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The Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) has produced a brief report describing what we have learned in relation to remote sign language interpreting during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report is based on service user feedback, monthly activity data, and research conducted by the Patient Client Council. It makes the following key findings:
The report highlights technical and resource issues that still need to be addressed in order to maximise access to and the benefit of remote interpreting services, for both the Deaf community and HSC staff. These include:
The HSCB is working with IT Security teams and departments across the HSC system to address these issues.
The report is available to read in full here – Remote Sign Language Interpreting Service - Key Learning and Next Steps
The report’s findings demonstrate that remote interpreting is a vital channel of communication between Deaf people and HSC professionals, particularly in relation to telephone based contact. Telephone communications continue to play a critical role in the context of the pandemic, for example: in relation to COVID-19 test, track, and trace activities, vaccination bookings, GP and social care referrals, Phone First Emergency Department Triage, and community pharmacy interactions.
The learning collated in the report will continue to inform and shape the way forward.