Chanelle Dunn

ADA / Deaf misconceptions to clear up

General, I'm Deaf, Usher Syndrome

Recently, I went into a doctor’s office. I presented my laptop with my pre-typewritten greeting to sign in. The staff (and the doctor who joined later) said that an interpreter is required.

I explained that written communication is my most effective communication means.

They said the law requires that I use an interpreter because the doctor uses medical terms.

I explained that I can read.

They said the doctor’s language is too high for me to read.

I awkwardly said, “Well, I’m educated with Master of Taxation.” I had no choice but had to present my educational credentials to prove my reading skills, like a job candidate has to present credentials on a resume and at a job interview.

I further explained that all of my life I’ve struggled with understanding sign language interpreters and vice-versa. Misunderstandings are not uncommon. I’m not good at verbal communication. I’m very good at written communication; in this communication mode, I speak coherently.

They said the law still requires that I use an interpreter.

I clarified that the ADA does not require specifically sign language interpreters. Rather, it requires that doctors (in this case) accommodate whatever communication means works most effectively. English is my first language, not ASL. I referred them to Deaf Action Center for ADA clarification.

They then offered their laptop, in conjunction with an interpreter, yet bringing up another issue- related to my low vision…

I again explained that I need to use mine because it is set up with black background and white font that enables me to read efficiently.

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