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Sign Language Interpreting

Sign language interpreting services are provided through the Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (WIDHH).
The service is available to health care professionals working for a program or service under the BC health authorities, private physician offices and other services covered under the Medical Services Plan. There is no charge to the patient or your department. Please call the Institute directly. 

To book an interpreter: 

Emergency
  • TTY 604-736-707
  • Voice 604-736-7039
Non-Emergency
  • TTY 604-736-7099
  • Voice 604-736-7012
  • Toll-free: 1-877
What we do

The Provincial Language Service (PLS) is a program of PHSA that provides spoken language interpreting and written translation services to BC health authorities, as well as manages the contract for provincial medical Sign language interpreting. 

The service is provided through the Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (WIDHH), which operates the Medical Interpretation Services (MIS). 

MIS provides ASL interpreters and intervenors services for the deaf, deaf-blind and hard of hearing patient 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.

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. 

Why use a professional interpreter

A qualified interpreter optimizes the delivery of safe and equitable health care for patients with various cultural and language needs.

They 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.

Community Engagement

Provincial Medical Sign Language Interpreting Service Community Engagement Update

As the Provincial Language Service, a program of PHSA, works to improve services for the Deaf community access interpreters for medical appointments, we are committed to keeping the community informed of our work. This short ASL video provides an overview of where we are now in the engagement process and some next steps. 

 https://youtu.be/fio9GBWPevI

The Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) is committed to providing top-quality interpreting services for deaf, hard-of-hearing and deaf-blind people who are accessing health care across BC.

We believe the Deaf community should be integrally involved in the delivery of interpreting services to improve equitable access, and we have been actively engaging with community members to better understand their current needs. Engagement work with the community is focused on future planning for a medical sign language service. We are seeking input about opportunities to innovate, redesign and improve this service within existing available resources.

In 2016 PHSA began reviewing interpreting services for the deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind people. Through the review process, we learned there is confusion around what medical services are covered and how these decisions are made. We also learned that the community wants to provide regular input so the service remains current, and we need to utilize a comprehensive approach to the model to ensure the service is delivered consistently across BC.


https://youtu.be/qn6Y9o2Dtbc 

‎Thank you all who participated in the PLS Community Engagement project that sought input in to improvements for the Provincial Sign language Medical Interpreting service. Phase III of the engagement was completed in September 2018. We have since been working on the development of the Phase III visual and written report. 


Community Engagement_ phase 3 visual Report.pdf


If you have questions, please contact the Director of Provincial Language Services, Kiran Malli at kmalli@phsa.ca

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