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UW Health highlights the importance of supporting the Deaf community through interpreters

UW Health interpreters are nationally certified, and Barr says they prioritize in-person interpretation given that American Sign Language is a highly expressive language.
WEBXTRA: Deaf Awareness Week: Lufkin students display art inspired by sign language
WEBXTRA: Deaf Awareness Week: Lufkin students display art inspired by sign language
Published: Sep. 27, 2021 at 12:55 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - In honor of Deaf Awareness Month, UW Health is shedding light on the importance of interpreters in the continuing support of people who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing or Deaf Blind.

According to Kim Barr, ASL interpreter, while the UW Health provides a lot of remarkable support for Deaf patients, the pandemic has created unique challenges, and she believes there is still opportunity to improve equity for the Deaf community.

“It’s about meeting people where they are and understanding what they need,” she said. “This Deaf Awareness Month, I encourage people to take that awareness to heart and seek out Deaf perspectives to better understand this inspiring community.”

Having information on a patient’s preferred language is critical in patient recovery. Barr says it is difficult for patients and care providers to communicate when they do not speak the same language.

UW Health interpreters are nationally certified, and Barr says they prioritize in-person interpretation given that American Sign Language is a highly expressive language.

Barr, who grew up with Deaf parents, stresses how important interpreters are in providing the Deaf community patient care.

“We as interpreters are trusted members of the health care team,” Barr said. “We serve as a bridge between patients and providers to ensure clear and accurate communication.”

Barr says there have been a lot of accessibility improvements over the last 30 years, and gives credit to the Americans with Disabilities Act for these developments. In total, interpreters are part of more than 3,500 UW Health appointments per year.

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