"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive." Anaïs Nin

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Why Hospitals and Medical Centers Need Interpreters & CART

Many of you know that when I was in the hospital for my surgery last fall, I was not given an interpreter even though I had asked for one. They figured because I was speaking with my husband, I wasn't as deaf as I am. That's a common problem with people who become deaf later in life. I had also requested one at a previous medical testing proceeding at a lab, and though we waited for some time, no interpreter showed up. I had told my husband I didn't need him at that appointment because we had requested an interpreter. I wish I had known that not only would no one show up, but no one bothered to inform me that none would be available. Interpreters are trained to communicate, and to communicate well.

Not all Deaf, hard of hearing or hearing impaired people read lips, and even though many of us take speech reading classes (lip reading classes) there is a huge margin for error. We may think we understand what is being said, but the reality is, so many words and phrases look similar on the lips. We may think we are getting correct information, but the truth is, we aren't getting all of it, only bits and pieces. One word can make all the difference in meaning. If someone is smiling while giving bad news, we may not understand that something serious is being said to us. There are just too many variables for misunderstanding and miscommunication.

It is imperative that hospitals and medical centers understand this and change this situation, especially in light of Matt's story.

This story by Matt Dixon is heart breaking. No child, no matter how old, should have to be in this position, nor any other family member. Hospitals and medical centers everywhere need to have professional interpreters on staff and on the premises for Deaf who use Sign Language. English is a foreign language to culturally Deaf people.

Along those very same lines, for deaf, hard of hearing and hearing impaired people who do not know sign language, CART services need to be available on site, as well. You can learn more about CART at the link at the bottom of the page, but first, go read this article written by Matt at the The Limping Chicken "I had to tell my dad he was going to die, because he wasn't given a Sign Language interpreter"

To learn more about the FABULOUS service CART provides, visit  Collaborative for Communication via Captioning and also check out CaptionMatch if you need help locating a provider for captioning services.


  1. I would be careful in insisting that captioning is a perfect solution. I am a DI (Deaf Interpreter) and captioning would not be an ideal solution for many of my clients.
    Deaf people should have options - ASL interpreters, VRI, captioning, etc...
    I do see what you are saying, though I did get the sense that you were offering a potential of captioning as a solution. There cannot be an one solution for all. It just does not work that way.

  2. You are correct. Captioning is only an option for those whose native language or first language is English. American Sign Language, (ASL), or any sign language for that matter, s for those who are deaf and use it as their first language for them captioning would not be a viable option because English is a foreign language to them. Thank you for adding to the conversation!

  3. It's so true that we could easily mis-understand when we lipread. I know in past conversations when I thought I had followed something, it turned out I had not. So we do need to be sure we have understood the right information given to us when it comes to something very important.