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 http://captionmatch.com/   if you need help locating a provider for captioning services.



  1. People who are deaf or hard of hearing use a variety of ways to communicate. Some rely on sign language interpreters or assistive listening devices; some rely primarily on written messages. Many can speak even though they cannot hear. The method of communication and the services or aids the hospital must provide will vary depending upon the abilities of the person who is deaf or hard of hearing and on the complexity and nature of the communications that are required. Effective communication is particularly critical in health care settings where miscommunication may lead to misdiagnosis and improper or delayed medical treatment.

    1. Thank you for stopping by and leaving an informative comment, Harrison.

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