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CART service helps to make health care more accessible

Communication Access Real-Time Translation is making health care more accessible to those with hearing loss. Learn more about the rollout of the new technology.
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​This September, PHSA’s Provincial Language Services (PLS) is launching Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) to support patients who are hard of hearing in communicating with health-care providers in medical settings.

CART offers immediate, verbatim streaming of voice-to-text transcription between health-care providers and patients during appointments. Using this cutting-edge technology, captioners convey the spoken word to text accurately using a stenography machine in real-time and securely stream the text over the internet to a web-enabled computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. CART services will be available for virtual health visits using Zoom for Healthcare’s closed captioning features, as well as for in-person visits using a health-care provider’s tablet or laptop where captions will be streamed online using StreamText and audio will be provided via conference call with the captioner.

Unlike computer-generated captions that can be accessed on platforms like Zoom, YouTube or Google, CART offers human-generated captions, which results in a more accurate transcription. 

Bridging a communication gap

“I think it’s great that CART is going to be available to patients in our health-care system,” says Jessica Niemela, pediatric audiologist in Vernon, B.C. and Canadian Hard of Hearing Association board member. “This is a huge step for people with hearing loss who use listening and spoken language as their main mode of communication. I think real-time captioning will solve a lot of frustration for both the patient and the health-care provider.”

“Enabling patients with hearing loss to have a transcription of their appointment is very helpful because it’s possible to miss important information if they can’t hear it,” she says, adding that when communication breaks down in the health-care setting, there can be adverse effects on a person’s health. “If a patient didn’t understand their procedure correctly, or can’t follow through with their treatment or at-home care plan because they couldn’t hear the instructions, there could be serious consequences. That’s why a service like this is so critical.”

For Jessica, this win is personal as she herself lives with a hearing loss.

“Hearing loss is an invisible disability. Because people can’t see it, it requires a lot of self-advocacy to be able to tell people what you need. I think people need support in doing that and that’s where programs like PLS really come into play.”

Scott Jeffery, PLS Sign Language Service Coordinator explains that removing language barriers in health care is vital to PLS. He adds, “we are enthusiastic about having CART service as our language access mode for hard of hearing patients. CART services will allow hard of hearing patients who do not know sign language or have hearing loss later in life to have equal access to care.”

How to book CART for medical appointments

If a health-care provider determines that their patient could benefit from or would like to use CART services for their appointment, the service can be requested and arranged by the health-care provider online. Note that it is encouraged to request service in advance of an appointment.

For more information on CART, visit the PLS website.

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