What Does a Medical Sign Language Interpreter Do?

A medical sign language interpreter helps a medical provider to communicate with a patient with hearing loss in various medical facilities. These professionals have bilingual fluency in both American Sign Language & spoken languages with advanced understanding of general medical terminologies and procedures.

Did you know, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990), auxiliary aids, including an interpreter, have to be provided to Deaf or hard of hearing patients to ensure equal access to medical services and care.?

A licensed healthcare interpreter conveys what a doctor, nurse, or other medical staff wishes to convey to a patient. The patient’s response—communicated via sign language — is interpreted into spoken language for the medical professional by the sign language interpreter.

What are the Qualifications of a Medical Sign Language Interpreter?
The criteria to receive national certification as a healthcare interpreter from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf is:-

The individual must be 18-years of age or older .
Must have at least a Bachelor degree or equivalent.
The individual must have passed the RID knowledge and performance exams
Must possess linguistic proficiency in both English and sign language varieties.

The Responsibilities of a Sign Language Medical Interpreter
Clear Communication
A professional medical interpreter helps improve the patient’s understanding & compliance at every stage of their healthcare journey and prevents the doctor from misunderstanding or misdiagnosing the patient . This results in minimizing the patient’s follow-up visits, hospital stay, and medical expenses.

Unbiased & Accurate Communication
Under more unfortunate circumstances, patients have to make important decisions when suffering from a disease, undergoing surgery, continuing medical treatment, or combining medical approaches . This is why seamless, accurate interpretation of the doctor’s advice and prognosis must be communicated clearly to the patient; and the sign language healthcare interpreter does exactly that.

Did you know? Specially trained medical interpreters are statistically less likely to make errors or omissions in their interpreting compared to a bilingual family member or office worker? A study by the American College of Emergency Physicians revealed that professional interpreters are 10% less likely to misinterpret than an untrained individual acting as an interpreter.

Request a medical sign language interpreter specialized and experienced in the medical field who understands healthcare terminology and can accurately interpret it to Deaf or hard-of-hearing patients with a variety of language preference and modalities. The interpreter’s expertise can help you confidently manage your conversations with doctors, specialists, and other medical professionals.

Penalties for Non-Compliance
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), medical institutions must make the necessary arrangements for a qualified medical interpreter for patients who are Deaf, Deaf-blind, or who report having hearing loss . Non-compliance with the ADA standards could lead to serious consequences.

In 2008, a New Jersey doctor refused to provide a sign language interpreter to a Deaf woman who had requested the accommodation multiple times. The jury ruled against the doctor for failure to provide proper ADA accommodation and sentenced the doctor to pay a much more expensive price- $400,000 to the Deaf woman.

Whether you are hiring a medical sign language interpreter for your Deaf, Deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing patients or preparing accommodations for your practice , make sure your service provider is experienced, qualified, and HIPAA-compliant. Do your due diligence now in partnering with a reputable, experienced accommodations provider, like Inclusive Communication Services, and avoid unqualified interpreters and expensive lawsuits down the line.

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