Online sign language interpreter

A fifth of PCTs have signed up for access to an online translation service to help GPs communicate with deaf patients.

The charity Sign has developed a programme, SignHealth, that uses webcams to link patients and GPs to a sign language interpreter live via the Internet. The system allows GPs to have almost instant access to an interpreter, cutting out communication problems that may occur if deaf patients arrive at short notice. The online service should make it easier for practices to meet their obligations under the Disability and Discrimination Act 1995, which requires equal access to services for disabled people. Stockport PCT is among those that have adopted the system. Patricia Phillips, acute commissioning director at the trust, said: 'We believe it will be an invaluable resource and fully support GPs using the tool.'

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