Most people might think of texting or online chatting as a fun way to pass the time, but a twist on the idea could bridge the communication gap for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
The UbiDuo is basically two keyboards with a wireless connection which can allow people to type back and forth instantly. Stormont-Vail HealthCare in Topeka recently purchased one.
Patient representative Judy Pachosa says it's often difficult to get a sign language interpreter to the hospital as quickly as they'd like. In such cases, Stormont does have an internet system through which they can link with a signer through a service, but that equipment can take time to move to where it's needed. Handwriting notes can also be cumbersome. By contrast, Pachosa says, the UbiDuo is battery operated and easily moved anywhere in the hospital.
Pachosa says giving a patient a means through which to communicate directly with medical staff is important if they're unable to bring a signer with them. She says doctors and nurses can try to read body language, but if a person can't tell them exactly what's going on, it's difficult.
Pachosa says it's not just for people who are deaf. The UbiDuo can also help people who can't speak because of a tracheotomy, laryngial cancer, a stroke or because they're are on a ventilator.
"If they can keyboard, they can talk," she says.
While a sign language interpreter will still be called when asked for, the UbiDuo is there to give people a voice anytime they want.
The UbiDuo is sold by the company sComm for just under $2000.