Video Remote Interpreting for Hospital Administrators
Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) takes advantage of video conferencing technology and the Internet to provide sign language interpreting for doctors and hospitals with deaf patients.
Interested in trying out VRI for your deaf patients? Are you afraid of the technology or the patient's reaction?
You are not alone. Hospital administrators, disability counselors, and ADA compliance officers have a duty when needed to provide sign language interpreters for deaf and hard-of-hearing patients who communicate in American Sign Language (ASL).
Working with the deaf in medical settings is no easy task. Like anyone who is sick and scared, deaf patients need to be able to explain their symptoms to the doctor, understand what is wrong, and follow the doctor's orders.
Caveat: In a medical situation, a deaf patient who requests an on-site interpreter must be provided with one.
VRI is not suited for all interpreting assignments. But where it is, VRI can be a more convenient, cost-effective option to standard 2 hour minimum sign language interpreting assignments.
Ideal uses for VRI include emergency room intake, routine doctor rounds, and hospital discharge.
Before you need VRI, contact your hospital's technical support to make sure your Internet network can handle the audio and video bandwidth necessary for VRI.
A good strategy is to contact your VRI provider and test your videoconferencing equipment/computer-webcam setup a day in advance.
If the deaf patient has an appointment, scheduling an interpreter in advance will guarantee an interpreter with specialized knowledge of medical signs.
Once you know the setup is adequate, you may want to instruct - or have your tech instruct - the medical staff members on proper use of the VRI equipment.
Most VRI is billed by the minute, and you don't want your staff wasting money on technical glitches that can be avoided.
NOTE: Most videoconferencing equipment and software is HIPAA compliant. If you have a computer/webcam setup, you may need a HIPAA Waiver form available from ACD.
Will VRI solve all of your sign language interpreter needs? Of course not.
But don't overspend on on-site interpreters when VRI presents the cost-effective alternative.
You can test the speed of your videoconferencing equipment and Internet connection at ACDVRI.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Charles Lamm is a retired attorney now serving as a legal/technical consultant for Accessible Communication for the Deaf in Sunrise, Florida.