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Communicating with a Patient Who Has a Disability

Summary: As a health care provider, you may be unsure about how to interact with patients who have disabilities. Or, you may be unaware of easy-to-follow tips that can enhance your communication with a patient who has a disability. This article outlines key tips that you can put into place today to strengthen excellent patient care.

In a health care setting, a good relationship between the clinician and the patient is essential. A good relationship supports the clinician’s ability to successfully diagnose and treat problems, and to care for the patient. Respectful communication with and about the patient helps to ensure that the patient is fully heard, understood, and informed.

If the patient has a disability, that disability may play a role in this relationship. Even if a health care professional is familiar with a particular type of disability, every individual’s experience of their disability and related needs is unique. Also, a patient with a disability may want help with documenting a disability-related accommodation need, a task that requires clear and effective communication.

Here are some tips for how a health care provider can create a positive interaction:

Following these tips will go a long way with enhancing your communications with patients who have disabilities.

Health care providers also have obligations in relation to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Be sure to read other articles related to health care on this site to learn more. You can also get in touch with us by email or phone, if you need more information or have specific questions.

Related article: The ADA and health care providers


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