iPhone app helps doctors connect with Haitian patients

Summary: Haitian Medical Reference Guide for iPhone includes translation dictionary, audio phrasebook, and anthropology tool.

Media Contact:
Ashleigh Lincoln
Public and Media Relations

On twitter: @ultralingua


May 5, 2010

Haitian Creole iPhone app

(Minneapolis, Minn.) English-speaking doctors, nurses, and relief workers in Haiti can now download a free iPhone app to help them communicate with, and understand the beliefs of, their Haitian Creole-speaking patients.

Software company Ultralingua began work on the Haitian Medical Reference Guide immediately following the devastating earthquake that hit Port-au-Prince on January 12. The app includes a Haitian Creole-English medical dictionary, an audio phrasebook, and an anthropological reference guide. No internet connection is required to use the app, which runs on iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

General Manager Loring Harrop explains: “When we heard about the earthquake, it was clear that we had the ability to do something to help. We make language software, and relief workers needed help communicating with Haitian Creole speakers.”

"Relief workers needed help communicating with Haitian Creole speakers."

Harrop continues, “We had to make a choice: get something out there right away, or take the time to create an app that would be useful long-term. Various other tools showed up on the scene quickly, and we knew the relief effort would be ongoing for years, so we went with the latter.”

Professor and anthropologist Bryant Freeman provided Ultralingua with the content for the application. He spent several years living in Haiti, creating a medical dictionary, phrasebook, and a textbook of cultural information relevant to medical professionals. Ultralingua worked this content into a three-part interface, so users of the app can transition from browsing the anthropological data to listening to Haitian Creole pronunciation easily.

Freeman explains the content of the app in a note included in his original text, “This tool includes cultural details and background regarding medical beliefs held by many Haitians, yet usually withheld from the foreign health practitioner… It is a compendium of the questions and answers heard during the course of several hundred medical interviews which we had the privilege of attending in ten different medical institutions in rural Haiti.”

While much of the content within the app has a medical focus, it is useful to anyone looking to communicate with Haitian Creole speakers. It includes greetings, questions, and many other general terms in the audio phrasebook. The phrasebook tool came together with the help of Babble-On Recording Studio and a native Haitian Creole speaker, who generously donated their time to participate in the project.

Ultralingua is looking at other opportunities to use its language software to help with disaster relief, preserve endangered languages, and more. Harrop concludes, “Facilitating communication and cultural understanding is what we do. We hope this project helps English-speakers make a difference in Haiti as the relief effort moves forward.”

This free app is now available at iTunes here.

About Ultralingua, Inc:

Ultralingua, Inc. makes software for people who love languages. We have been developing high-quality language tools for the business, education, and travel markets since 1997.

Our apps are available for iPhone, iPad, Mac, Windows, the web, and other mobile devices. Ultralingua’s dictionaries are compiled by a team of language professionals, including linguists, university professors, and professional translators. Connect with us on twitter, and in our forums.