Hard of Hearing/Deaf/Deaf-Blind Resource Guide for Staff

Key Recommendations for Communicating with Patients who are Hard of Hearing/Deaf/Deaf-Blind

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Ask the patient for the best way to achieve effective communication. Some may require sign language. For others, it simply may be lipreading

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Look directly at the patient. Avoid looking towards the interpreter. Avoid having a window or light behind you as those make it harder to read lips

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Speak clearly and slowly

  • Use visual cues, educational materials and pictographs.
  • Place computers, laptops or tablets to the side rather than in between you and the patient

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Consider using a medical scribe to reduce the need to type into a medical record while engaging the patient

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DHH patients are no more or less intelligent and capable than hearing patients. Avoid talking down or dumbing down the topic

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Ask about patients’ views on their hearing loss. For some, hearing loss may be a form of a cultural identity instead of a disability

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Information on Accommodations that Hard of Hearing/Deaf/Deaf-Blind Patients May Require

ASL Interpreter

Call 734-936-7021 or email LS-deaf-terp@med.umich.edu to arrange for an ASL interpreter upon appointment scheduling as soon as possible.

Real Time Captioning

Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART)

Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) or real-time captioning is the instant translation of spoken English into text using a stenotype machine, notebook computer and software. The text can be displayed on an individual's computer monitor or tablet, projected onto a screen, or combined with a video presentation as captions. This helps people with hearing loss access information in a wide variety of settings.
To arrange for CART service, page 31019 or email LS-deaf-terp@med.umich.edu upon appointment scheduling as soon as possible. 

Zoom Video Visit CC/Live Captioning

Live captioning is an auto transcribe feature available on Zoom video and can be used during virtual visits with patients. The text can be displayed once this feature can be enabled at the bottom of the screen. To enable CC/Live Captioning during virtual visits with patients, follow the steps below: 

Step 1: See bottom bar for Live Transcript button. Select this.    Screenshot of the bottom bar on Zoom with Live Transcript button selected

Step 2: Select enable under Live Transcription. This will activate the live transcription feature.

Screenshot of How to Enable Transcription in Zoom

Written Information

Educational, instructional or any critical information should be written or given in print form in advance of discussion whenever possible. When sharing any patient education videos, check that the correct version of the video with the subtitles enabled is shared with the patient.

Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs)

Ask patient what type of device they use/need and how best to work with them. Pocket talkers are available upon request - email LS-deaf-terp@med.umich.edu or page 31019

Pocket talker - A Pocketalker is a personal amplifier.  It is a headset with an amplifying system.  It looks like what a Walkman ® used to look like; a little box with a microphone on it wired to a headset.  It provides some amplification for sound.  It can be useful particularly in an in-patient setting where you need some amplification, and there may not be an opportunity for the person to go to an audiologist to be fitted with hearing aids.  This is a solution for "in the moment."

Quiet Space for Communication

Minimize any environmental noise that might effect communication (e.g., fans, alarms, hallway noises).

Providers and Staff Wear a Clear Mask

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Clear masks can be ordered from supply chain 82295.  FDA approved clear masks currently include: 

Other Suggestions

  • Consider utilizing whiteboards
  • Laminated cards with written instructions can be helpful during the check-in process

Questions or Concerns

For any questions or concerns around the patient rights, please reach out to the Patient Civil Rights Coordinator at MichMed_patients_rights@med.umich.edu. For additional guidance and support for identifying resources on topics such as accommodations, physical accessibility, service animals and disability inclusion and awareness, you can also reach out to the ADA team at adacoordinator@umich.edu.