Sunday, September 10, 2006

340: sunday news & coffee, plus rant

Spending a Sunday afternoon editing video, this time footage of a friend's wedding. He had computer problems so logged off to deal; instead of going to work on the new script, I turn my attention to the news...

Fort Wayne, Indiana: Deaf Protest poor service:
The Fort Wayne Deaf Advocacy Coalition sent 20 of its members to local restaurants in July to place orders at drive-through lanes. Of those, 17 reported no signs telling deaf customers how to order, and three said they were treated poorly. One member drove away when an employee would not provide assistance.

"We have the same wants and needs and desires as a hearing person," said coalition board member Kim Drake. "Yet, we are often excluded from many things in life that the hearing world takes for granted."

The coalition said there are easy ways to improve service: training employees, posting signs, keeping pens and paper nearby or installing a buzzer system to let workers know when a deaf person is coming through the drive-through.

Louisville, Kentucky: Deaf Protest medical services: read down for the bit about D/HH services
Kentucky ranks No. 1 in the nation for people over 65 with mental disorders, said Mark Birdwhistell, secretary of the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Michelle Niehaus, coordinator of the deaf and hard of hearing services program at Seven Counties Services, said only three mental health therapists in Kentucky are trained in American Sign Language and deaf culture, which "puts people in really horrible situations" if they are deaf and mentally ill.

Sarah Acland, 66, of Louisville, has worked as a psychiatrist for more than three decades. "People tend to be scared of mental illness and that's not necessary," said Acland. "The mentally ill can be very lonely."

Article on Z-Net addresses Deaf people and disability: excerpted the part abt Deaf below
"The medical community has a pathologic view of deaf people," said a deaf woman who communicates using sign language. "They don't see us as a linguistic minority. I don't identify myself as disabled." When she visited the emergency room with an injured ankle, the physician's first question was about why she was deaf.

The ADA and other laws require clinicians to communicate effectively with patients, but physicians don't always do so. For instance, they often write notes to deaf patients, not recognizing that some sign-language users may have low proficiency in English. Hospital policies required a woman to relinquish her hearing aids before surgery. "Afterward, they told me, `You took a long time to come out of anesthesia. We kept talking to you.' But I couldn't hear them!"

which leads me to my...

Rant: Deaf people really have it BAD in the Medical system. I went to a conference last year which claimed something like 40% of mental health appointments in New York State go unfulfilled because of no ASL interpreters being available. From my experience, the actual number of Deaf people whose needs are underserved is MUCH bigger than that - because people are highly UNlikely to think of calling an ASL interpreter for a Deaf person. More likely they will try to find someone to take care of them, then just shunt them off. If the person is sick, cannot speak for themselves, they get screwed over. If what's happened to them is an accident or if they are a victim of an attack, it may never come to light without dedicated social workers.

Maybe never, unless the social worker is Deaf themselves - or uses a CDI to help. Why? Because a Deaf person is more likely to understand whether the communication is working-especially with those who have mental illness or just physical illness. An interpreter can only interpret what a doctor says. The deaf client may be saying yes to everything. They may or may not understand. A Deaf person - a CDI in many cases - can look at the client with Deaf eyes and often tell if the person understands or not. If not, we can rephrase until we see the look of understanding.

Who am I ranting against? Trained psychologists and therapists who understand people but, when confronted with Deaf-ness, forget all their people skills and depend totally on an interpreter or note-writing to convey their information as required (See, I did write them a note! I tried!) without using their hard-won skills to make sure knowledge is really shared. Oh, and doctors who just talk over their clients, who wind up huddling, defeated, on the chair, sort of swaying to the rhythm of the mouth.

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