Deaf News: Sky trial Video Relay to allow Deaf customers to contact them in BSL

Posted on October 17, 2013

The broadcaster Sky has announced that it is trialling a service allowing people to contact their Accessible Customer Services team using British Sign Language (BSL).

From this week, Deaf customers who prefer to communicate in BSL can try out the service by visiting Sky’s Accessibility website.

From there they can be connected to a Video Relay service provided by a BSL interpreter based at a social enterprise called SignVideo.

The interpreter will connect with a member of the Accessible Customer Services team and facilitate the call, relaying information between the Sky agent and the customer.

The Video Relay service is available from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday and can be accessed from anywhere in the UK through SignVideo’s cloud based BSL LIVE service, using a customer’s webcam.

The trial period runs until January 1 2014 and the service is free to use. To try it out, go to this page:

The trial of Video Relay offers another choice for how customers can get in touch with Sky, in addition to methods such as email, textphone, live chat and telephone.

Sky is a major funder of the British Sign Language Broadcasting Trust, who produce the BSL Zone, which shows independent content presented in British Sign Language, broadcast on the Community Channel and Film4.

Laura Johnston, Sky’s Head of Department, Accessible Customer Services said: “We want to make it easy for customers with disabilities to get the most from Sky and our team is specially trained to support a wide range of disabilities.

“We’ve been doing this for 10 years and are excited to be trialling this new contact method for deaf customers. The service is enabled by SignVideo’s technology and we’re glad to be working with them and supporting a social enterprise that is run by BSL users, for BSL users”.

Jeff McWhinney, a deaf entrepreneur and chair of SignVideo, said: “The commitment by a leading broadcaster to open access for deaf British Sign Language (BSL) users via SignVideo is to be welcomed as a major step forward. Sky is to be congratulated, as their initiative will extend their commitment to exceptional service to include deaf people who use BSL.

Now we, deaf people, await other broadcasters, telecommunications providers and other organisations across the UK to follow Sky’s example by seeing what they can do to support BSL access, bringing their customer services into the 21st Century too.”

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