Ideas in communicating with deaf and mute patient

  1. 2

    I chose a deaf/mute patient for this week's care. I'm a first semester nursing student.
    I have in mind to bring in a small white board as well as notecards to communicate with this patient. I'm planning to memorize some simple sign languages as well.

    Can you give me other ideas as well to communicate with this special patient?
    I'm very excited to have chosen such an interesting patient.

    Thank you!
    poppycat and GrnTea like this.

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  2. 13 Comments...

  3. 0
    How exciting! I love choosing patients that have something unique (or more unique than we would normally see)

    Do you guys do any pre-clinical prep? Do you get to learn about him reading the files ahead of time? That might give you an idea of how people are communicating with him now and how you can continue doing what works or maybe bring ideas to enhance this.

    Is it a LTC or acute care setting?

    I guess my first step would be to see what they're using now, take a look at this effectiveness and then see if there's anything that could be improved upon.

    Good luck, can't wait to hear about it!
  4. 1
    Hi, this will end up being a great experience for you. I have studied ASL and Deaf culture and I can you that there are some things you can do to ease their fears and communicate more effectively. It is very frightening and stressful for a deaf person to be in a medical situation. The first thing that you need to do is maintain constant eye contact. Writing notes is also good, Deaf people are used to it. Also, be prepared to mime or act out certain things. You may feel silly but it is common practice and will be appreciated. Learning some signs is great too, there is a great website called that will help you with that. Don't assume that they can read lips, some can and some can't. Just treat them with compassion and kindness and do your best, you will both come out of it feeling great! Good Luck :-)
    NurseOnAMotorcycle likes this.
  5. 1
    The white board is a great idea. The hospital may have something there....what setting is this acute or long term care?
    NurseOnAMotorcycle likes this.
  6. 3
    I have an app on my iPhone called Sign 4 Me. You type in what you want to say and the guy in the window signs it. I just tried it with, "I am sorry I don't know sign. Is this ok?" It asked me whether "sign" meant "sign language" or a few other choices, and I tapped "sign language" -- if you use a word that could have different meanings, it asks you to clarify before it continues. I love it.
    krisiepoo, poppycat, and Pb&j711773 like this.
  7. 0
    Quote from Esme12
    The white board is a great idea. The hospital may have something there....what setting is this acute or long term care?
  8. 5
    While good ideas for less formal communication, you may want to look up the facility/hospital's policy on use of interpreters and when an interpreter is required. For example, for any patient where a formal health history is being taken or informed consent is needed (and some nursing procedures do require consent, just not written), my facility requires the use of a trained and approved interpreter, whether for foreign languages or sign language. We are forbidden from using family as an interpreter- they may answer for the patient or not provide the patient with all information. Bilingual employees who are not trained and approved may face disciplinary action if they interpret. The policy should also be able to direct you to any resources- a number for a staff member who can locate translators or video/phone translation services. When using the white board, you may also need to keep in mind the patient's reading and writing abilities. Either way, it sounds like you'll have an educational clinical experience.
    LL143KnB, GrnTea, krisiepoo, and 2 others like this.
  9. 0
    When I worked in the hospital, we had ASL interpreters for such cases. The patient may very well be able to read lips. See what you can find out about how the staff is communicating with him every day.
  10. 1
    The current issue of Nursing2013 (November) has a good article on communicating with deaf/HOH patients. It includes a lot of good suggestions. Well worth your time -- and would be a great resource for your care plan, case study, term paper, etc.
    GrnTea likes this.
  11. 0
    In all seriousness, an interpreter.

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