BACH employees, from left, Nicole Fitzwater, Wendyann Deasis-Dubois, and Kelly Money spell out A-S-L in American Sign Language. The trio facilitate a free American Sign Language chat at the hospital twice a month for beneficiaries and staff interested in ASL. All skill levels are welcome. The group meets at noon on the first Monday and third Wednesday of each month at the hospital. U.S. Army photo by Fred Holly.

FORT CAMPBELL, KY – Staff and patients at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital can learn and practice American Sign Language during a free group that meets twice a month.

The law requires healthcare certified interpreters for patients who are deaf or hard of hearing. BACH says they and other healthcare providers use an interpreter through video chat, but teaching staff ASL can serve as a bridge.

“What we’re doing here is we’re teaching just the basic communication. We want our staff to be comfortable speaking with patients who are deaf and hard of hearing and to be able to say hi. Tell them their name. Say, nice to meet you, welcome to our facility and that they are going to go get the VRI so they can get the video interpreting,” says Medical record technician Wendyann Deasis-Duboise.

BACH says the classes meet at noon on the first Monday and third Wednesday of the month in a hospital training room. The next class will be on Wednesday, July 17th in the commander’s classroom.

BACH says the group started when an employee at BACH Nicole Fitzwater wanted to volunteer to work with the staff to improve communication with their deaf and hard-of-hearing patients and staff members. Fitzwater is hearing impaired and uses a hearing aid. She learned sign language in college and speaks with one of her hearing impaired children in ASL. Fitzwater teamed up with other Blanchfield employees nurse Kelly Money, who learned ASL in college, and Wendyann Deasis-Duboise, who learned ASL as a child.