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Professional Services

This sector is about community or out-patient appointments with professional services such as a family doctor, dentist, optician, chiropodist, wheelchair vendor, physiotherapist, and other services.

The following information is intended to provide a starting point to improve access to services for people with speech and language disabilities (SLDs), not caused by hearing loss. It is, by no means a full comprehensive list of barriers or accommodations. It presents some of the unique challenges that people with SLDs may experience within this situation.

Contact us for more information on making your services accessible.

Sample Communication Barriers for Professional Services

Many of us who have a Speech and Language Disability (SLD), experience the same barriers as people who have mobility, sensory and other disabilities.

In addition, we may experience unique communication barriers due to our speech and language disability that impact on the quality of services we receive and have serious consequences. Barriers may include:

  • Professionals and support staff not knowing how we communicate, or how to give information or ask questions in the ways we can understand and / or answer
  • Not having sufficient time to communicate what we want to say in a standard appointment time slot
  • Not being able to make appointments over the telephone
  • Not being able to handle, read and understand written materials
  • Not being given information in ways we understand so that we can give informed consent to treatment and procedures
  • Not being able to sign documents
  • Not being able to take notes at an appointment
  • Not having information kept confidential when professionals discuss our private matters with an accompanying person or family member

Suggestions for Professional Services

In addition to generic communication access accommodations, professional service providers should:

  • Provide extra time during appointments for us to communicate
  • Provide multiple ways that we can use to make appointments such as email or text
  • Ask us what you should do when communicating us
  • Ask if we need assistance to read and understand your written materials or if we require these materials in alternate formats such as large print or email
  • Ensure that we understand about treatment options and consequences before asking us to consent
  • Find out how we want to sign a document or if we want someone to sign on our behalf
  • Ask if we want you to write down key points discussed, recommendations, and next steps
  • Ask if we want an assistant in the room at all times or just when required and clear any confidential information with us before sharing with our assistant

Resources for Professional Services

Suggestions for People with SLDs

  • Carry our communication access card with us and show it to the receptionist and / or service provider (see resource below)
  • If appropriate ask that they make a copy and keep it in our file
  • If using an assistant, we should tell him / her whether we want them in the room or to wait outside
  • We can have a note telling our service provider if they can or cannot share confidential information with the person assisting us
  • We can ask for an appointment at end of morning or end of day so people are not delayed if our appointment times goes over
  • We can negotiate sending an email ahead of time or bringing a note with us which contains the gist of our concerns and questions
  • If appropriate, we might want to bring a communication assistant to assist with communication and brief our assistant on issues ahead of time
  • We can discuss ways we can connect with the service provider either by phone, email or another method

Resources for People with SLDs