Health Care and Speech Differences I found the article “Hospital to Pay $70,000 to Patient Denied Interpreter” (February 2015) quite compelling. It particularly reminded me of an experience regarding the importance of effective communication for patients in hospitals, while my father was hospitalized in Florida last year. He has hearing loss and wears hearing aids, ... Inbox
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Inbox  |   April 01, 2015
Health Care and Speech Differences
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Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Healthcare Settings / ASHA News & Member Stories / Language Disorders / Inbox
Inbox   |   April 01, 2015
Health Care and Speech Differences
The ASHA Leader, April 2015, Vol. 20, 8. doi:10.1044/leader.IN5.20042015.8
The ASHA Leader, April 2015, Vol. 20, 8. doi:10.1044/leader.IN5.20042015.8
I found the article “Hospital to Pay $70,000 to Patient Denied Interpreter” (February 2015) quite compelling. It particularly reminded me of an experience regarding the importance of effective communication for patients in hospitals, while my father was hospitalized in Florida last year. He has hearing loss and wears hearing aids, but did not require a sign language interpreter. My family and I experienced difficulty understanding crucial information regarding my father’s health from a doctor who had noticeable “speech difference.”
Florida employs a vast number of health care professionals from other countries. I have heard numerous stories of patients not able to understand the speech of workers in rehab and nursing facilities as well. As an SLP, I am particularly aware of this speech difference. Living in Florida all my life, I certainly have worked with and socialize with people from many countries with speech differences, most of whose accents do not generally interfere with their communication to the public. They are aware of their speech differences and are able, and most times willing, to alter their pronunciations when they suspect difficulties from their listeners.
While attending the ASHA convention in Orlando I sought out relevant sessions, hoping to hear discussion in the area of people with speech differences, particularly medical staff. Shouldn’t we be proactive in ensuring effective communication for all patients and families? Should it not be addressed because it does not pertain to an issue with a patient’s disability?
Bonnie Sargeant, Boynton Beach, Florida

Thank you for writing about your concerns regarding speech differences and medical staff. For more information on this topic, visit the ASHA’s Practice Portal page on working with interpreters (on.asha.org/portal-interpreters) and the website of ASHA Special Interest Group 14, Communication Disorders and Sciences in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Populations.

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April 2015
Volume 20, Issue 4