Deaf residents sue nursing home over lack of communication services

Three deaf residents of an Illinois nursing home have filed a civil lawsuit against the facility, claiming it failed to provide adequate accommodations for them to communicate with staff.

The residents, all of whom rely primarily on American Sign Language to communicate, allege that Prairie Village Health Care in Jacksonville provided ASL interpreters for initial meetings but rarely made interpreters available after that. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs requested interpreting and videophone services but those requests were denied.

The lack of communication tools has caused the residents to be unable to communicate with staff, participate in their daily care or understand the medical treatments being provided for them, the lawsuit claims. It also alleges that the staff members were not properly trained in communicating and caring for deaf residents.

The lawsuit claims that in addition to being a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act and the Illinois Skilled Nursing and Intermediate Care Facilities Code, Prairie Village's lack of services resulted in physical injuries to one of the plaintiffs, who allegedly “suffered two falls as he was unable to get the attention of Prairie Village employees when he needed to use bathroom facilities.”

The lawsuit requests that the facility provide adequate services for the deaf and hard of hearing, and $75,000 to each plaintiff.

Prairie Village Health Care officials had not responded to a request for comment by press time.