Many patients who are deaf or hearing-impaired rely on American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters to communicate with healthcare providers. Bringing someone onsite is usually ideal, but not always possible. A local ASL interpreter may not be available. Or in some circumstances, such as the Coronavirus outbreak, you could be endangering the health of the patient or the interpreter.
Telehealth and ASL Interpreting
Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) is a telehealth platform that connects patients, healthcare providers, and interpreters. Patients can use it to book virtual appointments for minor ailments, and healthcare providers can use it onsite when a local interpreter isn’t available.
While VRI offers deaf patients a great alternative to in-office appointments, it’s often fraught with technical and communication issues
when used onsite. Some patients have even reported that it negatively impacted their care, according to the National Association of the Deaf.
So, in order to ensure a deaf patient has a positive experience with VRI, you’ll need to follow some guidelines.
Best Practices for Video Remote Interpreting for ASL
Here’s a brief overview of some (though not all) of the best practices the National Association of the Deaf recommends.
- Connect to a dedicated high-speed, wide-bandwidth internet connection or wireless connection. This ensures the video is clear and won’t lag or freeze.
- Use a flat-panel LCD computer monitor with a minimum screen size of 19.5 inches (measured diagonally from corner to corner) with adjustable height options. A smaller screen may make it difficult for patients to interpret signs or facial expressions.
- All cameras (yours and the ASL interpreter’s) should provide a minimum video resolution of 720p to support a high-speed transmission. The ideal resolution is 1080p60. Cameras should also use progressive scan to preserve the smoothness and clarity of the image.
- If possible, take the patient to a private room. This minimizes visual distractions and helps improve the quality of VRI communication.
- Place the video screen no further than two feet from the patient. If the patient is also visually impaired, you may need to move it closer.
- Ensure the room has optimal lighting. There shouldn’t be any backlighting on the patient because it can affect the ASL interpreter’s ability to clearly read the signs.
- Test your microphone to ensure the ASL interpreter can clearly hear you. Also try to keep background noise to a minimum with any noise cancelling features.
- After you start a VRI session, check in with the patient periodically to ensure they aren’t having issues with it.
The Rise of Telehealth and VRI
Over 70% of healthcare providers use telehealth tools to connect with patients, and that number is expected to rise. As the Coronavirus pandemic reshapes the way people from all backgrounds receive care, it’s essential that deaf patients have access to platforms that meet their needs. This will not only build trust within the deaf community, but will improve healthcare outcomes.
For more information about video remote interpreting for ASL, contact Boostlingo today.