Our Story 2017-06-24T18:02:28+00:00

Our Story

So what do SignVideo do?

We are a Video Relay Services and Video Remote Interpreting provider in the UK. We provide British Sign Language (BSL) video interpreting services to enable communication between the community of over 150,000 deaf BSL users in the UK and hearing people. Our relay service allows users to make and receive BSL interpreted video calls so that they can effectively and effortlessly communicate with each other. This happens through a professional video interpreter who relays the call between BSL and English.  This service is available instantly on tablets, smartphones, computers and laptops via apps and software. We are also a Video Remote Interpreting provider, offering BSL video interpretation on site, when two people are co-located.


Our BSL video interpretation solution demolishes existing barriers facing service providers, businesses, work colleagues and family wanting to hold conversations with deaf BSL-using people.  In addition, our service has reduced the previous waiting time of three to six weeks for a BSL interpreter to be available, down to an average of thirty seconds or less.

Our journey to “communicating equality”

Born in 2004, SignVideo is led by Jeff McWhinney, a well-known deaf entrepreneur who fights tirelessly for equality of the deaf and hearing community. Today, we are a predominantly deaf-led organisation providing VRS solutions to the government, NHS, councils, UK banks, telecommunications providers, helplines and many other types of organisations. We not only pioneered this revolutionary communications solution in the UK but now lead the way as a video relay and video remote interpreting provider, in bringing access and inclusion to the BSL community. With a strong presence in the VRS and VRI market, we pride ourselves on being a highly reputable provider. Our video call centres and remote interpreters conduct over 20,000 BSL interpreted video calls a year. We underpin our service with experienced, fully qualified and registered BSL interpreters, Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and ISO 9001, 14001 and 27001 quality certifications.


“Communicating equality” to us also means being sensitive to our user group and ensuring we are inclusive and politically correct. It’s often in innocence that people use inappropriate terms when talking about the deaf BSL community, but this can cause serious offence. We strongly advocate the raising of awareness within our partners and alliances about the BSL community and its core values so that they can directly interact with each other and build positive, long lasting relationships. For example, we do not encourage the use of medical-based terminology such as ‘hearing impaired’ or ‘disabled’, or terms like “help”, when in fact it is equality that is needed, not help as the assistance also applies to people who hear as well as deaf people enabling them to communicate with the latter. We believe using the appropriate words to talk about deaf customers will result in them feeling that the partner really ‘understand’ them and are treating them with respect. We have even produced a guide for our partners to use when they launch our SignVideo service – click here to download it.


Read more below about some of the milestones that have helped us to get to this great position.

    • 24th June 2005, first video interpreted call made on the new SignVideo Contact Centre platform
    • Partnership agreement signed with Cisco Systems for the establishment of a video contact centre
    • Partnership agreement signed with Tandberg Solutions for supply of videoconferencing units
    • Secured £500k from the e-Innovations in partnership with the Greater London Authority
    • Islington becomes the first public service to offer SignVideo on-line interpreting services to its residents from three locations in the borough
    • BT Government Computing – BT awards for innovation. Best Project, Government to Citizen 2006
    • Managing Director, Jeff McWhinney, recognised for his dedication and work here in becoming the runner up of the Guardian Public Servant of the Year award
    • 18 public authorities in the Greater London area signed up to SignVideo interpreting services
    • 500 video conferencing units distributed across the UK and Europe
    • British Female Inventors and Innovators Award – Innovative Business Diamond winner
    • European Union Women Inventors and Innovators Network 2007 – Information and Communication Technology Special Award (to co-director Brigitte Francois for SignVideo)
    • Awarded a contract by the DWP for BSL/English video interpreting services
    • First BSL interpreting services to achieve quality assurance ISO9001:2008 certification
    • Bristol City Council becomes the first public service outside London to offer SignVideo online interpreting services
    • First Deaf person starts to use SignVideo online video interpreting services under the Access to Work scheme from their place of work
    • First SignVideo online video interpreting session live at the Council of Europe session in Austria
    • Placed no. 39 in the Royal Bank of Scotland’s Social Enterprise ‘Top 100 For Growth’ in 2009/2010
    • Shetland Islands becomes the first Scottish public services to offer SignVideo online interpreting services to its residents immediately saving up to 90% in BSL interpreting costs
    • Manchester City Council becomes the largest public authority to offer SignVideo services
    • SignVideo online interpreting services supplied live at the European Parliament and the European Union
    • Signed a partnership agreement with South Korea to supply iSV videophones
    • Broke through to the RBS top 100 fast growing social enterprises at number 39
    • Delivered 7,062 individual interpreting sessions
    • Introduction of SignVideo BSL Direct Live
    • 75,000 minute SignVideo call received
    • Winner National Customer Service Awards for Innovation – Jointly with Sutton Council: “Web Interpretation Interface for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing”
    • First non-UK Deaf customer who uses BSL starts to use SignVideo from an overseas base
    • British Telecom the first corporate to launch SignVideo Web Access offering its customers live access to its call centre in BSL via SignVideo BSL LIVE plug-in on its website
    • Placed 24th in the RBS Top 100 fast growing social enterprises with a growth of 94%
    • Delivered 9,203 individual interpreting sessions
    • Runners up in the Signature’s Organisation of the Year Award
    • SignVideo’s service continues to grow by forming partnerships with DeafAction and Lexicon
    • SignVideo app launched on Android for smartphones and tablets
      • Selected by Goldman Sachs/UCL as one of 30 SMEs earmarked for rapid growth training
      • Delivered 10,298 individual interpreting sessions
      • Lloyds TSB becomes the first bank to offer its customers live access to its call centre in BSL via SignVideo BSL LIVE plug-in on its website
      • First Deaf person to start using SignVideo online interpreting services as part of one’s own Direct Payment scheme
      • SignVideo now accessible through iPhones and iPads – now moving truly into the mobile working era.
    • SignVideo attracts public attention as statistics show a significant 55% increase in number of calls answered between 1st May 2013 and 30th April 2014
    • SignVideo became the first Video Relay Services provider in the UK to achieve BS27001
    • We started working with large UK brands like Barclays bank and BSkyB
    • We started working with more UK councils like Derby City Council, Lewisham Council, Islington Council and The Whittingdon Health Trust
    • SignVideo celebrates its 10th anniversary of delivering professional online sign language interpreting services nationally and internationally
    • SignVideo becomes one of the key partners of the INSIGN project which looks at how to support European institutions like the EU, the European Commission, and the European Court of Human Rights to communicate with Deaf and HoH European citizens.
    • We launched the first Citizen Advice Bureau in the UK – Milton Keynes
    • We launched the First Police Non Emergency service – Northamptonshire Police
    • We launched the first educational body – Scottish Qualification Authority
    • We launched the first car dealership – Arnold Clark
    • We started working with The Equality & Human Rights Commission and The Parliamentary & Health Ombudsman