About the project and partners

Overcoming language and communication barriers in the healthcare sector

The VOCAL-Medical project aims to produce training materials and a tool to support communication in emergency situations where there is no common language and/or a need to bridge cultural gaps between different healthcare systems.

Where do communication barriers occur most?

Needs analysis conducted by VOCAL-Medical partners showed that the situations where help to overcome communication barriers is most needed are:

  • Asking patients about their medical history
  • Communication about medication
  • Understanding patients’ emotional state
  • Communication about cultural and religious concerns


Good communication is essential in the healthcare sector, where it can literally make the difference between life and death. Increased mobility and demographic change mean that more and more healthcare situations involve people who do not share a common language or cultural background. The project aims to bridge this language gap by providing language training materials and a translation support application focusing on key contexts where languages barriers are most acute:

  • Hospital emergency services
  • Ambulance services and fast rescue teams
  • Doctors on standby


  • Web-based multilingual resource for smartphone, tablet or PC
  • Bilingual training modules available online (English + 8 languages)
  • Intercultural training modules
  • Technical language focused on real-life situations
  • Background cultural information on the medical sector in each country
  • Interactive and easy to use – virtual tours


The VOCAL-Medical project runs from February 2014 to February 2016. The prototype resources will be available for trialling from February 2015.

Which languages?

The VOCAL-Medical resource covers the following languages - with English:

  • Bulgarian
  • Dutch
  • German
  • Lithuanian
  • Polish
  • Slovak
  • Slovenian
  • Turkish

How can I be involved?

If you are a medical practitioner, nurse or member of the emergency services…. the VOCAL-Medical resource can help you with the first physical examination of patients whose language you may not speak – and save precious time in waiting for an interpreter.

If you are a manager or have responsibility for human resources or training in the medical sector….the VOCAL-Medical resource will help clinical and non-clinical staff overcome language and cultural barriers in emergency situations.

If you are a language teacher or trainer… you can use the VOCAL-Medical resources to contextualise your teaching or to provide correct translations of medical terminology needed by learners.

If you can help us contact any of the above… please help us by passing on information about the VOCAL-Medical project.

IT Tralee


Kristin Brogan

(lead project partner)

Alcantara Communications


LLP | Kathryn Board

Assist GmbH


Gary Thomas

Foundation Institute for Entrepreneurship and Regional Development


Ewelina Firszt

Kaunas University of Technology


Jurate Bante

Danmar Computers


Małgorzata Mikłosz

Leonardo Office Saxony-Anhalt


Angela Wittkamp

Mesleki ve Teknik Eğitimi Geliştirme Derneği


Saban Berk

Emergency Slovakia


Eva Havelkova

Plovdiv University


Dr. Juliana Chakarova

Srednja šola za gostinstvo


Vid Burnik

The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland


Helen Kelly

Slovak University of Technology


Dagmar Spildova

Thomas More Kempen


Jef Adriaenssens