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September 2, 2007

Hi-tech boost for deaf patients

From: Wiltshire Times - UK - Sept 2, 2007

By Wiltshire Times Reporter

DEAF people in Wiltshire should soon be able to have greatly improved access to their GPs, thanks to an innovative web-based programme.

Sign, a charity dedicated to supporting deaf people with health problems, has launched SignHealth with the endorsement of the Department of Health.

Wiltshire Primary Care Trust is one of 152 PCTs in England that will be offered the service, which enables healthcare professionals to communicate with deaf patients who use British Sign Language at the click of a mouse.

They simply choose from a list of pre-determined questions, which are then relayed to the deaf person via a short video clip of someone signing the question.

A new enhancement to the service allows a deaf patient and their GP to have a fully interactive two-way communication with a live BSL interpreter using a simple web-cam.

This means that a doctor can deal easily with emergency or unsupported Deaf patient appointments.

Phil Murden, managing director of SignHealth Ltd, said: "We don't intend SignHealth to be a replacement for a face-to-face interpreter, but for certain types of consultation, it can give deaf patients in Wiltshire the option to have an appointment with their GP immediately."

© 2007 Wiltshire Times