Health Care Access – Communication

ADA Questions and Answers for Health Care Providers—Auxiliary Aids and Services

A six-page document that presents questions and answers for healthcare providers about auxiliary aids and services such as Sign Language Interpreter services, captioning, and other methods for making aural communication accessible.

ADA Checklist: Health Care Facilities and Service Providers – Ensuring Access to Services and Facilities by Patients Who Are Blind, Deaf-Blind, or Visually Impaired

  • A 23-page pamphlet that provides practical, cost effective solutions concerning access to health care services and facilities by patients who are deaf, deaf-blind, or visually impaired.
  • Reviews access to written documents; handling of currency; sighted guide technique; and awareness of and sensitivity to the needs of persons who are blind, deaf-blind, or visually impaired.
  • Contains accessibility checklists that offer methods of eliminating communications barriers to access to services and facilities.
  • Most accommodations listed are not structural in nature and thus will involve minimal cost.

Advancing Effective Communication, Cultural Competence, and Patient- and Family-Centered Care: A Roadmap for Hospitals. (2010) (last accessed 09.14.10) The Joint Commission.

Publication provides recommendations to help hospitals address unique patient needs, meet the new Patient-Centered Communication standards, and comply with existing Joint Commission requirements. Example practices, information on laws and regulations, and links to supplemental information, model policies, and educational tools are also included.

A Guide to Planning Accessible Meetings

An updated, digital version of June Isaacson Kailes and Darrel Jones’ 1993 work, A Guide to Planning Accessible Meetings. The Mid-Atlantic ADA Center and TransCen Inc. sponsored this update and publication in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the transformational Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. The updated version includes both regulatory updates (from the 2010 update to the Act itself) along with practical guidance from a host of meeting planning professionals, subject matter experts, and even June Kailes herself.

Communication Access across the Continuum of Healthcare: An Annotated Bibliography on Patient-Provider Communication. (2009) (last accessed 09.14.10) Smith, H. Research and Resource Associate, Central Coast Children’s Foundation, Inc. Heather D. Smith, Central Coast Children’s Foundation, Inc. Patient Provider Communication. Covers:

    • Understanding Language and Culture Issues between Patients and Providers;
    • Overcoming Language and Cultural Communication Barriers;
    • Understanding Communication Barriers between Providers and Communication Vulnerable Patients Not Related to Language or Culture; and
    • Overcoming Communication Barriers between Providers and Communication Vulnerable Patients Not Related to Language or Culture.

CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) – A research and development facility that works to make media accessible to underserved populations such as people with disabilities, minority-language users, and people with low literacy skills.

Improving the Accessibility of Social Media in Government. Covers agencies’ responsibilities to ensure that digital services are accessible to all people citizens, individuals with disabilities. Includes recommendations for improving accessibility of social media, tips for making: Facebook posts accessible, Tweets accessible, YouTube videos accessible; and resources, training, and how to provide feedback (2013)

Providing Information in Alternative Formats (2005) (last accessed 9.1.10), Covers:

  • Communication needs of people with visual, hearing, learning, and cognitive disabilities, including:
  • Who is responsible for producing materials in alternative formats,
  • When to provide alternative formats,
  • How you plan, produce, and deliver alternate formatted material, and
  • Sources (vendors) for the production of alternative formats.

Video: Improving Patient-Provider Communication (2010)—part1-of-4/

The Joint Commission and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights worked together to support language access in health care organizations with the video Improving Patient-Provider Communication: Joint Commission Standards and Federal Laws. The video highlights what the Joint Commission standards require as well as Federal civil rights laws with respect to patients who are deaf or hard of hearing, or have limited English proficiency.  A list of resources and tools that health care organizations can use to build effective language access programs accompany the video.

Deaf/Hard of Hearing

ADA Questions and Answers for Health Care Providers from the National Association of the Deaf. Health care providers must communicate effectively to provide appropriate, effective, quality health care services. This document focuses on the obligations of private health care providers and provides useful guidance for public health care providers (federal, state, and local) as well.
Communicating with People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing in Hospital Settings (html)   pdf   from Department of Justice. (2003)

Communicating with your Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Patients McGory, R. Premo, B. Kailes, J. 2003, Pharmacy Times, Los Angeles Times: K17-K18.

Deaf/hard of hearing – Why You Need and How to Get an ASL Interpreter for Doctor’s Appointments, last accessed12.28.12, 3 parts

Finding an Interpreter. Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (last accessed Mar. 24, 2011)

Hospitals’ Responsibilities to the Deaf under the ADA.  Provided as a service by Michigan Association for Deaf, Hearing and Speech Services.
“Guidelines for Services to Deaf and HOH (hard-of-hearing) Adults,” Delmarva Foundation for Medical Care, Inc., Gallaudet University, and the Health Care Financing Administration.

Blind/Low Vision

Bonnie L. O’Day, Mary Killeen, and Lisa I. Iezzoni, “Improving Health Care Experiences of Persons Who Are Blind or Have Low Vision: Suggestions from Focus Groups,” American Journal of Medical Quality 19 (2004), p. 193.

Persons who are blind or have low vision face special challenges in obtaining care that is safe, effective, timely, and patient centered. To explore perceptions of care and recommendations for improvements, authors conducted 8 interviews with experts and 2 focus groups with 19 persons, all of whom are blind or have low vision. Interviewees perceived that they confront special barriers to care because of being blind or having low vision. Barriers fell into 4 broad categories: basic respect, including concerns about physicians thinking they cannot participate fully in their own care; communication barriers, including difficulties interacting with physicians and office staff; physical access barriers, including difficulties getting to and around physicians’ offices; and information barriers, including receiving written materials in inaccessible formats (eg, not in Braille, large print, or audiotape). Using common courtesy and individualized communication techniques, physicians and office staff could improve health care experiences of blind and low-vision patients.

Going Blind; Coming Out of the Dark about Vision Loss; a unique documentary film that increases public awareness of sight loss and low vision issues profoundly affecting the lives of more and more people around the world.

Making Text Legible: Designing for People with Partial Sight, (1999). (last accessed 9.13.10) Arditi, Aries, Lighthouse International. Covers maximizing legibility for people with partial sight.

Website Design

Effective Color Contrast: Designing for People with Partial Sight and Color Deficiencies, (1999) (last accessed 9.14.10). Arditi, Aries, Lighthouse International.

Covers principles of designing effective color contrast for people with partial sight or congenital color deficiencies.

 W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)– from the consortium that maintains the World Wide Web’s standards. Covers website accessibility standards.

Easy-to-understand Information

How to Write Easy-to-Read Health Materials – (last accessed 9.14.10). On-line resource providing tips for writing easy to read medical information materials including step-by-step processes:

  • Plan and Research
  • Organize and Write
  • Evaluate and Improve
  • Inform Us and Stay Informed