Improving health care for the Deaf community

ROCKFORD (WREX) — According to an advocacy group in Rockford, individuals in the Deaf community can experience communication barriers with their health care providers.
Now some local hospitals are trying to fix the problem which includes a shortage on interpreters.
“When people aren’t communicating with you the way that you would appreciate them doing and in the way that everyone else takes for granted,” said RAMP Executive Director Julie Bosma.
RAMP is an advocacy and resource center for individuals with disabilities in Rockford. RAMP brought the concerns from the Deaf community to three major health systems in Rockford.
“What impressed us the most was they all came to the table,” said Bosma.
The health providers are now working together to address the shortage and improve care for people who are deaf by sharing resources and interpreters.
“Sharing that information we have been able to grow our pool of our interpreters and so now it’s becoming a little easier to get an interpreter to come,” said Jaime Diaz the lead for interpreter services at OSF HealthCare.
Live interpreters are a way to communicate with a deaf individual who knows American Sign Language but according Diaz, there is a significant shortage in Rockford.
OSF is using technology like ideo remote interpreting or VRI to help provide an effective way to commuicate.
“We do our best to use the VRI, use it effectively, train our staff effectively so they know how to use the VRI and that way it ensures proper communication between the patient and the provider,” said Diaz.
The Center for Sight and Hearing says there are many ways to bridge the communication barrier and the first step is awareness.
“These kinds of awareness campaigns are amazing to illustrate things they might face on a daily basis,” said Dr. David Powell an audiologist at the Center for Sight and Hearing.
Awareness can lead to better communication which can lead to better care for all.
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