Geelong Hospital in Victoria has launched the state’s first video relay interpreting (VRI) service aimed at providing hearing impaired people better access to interpreter services, particularly with health care.
After a six-month trial last year, the VRI service is now being deployed at ten sites across the state.
The project is a part of a $2 million government grant to improve interpreting services through more modern information and communication technologies.
Victoria’s community services minister, Lisa Neville, said the new service will link patients and doctors (and other health professionals) with an interpreter through high quality video conferencing equipment, including video cameras and large displays.
“The new service will minimise the barriers of distance, time and cost involved with providing Auslan interpreters, especially in regional and rural areas across Victoria,” Neville said.
“Geelong Hospital will now be able to quickly and easily access interpreting services even when an interpreter is not able to be physically present at the hospital.”
Sites to receive the technology include Bendigo Health, Latrobe Community Health Service (Gippsland), Ballarat Business Centre, VicDeaf office (East Melbourne), and the On-Call interpreting service in central Melbourne.
The Victorian Department of Human Services worked with local IP communications company Vantage Systems to design and implement the VRI solution.
The VRI system consists of a high definition videoconferencing system, a 50-inch plasma display, trolley, microphone and speakers.
Vantage Systems CEO Mark Buckley said by providing a managed service around the solution the company can ensure that community members and interpreters have access to video technology that is reliable and “with good sound and picture quality”.
With the introduction of VRI services in four rural centres, the uptake in Auslan interpreting increased by more than 200 per cent across all sites, according to Vantage.