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A ground breaking new system to ensure British Sign Language (BSL) users can easily access Government services is now in operation at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
The Video Relay Service (VRS) allows users to make BSL interpreted video calls via their tablet, smartphone, computer or laptop. A professional interpreter then relays the call in English to the member of DWP staff.
Minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson said:
Notes to editors
- To deliver the VRS the Department has signed a contract with industry specialists SignVideo, a Social Enterprise with extensive experience of delivering VRS for companies such as Barclays and Halifax Banks and Allianz Insurance.
- Customers will access VRS from hyperlinks on the relevant information pages on GOV.UK. This hyperlink acts as the “call” button for BSL users and carries a unique identifier which shows the provider where in DWP the call is for. This enables the provider to make contact with the relevant area.
- The DWP staff member will deal with the call as they would for any other call and ask a few identity verification questions through the interpreter before continuing.
- There is no registration required and for the service and it will be instantly available. There is no need to schedule an appointment.
- A video guide is available here.
- The contract is limited to 6 months as Crown Commercial Services (CCS) are in the final stages of tendering for a new National Framework for Interpreting service, which will be announced in March 2016, after which the Department(s) will have to retender their services to those companies on the framework. The previous National Framework did not include the provision for VRS.
- DWP customers who have a specific communication barrier are able to use a variety of communication methods including home visits, phone calls and online services as well as written communications.
- Where necessary the Department provides British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters or non-spoken language interpreters, using contracted providers for customers who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired. We also use induction loops, email, lip reading, and textphones.