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Medical Accessibility Task Force

Florida Coordinating Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

The Florida Coordinating Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, (FCCDHH), formed a task force to address the issues surrounding medical accessibility for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing. The Medical Accessibility Task Force is made up of members of FCCDHH, as well as various individuals from Florida hospitals and the Florida Hospital Association. (See members list at the end of this page.)

The Medical Accessibility Task force met for the first time in Orlando on January 27, 2006. They were being briefed on the requirements for the provision of effective communication under the Americans with Disabilities Act by Robert Mather, Attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section. It was decided at this meeting to pursue the development of a hospital guide addressing the needs of the deaf and hard of hearing. The resulting document “Effective Communication: The Why and the How… Hospital Compliance with ADA for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing” was published by the Florida Hospital Association in conjunction with FCCDHH in December, 2006. This document details the obligations of hospitals under ADA. These obligations are further enforced by the requirements of the Medicare Conditions of Participation (CoPs) and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). The document is intended to offer a guideline and provides discussion of the law. However it is not intended as legal advice. Hospitals are encouraged to consult with legal counsel as they develop internal policies related to ADA compliance.

The document includes discussions on legal obligations under ADA, patient privacy issues, communication strategies, special considerations for patients with cochlear implants, and service animals. The appendix includes more detailed information on this issues and special tools section offers sample hospital policies, forms and auxiliary aids. The document was sent to all Florida Hospital Association Members in January, 2007. Copies may be purchased from the FHA. Call 407-841-6230.

As an addendum to the Hospital Guide, the Task Force developed a training video.The video presents four hypothetical situations involving individuals with hearing disabilities (a patient with a cochlear implant, a deaf mother and sick hearing child, a deaf patient and his daughter as an interpreter and a hard of hearing patient).Each situation is depicted twice: one showing poor quality of care and communication, and then again with a preferred approach. Students are instructed on how the second scene of each “Act” is an improvement in patient care technique, and they are asked to discuss what else could be done to be more sensitive to the individuals’ needs. No second scene is ideal, and there is no one “best” way to deal with the issues that are involved. Each individual’s situation is to be considered in light of all the circumstances. However, the goal is the same in all of the cases: Safe and effective communication with patients, family members, and others who are deaf or hard of hearing.The video is scheduled to be sent to FHA member hospitals in June, 2008.

Jean Aldridge, Florida Hospital; Courtney Anderson, Leesburg Regional Medical Center; William Boucher, Wuesthoff Health System; Linda Catino, Wuesthoff Health System; Rebecca Dunne, Florida Hospital Association Management Corporation; Cathy duTreil, Florida Hospital; Tanya Ward English, Communication Access Realtime Translation;Carolyn Franklin, Florida Department of Health; Joan Haber, Hearing Loss Association of Florida; Sarah Harris, Florida Association of the Deaf; Rick Kottler – Task ForceCo-chairperson, Deaf Service Center Association of Florida; Karmel McCarthy, Memorial Hospital West; Kathy Reep – Task Force Co-chairperson, Florida Hospital Association Management Corporation; Ginny Rissmiller, All Children’s Hospital; Marisol Romany, Orlando Regional Healthcare;Lisa Schaefermeyer, Florida Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf; Tony Fox Shaw, Memorial Healthcare System; Stuart Showalter, Orlando; Mary Grace Tavel, FCCDHH; Chris Wagner, Florida Association of the Deaf.