Grant will support a project to help remove communications barriers to health care for Deaf people.
The Colorado Health Foundation (CHF) awarded CREEC a $150,000 grant over two years through its Amplifying Health Advocacy program. CREEC’s project proposes to investigate denials of legally required effective communication to Deaf Coloradans at health care facilities and then work to remedy violations systemically by providing effective policies and training. By removing this significant barrier – lack of effective communication – this project will help bring health within reach for the Deaf community in Colorado, a community that tends to be marginalized in our current economic, political, and health care systems.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) require medical providers to ensure that communication with Deaf people is as effective as communication with hearing people. For many medical providers working with Deaf people, this requires a qualified sign language interpreter, and not – as commonly but mistakenly assumed – written notes or lip reading. At CREEC, we know from our legal advocacy work with Deaf clients and from our disability rights advocacy colleagues that, unfortunately, Deaf people are frequently denied qualified sign language interpreters in medical settings despite the requirements of the ADA and ACA. As a result, Deaf people are often unable to access important information about their own health, describe their medical history and symptoms, or ask their health care providers questions. Health care providers also often require Deaf people to provide or pay for their own interpreters, which is both explicitly illegal under the ADA and ACA and puts an additional burden on low-income Deaf families.
“CREEC’s Accessibility Project has used the powerful investigative tools of civil rights testing to challenge discrimination against people who use wheelchairs,” said Amy Robertson, CREEC’s Co-executive director and lead attorney on this project. “Because of the generous support of the Colorado Health Foundation, we will now be able to use these tools to address discrimination against Deaf people in health care at a systemic level and during a time when full access to health care has never been more important.”
The Colorado Health Foundation believes that health is a basic human right and brings health in reach for all Coloradans by engaging closely with communities across the state through investing, policy advocacy, learning, and capacity building.