Network to bring counseling to the deaf
- By Brian Robinson
- Jun 21, 2001
The Nebraska Information Technology Commission has awarded $25,000 to help
establish a videoconferencing network to get mental health services to hearing-impaired
The state has "not one psychiatrist who can directly treat a deaf person,"
said Peg Goeschel, mental health specialist for the Nebraska Commission
for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The therapists are not trained to communicate
with people with hearing impairments, and they have not been educated about
deaf culture, she said.
"That makes it very difficult for [hearing-impaired people] to explain their
problems to the psychiatrist," Goeschel said.
The videoconferencing network also will make it possible to get mental health
services to parts of the state where there are no trained therapists at
To use the network, therapists will come to commission offices, and staff
members will link remote clients with the therapists and provide interpreters.
The network also will be used to train interpreters around the state and
for in-house training of commission staff members.
Eventually it will become part of a statewide telehealth network for
people who have hearing impairments, and other government agencies will
be able to use the network for teleconferencing and to provide other services.
Demands from courts, hospitals and other organizations over the past two
years for mental health services alone has increased "like you wouldn't
believe," Goeschel said. Other states provide remote counseling for hearing-impaired
people, she said, but usually through computers. The Nebraska network is
believed to be the first that offers statewide videoconferencing.
Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore.
Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.