SignHealth's webbased program, SignTranslate, extended to be used in Hospitals.

25 Apr 2011 9:26 PM | Anonymous member


SignTranslate, a subsidiary of SignHealth, the national healthcare charity for Deaf people based in Baring Road, Beaconsfield has been chosen to receive a BT sponsored award for the most innovative product through a competition dedicated to highlighting and rewarding the bright ideas of information and communications technology professionals in UK healthcare. The e-Health Insider award was presented in recognition of the charity’s ground breaking translation program aimed at improving communications for Deaf people in Hospitals.


Shocking evidence that profoundly Deaf patients struggle to communicate when they’re face to face with health professionals spurred SignHealth in 2006 to launch a new webbased program, SignTranslate, initially aimed at GP surgeries. The program has now been extended to be used in Hospitals.


The program translates over 500 medical questions into British Sign Language (BSL) using short video clips – offering a quick and easy way to improve communication during a hospital or GP visit. It means that the Deaf person can attend appointments on their own without the need to involve a family member or friend and thus retain their privacy and dignity.


SignTranslate is in use in many GP practices and one user reports that “I can now go and see my GP without my 9 year old daughter having to translate for me. I feel so much more able to have a frank discussion”.


Phil Murden, Managing Director of SignTranslate, said: “With only 400 fully qualified interpreters to support approximately 70,000 Deaf people who use BSL as their first language, it is virtually impossible to find an interpreter at short notice. For too long Deaf people have needed to call upon relatives (including their children) or friends to help them communicate. And they are doing this at a most stressful time, when either unwell, in pain or receiving bad news”.


In addition to the translation of pre-defined questions, the SignTranslate program allows on-line access to “live” fully qualified BSL interpreters. Via a web-cam, a Deaf patient can enjoy a fully interactive discussion with a clinician through the remote interpreter.  The SignTranslate Hospital program’s questions specialise in audiology, maternity, ward care, A & E and major incidents and have been developed with advice from some of the country’s leading hospitals.


SignHealth Chief Executive Steve Powell said today “We are extremely proud of our SignTranslate team in gaining this award. Doctors are telling us good communication is critical in a healthcare setting but interpreting support can be difficult to find. We hope SignTranslate Hospital will be an effective communication tool for short notice, unsupported appointments.”


The SignTranslate GP program is currently free of charge until 31st July to GP practices in England. SignHealth hope that all Deaf people will continue to ask their GP for SignTranslate to be available in their surgery.


As well as BSL, the program provides spoken and written translations for 12 foreign languages. It is the only internet based translation tool of its kind in the UK. Visit to see a demonstration of the program.





For further information, contact

Lauren Besant, SignTranslate   01494 687630 :

or Rowena Dean at SignHealth 01494 687600  :




5 Baring Road, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire HP9 2NB

| Voice: 01494 687600 | Minicom: 01494 687626 | Fax: 01494 687622 | - -

SignHealth is the Healthcare Charity for Deaf People. We are committed to bringing better healthcare

and equality of service provision to deaf people through campaigning, working in partnership

with other organisations and the provision of specialist services for deaf people. These include

Health Promotion, counselling, advocacy, outreach and supported living.



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