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September 30, 2005

Call To Support Deaf Phone Service

From: Community Newswire - UK - Sep 30, 2005

By Ben Padley, Community Newswire
TECHNOLOGY Deaf London, 30/9/2005, 10:41am

A national charity for deaf people has today called on the telecoms industry to make British Sign Language services available on telephone systems across the country.

The RNID, Royal National Institute for the Deaf, wants the 50,000 people in the UK who use sign language to be able to have video telephony access to interpreters who can then relay their messages to people with hearing.

The charity has been running and funding a video service but now wants the industry to take the lead and follow an example set in the US where a similar service is already available.

There a video relay service has been adopted universally and the service is available 24 hours a day at the same price as a normal phone call.

Guido Gybels, of the RNID, said: "The BSL relay service has the ability to transform lives, yet there is no regulatory or industry led initiative to ensure the service realises its full potential. It is time this situation changed.

"We applaud the level of access to video relay that sign language users have in the United States.

"We urge Ofcom and the telecoms industry to rise to the challenge and ensure BSL users have the same level of access."

The charity claims that BSL users often have to wait up to six weeks to access to a BSL interpreter in order to have face-to-face conversations with hearing people.

It says this enhances barriers that exist for deaf and hard of hearing people and is not acceptable in a world where broadband is increasingly used in homes.

It's own service is available on Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm but does not provide access to the emergency services.

The RNID is the largest charity representing the needs of the nine million deaf and hard of hearing people in the UK. To find out more visit

© 2005 The Press Association