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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.
Service
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 Communication Access Realtime Translation services at medical appointments. 

These services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Eligible patients, family members and health care staff can request the service when needed. 

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.

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Services available

There are different interpreting 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?

Sign language interpreters

Sign language interpreters are specially trained professional interpreters who bridge the communication between English speakers and sign language users. Sign language interpreters are hearing and fluent in the source language and sign language. 

Deaf interpreters

Deaf interpreters are individuals who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing and possess communication skills in both source language and sign language. A Deaf interpreter has extensive knowledge and understanding of Deafness, the Deaf community, and/or Deaf culture. The Deaf interpreter has been trained in the role and ethics of an interpreter and may also have specialized training and/or experience in the use of gestures, mime, props, drawings, home signs, and matching sentence structure and language development of the Deaf person for whom they are interpreting.
 
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. 
Remote Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) offers immediate, verbatim streaming of voice-to-text transcription during an appointment. 

Remote CART provides access to medical appointments to hard of hearing patients who do not use sign language to communicate.
 
Remote CART is available through:
  • Virtual health visit - using Zoom for Healthcare closed caption features 
  • On-site visit - streaming transcript via the internet browser on the health care provider's tablet or laptop.
Sign Language services are not available if using the Remote CART service.
Booking services
Sign Language interpreting, intervenor and Communication Access Realtime Translation services are available 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. These services are provided at no cost to the practitioner or patient.

Sign language interpreting and intervenors

These services can be requested directly by health care providers. Contact your health care provider if you are a patient and/or their designate and need access to a service for an appointment. Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing patients and/or their designate can also request interpreting and intervenors services through Wavefront Centre for Communication Accessibility.

Communication Access Realtime Translation

Communication Access Realtime Translation service requests are made by your health care provider.  

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Health care providers


If you are a health care provider and want to book or learn more about our services, please go to the Language Services page for health professionals.  
Resources
To support health care providers who interact with patients and families who are Deaf, Deaf-Blind or Hard of Hearing, a health authority-approved level two mask with a clear window is available in some clinics. 

Ask your health care provider if they have a clear window mask for your appointment. 


Picture of Humask window mask.


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SOURCE: Deaf, Deaf-Blind & Hard of Hearing ( )
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