Friday, March 24, 2006

deaf in the city: news and coffee fridays

Not much going on on the news front. I'm still hunting for information about that group of Deaf people who stormed a medical complex to fight for sign language interpreter rights. I did find another article from Indymedia:

The Deaf & Deaf-Blind Committee on Human Rights (DDBCHR), a grassroots advocacy group based in North Olmsted, Ohio organized yesterday's protest. In the same way that civil rights groups held sit-ins at restaurants in the 1950's &60's to draw attention to the discrimination faced by African-Americans, DDBCHR's sit-in action yesterday hoped to bring attention to the fact that many doctors still refuse to provide sign language interpreters for Deaf and Deaf-Blind patients despite the fact they are required to do so by law.

Over the last year the group sent information to over 100 randomly selected doctors in Northeast Ohio about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and asked them to sign an agreement form stating the doctor would provide interpreters as required by law. One doctor DDBCHR contacted four times about signing the ADA Agreement was Dr. Solymos. This doctor, however, never responded to the group's request. So DDBCHR members decided to bring their request in person to Dr Solymos' office.

When the group arrived at the doctor's office with signs and banners displaying their demands, DDBCHR President, Ray Seal approached the front desk to ask to speak to the doctor but none of the staff opened the glass window to find out what he wanted. DDBCHR members then made a statement to the press about their demands and why they had come to protest.

"Our basic rights to communication and to healthcare are being violated" Sarah Messina, an 83-year old Deaf leader explained. "Every doctor takes a vow to 'do no harm'" but when a doctor refuses to provide interpreters for a Deaf or Deaf-Blind patient, serious harm or even death can result from miscommunication."

Then I realized I'd heard of DDBCHR before: when they were involved with the March For Our Lives.

This is not a small issue. In New York, an individual will likely not be able to get an interpreter at a private medical provider. I wonder how it is for other states... but generally, we get referred to places like Beth Israel Medical Center, with their own interpreting staff, or we suffer excrucitating waits around the city. In old documents about ADA rights, it's claimed that we have the right to interpreters at private medical practicioners; however, now there's all sorts of talk about it being too much of a burden on Poor Doctor Brown! (Even though we are the sick ones...)

Or we go ahead, try to handle the communication ourselves, and either come away only half- or ill-informed - which is one of the reasons Deaf people go to the doctor more than hearing people, I think.

Which is why I would like to suggest our government fund a project to train and release a bunch of HealthAlert Parrots to help Deaf people in situations involving fire, disease, and laundry.

Oh god, I'd LOVE a parrot doing my laundry....


Peep said...

Hey! Just replied to ya over at my blog. Sure, go ahead and add me, thanks. :) Do ya know if there's a RSS feed for Blogspot sites??

breenie said...

DDBCHR - they're a nice lot. I went to their workshop in Brooklyn couple springs ago.

Only wee complaint I have about them is how they (the hearing organizers)used that deaf eldery woman and kept her comments under control.

Wildstarryskies said...

I second that! There was definitely the smell of paternalism in the air, although well-intentioned.

Kevin said...

That was one crazy post!

FYI, the glass window in the doctor's office is there for a purpose: to ward germs and other illnesses away. People working in the office can't afford to get sick.

Joseph Rainmound said...

grin yes Kevin but heres the problem - how does that work with deafblind people? they have to touch to sign and communicate. so they have a point that it's not accessible.

i dont think the glass is there to ward germs away - it's usually there for the physical protection of staff so they dont get knifed for drugs.

breenie said...

or protect staff from upset patients with hmo bills and confusing medicare information. If I work there I'd need a big ass shield to protect self from blows.