Published on 27 April 2020
A new video sign language interpreting service has been launched by East Kent Hospitals, meaning deaf patients can easily communicate with medical staff.
The InterpretersLive service is provided by TheBigWord partners Sign Solutions and allows an interpreter to communicate by video with the patient, and relay what they say by phone to staff.
It means appointments can continue remotely during the coronavirus outbreak, providing vital access to healthcare for patients who use British Sign Language as their first or preferred language.
Charlotte Wood, project manager, said it was important to remove any barriers to communication.
She said: “We have previously relied on interpreters who come to the hospital but that is not possible during the coronavirus outbreak.
“This excellent technology means our services are fully accessible to the local deaf community.
“We are also able to use it during face-to-face appointments, when it is possible to reinstate them, without the need to rely on someone being physically able to attend the hospital to interpret between staff and our patients.”
In-person interpreting will still be available once restrictions are lifted, for those who prefer it.
The technology also allows for a three-way video call so the patient, clinician and interpreter can all see each other.
Interpreters are available on demand via video link and are all qualified in BSL interpreting and DBS checked. They have medical interpreting experience and are registered with the NRCPD, the National Register of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and deafblind people.
The service is accessible via Windows, Apple and Android devices, including laptops, iPads and mobile phones.
For more information on how to use the service and download the StarLeaf app using InterpretersLive! Visit https://www.ekhuft.nhs.uk/patients-and-visitors/information-for-patients/accessibility/interpreter-services/sign-language-interpreter-service/