ASL Investigation Discovery #1

The Doctor’s Office

Hypothetical situation: You’re sitting in the waiting room at a doctor’s office and discover, to your surprise, that another patient also waiting for a visit with the doctor is Deaf and uses American Sign Language. You chat with this person and have a pleasant conversation with your ASL level 101 signing skills. As you are waiting, the Deaf person is called up to the receptionist’s desk and you, being a little nosey, eavesdrop (or “eyes” drop). The receptionist is talking loudly to the Deaf person, and clearly, there’s some miscommunication between the receptionist and the Deaf patient. From listening in, you can gather that the Deaf person has requested an interpreter for the appointment; however, the receptionist told the patient that they must provide their own interpreter. Now, a nurse comes in and calls the Deaf patient back to be examined, but again, the Deaf patient has no interpreter. The Deaf person quickly explains, “Geez! I made this appointment and requested an interpreter weeks ago! I’m going in for important tests! Ugh! I’m so upset!” The nurse notices you two signing to each other, asks if you can come back and interpret for this patient.


Do: You will type an approximately 2-page paper covering these four points:

  • Think about what you would do and write your reaction?
  • What are the dilemmas of this situation, especially for the Deaf person, and for you, for the doctor’s office, and the laws (American’s with Disabilities Act, Patient’s Rights)?
  • What are the ethical considerations of going and acting as an interpreter or refusing to do so? Are there any laws in place regarding situations like this?
  • What could you do to help the situation – help both the Deaf patient and the receptionist/nurse/doctor? How about you be an ally in this sort of situation?


Research: Tell about what the laws are, if any, regarding a deaf person’s rights to interpreters for medical appointments:

  • Research is required for this assignment. You may look for this information from various resources on the internet or within the community and find out the best way to handle a situation like this and whether there are laws or policies to help guide Deaf people and those with whom they come in contact. You also may collaborate with your classmates and discuss this assignment; however, you must type your own response complete with at least three sources cited in either APA or MLA format.

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