Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Towards Medical Interpretation Service in Hirakata (for Deaf and Foreign People) - The Third Forum Report, Photos and More.

The Third Forum for Medical Interpretation for Deaf People and Foreigners took place last Sunday with Dr. Kiyomi Takizawa from the Gunma University School of Medicine as the key note speaker. Despite a hot, humid day and a somewhat inconvenient location, there was a good turnout, almost 100 people. The main topic was the use of internet technology to provide interpretation for non-Japanese speakers at hospitals and other locations. Below is a YouTube clip from NHK World News that reports on the use of this technology, especially after the 3.11 disasters.


The news report gives a good overview of the advantages and disadvantages of this system for foreigners needing medical interpretation. The Third Forum featured a similar simulation that showed competent translation but somewhat awkward communication. But what about interpretation for Deaf people? A simulation was attempted with a Deaf patient, hearing doctor and a sign language interpreter at a separate location. Unfortunately, Skype and the internet were not so cooperative and we couldn't get it to work. However Deaf and hearing alike with Skype experience know how convenient it is and how clunky it is as well. Natural sign language (in terms of speed and rhythm) are difficult over Skype and this of course would be a major burden in a medical situation.

Despite these difficulties there is still a lot of potential for this technology. I am sure Dr. Takizawa and his colleagues will continue working the bugs out. It would also seem to be a good idea for more qualitative research to be done among doctors, nurses, interpreters and potential patients to see what sort of things are needed in terms of improving technology. And that is where these Forums become even more important.

More Forums will take place (stay tuned to VAOJ for details) and further issues of medical interpretation will be explored. If you are a foreigner in Japan, or Deaf, you might want to get involved. Please do.

Link to previous VAOJ coverage:

Link to 3rd Forum Photos:

1 comment:

mary louise said...

Fantastic blog provide very useful regarding the Medical Interpretation for Deaf People and Foreigners...great work..thanks for sharing
Japanese interpreter Los Angeles