News Releases

News Releases

For Immediate Release

Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Unveils Region’s First Communication System for Deaf Patients and Families

Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh has become the first hospital in the region and one of only four children’s hospitals nationwide to establish an audio-visual interpreting system that enables physicians to communicate with patients and families who are deaf or who do not speak English.

Children’s patients and families with hearing difficulties will see a demonstration of the new technology at 6 p.m. tonight. Deaf-Talk, a Pittsburgh-based company, has established 24 sites throughout the hospital where staff and patients are able to video-conference with interpreters 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

“We always want to be sure our patients and their families completely understand the care they are receiving,” said Karen Christman, manager of the Department of Clinical Social Work at Children’s. “Deaf-Talk gives us a fast, efficient way to communicate with patients who are hearing-impaired and might otherwise have to wait for an interpreter to arrive.”

The system is mobile, offers privacy and can be accessed in a matter of minutes. A Children’s staff member dials a toll-free number to connect with an interpreter, who in turn connects to the Children’s unit via videophone. Then, as the physician explains medical issues, the interpreter hears this and signs over the videophone for the patient and family. When the patient signs in response, the interpreter speaks these words to the physician.

The on-demand service also offers interpreters for 21 languages, including Arabic, French and Spanish.

Deaf-Talk interpreters are certified through the Registry of Interpreters of the Deaf and the National Association for the Deaf and are tested on skills for medical terms and situations. Also, a unit will be available at all times in the Children’s emergency department and interpreters are experienced at translating during emergencies.

Children’s will continue to offer deaf patients and their families the services of on-site interpreters through the Center for Hearing & Deaf Services if desired.

“We’re offering this technology as a compliment to on-site interpreters. Families will have a choice.” Christman said. “Now, if deaf patients need brief conversations with a doctor, they won’t have to wait for an interpreter to be scheduled.”

Marc Lukasiak or Melanie Finnigan, 412-692-5016, or

Last Update
February 25, 2008
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Last Update
February 25, 2008