IM this article to a friend!

April 7, 2004

Deaf-Talk Silences Need For Live Interpreter In ER

From: Bakersfield - Bakersfield,CA,USA - Apr 7, 2004

Device Cuts Hospital Wait Time For Hearing-Impaired Patients

UPDATED: 5:40 PM PDT April 7, 2004

SAN DIEGO -- A visit to the emergency room can mean hours of waiting for hearing-impaired patients, especially those who need an interpreter. But now, a new device may cut down the waiting time for hearing-impaired patients.

When Janelle Berry and her sister, Articia, who are hearing impaired, visit the hospital, they often have 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," Berry said.

A system called Deaf-Talk ( may decrease the waiting time from a few hours to a few minutes.

Using a special 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.

Cathy O'Neil, a nurse, said, "It's a little more private than using a live interpreter. You turn it on when you need it and off when you don't need it versus a live interpreter who has to stay in the room with the patient."

Kathy Beetham, an American Sign Language interpreter, agreed the device is a big advance for deaf patients.

"Patients think it's cool. And, it's quick and someone's there. It's not an issue of waiting for someone to come and having someone sit there with them," Beetham said.

Both Articia and Berry said they will rest easier knowing the Deaf-Talk is there if they need it.

About 150 hospitals are using the system, which is very cost effective. 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.

Copyright 2004 by All rights reserved.