News from NW ADA Center – Idaho

Healthcare services are not always accessible to those who are deaf or hard of hearing. With the recent pandemic, the move to remote healthcare services by phone and mask wearing, access to healthcare communication has became much more difficult. Roughly 75% of Americans have used tele-health at least once in the past two years. For those who are deaf, the use of a video relay service typically uses an interpreter who has not had the specialized health care interpreting certifications for video visits with their health care providers.

Another assurance for communication is the inclusion of real-time captionists to ensure effective communication between the provider and the deaf patient occurs. Healthcare providers who do the right thing to ensure accessibility make it clear they will provide captioning and interpreters. Patients should not have to ask. It’s a struggle for some people to request the service. Part of it is they think the provider will have no idea what they’re talking about. The other part stems from the discomfort with asking or not wanting to put people out.

At a minimum, a telehealth platform should include a chatbox and a way to share files. Even if the platform has auto captions, it still needs a chatbox. Captions will not get some terms right and the chatbox allows the provider to enter the correct term. The ability to customize the text in the chat is important because some people require larger text or a different font.

Now it’s possible to use a different platform from the doctor’s own for video calls as long as it’s HIPAA compliant. To determine if a platform is HIPAA compliant, check with the company.

Healthcare is the one facet of our lives that we should never settle for less and not have all the information we need. It could be matter of life and death.



For more information about the ADA contact:

Dana Gover, MPA, and ACTCP Certification, ADA Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator 

For more information about ADA Technical Assistance visit the NW ADA Center Idaho website:
Phone: Voice and Text 208-841-9422
Idaho Relay Service: 7