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Provincial Medical Sign Language Interpreting

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


About

In British Columbia, sign language interpreter and intervenor services for health care are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Patients, family members and healthcare providers can request a sign language interpreter and/or intervenor when needed in a healthcare setting.

The Provincial Language Service (PLS) is responsible for the delivery of sign language interpreting and intervenor services in health care. PLS also provides cross-cultural consultation for patients and staff as well as community engagement and outreach with Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing communities.

Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing people have a legal right to interpreters and intervenors at medical appointments, and arranging the interpreter is the responsibility of the health care provider. Patients and family members are not able to book through PLS.

Sign language interpreting service provider

Sign language services are provided through the Wavefront Centre for Communication Accessibility, which operates Medical Interpretation Services (MIS). 

MIS provides sign language interpreters and intervenors services for the Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing patients at no direct cost to clients or health care providers for services that fall under the Medicare Act and the Hospital Insurance Act. 

This service is provided following a 1997 Supreme Court of Canada ruling that sign language interpretation must be provided to Deaf patients in BC to comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Benefits

  • A qualified interpreter optimizes the delivery of safe and equitable health care for patients with various cultural and language needs.
  • Professional interpreters are trained to accurately convey all parts of a message without changing the content, meaning or tone, reducing errors and enhancing safety.
  • Using a professional interpreter also allows the patient or family member to focus solely on understanding their illness or to support a loved one to increase satisfaction with care.
  • The service assists in creating equitable access to medical appointments for deaf, deaf-blind and hard of hearing patients, allowing greater access to communication with health care providers.
Access Interpreter

Book an Interpreter 

Health Care Providers can access sign language interpreters in-person or virtually. Please discuss with your patient which mode of interpreting they prefer. 

Please choose your section to book an interpreter.


Advance Booking
Please submit interpreting service requests online.

If you don't have online access please call the office.

Urgent or After hours*  

Please call 604.297.8400 or 1.877.BC-TALKS (228.2557)

*After hours: 4:00 pm to 8:00 am, Saturday, Sunday and Statutory holidays.


Advance Booking
Please submit interpreting services requests online.

If you don't have online access please call the office.

Advance Booking, Urgent or After hours*  

Please call 604.297.8400 or 1.877.BC-TALKS (228.2557)

*After hours: 4:00 pm to 8:00 am, Saturday, Sunday and Statutory holidays.

Please submit interpreting service requests through Wavefront Centre for Communication Accessibility


Advance Booking

Voice: 604.736.7012 or 1.877.736.7012 
TTY: 604.736.7099 or 1.877.736.7099

Text: 778.995.7391


Urgent or After hours*  

Voice: 604.736.7039 or 1.877.736.7039

TTY: 604.736.7078 or 1.877.736.7078
Text: 778.990.7391

*After hours: 5:00 pm to 7:00 am, Saturday, Sunday and Statutory holidays.


Video Remote Interpreting (VRI)

VRI remains available at certain health authority sites and BC Emergency Health Services for sign language.


For Sign language interpreting, if you work in a clinical area where the VRI service is available, please use VRI only when waiting for the in-person sign language interpreter to arrive or when an in-person sign language interpreter is not available to attend. 


If you are making advance arrangements for a patient's appointment, please book an interpreter ahead of time using our online booking system or phone number, rather than relying on the VRI service.


VRI - BC Emergency Services

Clear communication is key in emergency situations, but it can also be a major barrier for those who are Deaf, Deaf-Blind or Hard of Hearing. Now, paramedics can connect these patients virtually with live American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters using a video remote interpreting app on their BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS)-issued iPhones. 

For more details, paramedics should connect with their team leads.

Feedback
We take concerns about your access to care seriously. If we have not met your expectations in providing interpreter or intervenor services, we would like to hear from you.

We also accept your compliments and we will be glad to share with the team and/or the interpreter.

We give high priority to quality assurance and your feedback is important to us. 


If you have a complaint, feedback and concerns about Interpreting or Intervenor Services contact
  plsqualityassurance@phsa.ca


We are committed to constant improvements in service delivery to all our customers.


Provincial Language Service adheres to strict policies and procedures on professional conduct. Any complaint or incident regarding an interpreter, health care agency, external customer or Provincial Language Service staff member is documented, investigated and tracked: Interpreter incident reporting process.

If you have a complaint about health care services provided for your own care or your loved one’s care contact our Patient Care Quality Office.

Complaints are best addressed and resolved at the time and place they occur.
 

If you are a health care provider a have a complaint or compliment about the service, contact PLS Quality Assurance at plsqualityassurance@phsa.ca.


We are committed to constant improvements in service delivery to all our customers.

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