Live captions (speech-to-text) for patients too?

I posted before about using live speech-to-text reporting (aka “live captioning”) in meetings, theatre and indeed anywhere we d/Deaf and hard of hearing health professionals are working. Well, how about using it to help our deaf and hard of hearing patients?

Helen Cherry, a hearing aid wearer and NHS professional herself, uses remote captioning for work meetings. Then her own experience as a patient gave Cherry the idea of using it the other way round. How about our deaf and hard of hearing patients having access to remote captioning so they can “hear” their own healthcare staff? Read Helen’s blog here.

Many of us are already used to working with remote translation services such as telephone interpreting services for other (oral) languages. Some of us will have worked with online BSL interpeting services such as SignTranslate. So why not use a remote, live speech-to-text reporting service to communicate effectively with deaf and hard of hearing patients?

How does remote captioning work? One of the captioning services, Bee Communications, explains it here: “[the] captioner listen[s] to what is being [said] either via a telephone … or via Skype … They then type at the speed of speech and this text scrolls up on a website.” Just like the live subtitles on TV news programmes. For routine appointments, we could book a captioner in advance. But because it’s a remote service, it’s also possible to arrange it at short notice, just as we do with telephone interpreting services.

SignHealth campaigned for many years to improve access and equality for Deaf people and set up the SignTranslate service to provide BSL interpeting. Is there anyone out there up for campaigning for access to remote captioning for the many deaf and hard of hearing patients who don’t sign?

[Edit] Since writing this, Helen has written another article about communication strategies and making information available to d/Deaf and hard of hearing people. And tells us a little bit about her background too. Read it here.


One thought on “Live captions (speech-to-text) for patients too?”

  1. Many thanks for this article Clare, it’s great to see captioning in the NHS getting some attention. If anyone reading this article would like to find out more about remote captions and perhaps trying a free demonstration please feel free to email me

    Merry Christmas!

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