Learning American Sign Language (ASL) can be a benefit for anyone in the health-care field. At the Verber Dental Group, we’re lucky to have Tonya, one of our dental hygienists, who’s fluent in ASL. By understanding sign language in our practice, we are opening up the lines of communication with children and adults who are hard of hearing and which makes both our job and the patients’ lives easier.
Here is Tonya’s story:
Hi, my name is Tonya. People ask me what made me want to learn ASL. I tell them that growing up it was important to communicate with my brother, who happens to be deaf. I am hard of hearing myself so when I take out my hearing aids I am close to being deaf. Having ASL as my second language has been very important.
How does knowing ASL benefit you and the patients in the dental field?
⁃ For one, it helps make the patient more comfortable knowing that I can communicate with them directly because going to the dentist can be stressful for some people.
⁃ Another reason, having worked in the dental field for several years, it allows me to explain things to patients that would give them a better understanding of their dental situation.
Language barriers are a significant healthcare problem. People who communicate using sign language frequently do not have access to clear and efficient communication in the healthcare system, which deprives them of critical health information and qualified health care. Studies show that deaf patients, compared to hearing patients, make less frequent visits to their primary care provider and make more trips to the emergency room, which is likely due to the lack of communication access. Having Tonya on our team is just one small step for the Verber Dental Group to help communicate with patients and make them feel more comfortable.