone engaged in spoken conversation.”

The video shows wide hallways that accommodate two people signing and using full body language while having more space to sign and maintain eye contact.

Sensory Reach

The principle refers to “how Deaf people use their senses to read the environment,” according to the article. DeafSpace would extend the person’s sensory reach, by allowing him or her to view between rooms and have low-glare reflective surfaces so people would see shadows indicating someone is outside the room.

Glass elevator.
This glass elevator is Deaf friendly because those who can’t hear can see someone is in the elevator and that it’s moving. photo credit: combi nation via photopin (license)

In the video, they show transparent elevators and some offices have opaque glass walls, while some public rooms have clear glass walls.

Mobility and Proximity

“DeafSpace design calls for ramps and wide, gently sloping stairs; ‘soft’ intersections to prevent pedestrian collisions…” according to the article.

Wide concrete stairs with wheelchair ramp added on top, but is at dangerous slope that is too steep.
This space isn’t Deaf friendly because it doesn’t allow people to sign to one another without having to worry about tripping. It’s also not accessible to those using wheelchairs, scooters, or strollers. photo credit: Wheelchair Ramp – Sortedams Sø / Øster Søgade via photopin (license)

In the video, instead of stairs, which hinder the free-flow of communication, ramps allow greater access and would accommodate other disabilities that might need white canes or wheelchairs.

The video also shows classrooms in a U-shape that allows for signers to view one another.

Light and Color

Soft green room with Yoda with lightsaber lit green on a desk.
The soft green walls of this room are Deaf friendly because it is a restive color for the eyes. photo credit: Jedi, Yoda is! via photopin (license)

“Certain colors, especially muted blues and greens, contrast well with a variety of skin tones, making them easy on signers’ eyes,” according to the article. “Lighting should be soft and diffuse, and avoid dimness, backlighting, glare, and abrupt changes in illumination levels.”

In the video, Derrick Behm, from Gallaudet’s Office of Campus Design and Planning, signs in natural lighting that is restive to the eyes.

Acoustics

Room with chair immediately next to a window air conditioning unit.
The air conditioner next to this chair isn’t Deaf friendly because the loud noise would be amplified by a Deaf person’s hearing aids or cochlear implant. photo credit: fra_256sv2_energy_star_25000_btu_230_volt_window_mounted_heavy_duty_air_conditioner_with_temperature_sensing_remote_control via photopin (license)

According to the article, “In general, acoustically quiet spaces are the goal. Hearing aids and cochlear implants amplify sounds, and for their users, the hum of air conditioning or loud echoes can prove extremely distracting.”

DeafSpace is part of an architectural movement similar to Universal Design, where architectural design considers how to complement all abilities, not just mainstream ones.