An innovative service is being launched in Scotland that will allow deaf people to contact vital public services and voluntary organizations in British Sign Language. contactSCOTLAND-BSL, a Video Relay Service, was launched on the 3rd October. The service will run for three years with the option for an additional fourth year.
contactSCOTLAND-BSL is the UK’s first national Video Relay Service and the launch represents an important step in improving access for deaf people to key public services.
Using the contactSCOTLAND-BSL service, deaf people in Scotland can contact over 130 public service organisations via a sign-language interpreter, including Scottish government departments, councils, GPs and hospitals. They can also call thousands of third sector and voluntary organizations.
contactSCOTLAND-BSL is delivered by a close partnership of InterpreterNow, Sign Language Interactions and nWise AB. The partnership was awarded the contract after an open tender competition following the delivery of a successful one year pilot.
The pilot scheme developed out of the NHS24 service, Scotland’s equivalent to England’s NHS 111. Recognising a need for telephone access via the online Video Relay Service to a wider range of services, the Scottish government commissioned the pilot which received over 60,000 calls from deaf people. It is expected that call numbers will substantially increase over the next three years.