NCDHHS’ Division of Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DSDHH) was one of the key sponsors at this year’s DeafNation Expo held in Greensboro on April 15. The event fell right in line with the team's goal, to ensure that everyone has access to the services they need.
“We want to remind the signing Deaf, Hard of Hearing and DeafBlind community of our wide array of services ranging from equipment distribution services to self-advocacy training across our seven regional centers with the goal of overcoming communication barriers in all areas of life,” said DSDHH Outreach & Education Coordinator A.J. Sondossi. “Communication Access under Medicaid is the newest service we provide to the community.”
Attendees were able to meet and mingle as they made their way through 38 booths where they learned about products, technology and services tailored to their specific needs and interests.
“There was a great turnout – rumor has it that there were approximately 2,500 people in attendance,” Sondossi said.
DSDHH staffed their 10-foot by 20-foot booth for the first time where 21 staffers worked in shifts to serve the community. Beside it was DSDHH’s 10-foot by 10-foot video booth where attendees recorded video testimonials about their experiences with communication access in a medical setting.
Sondossi and her team learned that the majority of the people interviewed had never had a telehealth experience. One of the DSDHH Team's primary goals is to improve access to healthcare for the hearing-loss community, which often comes down to communication barriers, barriers that can often be overcome through the use of emerging technologies. In fact, that’s why they’ve developed the nation’s first online telehealth resource center to facilitate communication accessibility and equity for people with hearing loss.
Members of the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and DeafBlind community have a range of communication barriers that must be bridged in order for them to access medical care. Three examples illustrate common scenarios they may encounter.
Example 1: A Deaf patient is unable to communicate with their healthcare provider in their native language, American Sign Language.
Solution: An American sign language interpreter is hired onsite to facilitate communication between parties.
Example 2: A Hard of Hearing patient struggles to hear and/or understand what the healthcare provider is saying.
Solution: Depending on the patient’s preference, an assistive listening device is provided to amplify the speech from the healthcare provider. Sometimes they will request a Communication Access in Real-time Translation captioning device to accurately capture what the healthcare provider is saying.
Example 3: A DeafBlind patient needs help navigating the medical office and is unable to communicate with a healthcare provider.
Solution: A Support Service Provider is hired to assist the patient in traveling to and navigating within the facility. An American sign language interpreter specialized in tactile communication is hired onsite to facilitate communication between the parties.
The day’s highlight came when the DSDHH staff took the stage to present a 30-minute performance demonstrating a pair of scenarios (one without an ASL interpreter and one with an ASL interpreter) to demonstrate how our agency can assist the community in advocating for communication access in a medical setting.