Are Doctors or Hospitals Required to Provide LIVE Interpreters for Deaf Patients?

Disability Independence Group Blog

By: Matthew Dietz

a doctor's office

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

Modern Hippocratic Oath

You can’t always get what you want 
You can’t always get what you want 
You can’t always get what you want 
But if you try sometimes well you might find 
You get what you need

Rolling Stones

At least once per week, I receive a call from a Deaf person complaining that their doctor or hospital will not provide them with a sign language interpreter for their medical care.  The doctor insists that the patient should communicate either by passing notes back and forth, using Video Remote Interpreters, or by trying to lip-read.  At the same time, the Deaf person insists that they must have an in person, live interpreter for any and all medical interactions…

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Beacon Inc is dedicated to embracing the diversity in Africa and the rest of the world. In our community we find an increasingly diverse population with respect to race, ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation, disability status, socioeconomic status, religion, gender, gender identity and expression, age and other social identities and strive to promote an environment that is respectful of our differences. In this regard, we are dedicated to creating empowering and sustaining a community that is built on trust and u universal commitment to respect for all, irrespective of backgrounds, experiences and identities and which welcomes and encourages the variety of inclusive human experience.

This way we able to promote global citizenship.” someone who identifies with being part of an emerging world community and whose actions contribute to building this community’s values and practices” This growing global identity in large part is made possible by the forces of modern information, communications technologies. In increasing way these technologies are strengthening our ability to connect to the rest of the world. Asa result of living in a globalized world, we understand that we have an added layer of responsibility; we also are responsible for being members of a world-wide community of people who share the same global identity that we have.

We may not yet be fully awakened to this new layer of responsibility, but it is there waiting to be grasped. The major challenge that we face in the millennium is to embrace our global way of being and build a sustainable valuesbased world community. Values that our leaders have been advocating for the past years which include human rights, environmental protection, religious pluralism, gender equity, sustainable worldwide economic growth, poverty alleviation, prevention of conflicts between countries and communities, humanitarian assistance and preservation of cultural diversity.

We as Beacon Inc, see that the missing link in achieving global citizenship is inaccessibility of information e.g. (around sexual health, family planning, human rights, climate change,), marginalization of vulnerable groups in society, poor standards of education, inequality based on gender, social identity, religion and disability. This are the factors that are standing in our way in achieving an inclusive society that ensures peaceful co-existence of everyone in the society.

Beacon Chat initiative in achieving global citizenship, sees the need for a cadre of citizen leaders who can play activists roles in efforts to build our emerging world community. Such global citizenship can take many forms, including advocating, at the local and global level for programmatic solutions that address the set global problems.

Most of us on the path to global citizenship are still somewhere at the beginning of our journey. Our eyes opened and our consciousness raised. Instinctively, we feel a connection with others around the world, yet we lack the adequate tools, resources, and support to act on our vision. Our ways of thinking and being are still colored by the trapping of old allegiances and ways of seeing things that no longer are as valid as they used to be. Using Beacon Chat, you take a step ahead, in addressing as well as implementing change at the local level inclusive of the vulnerable groups connecting with others who have had the longing to pull back the veil that keeps us from more clearly seeing the world as a whole.

GOAL 5: GENDER EQUALITY, Touches on Ending of Gender Based Violence in all its forms.


Gender Based Violence acts has continued to be on the rise, despite the fact that a lot of resources are put into helping both victims and also legally in taking action against perpetrators. Various forms of Gender Based Violence that are on the rise is Female Genital Mutilation, which happens in a cultural context and Rape. Reports show that many of the cases are actually not reported and can be due to the fact that the victims may be disbanded from the community, fears or depend on the perpetrators.

With the recent Weinstein Story, we saw different women coming out, tell their stories. By sharing their stories, they became heroes in the community. Previously you find voices of women were not heard because there are few programs that are targeted and focused on them, hence never had opportunity to speak on issues affecting them. Consequences of GBV include HIV/AIDS and STIs, unwanted pregnancies, physical and psychological trauma. I think a solution will need to address factors that limit communication in this field.

A recent analysis by UNFPA, shows that Boys who complete secondary school are less likely to perpetrate and also girls who complete secondary school are less likely to experience GBV, so when talking about marginalized groups, you are not just talking about the violence, but you are looking at it through the health sector angle through the education sector angle.

Lack of pervasive internet connectivity has hampered access to education not only in Kenya but the whole of Africa. This is due to the fact that implementation of internet and network connectivity requires heavy budget on both equipment and skill. These has later lead to unequal access to education, where individuals in some parts of the country are not aware of some of their rights.

I introduce Beacon Chat, a Shared-Learning and Messaging app designed for deaf and hearing community, where they can all take shared responsibility in creating and shaping narratives on global agenda with dimensions of inclusion and human dignity. it’s built-on Bluetooth-Mesh Framework that allows for unlimited relay of message at no cost within a network of connected devices. The app enhances collaboration, thereby can be used to share more stories among victims, promoting better engagement and interaction in the spreading knowledge on human rights and implementation of United Nations SDGs.

Beacon Chat can be used as a tool for youth and children engagement, harnessing the power of community to the shape narratives that make equality normal and zero tolerance to behaviors that models patriarchy so that at a very early age child see gender equality as a way of life.

Beacon Chat Initiative to Solve United Nation SDG Goal No.13. Climate Action #SDG


Currently, the Sustainable Development Goals are the primary focus of the world; all countries are focused on attaining these goals, especially the sustainable climate and environment. In the recent past, creating awareness regarding sustainable environment and climate has left out the physically challenged in the society. It is a societal disposition that inclusivity to be a priority when undertaking any world project, therefore, the creation of an application that will support those with hearing impairment will shorten the time of achieving sustainable climate and environment. Furthermore, most Governments, NGOs and international organizations advocate for inclusivity in terms of those who are physically challenged. Climate is a fundamental component in the world that ensure the continuity of the human race, therefore, it is important for the whole world to be aware of steps they can undertake in order to ensure better climate action , sustainable life on land and water.

This Beacon Chat will target individual with hearing impairment especially in the developing nation whereby phone services like internet and SMS are expensive for most families. The company that created the application will make it easy for communication between those with hearing impairment since it does not involve cost. Currently, most individuals in Africa have the ability to possess a mobile device with a Bluetooth device that goes at a price of $15. Having the ability to communicate with each other will ensure governmental organization; NGO’s and International Corporation include those with hearing impairment. Most environmental programs involve creation of awareness and civil education; this requires issuing of handouts and training regarding environmental and climatic changes. Furthermore, most third world countries are on the verge of ensuring the inclusivity of physically challenged individuals; therefore, the provision of this application will hasten government’s ability to involve those with hearing impairment.

The application will provide a platform for those with hearing impairment to share their ideas, participate in training and create their own programs that will give the SDGs set by the UN. The application will ensure that individuals with hearing impairment can undertake projects that involve cleaning of environment, planting of trees and recycling of processed materials like plastic bottles. Education is a mighty tool that can bring a societal change especially when provided to individuals with potentially. The world has spent most years undertaking sustainable projects without fully creating a platform for individuals with hearing impairment to participate in ensuring countries achieve SDGs especially those related to the climate and environment. In addition, this application has ensured more people come on board to make it faster for Governments and NGO’s to achieve sustainable climate and life in water and land.

The application involves globalization in order to ensure the spread of ideas and knowledge regarding the creation of sustainable environment and climate all over the world is achieved. In order for the world to achieve sustainable environment restore the climate a holistic approach need to be the modus operandi whereby everybody is onboard. The use of this application will bring about the notion of a global village whereby information is shared all over the world. Communication is a key ingredient in ensuring progress and completion of set goals; for example, most countries have aligned their vision according to the UN’s sustainable Development Goals. Therefore, in order to achieve them, especially those related to climate and environment, communication is a vital component in ensuring the set goals are achieved. This application created by the company is supported by Bluetooth; therefore, its cheapness will ensure communication is achieved among individuals with hearing impairment. Therefore, creation of awareness and provision of education among those who have hearing impairment will accelerate the worlds ability to achieve sustainable environment and climate.

Sustainable Development Goals We Help Achieve


Guided by theme of leaving no one behind (United Nations Sustainable Development Goals), we help achieve GOAL 17. Partnerships for the Goals, through fostering environment for Deaf and Hearing collaboration. GOAL 4. Quality Education Collaborative learning facilitates in which its strong sense of community not only increases persistence of students in learning progress, but also enhances information flow, learning support, group commitment. GOAL 10. Reduced Inequalities: Allowing for hearing and deaf collaboration, we build a bridge to stop marginalization and segregation of communities. GOAL 5. Gender Equity: Through Collaboration, we foster an environment where cultural norms can be reshaped to support gender equality, help overcome systematic gender oppression and provide them with knowledge.

Computer Science graduate develops app to ensure privacy for the deaf

The deaf can now be assisted using Beacon chat
SUMMARYKaratina University graduate has developed a mobile application to assist the deaf

Beacon Chat is a smartphone Off Grid Chat Application that allows for free text messaging.

Privacy too isn’t guaranteed, in the use of sign language, where anyone who understands sign language can decode the context being relayed.

Allan Okoth, a computer science graduate from Karatina University has developed Beacon application to address the issues of privacy, freedom of expression and social exclusion among individuals with hearing impairment. ​

“Beacon Chat is a smartphone Off Grid Chat Application that allows for free text messaging between individuals within the Bluetooth range,” says Okoth.

“The application became fruitful after a process of design thinking and interaction with the deaf community,” adds Okoth.

To achieve this, Beacon App enables users to use SMS and Whatsapp technologies, both of which depend on third party factors. The use of SMS requires that the user pay for network provider’s service and for Whatsapp, one needs to access WiFi services.

The app is available on Android platform, and it is friendly to use and initiates communication easily.

“Currently I am working to extend the App implementation of Bluetooth mesh network that can hold up to 35,000 devices,”says Okoth.

So far, the application has made it through to the tough and strict criteria check of WSA office and will now be evaluated by the WSA Young Innovators Jury.

WSA Young Innovators is a special recognition for young social entrepreneurs under 30 years of age, using ICTs to take action on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). Together with the WSA winners of each year, they are honored as outstanding digital innovation with social impact.

The winners will be invited to and awarded at the WSA Global Congress 2018 taking place in Vienna, Austria.

“For long people have been using bluetooth technology for sending files between devices, but now you can communicate, with the launch of Bluetooth Low Energy, Bluetooth doesn’t drain battery charge like before,”concludes Okoth.