Communication App for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
 Posted on 29/05/2014 - 12:36
Idea Outline
To provide an innovative, multilingual mobile translation tool specifically aimed at patients who are deaf or hard of hearing. This tool has the purpose of helping patients and medical personnel by simplifying communication.

The Challenge
The emergency room is a busy, anonymous and chaotic environment for all patients suffering from a disease and - due to impeded communication - the situation may be even worse for those who are deaf or hard of hearing and have to rely on sign language for communication. For such patients, an already frightening situation may become even more demanding since sign language adds a language barrier and most health care professionals are unable to communicate in a sign language, which follows its own grammar and vocabulary and, similar to spoken languages, differs between countries. Interpreters are often unavailable, especially in the late hours and rural areas. This is especially troublesome in situations where prompt translation would be needed, e.g. when dealing with urgent medical issues.

The Solution

The tool is meant to facilitate communication between sign language users and healthcare professionals and is designed for use in hospitals as well as medical practices. For these settings, the app aides with basic communication in sign language. Based on simple questions and answers, patients who are deaf or hard of hearing can communicate with doctors or the nursing staff. The video provided above presents the straightforward functionality of the app.
The grant will be used for devising a solid business model for further development of the app with the goal of adding as many sign language packages as possible for as many people as possible. A primary focus is will be research on the mechanisms of making the app reimbursable by the European Health system (e.g., as a "prescribed app").

Target group and social impact
50 million fellow Europeans are hard of hearing. Of these, 750,000 have to rely on sign languages. In the case of health issues, clear and unambiguous communication between patients and medical professionals is essential. This is not only a question of courtesy. Clear statements can help to avoid serious consequences and may even save lifes. A good relationship between patients and medical professionals always includes trust and communication plays an important role in this context. As the application is meant as a multinational and multilingual tool, the service should be readily available for those who need it. The proposed project is not only focused on the application itself but also on reimbursability with the aim of firmly anchoring health applications in the EU healthcare systems.

Competences of the applicant
Urs is a trained physician and Deputy Director of the P.L. Reichertz Institute for Med. Informatics. He leads a multidisciplinary and multinational research group on mobile health at Hannover Medical School. He is also the Secretary of the Ethics Commission at the same institution. Besides reseraching the ethical and legal framework of Medical Apps, the team develops award winning health apps.

Video Link

Social Category
  • Health and Demographic Change
  • Social Inclusion, Human Rights and Equality

  • Tecnology Category
  • Audiovisual
  • Mobile
  • Social Software

  • Please log in to Rate this Idea

    What a great idea! Good luck!

    Nice! I like the idea, I hope you will improve the implementation and design of the app.
    Reminded me of this mockup

    Idea Submitter

    Hey Ecosistema Urbano, thanks for your comment! We are looking for more sign language packs as well to reach out for more people. It is not to easy but possible!


    So mayn short comments ....... this Project bought votes through mechanical turk

    Idea Submitter

    Hello Peterkomaut, human greetings to you! So what do you think about the project and its goals? Let us know, please. Thanks.

    I think it´s a great convenience for persons concerned! Annette

    IMHO this is a highly useful app. And i love useful apps :-) Bridging communication barriers in clinical (emergency) settings is definitely the right field to start in. Wishing you great success in this competition! Jörn

    Idea Submitter

    Dear Jörn, thank you for your comment that is encouraging. And we agree, there is a need for apps that are usefulk and not just for fun - especially not on health topics!

    Excellent idea. The app should be very helpful not only in emergency situations but in every day (health care) life.

    Idea Submitter

    Hello Stephanie, the intention of the app ist to provide a basic communication in a rather unpleaseant and stressful situation. But it is not meant to replace an interpreter (especially not in complex problems).

    It's very useful.

    A very innovative idea.

    I remember one situation when I have been admitted to a hospital in Guangzhou on a business trip and would loved to have an communication aid like this. You can broaden the application with other languages for that purpose. I like it and rate it "++"!

    Idea Submitter

    Dear Holger Kurz, on the first instance it is meant for those hard of hearing and using sign languages. But of course you are right, the problem of a language barrier is for everybody a hurdle. Thank you for your vote.


    really excellent

    What a great solution to crush barriers between deaf persons and medical doctors, and helping to avoid (maybe health critical) misunderstandings!

    Idea Submitter

    Thank you. Well, we at least give it a try and make a statement on this matter. Thank you for your support!

    Thanks a lot for the ISignIT-App. It's a great help for me (a healthcare professional)

    Idea Submitter

    Dear Rangernico, great to get feedback from user. May I ask you to provide me with more detailed information of your experience? I would like to get in touch with you. Thanks

    it`s great

    great job.

    A really excellent and innovative idea.

    look a very good app, and encouraging to see this increasingly important area of health being addressed in this way, particularly in light of WHO's resolution on disability and its eHealth strategy

    Idea Submitter

    Dear Julian, thank you for your support and the reference to the WHO eHealth strategy. Maybe you are interested in chatting on this subject? Please, let us get in touch. Thanks

    A fascinating idea! Good Luck!

    I think this idea will support medical staff significantly in the difficult task to treat hearing-impaired people properly, even in stressful ER-settings.

    A real smart health care solution with very good chances to find a wide spread community of users.

    It works great.

    Although I am not dependend to sign language I think this is a clever and well realized project. Bravo!

    I think this app is an great idea. I can also imagine that such an app can be very useful in the prehospital emergeny service. I dont know whether it is allready so, but there for some special therme of EMS need to be included.

    Good idea and a perfect team with experience in the mobile healthcare IT!

    An EU sign language project. How cool is that! I did not realize before that there is such a difference between sign languages. Keep up the EU spirit!!!

    Idea Submitter

    Dear Robert, sign languages are independent and diverse to each other. If you are interested to learn more about the topic, do not hesitate to get back to me. I can provide you with more information. Thanks.

    It is as simple as that. Amazing! Clever and so easy.

    Important issue and a great innovative idea to provide help

    This would have helped me several times. I wonder why nobody had this idea before...

    Awesome idea :)

    relevant and obviously easy to use

    We definitely need more innovative approaches of that kind for the successful integration of the impaired.

    WoW! Great Idea.

    Nice idea - everyone who had to go to a doctor while on vacation in another country and was not able to really able to communicate should understand at least a little of what those who cannot hear go through even during a normal doctors visit or in the hospital. Hope that in addition to more language packs, other mobile platforms will also be added to let even more people profit from the solution.

    Idea Submitter

    Dear Jau, yes, this is a big issue. Not understanding and speaking the language is problematic but without hearing at all it is worse. Even in your own country you are isolated. Other language packs are the goal! Thank you for your comment.

    A simple and efficient idea that help those hard of hearing to communicate with a nurse in the A&E.

    Idea Submitter