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American Sign Language:  Dentistry and the Deaf


In a message dated 8/26/2005 1:26:34 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, @yahoo.com writes:
Hello Sir...
I am planning on studying sign language through your website.....I was wondering if I could have some additional information on sign language in the dental office.....I am a registered dental hygienist and I was hoping to focus my study on teeth and helping my patients.....can you help me please?
Thank you for your time,
Lyndsi
Lyndsi,
That is an interesting topic:  Dentistry and the Deaf.
I'll set up a page at the Lifeprint Library to host a dialog on this topic.

A few thoughts that come to mind:

Registration:
Put in a pair of ear plugs and walk into your office.  Look around as if it were your first time in the office and imagine how it would be for a deaf person.  Are there written directions that explain the registration process? If the patient needs to be directed to one of several waiting rooms, are the directions available in a written form?

Summoning: 
After a patient registers and takes a seat in the waiting room, is there a visual prompt that indicates when it is his turn.
I always dislike sitting in certain doctor's and dentist's offices because I can't tell who they are summoning.  I try to keep track of who arrived before and after me so I can tell when it is my turn, but that method is a hassle.  Plus sometimes they call a name and I think it is mine only to find out after I walk up that it was someone else's name.
This problem is solved by some doctors / dentists who use an electronic number display that shows the number of the person who is currently being seen.  Each patient is handed a number as they register and can see from the display how many people are ahead of them in line.

Interpreters:
Often it will be appropriate to provide a certified interpreter. Many deaf lipread, but many don't.  It is important to treat everyone as individuals.  If a deaf person requests an interpreter then provide one.  If you don't know where to find one...then ask the Deaf person.  If he or she doesn't know (which is highly unlikely) then you can check with your state's chapter of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf or similar organization.  Check www.RID.org for more information.

Face masks: 
Can the deaf person see the dentist's or hygienist's face? Some Deaf are comfortable lip-reading, but I've yet to learn how to lip-read someone wearing a face mask. If it is a "policy" to wear the face mask perhaps the hygienist or dentist would be so kind as to simply lean back a bit and pull the mask down temporarily each time he or she speaks the the Deaf person.


 


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