Can we write back and forth?
Sign Languages have their own complexities like spoken languages. They have grammar, syntax and structure like other languages. Often these aren’t shared with the spoken language of the region. Here is the United States, English is very different from American Sign Language. In fact, many Deaf people do not use English at a level that would support writing back and forth as a means of effective communication. We often say that this is the last resort as a way to communicate important information as it simply doesn’t support what most people think it will.
Being a second language to many in the Deaf community, using English as a mode of communication in written form can be daunting, intimidating and restrictive of comfortable expression. You want your conversations to make sense to everyone and we want to ensure your point is made, just the way you need it to be.
Can we rely on lip reading?
Research tells us that even the best lip readers are on average only catching 30% of what is being said. That means that 70% of the words exchanged are up for guesswork. If your doctor only knew 30% of the problem but needed to treat 100% of it, you’d probably be quite concerned and rightfully so.
While every Deaf person is different, the idea of using lipreading as an effective way to be heard remains a fallacy. It simply doesn’t work and for safety reasons, it can be quite dangerous. When working in any capacity, communication should always be a priority to ensure that mistakes aren’t made. This is especially important in arenas like medical and legal communication. A simple misunderstanding can cost immense amounts of money in liability, it can costs people their jobs and worse, lives.
Important terminology is best provided through an interpreter. Lipreading leading to many misunderstandings, it is easy to imagine guessing incorrectly at phrases like ‘a chronic case of’ or ‘taken twice a week to treat the myopathy’. Even with residual hearing, the sounds in the phrases ‘pay me’ and ‘baby’ can be identical when relying on lipreading. The idea of using a one-size-fits-all approach would never work for you.
Lipreading is never a great solution to communicate with anyone. Misunderstandings can lead to missed appointments, mixed messages and in the worst case scenario, war. When you need your message to be clear, don’t plan on a puzzle.
Can we use a family member to interpret?
We are strong supporters of autonomy and want to see every one of our clients able to approach their appointments and business the way they would like to. That often means without the interference of friends, family members or colleagues. Using someone with intimate knowledge of a client as their interpreter is often a dangerous double edged sword. We strive for long term relationships and deep connections at every turn but never at the cost of our client. Not only does using a friend, family member or office associate with some experience put the interaction at risk, it opens you up to liability you don’t want. We’ve heard horror stories of sisters trying to manage a medical appointment only to be too emotionally overwhelmed and children trying their best to manage business with no knowledge on the topic. For these reasons, it is always best to rely on a professional and when the matter is urgent, calling one over remote video conferencing.