UK welfare and pension department trials new video technology for British Sign Language users

By on 19/02/2016
DWP permanent secretary Robert Devereux: “One of my aims as permanent secretary is to champion diversity and inclusion and I want to make sure we are continually removing barriers to our services."

The UK government department responsible for welfare and pension policy is piloting a new video technology to enable deaf and hard of hearing citizens to contact it more easily.

The Video Relay Service lets British Sign Language users communicate with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) via a sign language interpreter.

Customers can use the internet to connect to a video interpreter, who will call the desired department and translate the caller’s sign language for the DWP civil servant on the other end of the phone line.

All customers need to have is a webcam, a working internet connection and a PC, smartphone or tablet with the latest version of Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Safari for Mac users.

The pilot is running in call centres for Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Access to Work enquiry lines and hearing loss advisers.

The project follows feedback the department received from deaf people and the British Deaf Association and UK Council on Deafness.

DWP permanent secretary Robert Devereux said: “This is the right approach for the civil service for the future.

“Delivering improved services to citizens using new technology in a way that fits with their lives.

“One of my aims as permanent secretary is to champion diversity and inclusion and I want to make sure we are continually removing barriers to our services.”

Writing in his blog, he added: “So this pilot is a great example of what we are doing to be more inclusive.”

The pilot started in January and has been scheduled to run over a period of six months.

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See also:

Interview: Sir David Nicholson, Former Chief Executive, National Health Service, UK

How can you leverage the power of mobile Apps across the public sector?

It doesn’t have to be this way: Dr. Nasser Siabi’s Vision

 

About Winnie Agbonlahor

Winnie is news editor of Global Government Forum. She previously reported for Civil Service World - the trade magazine for senior UK government officials. Originally from Germany, Winnie first came to the UK in 2006 to study a BA in Journalism & Russian at the University of Sheffield. She is bilingual in English and German, and, after spending an academic year abroad in Russia and reporting for the Moscow Times, Winnie also speaks Russian fluently.

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