Videophones for Patients at University of
University of Colorado Hospital is one of only a few hospitals in the U.S. that makes videophones available to its signing deaf and hard-of-hearing patients.
Videophones allow members of these communities to communicate over distances, either through an interpreter on screen or by signing to one another directly. Videophones are available for use in the Marion Downs Hearing Center and in the Audiology Clinic in the Anschutz Outpatient Pavilion.
Two modes of communication
The videophones were installed at UCH by Salt Lake City-based Sorenson Communications, which also provides Video Relay Service for the devices.
If a deaf or hard of hearing person places a call to a hearing individual, an interpreter in Sorenson's operating center appears on screen. The deaf user signs to the interpreter, who relays the message verbally to the hearing user. The interpreter then signs the hearing user's reply to the deaf user.
If both callers are deaf or hard of hearing, they simply link video-to-video and sign to one another.
An evolution from "caveman" technology
Until relatively recently, individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing could communicate by phone only by typing their words into TeleTypewriters (TTYs) that transmit text messages to the recipient, often an impersonal and cumbersome process.
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Audiology experts believe that videophones will transform communication options used by the signing deaf and hard-of-hearing community. For these individuals, seeing the person and communicating with visual language is much more meaningful than typing. (Tyler Smith, managing editor, UCH Insider)