Cards will help Deaf patients access video sign language interpreting services

Deaf cards for interpreters service. Image shows front and back of the cards, laid out on a table

Published on 2 March 2021

Free cards are now available for Deaf people to request video sign language interpreting for appointments with East Kent Hospitals.

The cards have been produced to raise awareness of the live British Sign Language interpreting service, which allows people with hearing difficulties to communicate by video with an interpreter, who then relays the information to medical staff.

They were developed after feedback from the Deaf community and are available on request from Healthwatch Kent. Patients can show the cards to the reception team when they book in for their appointment, ensuring a video interpreter is arranged to help them communicate if an in-person interpreter is not available.

Charlotte Wood, accessible information standard manager for East Kent Hospitals, said: “We are passionate about making sure all our patients and carers receive excellent healthcare and we know how important it is to make sure the right support is put in place at every appointment, for every patient.

“Deaf people can now show this card before their appointments to request a BSL video interpreter. During the pandemic many appointments will be remote, however there will be some face-to-face appointments when this service will be extremely supportive and valuable if a face-to-face interpreter cannot be confirmed.”

The live interpreting service means patients who use British Sign Language as their first or preferred language can continue to access health services and receive important information about their treatment.

Interpreters are available on demand via video link and are all qualified in BSL interpreting and DBS checked. They have medical interpreting experience and are registered with the NRCPD, the National Register of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and deafblind people. 

Robbie Goatham, from Healthwatch Kent, said the cards were an example of how feedback could be used to improve services.

He said: “We’ve heard first-hand how hard it can be for Deaf patients when visiting hospital.

“Over the past couple of years we’ve been working with East Kent Hospitals to make things easier for people who may need communication support when coming to the hospital so it’s great to see the cards in action.”

To request one of the A5 cards, email info@healthwatchkent.co.uk