How to Best Utilize a Certified Deaf Interpreter
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Identifying When Your Patients Need the Assistance of a Certified Deaf Interpreter

By Kathryn Jackson, VP of Language Operations, Stratus Video

Did you know that not all Deaf and Hard of Hearing (HoH) individuals use American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate? Other forms of sign language, including home signs, are frequently utilized. To ensure that Deaf and HoH patients have meaningful access to their healthcare information, healthcare providers need to know how to identify when a Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI) is needed in addition to a Certified Hearing Interpreter (CHI).

Certified Deaf Interpreters

CDIs are qualified interpreters who are extensively trained in providing language services for the Deaf and HoH community. CDIs are Deaf themselves with fluency in ASL and an in-depth understanding of Deaf culture. Such experience enables fluency in various modes of communication used by the Deaf community including and apart from ASL.

How to Identify When Your Patient Needs a CDI

Situations that call for a CDI include:

  • Emotional situations
  • Mental health cases
  • Sexual abuse
  • Trauma
  • Situations with ASL learners
  • Children with developing language abilities
  • Foreign-born Deaf individuals
  • Individuals who communicate via home signs and
  • Those with developmentally minimal language skills

When encountering a Deaf or HoH patient, request the assistance of a qualified sign language interpreter. If the interpreter determines that effective communication is not taking place via ASL, then it is time to request the assistance of a CDI.

Using a CDI

So how does communication with a CDI work? ASL and CDI interpreters work as a team to ensure that both the patient and health care provider understand one another. The physician communicates in spoken English. The Certified Hearing Interpreter (CHI) interprets his or her message into ASL. The CDI then interprets the message into a visual form of communication that meets the specific needs of the Deaf patient. The CDI may make use of mime, props, and other visuals to ensure that the message is effectively communicated to the Deaf individual. The Deaf patient responds to the CDI who then relays the message back into ASL to the CHI. The CHI then renders the message in spoken English for the healthcare provider.

Watch the webinar below to learn more about what makes communication with Deaf and HoH patients effective.


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