Caring for Patients Who are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing

The American Academy of Family Physicians encourages all family physicians to become knowledgeable about the prevention, evaluation and treatment of deafness and hearing loss in patients of all ages.

Family physicians are encouraged to:

  • Counsel their patients to protect their hearing health and to prevent hearing loss, especially noise- induced hearing loss, whenever possible.
  • Consider the needs of patients who are deaf and hard-of-hearing, including referring patients for hearing assessment, hearing aids, cochlear implants, other assistive devices, and hearing dogs.
  • Recommend resources to patients and their families on the hard-of-hearing and deaf culture.
  • Family physicians should ask patients who are deaf or hard-of-hearing about their preferred means of communication (e.g., sign language, lip reading).
  • Provide qualified American Sign Language (ASL) fluent interpreters experienced in medical interpretation.
  • Enable means of booking appointments through appropriate language assistance and accommodations such as via the Internet, email, text/SMS, and other assistive devices.
  • Provide visual aids to facilitate patient education and communication (e.g., charts, diagrams, models) as well as online resources.

(1988) (July 2017 BOD)