Community Craigavon Health Newry

New Sign Language Interpreting Service for Health and Social Care Appointments

A new regional service will offer a range of in-person and remote sign language interpreting services for health and social care appointments.

Provided by Sign Language Interactions by Sorenson, the service has been established in partnership with the Department of Health and will be available from 1 April.

It will deliver a package of communication supports for people who are deaf, deaf-blind and hard of hearing for health and social care appointments, including in-person sign language interpreting; remote sign language interpreting; deaf/blind interpreting; lip speaking and electronic note-taking.

The new service will be delivered through one central booking service.

It is free and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Approximately 8,000 people use sign language in Northern Ireland including British Sign Language (BSL) and Irish Sign Language (ISL). 

Prior to this new service, interpreting was accessed and provided differently in each Health and Social Care Trust area. 

Information on how to access the service will be provided by Sign Language Interactions website.

Welcoming the initiative, Brendan Whittle, Director of Hospital and Community Care, Department of Health, said the new regional service aims to ensure that anyone accessing health and social care services who need communication support due to hearing loss receive a high standard, safe and timely service that is sustainable and consistent across Northern Ireland.

“The service aims to deliver high quality, accessible, regionally consistent, and sustainable communication support for people who are deaf, deaf-blind, or hard of hearing across all health and social care services, and to establish Northern Ireland as a recognised centre of good practice.”

Explaining further, Mr Whittle said: “The new model will see a new holistic communication support service that maximises all deaf and deaf-blind peoples’ independent access to services. It will also help HSC staff secure interpreting services much more quickly.”

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