Hearing Disabilities - Fact Sheet


Department of Managed Health Care
Communication Assistance - Hearing Disabilities Fact Sheet

If You Are Hard-of-Hearing, Deaf, or Have a Speech Disability

Make sure you understand your health care

What is communication assistance?

It means getting information in ways that you can understand and use. For example:

  • You can get help talking to your doctors, such as a sign language interpreter or Assistive Listening Device.
  • You can get an oral interpreter who repeats speech that is hard to understand.
  • You can get more time to communicate with your doctor.
  • You can get help to understand written information.

Who needs this assistance?

You might need it if you have limited hearing, reading, or speaking. You might also need it if you are helping someone get health care – such as your child, another family member, or a friend.

Why does this assistance matter?

It is very important to understand your health care. You need to understand your doctor’s advice. You need to ask questions and understand the answers. You may need a longer appointment.

What if I can’t get the help I need?

You can file a complaint with your health plan. The phone number is on your membership card. You may also learn more and File a Complaint online or call the Help Center at 1-888-466-2219. TTY 1-877-688-9891

Do I have a right to communication assistance?

Yes, if you have a disability. California health laws and the Americans with Disabilities Act protect your rights.

Do I pay for assistance?

No. There is no cost to you.

Is it okay to depend on written notes?

Written notes may work for a short visit, like getting a flu shot. But often, an interpreter or other assistance is important, so you can ask questions and get answers.

Sign language interpreter assists patient communicating with doctor


Communication assistance:

Sign language interpreter
The interpreter can be in the same room with you, or on a video screen.

Sign language interpreter displayed on video screen

Assistive listening device

This device can make voices clearer and easier to understand. It can often reduce background noise. You can use it with or without hearing aids. You listen with an earphone.

image of assistive listening earphones





CART (computer assisted real time transcription services) For CART, someone types words into a computer. You can read the words on the screen. The typist can be at the doctor’s office or can listen by phone. This may be helpful if you have hearing loss but you don’t use sign language.

Pictures, models and captioned videos These tools can help you understand your care. Captions are words that appear at the bottom of the screen – you can read them if you have trouble hearing.

image of laptop running CART program




Communication Access Checklist

Check what you need in the list below. Tell your health plan, doctors, and pharmacy about the assistance you need. Ask them to keep this information in your record.

  • I need a sign language interpreter.
  • I need an assistive listening device.
  • I need CART (computer assisted real time transcription services).
  • I need extra time for my appointments.
  • I need to get appointment reminders in a text message.
  • I need help understanding information.

Other needs:

  • _______________________________
  • _______________________________