Know Your Rights: VRI vs. Live Interpreter

Video Link:

White woman with long red hair, plain black shirt, and glasses on top of the head. 

Hello my name is Rhonda Jennings-Arey, sign name is RJ. The purpose of this video is to help the Deaf people know your rights related to whether to choose VRI or a live interpreter. It is very important that you understand how to tell the hospital why you want a live interpreter. You cannot just say I want a live interpreter and that's it. You need to use the right words. It is important. I will put the chart in my comments, you can print it. Bring it with you when you face a situation like that. That will help you tell them what you want in writing or show them the card. It is important that you do this because you cannot just say you want a live interpreter. This is a weak argument. This vlog is for everyone that's Deaf. It is important that you say the right thing. 

First you can pick one from the list as to why you need a live interpreter. 1. I cannot see the VRI screen. 2. The screen is so small that I cannot understand the interpreter. 3. The video freezes and I cannot understand the interpreter. 4. The VRI interpreter struggles to hear the nurse or doctor or vice versa. 5. VRI video disconnects often that it is not reliable. 6. The hospital staff does not know how to set up the VRI. 6 things. Just pick one. These are the reasons why you need a live interpreter. Just pick one. (Picture of the first chart shows up)

With these 6 reasons available, just pick one. If they still do not obligate and want a stronger argument like a law, that is ok. There is one. In order for the VRI to be good, it must meet all 4 requirements. They are:

1. Is the VRI video and sound smooth, and has a high quality? Is the WiFi speed good to help the picture quality? If yes, then (the VRI has met the federal requirement) "check". Can the VRI interpreter and customer see each other's face, arms, hands, and fingers? If yes, then the VRI has met the requirements. "Check". 3. Can the VRI interpreter hear the doctor or nurse? Can the doctor or nurse hear the VRI interpreter? If yes, "check". 4. Do the nurse or doctor, hospital staff know how to set up the VRI equipment? If yes, "check". 

To recap: Clear video, smooth, no freezing. Can see each other. Can everyone hear each other. Do the hospital staff know how to set up the VRI? If YES to all, then the VRI is okay and admissible. Unless there is something else going on. I will explain. (Picture of second chart shows up)

Now NAD has its own position statement at NAD website (link is at the end of video) which is very detailed about this issue. I am only providing a summary. Now they have gave a statement where VRI is not good for the type of patient: 

1. Patients who are hurt that prevents them from seeing the screen, then VRI is not good for them. 2 Patients with heavy medication, drunk, or high should not have a VRI because they cannot be accommodated this way. 3. Emotional patients who are violent or lose their temper should not use VRI. 4. If I struggle with language such as ASL or English, or do not understand things, then I should not use VRI. 5. A low vision patient such as Deafblind should not use VRI. They would not be able to see the screen. This is not a good idea. 6. Children are not to use VRI because they are not skilled with accommodating a person's language. 

This is about how VRI does not work with what kind of patient. If you are this patient, tell them VRI will not work for me because I am... (this kind of patient). For example, if you are drunk and know VRI won't work, tell them. You know yourself as a patient. (See picture of third chart)

NAD has also made a statement how VRI does not agree with certain situations. They are:

1. If the doctor is about to discuss a serious illness or give you a diagnosis, then VRI is not for you. The reason is because you can become very emotional. 2. If you are meeting a specialist for the first time, then VRI is not for you. Maybe it will be okay to use VRI in other sessions, who knows. It all depends on your sessions. 3. Eye exam, VRI is definitely not for you. You might receive eye drops that dilate your eyes and cannot see the VRI screen. 4. If you are involved with a mental health screening, sessions, etc with counseling, psychologist, or psychiatrist, then VRI is not for you. 5. OT or PT occupational therapist or physical therapist, then VRI is not for you because you would be doing things and it will be difficult to move the VRI equipment as you go along. 6. Last one... if I am transported from room to surgery or vice versa then VRI is not for you. They cannot bring the VRI equipment along as you "travel". 

If you are a patient who can have a VRI, but face situations like these, then you can tell them you need a live interpreter because of... (one of the reasons listed). (Picture shown of 4th chart).

You need to understand that VRI must work in order to be useful. If you can see, they know what to do, as a patient I can see and have no physical limitation, and can see... You as a patient are fine and the situations listed are not happening, like you are not involved in PT, OT, Mental Health, no sensitive discussion with doctor, then VRI is your accommodation. If the VRI meets all requirements, then VRI is good to go. BUT you still have rights based on these things in the chart. Remember do not just say you need a live interpreter. Tell them WHY from the chart. Pick one and write it or show them. You do have a right. If the hospital says you still must use VRI when VRI does not meet the conditions, do not accept it. Do not let them bully you. But you must use proof of why VRI does not work for you. You have rights. It is important that you know your rights. 

Let me tell you a story. I broke my ankle, and I had both VRI and live interpreters. My interpreters came in the day, 8 am to 8 pm. But overnight, I had a VRI equipment in my room. I did not need the interpreters during the night due to simple things like take my blood pressure, temperature, and give me medicine. If a doctor came in early to tell me something quickly, then I used VRI, it worked. I could see the screen clearly, the video was good, they could hear each other, and the nurses knew what to do. I accepted VRI because they met all four conditions. I accepted it for overnight. For the daytime, they were nice enough to give me a live interpreter. If it was serious, I told the doctor to hold it till the live interpreter came. They cooperated. It worked out well. Read the requirements and chart... print the chart, keep it in your wallet or purse. Show them if you face this situation because it is the federal law. It is important that you understand your rights. If you are not sure, you can contact me. (Picture of the full four charts comes up).

(Sorry for almost 13 minutes but it could not be shorter! Also need to turn on HD for better quality)