New Video Phones Available for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Patients, Visitors

An interpreter demonstrates how to use a video phone
An interpreter demonstrates how to use a video phone

People who are deaf and hard of hearing – and those who use sign language to communicate with others – have a new phone option to use while at Strong Memorial Hospital.

Thanks to Friends of Strong, two new video phones have been purchased. One, a land-line model located at the Information Station (right off the hospital lobby), is available to anyone. The other phone is portable and primarily intended for inpatient and Emergency Department use (though it can easily be moved to different locations, based on need).

The new phones use a “Video Relay Service,” which connects the deaf caller directly to a sign language interpreter, who in turn connects with any hearing person through a regular phone – thus bypassing the need for typing and translating sign language into text that is currently required when using a standard texting telephone (TTY).

Most deaf people are already familiar with the operation of the phones but detailed instructions are available online here. The phones are an improvement over TTY phones, which must be used by both parties, or telecommunications relay services, which also require messages to be typed.

The video phones are an addition to more than 30 full-time, part-time, and hourly staff in the Interpreter Services Department of Social Work. (Please note that the phones are not intended to serve as a substitute for communication with patients using hospital interpreters, and may not be used for that purpose.)

To use the phone at the Information Station, visitors should visit the Information Desk in the Hospital lobby for access. To request the portable phone, contact the Communication Center at 275-2222. There is no charge to use the phones.