NI Council Introduces Digital Sign Language System

Communication will hopefully become a little easier for deaf residents and visitors to the North Coast, thanks to a new digital sign language system.

The scheme is currently being piloted at offices in Ballycastle, Ballymoney, Coleraine and Limavady in a bid to allow deaf people to independently communicate via a British Sign Language interpreter in real time on a video relay system.

Leading the way with the new initiative, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council is hoping to improve the eqality and ease with which deaf people communicate across their services.

Working closely with SignVideo, Deaf British Sign Language (BSL) users living or visiting the area can use the Video Relay Interpreting Service (VRS). This allows them to video call free of charge via a link on the council website, connecting them with a BSL interpreter who relays the conversation in real time.

The facility is also available remotely in the form of Video Remote Interpreting (VRI). This means that deaf people can have a face-to-face conversation with a hearing person, such as a council officer, relayed by a BSL interpreter.

A number of BSL videos have also been produced with Deafblind UK to make it easier for deaf people to access services online. These provide guidance and support to those who want to use council services such as bin collections, recycling, leisure services and events.

Welcoming the initiative, the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council Councillor Sean Bateson said: "We're delighted to be working with SignVideo to offer this invaluable interpreting service. Ultimately we want to make communication easy for everyone and this is certainly a very positive step in ensuring we achieve this. It places equality at the centre of customer services for residents and visitors alike."

The pilot will run for 12 months, during which the council will monitor uptake and gather feedback.

Click here for further information and to begin using the service.


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