Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDI) Provide Optimal Language Access in Healthcare Encounters


To provide the best possible care to Deaf patients, InDemand offers Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDIs), enabling providers and patients to gain a more complete picture of healthcare needs while ensuring optimal language and cultural access for Deaf and hard of hearing (HOH) patients. CDIs can be incredibly beneficial in the healthcare setting, particularly when there are complex demands and unique language needs.  Click here to learn more about InDemand Interpreting CDIs.

How do CDI’s support language access services?

ASL Interpreters are bilingual in ASL and English and are trained professional interpreters, however, they typically are not native users of ASL.  CDI’s, however, are native users of ASL, trained professional interpreters and have a shared language and cultural experiences with the Deaf patient.  Often, an ASL interpreter and a CDI work together to ensure optimal communication and accuracy, support Deaf consumers with unique language needs and manage dynamic encounters that may be highly emotional and stressful for all parties. 

How do CDIs support Deaf patients?

CDIs have native exposure to American Sign Language (ASL), giving them a higher level of fluency and linguistic competency as they are accustomed to working with a variety of consumers and interpreters. As a result, they can interpret in diverse settings, making them an asset to Deaf patients, providers and interpreters, no matter the patient’s language competency and region.   

For example, a Deaf patient, fluent in ASL, may arrive for a routine appointment.  During the encounter, the ASL interpreter may note some regional or dialect differences that they do not recognize.  When a CDI joins the encounter, the CDI is familiar with the dialect and able to communicate more effectively with the patient and the provider.  As a result, the flow of communication is seamless, and the message conveyed is accurate.  The presence of another Deaf person, a CDI who possesses the linguistic and cultural training and experience, quickly eases communication access.  The patient and healthcare provider can fully communicate and participate in this healthcare encounter with the interpreting team present.

This is just one example of how ASL interpreters and CDIs can work together to provide a better experience for both patients and providers. Within medical video remote interpreting (VRI) encounters, there are several additional reasons an ASL interpreter may need to partner with a CDI to ensure clear, effective communication, including:

  • Interpreting for monolingual ASL signers
  • Foreign born patients
  • Highly emotional/traumatic medical encounters
  • New diagnosis and treatment presentation
  • Patient education (i.e. diabetes education)
  • Traumatic pediatric encounters
  • Mental health encounters
  • Patients with physical limitations

Using CDIs has the potential to maximize a variety of medical encounters. CDIs function as effective resources to support a high-performing language access experience for everyone involved. InDemand is at the forefront of providing CDI availability in the medical setting and recognizes the importance of using CDIs as linguistic specialists and cultural mediators.  We strive for best practices and take pride in this investment to ensure patients can fully participate in their healthcare encounters.

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