Guide for Effective Communication in Health Care

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Guide for Effective Communication in Health Care

The Guide for Effective Communication in Health Care was created for patients, families, caregivers, all members of the health care team, administrators, and support staff.  It provides information, resources, and tools to help improve communication.  The Guide can help hospitals, facilities, and private offices follow federal, state and local laws, regulations, and health care standards, and allow patients to ask for and get the services they need.

The Guide is divided into three sections; Communication Access Plan and Instructions, Patients and Providers.  The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) recommends that both patients and providers read all sections.

Individual pages can be printed or the entire Guide can be downloaded. It is strongly recommended that patients and providers use the Communication Access Plan (CAP) and include it in the patient’s medical record.

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Communication Access Plan (CAP)

MAC Users - Please make sure you fill out the CAP Form using Adobe Acrobat instead of Apple Preview or else it will not show the data in the form fields when opened in Adobe Acrobat or Acrobat Reader on a Mac or PC. Read more about this problem and its solution.

We want your feedback.  Please share your experiences using the CAP with us by emailing



Includes Both Patient and Provider Guides

When information between two or more people is shared or exchanged and each person is able to fully understand and make decisions based on that information, effective communication has been accomplished. This process often requires going back and forth with questions and answers until everyone has a clear understanding.  

Patients must be able to communicate with their doctors, nurses, and other members of their health care team.  Providers must communicate clearly with their patients so they can diagnose, care for, and treat them in the best and safest way possible.  However, communication between patients and providers is not always effective.  Unfortunately, this is often the experience for hard-of-hearing and deaf patients.


Our thanks to the Hearing Loss Association of America for their leadership and support: Margaret Wallhagen, RN, PhD, FAAN, UCSF School of Nursing, Chair, Board of Trustees; Barbara Kelley, Executive Director; and Lise Hamlin, Director of Public Policy.

To HLAA-NYC members: Ruth Bernstein, Holly Cohen, Anne Pope, and Gail Weiss, for their guidance, feedback, edits, and support.

Thank you to our colleagues who contributed their insight and expertise to this project: Steven R. Weiner, RN, MS, MPA, Senior Director, Patient Access, NYU Langone Medical Center; Jodi Herbsman, PT, DPT, Program Manager, Acute Care Rehabilitation Therapies, Rusk Rehabilitation; Joseph Montano, Ed.D., Associate Professor of Audiology in Clinical Otolaryngology, Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Thank You to Toni Iacolucci and Jody Prysock for creating this Guide.


Toni Iacolucci is an advocate for people with hearing loss, a member of the Hearing Loss Association of America’s Board of Trustees, and ex officio member of the HLAA-NYC Board of Directors.  Her previous career as a social work administrator in New York City has made her aware of the challenges for people whose needs have been marginalized.  Since becoming profoundly deaf in 2006, Toni’s own experience as a patient, caregiver, and advocate has resulted in her strong commitment to improving the culture and practice of providing access to communication in health care.  She believes this will only be achieved by educating health care providers and empowering patients so that they can achieve effective communication.


Jody Prysock is a nationally certified sign language interpreter with over 30 years of experience interpreting in a variety of settings, specializing in mental health interpreting.  It is through her former role as director of Language, Cultural & Disability Services at a large urban, academic medical center that Jody first became aware of the significant challenges faced by hard-of-hearing and deaf people who do not communicate in sign language.  As she listened to patients’ and families’ stories, she recognized the great inequity in receiving quality health care.  This is where her commitment to education, training, and advocacy began.  Jody’s mission is to help change practice by first changing the culture.  Currently, hard-of-hearing and deaf people are seen only through a medical lens, therefore minimizing or denying their rights to effective communication.