The hi-tech translator

A ground-breaking computer programme is set to transform communications between health professionals and patients who are deaf or have limited English. It is hoped that SignHealth could help to reduce costs of an estimated £20m a year caused by deaf peopl

A ground-breaking computer programme is set to transform communications between health professionals and patients who are deaf or have limited English.

It is hoped that SignHealth could help to reduce costs of an estimated £20m a year caused by deaf people missing appointments.

North Herts and Stevenage Primary Care Trust (PCT) is one of the 303 PCTs in England to be offered the package.

It allows health professionals to choose what they want to ask a patient from a list of questions on their computer screen. The computer then shows a video clip of someone signing the answer.


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For people who can't speak or read English, SignHealth can translate questions and answers into 12 other languages.

The programme is the first of its kind available to GP surgeries. It comes recommended by the Department of Health and the National Institute for Mental Health in England.

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A national charity, Sign, developed it because of the problems that healthcare professionals have with patients who have communication difficulties. Problems can lead to misunderstandings, and even misdiagnoses.

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