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Hospital Safety for 
People With Hearing Loss


On November 14, 2022, the HLAA Chicago North Shore Chapter hosted the 2022 HLAA Hospital Safety for People with Hearing Loss Panel Discussion. Representatives from Rush University Medical Center, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, University of Chicago Medicine and Swedish Hospital part of North Shore, discussed what accommodations their hospitals have for people with hearing loss in light of the effects Covid has had on the hospital systems. The program opened with tips on how a person with hearing loss can advocate for themself in various medical settings.

On October 11, 2021, HLAA hosted a National Hospital Safety Program. Click here to watch the Webinar of the October 11, 2021, Hospital Safety Program.

~ Background of the Hospital Safety Program ~

The HLAA Chicago North Shore Chapter has been a leading advocate for bringing the Chicago area hospitals together to focus their attention on safety issues for people with hearing loss. Our chapter has held an annual program entitled “Panel Discussion: Hospital Safety for People with Hearing Loss” beginning in October 2015.

The panel is composed of hospital representatives from hospitals in the Chicagoland area. We have encouraged a collaborative conversation among hospital representatives to share information and ideas through the mutual support of our HLAA Chapter.


The audience is composed of HLAA chapter members, their families, friends and people from the community. The emphasis for the audience is discussing the importance of Self-Advocacy.


During the program, the audience has the opportunity to make suggestions to the hospital representatives for further accommodations adoption. They give personal examples of problems while hospitalized and ask questions. The panelists respond to their suggestions, stories and questions.


At our first Hospital Safety Program in October 2015, all four hospital representatives offered American Sign Language Interpreters as the only accommodation for our audience. They had NO accommodations for hard-of-hearing patients.

It is through our audience’s participation that the hospital representatives actually see and hear our hearing loss community’s needs for accommodations. The representatives bring back to their hospitals an awareness that people with hearing loss live in the hearing world and do not use sign language.


It is the questions, stories, and experiences of our audience members that have influenced the Chicago area hospitals, one by one, to become aware of hard-of-hearing patients. Each year, the panelists were eager to learn from our audience and from each other. The new panelists tell us they were returning to their hospital to look at their hospital’s accommodations and implement our suggestions. The returning panelists tell us that attending our program reminds them to review their hospital’s accommodations at least once a year.


Most importantly, please remember to advocate for yourself in all medical settings. Tell the hospital staff and your doctors and doctor’s staff repeatedly that you are hard of hearing. Hearing loss is invisible. Research is showing that people who self-identify as having hearing loss have better long-term health outcomes, shorter hospital stays, fewer 30-day returns to the hospital, fewer out-of-pocket medical expenses and report better satisfaction with their medical care.


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