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Campaign for Deaf Access project to host April 29-30 symposium on health care access for deaf patients

April 14, 2010

Jill Leonhardt
(315) 443-5492

The Campaign for Deaf Access will host a symposium on April 29-30 featuring renowned scholar Lennard J. Davis, professor of disability and human development in the School of Applied Health Sciences and of medical education in the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Davis will present a keynote address on Thursday and will lead Friday discussions on deafness as a disability and issues for deaf persons in the medical world. All sessions are open to the public, with sign language interpreters and CART services available.

The Campaign for Deaf Access–an interdisciplinary collaboration among the SU College of Law, SU Maxwell School for Citizenship and Public Affairs and Upstate Medical University’s Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities–brings law, social science and medical perspectives to the study of legal, social and organizational foundations of access to health care for deaf people.

While the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act guarantees communication access for deaf people who seek medical care, significant problems remain. Campaign participants are investigating the professional side of these encounters in order to learn more about how health care providers interact with deaf patients and how the structure and organization of medical work may promote or block access to information and care. Through interviews with health care professionals and interpreters and by studying the experiences of deaf patients, the project is learning more about the social and organizational issues involved with deaf and hearing communication in health care. Its goal is to use the knowledge it gains to work collaboratively with health care professionals to enable better access and care for deaf patients and better experiences for health care providers.

Following is the symposium agenda:

  • Thursday, April 29, 5-7 p.m.–Public lecture by Lennard Davis: “Deaf World, Hearing World: The Two Cultures,” Institute for Human Performance Atrium , 505 Irving Ave.
  • Friday, April 30, 9:15–11 a.m.–Informal discussion: “Is Deafness a Disability?” Room 341 of Eggers Hall
  • Friday, April 30, noon–1 p.m.–Brown bag lunch and conversation: “The Standard Patient? The Deaf Person in the Medical World” – Rooms 2509-2510, Setnor Building, Upstate Medical University

In addition to his faculty role at the University of Illinois at Chicago,  Davis is director of Project Biocultures, a think-tank devoted to issues around the intersection of culture, medicine, disability, biotechnology and the biosphere. Davis’ works on disability include “Enforcing Normalcy: Disability, Deafness, and the Body” (Verso, 1995) and “The Disability Studies Reader” (Routledge, 2010). His memoir, “My Sense of Silence” (University of Illinois Press, 2008), describes his childhood in a deaf family. Davis has also edited his parents’ correspondence, “Shall I Say a Kiss: The Courtship Letters of a Deaf Couple, 1936-38” (Gallaudet University Press, 1999).

Davis has also been a commentator on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” and has appeared on “Morning Edition,” “This American Life,” “Odyssey,” “The Leonard Lopate Show” and other NPR programs. His current interests include disability-related issues; literary and cultural theory; genetics, race and identity; and biocultural issues.

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