Wegmans to expand help for deaf
Democrat – Chronicle
Patti Singer, Staff writer
Rochester , New York
Passing notes may work OK in study hall, but it really doesn’t get the message across at the pharmacy counter.
“I often want to ask the pharmacist about the different medications I’m taking,” said Matthew Starr of Greece, who is deaf. “When you go to a busy pharmacy and people are lined up, I have to have things be slow because it requires pencil and paper. There’s no good method of communication. They write a few words. It’s very limited.”
What if there were an interpreter — either someone there or through a video service?
“Oh, man, definitely,” he said through a video relay service interpreter. “That would be much better than trying to write notes back and forth.”
Signing may replace scribbling after a regional pharmacy chain settled discrimination allegations earlier this month with New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. Even though KPH Healthcare Services has little presence here, the agreement could have major implications for Rochester residents who are deaf or hard of hearing.
The attorney general alleged that KPH violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and state human rights law by failing to accommodate people who are deaf or have hearing loss. The settlement named only KPH, and the Attorney General’s Office declined to comment on whether other chains were under investigation. By calling the agreement a model, the attorney general appeared to send his own message.
“I hope that it has a domino effect on pharmacies across the state,” said Starr, a board member of Partners in Deaf Health, which promotes understanding of the health needs of culturally deaf people.