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Medford Care Center Agrees to Provide Assistance to Hearing Impaired Following Settlement

The family of a deaf woman alleged the center essentially denied the patient information about important procedures by not providing an interpreter.

A privately-run Burlington County nursing and rehabilitation facility must provide a sign-language interpreter for the deaf and the hearing impaired as the result of a discrimination lawsuit, Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced on Monday.

The agreement is part of a settlement that resolves a lawsuit filed by the family of a deaf patient, Mary Jane Barton, against the Medford Care Center in 2012.

Barton’s family claimed Medford Care Center continually failed to accomodate a sign language interpreter for her outside of two conferences with physicians during a six-month stay in 2012.

The family claimed the center communicated with Barton through her son, written notes or via lip reading. This included discussions about her symptoms and conditions, and resulted in her being unaware of certain medical procedures that were going to be performed on her ahead of time because of the lack of adequate communication.

Division on Civil Rights Director Craig T. Sashihara said that accommodating a deaf patient’s preferred form of communication is particularly critical where conversations involving the patient’s symptoms, diagnosis and treatment are concerned.

“According to the New Jersey Division of Disabilities, there are approximately 850,000 New Jersey residents—roughly 10 percent of our population—who have varying degrees of hearing loss,” Sashihara said.  ”That number includes persons who were born deaf like Ms. Barton, others who developed late-stage hearing loss, and an increasing number of teenagers and young adults. It’s a growing societal problem that unnecessarily alienates good people and adversely affects their quality of life by needlessly creating communication barriers.”

Medford Care Center agreed to formally incorporate into its disability policy a protocol for accommodating the deaf and hard of hearing with a certified sign language interpreter, and to train all its personnel regarding the policy.

“Patients who are deaf or hard of hearing must be able to comfortably, and effectively, communicate with their care givers,” Hoffman said. “This settlement is important because it ensures, going forward, that Medford Care will engage in an interactive process with deaf and hard of hearing patients, and that those whose communication needs are best served through use of a sign-language interpreter will be accommodated. Let this case serve as a reminder to other health care facilities that they have the same duty to provide effective communication under the law.”

Deaf Deaf February 11, 2014 at 12:12 AM
Please be advised that the term, “hearing impaired” is unacceptable. Here is the explanation: The term "Hearing Impaired" is a technically accurate term much preferred by hearing people, largely because they view it as politically correct. In the mainstream society, to boldly state one's disability (e.g., deaf, blind, etc.) is somewhat rude and impolite. To their way of thinking, it is far better to soften the harsh reality by using the word "impaired" along with "visual", "hearing", and so on. “Hearing-impaired” is a well-meaning word that is much-resented by deaf and hard of hearing people. This term was popular in the 70s and 80s, however, now is used mostly by doctors, audiologists and other people who are mainly interested in our ears "not working." While it's true that their hearing is not perfect, that doesn't make them impaired as people. Most would prefer to be called Deaf, Hard of Hearing or deaf when the need arises to refer to their hearing status, but not as a primary way to identify them as people (where their hearing status is not significant). We are deaf, and not people with impairments (obstacles) in life! Hope that you and your people respect by refusing to use the outdated and offensive term. Hearing loss is more acceptable for everyone who is not just deaf. http://www.eastersealscrossroads.org/blog/2011/september/deaf-vs-hearing-impaired http://www.deafau.org.au/info/terminology.php http://nad.org/issues/american-sign-language/community-and-culture-faq http://www.ifhoh.org/papers/agreement-terminology/
Tom Willard February 12, 2014 at 12:35 PM
Please be advised that Deaf Deaf does not speak for all deaf people.
Laura February 13, 2014 at 03:54 PM
I agree with the above and Tom Willard. I prefer to be called myself as DEAF. One more thing I want to add, Deaf people does not like to be called DEAF and Mute.

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