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January 14, 2004

Better Health Care for the Deaf

From: - Jan 14, 2004

BALTIMORE (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- If you're deaf and have to see a doctor who doesn't know sign language, you have to have an interpreter available, read lips, or write notes back and forth. Now there's a new option that makes medical care for the hard of hearing a little easier.

Janelle Berry loves time with her son Curran. Her sister, Articia, often helps the two communicate. Janelle is deaf, Curran can hear, and even Articia has some hearing loss.

When Janelle had Curran, an interpreter was with her during the delivery, but for other medical visits, the deaf person often has to wait for an interpreter. "When I call to make an appointment, I always say, 'I need an interpreter'. They say, 'OK'. Sometimes they don't show," Janelle signs.

Now, a system called Deaf-Talk may decrease the waiting time from a few hours to a few minutes. Articia shows how it works. Using a camera, an interpreter can see the patient signing and the patient can see the interpreter on the screen. The device is placed on a rolling cart and moved to any room with a high-speed phone line.

"It's a little more private than using a live interpreter, because you turn it on when you need it and off when you don't need it, vs. a live interpreter who has to stay in the room with the patient, says Cathy O'Neill, R.N., who is Director of Emergency Nursing at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.

ASL interpreter Kathy Beetham agrees it's a big advance. She says, "Patients think it's cool, and it's quick, and someone's there, and so it's not an issue of waiting for someone to come and having someone sit there with them."

Both Articia and Janelle say they'll rest easier knowing it's there if they need it.

About 150 hospitals are using this system. Hospitals say another benefit is cost. The cost of the equipment and the use of an interpreter is less than paying an interpreter to be on site during the entire visit.

This article was reported by, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to:

If you would like more information, please contact:

Dave Stauffer
Vice President, Deaf-Talk
607 Washington Road, Suite 302
Pittsburgh, PA 15228
(877) 229-8119

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