Computer link helps with an immediate translation

High technology can be a solution to improving your translation services. One example is Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, IL, which recently implemented a system providing audiovisual interpreting services on demand for non-English-speaking or hearing-impaired patients.

At Christ Medical Center, instant interpreting services already have been available via phone and in-person translators are on call, says Meg Adorno, manager of special services at Christ Medical Center. This new service, however, provides interpreters immediately and in person. Using real-time audio and video, the service links patients to interpreters within minutes for translation in certified American Sign Language or one of approximately 22 different spoken languages.

It is available 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Provided by Deaf-Talk, the system includes a video monitor, speakerphone, and flexible mini camera. The unit can be wheeled into the patient’s room, hooked to an ISDN computer line, and, within five minutes an interpreter appears on the screen to begin translating or signing for the patient. Unlike a phone translator, the interpreter can see and hear everything that the patient, doctors, and other medical staff are doing or saying in the room. The flexible camera also can be extended over the patient’s bed so that the patient can sign while lying down. The Deaf-Talk system already has been installed in Christ Medical Center’s emergency department, and the medical center may consider expanding the system’s use to additional areas of the hospital later this year.

Other hospitals within the Advocate Health Care system also are planning to implement Deaf-Talk in 2003. Adorno says the benefits justified the expense, which the hospital won’t specify.

"All of our patients deserve equal service," she says. "This new system raises the bar for what’s possible in making the hospital experience more comfortable for hearing-impaired patients or for those who speak little or no English."