Sign Language service launched to mark Deaf Awareness Week

Hounslow Council has launched a new British Sign Language (BSL) service to make accessing Council services easier for residents who are deaf and hard of hearing.

Published: Friday, 7th May 2021

BSL

Working with SignLive, the Council will pilot an online BSL interpretation service that residents can use to contact the council via telephone, attend meetings via video conferencing platforms such as Zoom or communicate face-to-face when Covid restrictions allow.

Initially the SignLive service will be offered as a pilot within Adult Social Care and the Community Support Hub. The Council hopes to extend the free service to other departments once the pilot is complete.

The deaf and hard of hearing community face many communication barriers which can increase isolation and impact mental health. The Council hopes the new service will remove a barrier and encourage further changes in the borough.

The Council is launching the new service during Deaf Awareness Week, which is an annual event to raise awareness of deafness and hearing loss. It aims to celebrate exceptional individuals and showcase what can be done to champion inclusivity and be more deaf-friendly.

Councillor Candice Atterton, cabinet member for Adults, Social Care and Health, said:

“I’m delighted to announce the new Sign Language service which we hope will improve the accessibility of our services for those who are deaf and hard of hearing.

“During Deaf Awareness Week, I want to say that we recognise the barriers that many deaf and hard of hearing people face across society, and we want you to know that Hounslow Council is on your side and determined to address these obstacles.

“The new SignLive service is a step in the right direction, but there is clearly much more to do. Our Digital Strategy, launched last year, sets out an ambitious programme of work to tackle digital exclusion and deliver services in a way everyone can easily access. We also hope the example of the SignLive service will inspire other organisations and businesses to improve the accessibility of their services.”

How to access SignLive

The new service can be accessed via an app on your mobile, tablet or via the web on your laptop. Watch this BSL video which outlines how to access, register and use the service.

After registering once, you will be able to contact the Council as well as many other organisations, utilities and customer service departments via the SignLive Community Directory.

Read more about the service and how the two pilot departments can help here.

SignLive enables residents to contact ASC and the Hub in several ways:

  • a Video Relay Service for telephone calls
  • a Video Conferencing Service for online meetings and video calls via platforms such as Zoom or MS Teams
  • a Video Remote Interpretation Service for face-to-face meetings (this will launch when Covid-19 restrictions are no longer in place).
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