The service, which is celebrating its first anniversary has allowed up until now deaf people across Scotland to contact public sector groups, voluntary organisations, charities, social enterprises, co-operatives and individual volunteers.
The Scottish Government funded project is unique in the UK and is the first nationally funded public sector Video Relay Service (VRS).
Commenting, Linda said:
“It has been estimated there are around 6,500 people living in Scotland who use British Sign Language and they should be able to access services, same as everyone else.
“The Scottish Government just last year extended the pilot of this programme which covered all public sector services in Scotland.
“The fact it has been extended is great news, as such a worthwhile and invaluable service which gives BSL users equal access to public sector services allows them to enjoy greater participation in daily and public life.
John Downie, Director of Public Affairs, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SVCO) said:
“This is an important step forward for thousands of people in Scotland using British Sign Language who will find it easier to access the vital services and support provided by third sector organisations across the country, and for charities and other third sector organisations who will have a new way to communicate with deaf BSL users. This service will make a real difference to people’s lives by making sure they receive the information and support they need when they need it.”
Notes to Editors:
The service is free and can be used to contact all public and voluntary services in Scotland. It is not for emergency 999 calls. More information on how the BSL Video Relay Interpreting service works can be found on the contactSCOTLAND website www.contactscotland-bsl.org.
The service was initially piloted by NHS 24, before expanding to cover the rest of the public sector in Scotland in March 2015.
Following an initial six monthly review of the expanded service, it was agreed in September 2015 that the service had been successfully implemented and was starting to deliver real outcomes for the Deaf community. A further review on usage and potential improvements was conducted with the support of the Deaf Sector Partnership.
As a result, the pilot will move to full implementation when the current contract expires in September 2016. A procurement exercise to secure a new Scottish Government contract is underway and an Invitation to Tender will be issued shortly via the Public Contracts Scotland website.
BSL executive summary: http://contactscotland-bsl.org/exec-summary/