Thesis Title

Seeing People: Policies And Perceptions That Impact Health Care Equal Communication In Springfield, Missouri


Chris Raymond

Date of Graduation

Summer 1997


Master of Public Administration


Political Science

Committee Chair

Mark Rushefsky

Subject Categories

Public Administration


A general lack of knowledge about deafness has allowed many misperceptions to exist. Deafness, per se, is not a disabling affliction. The disability is the breakdown of communication, and can have far-reaching consequences in the medical setting. Prelingually moderately-to severely deafened members of the Deaf community (the Seeing People) use a visual, spatial method of communication, American Sign Language, as their 'native' language. It has a different language structure than English, making it difficult for some to write notes. Most doctors in the Springfield area prefer to write notes with their Deaf patients, rather than hire a professional interpreter, even if the patient requests one. The laws considered include Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Missouri interpreter certification law. The question considered is, does the hearing doctor have the right to decide if a request for professional interpreter is valid? The language, culture, stigma of deafness, interpreting, and medical experiences of Deaf people are looked at. The answers to a questionnaire for Deaf people and one for the medical providers are examined. Communication and legal parameters are discussed and some suggestions for improving the situation are made.


© Chris Raymond