Community News & Updates

Call to Action: Expand National Financing of ASL Services

by Shawn Flynn Illinois News Indiana News Minnesota News

If you are someone who is concerned about the quality of access to professional sign-language services for Deaf or Har of Hearing patients in health care settings, please read this article and contact your Congressional representatives today! Presently, the U.S. Congress is preparing to make potentially sweeping changes to America's health care system in an effort to improve health care quality, accessibility and reduce costs. As part of this overall effort to enhance our nation's health care system, the essential communication needs of Deaf or Hard of Hearing patients must be considered and addressed.

The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) is currently advocating for expanded federal mandates that will require Medicare, Medicaid and the private insurance industry to increase funding and reimbursements for professional sign-language interpreter services in the context of health care settings (please see attached DREDF document). In addition to the sign-language resource requirements outlined within the federal Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHO) has long recognized that effective communication between patients and health care providers is an essential and indispensible component of medical safety and high-quality health care outcomes. Specifically, in accordance with JACHO's published standards RI.21.00, RI.2.30 and RI.2.20 - it is stated that "patients have the right to be involved in their care and have appropriate communication, which includes professional interpreters and translation services." (JCAHO, 2006)

So, please promptly contact your Illinois Senators and Representatives in the U.S. Congress and urge that access to professional sign-language services be expanded by federal mandate for patients who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing! Contact information for Illinois Senator Richard Durbin and help finding the contact information for your Illinois District Representative are available online.

Thank you for your immediate action!

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