Modes of Mental Health Care
Helping to treat the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (D/HH) can be accomplished through several means. As ASL Therapists, we affirm that direct language access is the most effective means of providing mental health care. We also affirm that it is best practice to allow the D/HH individual the right to choose their preferred mode of communication. Having certified ASL interpreters in the room can be effective. In any case, we are required by law to provide reasonable accommodations as defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act.
According to the State of Utah, "All individuals have the right to a barrier-free environment that allows maximum participation in society based upon abilities, not limitations."
Direct Language Access
Direct language access to the mental health needs of Deaf and Hard of Hearing (D/HH) individual care is our primary focus.
This will always be the priority focus on counseling the D/HH. Only when the client requests an alternative means of communication will we capitulate this standard.
Care through ASL Interpreters
Receiving care through interpretation is an age-old practice that the general D/HH population accepts. Its success greatly depends on the preference of the client.
Laws pertaining to interpreting:
Do NOT ask the D/HH client if they have a family member or friend to help interpret for the client. See Utah law 35a-13-604
Interpreters MUST be certified by the state of Utah (Please note: Utah law 58-80a-301 specifically applies to spoken language interpreters, not ASL interpreters).
In some cases, the D/HH client may not prefer direct language access or to have an interpreter present for their sessions. In such cases, the client and clinician will need to come to an understanding regarding how care will be provided.
Some methods are (but not limited to):
Writing on paper back-and-forth
Using digital means to type to one another (such as a laptop or phone)