Oxfordshire County Council (OCC), SignVideo and Sign Lingual are very proud to announce that from 1st June 2015 members of the Deaf community can contact the Council’s Hearing Impairment Team in British Sign Language via a SignVideo ‘BSL Live’ link on the OCC website.
BSL Live is a secure and easy-to-use British Sign Language (BSL) online video interpreting service provided by SignVideo. By simply clicking on a BSL Live icon on the OCC website, Deaf BSL users will connect to a professional BSL interpreter within minutes and have their call relayed to the Hearing Impairment Team.
The Hearing Impairment Team is a countywide team of specially trained staff, offering advice and support on any type of hearing impairment. The Social Workers, Support Workers and Equipment Officers in the team have a wide experience of all issues relating to hearing impairment and are able to advise and support people of all ages with hearing problems, all of which can now be discussed in sign language through the BSL Live link Monday to Thursday, 8.30am to 5pm and Friday 8.30am to 4pm.
“I’m extremely pleased to be able to implement BSL Live into Oxfordshire’s Hearing Impairment Team service,” said Neelam Ahmed, Sensory Impairment Team Manager of Oxfordshire County Council. “This is an exciting and innovative way of working and will enable our service to be accessible to Deaf BSL users in their preferred language.”
The aim of BSL Live for the Hearing Impairment Team is a starting point to quickly gather initial information and either offer advice, signpost to another service, or progress to offering a home or office visit to support the Deaf person. Currently there are times when information received from the Deaf person through text message, fax or email is not clear and it is difficult to ascertain what type of support the Deaf person is requesting and how urgent the request is. The use of BSL Live will provide clearer communication and enable workers from the Hearing Impairment Team to quickly assess what type of support is being requested and how this can be provided.
The BSL Live service with the Hearing Impairment Team is currently for a one year trial period. If it is successful we will then consider implementing it on a permanent basis.
Jeff McWhinney, SignVideo’s Founder and Chair said: “Due to lack of access to telephony services in sign language, Deaf BSL users often find it very difficult to make that important initial contact. OCC are to be praised for identifying this barrier and making sure that Deaf BSL users are able to fully access the Council’s services in their preferred language. Councils across the UK should follow Oxfordshire’s example and offer a range of ways for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people to get in touch with them in order to access information and to receive support and advice, including those who use British Sign Language.”