Caring for Patients Using Sign Language: The ADA Legacy of George H.W. Bush

By Ami Bhatt, MD, FACC
December 6, 2018

On July 26, 1990, President George H. W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA was touted for promoting health as well as civil rights.

I learned first-hand about the experience of patients with disabilities by caring for patients with concomitant congenital deafness and congenital heart disease. I am fortunate to have cared for a cadre of these patients with a dedicated sign language interpreter over the past decade. She represented me to the patients and the patients to me. Importantly, in addition to translating language, she expressed the tone of voice and achieved the delivery of emotions which are essential to effective and compassionate communication. She was also a trusted partner in my practice of medicine. Since she also knew my patients’ histories, I could trust her to accompany the patient at other doctors’ visits, to help the patient communicate what I had shared, and vice versa. Continue reading “Caring for Patients Using Sign Language: The ADA Legacy of George H.W. Bush”