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October 13, 2005

Cisco develops first contact centre for the deaf

From: - Haarlem,Netherlands - Oct 13, 2005

Video link provides easy access to sign-language interpreters

Ken Young, 13 Oct 2005

Cisco has teamed with language interpretation firm Significan't to develop SignVideo, the UK's first contact centre that offers deaf people easy access to sign-language interpreters.

The service provides immediate video access to qualified sign-language interpreters that are able to communicate with local authorities and other public sector organisations on the user's behalf.

The contact centre uses a converged voice and data network and Cisco's CallManager Video Telephony and IP Contact Centre technology.

It is expected that the service will be used for a range of tasks, including applying for parking permits and complaining about late collection of rubbish. It will also help to promote training and education opportunities, as well as link users with job centres and careers services.

Interpreters can work from the dedicated contact centre or remotely from home, which Cisco says is significantly reducing the cost of providing interpreting services.

There are fewer than 200 qualified British Sign Language interpreters on the national approved register. The UK's 70,000 sign-language users can wait up to two weeks for an interpreter, who will charge between £90 and £150 per session plus expenses.

Users connect to the video contact centre from a local authority site using an IP video terminal, and gain access to an interpreter equipped with a Cisco IP Phone and PC with VT Advantage camera, through which they can communicate with council officials.

The centre received a £500,000 grant from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to fund the IP infrastructure, pilot the service with London boroughs and cover the first year's running costs.

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