Having recently been through a harrowing experience at a hospital where I couldn’t communicate with the medical staff, I completely support the introduction of a free sign language translation service available to GPs in the UK.
The SignTranslate website uses pre-recorded video of the sign language translations for 300 medical questions commonly asked by doctors, and, for more difficult consultations, also offers the option of live interpreters via webcam. It should go a long way towards making deaf patients and their GPs more comfortable, and increase communication during appointments.
As well as British Sign Language, the program also offers spoken and written translation of 12 other languages, and even a free text message-based appointment reminder service for patients. Translations are available in both text and audio, and generally require yes/no answers or pointing to a diagram or themselves, so the patient does not need to be literate in order to communicate with the doctor. The foreign languages supported are Arabic, Bengali, French, Gujarati, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Somali, Spanish, Turkish and Urdu.
The service is being provided free until 31 July 2009, but the managing director of SignTranslate indicates that it’s likely that Sign Health, the charity currently funding the service, will continue to do so after July.
Full article from E-Health Insider Primary Care.