In a survey of Canadians who have disabilities that affect their communication, communication in healthcare settings was identified as the sector most in need of immediate improvement (Collier et al, 2012).
Not everyone who has a communication disability, requires accommodations and supports medical settings.
However, those that do are now mandated by standards in Canada, USA and via the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Some accommodations and supports are readily understood and available such as the use of medical interpreters and sign language interpreting for people who are Deaf.
Protocols for people who have speech and language disabilities are less well defined.
Healthcare providers need to realize that while family members may be very appropriate to support people in communicating, they are not always the ideal or chosen “interpreter” or communication assistant for people who have speech and language disabilities.