Bridging the Communication Chasm between Deaf Patients and Masked Medical Professionals (Session 11C)
Main Topic: Flourishing, Well-being, and Social-Emotional Learning
Session Type: Skill Share
This pandemic has created a huge chasm in communication between government and healthcare professionals and the deaf/hard of hearing population. A few weeks ago I was turned away from the post office because of my deafness and the supervisor’s and the agent’s refusal to wear a clear mask or write things down on paper. Recently, I was turned away from making a medical appointment for much needed medical care, again due to my disability. The office informed me quite bluntly that the doctor would not wear a clear mask or write things down. This chasm in communication and lack of disability awareness among healthcare professionals remain areas in much need of awareness and education, even more so during this unprecedented time. Aren’t these medical professionals violating the Hippocratic Oath by denying patients much needed medical care because of the patient’s disability, in my case, my deafness? Medical professionals need more awareness and education in developing alternate strategies in working with their patients, how to become informed and inclusive, rather than biased and isolating. We now exist in a time when everyone has had to rapidly and drastically discard old, taken-for-granted ways of thinking and doing, now we need to create new ways of interacting. For most of us, such an action requires now thinking outside the box, creating innovative solutions to ensure the highest medical care for patients regardless of condition, disability, and circumstances. Patients are even more in need of medical care with the coronavirus impacting all aspects of health. How can they get the care they need if healthcare professionals are not willing to accommodate? Filing a complaint with the American Medical Association or even the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) will not create effective, long term solutions. We should use the pandemic as an opportunity to put on our creative hats and devise solutions that will bring inclusivity, education, awareness, and, subsequently, bridge the communication chasm that masks have created.
- Discuss communication barriers that masks create for deaf and hard-of-hearing and other disabilities especially in the healthcare setting
- Problem solve how to address those barriers
- Create solutions that healthcare professionals and deaf patients could utilize to ensure the highest quality of care
Keywords: Inclusivity, Deafness, Communication, Awareness, Healthcare, Medicine
Dr. Renuka SundaramAdjunct Professor
Renuka Sundaram, Ph.D has a doctorate in Education and a Masters in Art Therapy. She is board certified with the Art Therapy Credentials Board and the American Art Therapy Association as well as a yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance. Renuka Sundaram has more than 25 years of clinical and academic teaching experience with forensic, psychiatric, pediatric, and adolescent populations. She has also published extensively and presented at numerous conferences. The majority of her work has revolved around disabilities. Renuka, herself, was born with profound sensorineural deafness. Currently, her interests lie in inclusivity and awareness for people who are deaf/hard-of-hearing and other disabilities, which has been heightened in light of the pandemic.