Ofcom to launch emergency video relay service requirement

The UK’s independent regulator for the communications industries has today (27 January) approved an application to provide an emergency video relay service.

An application made by Sign Language Interactions has been approved by Ofcom, leading to the requirement of an emergency relay service.

From 17 June 2022, all telephone and broadband companies will be required to offer a free, 24/7 video relay service for British Sign Language (BSL) users. This type of service allows BSL users to communication effectively for people who don’t know the language.

The introduction of this requirement will allow BSL users to contact essential services like the emergency services on 999 and 112.

The service works via a dedicated mobile app and website, connecting users by video call to an interpreter based in a location like a call centre. The interpreter then translates what the d/Deaf/hoh user is signing into spoken English for the hearing person they are contacting.

Telecoms firms can either deliver the service themselves or contact another organisation to do so, but the service used must be approved by Ofcom.

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