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Deaf, Deaf-Blind & Hard of Hearing

Creating equitable access to health care for Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing British Columbians.

 

Services
Sign language interpreting, intervenor and Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) services are available for Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing patients when accessing most health care services in British Columbia.

Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing individuals have a legal right to access sign language interpreters, intervenors and CART services at medical appointments.

The obligation to ensure communication access rests with the health care organization and health care staff. As the program responsible for delivering these services, the Provincial Language Services works to support health care organizations and staff to fulfil this obligation.

The Provincial Language Services also provides staff consultation, education, community engagement, and outreach with Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing communities.

Services available

There are different communication modalities to meet patients' needs. Technology has enabled the interpreting profession to move beyond on-site sessions, with remote interpreting now commonly found in various settings.

Please review interpreting modalities to determine which best fits the patient's needs.

What type of Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing services are there?


Provincial Language Services provides sign language and Deaf interpreter services and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and provided at no charge to patients and/or their families.   

Intervenors act as patient navigators for Deaf-Blind patients. The role of intervenors is to assist the Deaf-Blind patient in navigating to and from procedures/appointments within the health care system (e.g. lab work, prescription pick-up, diagnostic imaging, etc.). An intervenor facilitates the interaction of the person who is Deaf-Blind with other people and the environment.

Intervenors are not interpreters. 

‎Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) offers immediate, verbatim streaming of voice-to-text transcription during an appointment. 


CART provides access to these medical appointments to hard of hearing patients who do not use sign language to communicate.
 
CART is available through
  • Virtual health visit - using Zoom for Healthcare closed caption features 
  • On-site visit - streaming transcript via the internet browser on health care provider's tablet or laptop.
Sign language services are not available if using the CART service.


Booking services

Advance booking 

On-site or virtual health visit interpreting

All pre-scheduled on-site or virtual health visit interpreting requests for sign language interpreters, intervenors, or Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) services are to be submitted online. 

If you don't have online access, please contact Provincial Language Services.

Health care providers have a legislative obligation to provide appropriate communication access to care for Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing patients and/or their designate. They can meet this obligation by booking an interpreter through Provincial Language Services. 


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Billing & fees

Services are available free of charge to all health care professionals providing services covered under the Medical Services Plan or Hospital Insurance Act and practitioners working for a program or service under the B.C. health authorities.
Resources

As health care providers, it is our responsibility to ensure all our patients and clients have access to culturally and linguistically appropriate care. This includes removing communications barriers wherever possible for those who are Deaf, Deaf-Blind or Hard of Hearing. Below are some resources and tools to use. 

Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing cultural sensitivity training for health care provider participants addresses the critical aspects of Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing culture and audism. It will strengthen the skills of health care providers who work directly and indirectly with Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing people to ensure they have access to culturally safe care and services.

Please contact Provincial Language Services to arrange training. 
 
Health authority-approved clear window masks are available for order through Supply Chain to support providers who may interact with those who are Deaf, Deaf-Blind or Hard of Hearing. The use of clear-window surgical masks is a quick, safe, and easy way to remove communication barriers for these patients, clients, residents and their loved ones.

To support health care providers who may interact with patients and families who may be Deaf, Deaf-Blind or Hard of Hearing, a health-authority approved level 2 mask with a clear window is available to order through your usual ordering process.


Humask clear window mask Pro Vision 2000


Order HUMASK Pro Vision 2000 - Level 2 through your supply chain. 


  • PHSA: Product #00095895
  • VCH/PHC: Product #00132280
  • VIHA: Product #0130859
  • IHA: Product #1070851
  • NHA: Product #5014072
  • FHA: Product #490722

For family practices and specialists, please contact Provincial Language Services for more information. 

Canada Video Relay Service (VRS) is a telecommunication service that allows Deaf, Deaf-Blind or Hard of Hearing patients make telephone calls using the internet and cell phone-based technologies. VRS callers are connected with a sign language interpreter who provides simultaneous interpreting in American Sign Language or Langue des signes québécoise. 

Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing patients may have 10-digit VRS telephone numbers. The health care provider can use the 10-digit phone number to call the patient. 

Patients who do not have a VRS account can sign up for free



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