IM this article to a friend!

May 25, 2004

RX Health: Deaf-Talk video conferencing

From: News 24 Houston - Houston,TX,USA - may 25, 2004

By: Kristi Nakamura

"Sometimes I have a hard time understanding doctors. Everybody talks different," said Smith.

But what if Smith has to be taken to the hospital in an emergency? If her doctors don't know sign language, that could be a problem.

"They need to communicate their needs to us [and] we need to communicate to that person in some way," said ER Nursing Director Cathy O'Neill.

And the sooner the better, says O'Neill. Her hospital is one of the first to use a new device called Deaf-Talk. (

"When a deaf person comes in and we need to speak with them, we can speak with them right away in about two minutes," said O'Neill.

A portable cart with a TV monitor, camera and microphone allows an off-site interpreter to be on-site almost instantly.

"Prior to getting this device we had to call an interpreter through an interpreter service, have them beeped, wait for them to call us back, and then wait for them to drive into our facility. It could take up to two or three hours," said O'Neill.

But Deaf-Talk is more than just a timesaver. It really saves on labor and time for everybody. So then there are enough interpreters for all the deaf people who need them.

"It was like, 'Wow.' With a little bit of sign language, I can do really good," said Smith.

Hospitals can often rent the video conferencing system for less money than an interpreter service, but special phone lines may have to be set up to use the equipment.

Copyright ©2004Houston News Channel, L.P. d.b.a. News 24 Houston