NEW YORK—Customers with hearing loss will soon be able to communicate better with pharmacists at the 101 Kinney Drugs stores in New York State.
Under an agreement announced March 12 by NYS Attorney-General Eric Schneiderman, each Kinney Drugs store will provide assistive listening systems and qualified sign-language interpreters, as required by law. In addition, KPH Healthcare Services, Inc., owner of Kinney Drugs, agreed to new protocols for evaluating and meeting the needs of individuals with hearing loss and improved procedures for training, recordkeeping, and investigation of complaints.
Schneiderman described the agreement with KPH as a model for pharmacies across the state. He added that the office’s Civil Rights Bureau is assessing communications accessibility at other pharmacy chains in New York.
Schneiderman noted, “Effective communication between customers and pharmacy staff is critical to patients’ understanding the effects of medications and potential drug interactions.” The issue is especially important for older people who are more likely than the general public to have a hearing loss and also more likely to be using prescription medicines.
The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) and Hearing Access & Innovations, which had been urging the state to take action in this area, hailed Schneiderman’s announcement.
Janice S. Lintz, founder of Hearing Access & Innovations (formerly the Hearing Access Program), said, “This is a game changer. This agreement helps to ensure that persons who are deaf or hard of hearing are able to engage in meaningful counseling and consultation with pharmacists about medications and other important health issues.”
Jerry Bergman, president of the New York State Association of HLAA, said, “Too often, the barriers faced by people with hearing loss are ignored, chiefly because hearing loss is an unseen disability. We thank the attorney general for his unwavering commitment to eliminating those barriers and fighting for our right to enjoy equal access to public accommodations.”