About

Charge to the Task Force on Health Care Careers for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Community

Our country has just completed a successful effort to broaden and reform our national health care system.

One of the major challenges now facing us in fulfilling the demands of this recently passed legislation is the critical shortage of health care specialists at all levels of training to care for the citizens of our nation.

This challenge coincides with another, much lesser known serious challenge; the limited opportunities for qualified deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals in this country to pursue careers in health care. Factors underlying this problem include:

  • Limited educational opportunities,
  • Widely held perceptions among the general population that health care careers are not appropriate for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, and
  • An insufficient number of deaf and hard-of-hearing health care professionals currently "at the table as insiders" to advocate for the needs and promise of people with hearing loss.

 
In response to this challenge, the following institutions have formed a Task Force on Health Care Careers for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Community:

  1. The National Technical Institute for the Deaf at the Rochester Institute of Technology,
  2. Gallaudet University,
  3. The National Center on Deaf Health Research at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and
  4. The Rochester General Health System.

 
The Task Force, fueled by this unique partnership, represents an historic initiative, one national in scope. Its overall aim is to expand opportunities for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals within health care professions through increased accessibility strategies and options, the coordination and development of educational programs, and enabling policy.

The Task Force will address the following three major Guiding Questions over its 18-month timeline:

  1. What can be done immediately and in the short-term to expand opportunities for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals within health care professions? As part of this consideration, what are existing accessibility strategies and options for ensuring communication support and information access both for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals training to become members of a wide variety of health care professions and for those already in the health care professions?
    Because of the short term nature of this guiding question, the Task Force will report on this issue by June 30, 2011.
     
  2. What new educational curricula and training programs, and new articulation agreements among existing curricula and training programs are needed for expanding opportunities for deaf and hard-of-hearing individual within health care professions?
     
    1. Within this longer time frame, and with regard to ensuring communication support and information access both for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals training to become members of the health care professions and for those already in the health care professions, what are emerging accessibility strategies and options?
       
    2. For both deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals training to become members of the health care professions and for those already in the health care professions, what are effective and efficient strategies and options for ensuring supportive and productive "learning and professional development environments"?

     

  3. What national governmental policies and both private and public funding sources are needed to support expanded opportunities for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals within health care professions? What are fruitful areas for national and international programs of applied research, technological innovation and policy studies regarding health care and deafness, with broader implications for disability groups in general?
     

An Interim Report regarding Guiding Question #1, and a culminating White Paper detailing recommendations in response to all three Guiding Questions will be the products of the Task Force, and represent fulfillment of the Task Force Charge. The Interim Report is due by June 30, 2011; the White Paper is due by the end of March, 2012.