VRI is Breaking Down Language and Cultural Barriers for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Patients


Nine out of ten Deaf people originate from families who hear normally, which means that typically children who are born to hearing families are at an immediate language disadvantage. Most often hearing families are not aware of the communication options for a Deaf child. This can make it difficult for Deaf children to gain early language acquisition using American Sign Language (ASL) and can also contribute to layers of language and cultural dysfluency during their school years and well into adulthood. Examples of this can be seen in the following ways:

  • Knowledge deficiency regarding family and individual health history
  • Constrained environmental learning within family and social circles
  • Lack of belief in healthcare providers’ and other hearing peoples’ efforts to aid them

We know that the Deaf community is very diverse and that HOH individuals have varying levels of hearing difficulty. However, what separates the reference to “Deaf identity” from “hearing difficulty” is a cultural label and medical pathology. There are children who develop hearing loss at some point in their youth and there are adults who lose their hearing acuity as a result of loud noises, traumatic injury or as part of aging. An affinity to the health view of deafness or to the cultural identification is a personal, individual choice, as exemplified by the value statement created by the National Association of Deafness (NAD).

According to the NAD, how people “label” or identify themselves is personal and may reflect identification with the Deaf and hard of hearing community, the degree to which they can hear, or the relative age of onset. Some people identify themselves as “late-deafened,” indicating that they became deaf later in life or other people identify themselves as “deaf-blind,” which usually indicates that they are Deaf or hard of hearing and also have some degree of vision loss. Some people believe that the term “people with hearing loss” is inclusive and efficient, however, some people who were born deaf or hard of hearing do not think of themselves as having lost their hearing. Today, the most commonly accepted terms have come to be “deaf,” “Deaf,” and “hard of hearing.”

While we are seeing many advancements in technology to support Deaf and HOH individuals, from texting to videophone equipment, smartphone “live messaging” and social platforms, there is still occasional apprehension from the Deaf and HOH community regarding the use of VRI. There are a couple of reasons for this resistance. Firstly, the choice of how a Deaf person utilizes ASL interpreters during a healthcare appointment was for a very long time limited to on-site interpreters. The real-time, fully dimensional presence of an interpreter assisting in healthcare communication was only accomplished as a standard about two decades ago. Secondly, the quality of video technology with any one of the many VRI providers, and the manner in how these providers hired video interpreters, can vary greatly. This includes whether or not interpreters are certified and qualified, medically trained and ethical.  It takes time and the development of trust, resilience and reliability between the Deaf and/or HOH patient, the provider and VRI provider for video remote interpreting to become a standard for patients needing ASL interpreters during their healthcare encounters. InDemand Interpreting is at the forefront of the VRI industry and employs experienced, certified ASL interpreters as well as Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDIs) with intensive medical expertise and training as part of their language services offerings and input from CDIs is included in quality assurance and project goals for the company.

InDemand is Committed to Serving Deaf and Hard of Hearing Patients

We recognize that the skill and dedication of the InDemand ASL team is critical to supporting an exceptional experience for both Deaf and hard of hearing patients and their clinicians. All of our interpreters go through a thorough screening process to ensure they meet our high-quality standards before they are hired. One-hundred percent of our ASL interpreters are credentialed by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and meet state licensure compliance. On average, our ASL interpreters have more than 10 years of experience in a video environment and 17 years of experience in medical interpreting. To provide the best possible care to Deaf patients, InDemand also offers Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDIs), their patients and family members. Our CDIs meet or exceed the same standards as all other ASL interpreters on our team, and our CDIs enable providers to obtain a more complete picture of a Deaf patient’s healthcare needs and history, while patients gain a deeper understanding of their tailored treatment plan.

Video Remote Intepreting for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Patients

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