September 29th, 2016

Minister inspired by visit to sign language firm

Minister inspired by visit to sign language firm Minister inspired by visit to sign language firm
Updated: 10:15 am, May 07, 2015

VISITING an Alvechurch company has inspired a Government minister to do more for deaf people.

Ed Vaizey, the Minister for Digital Economy, said the Government needed to lead the way in providing better communication services for the deaf community after looking at the work Sign Solutions do.

Mr Vaizey visited the independent sign language interpreting agency to look at its video relay system InterpretersLive.

The technology allows deaf people to access an interpretation service via video link from their computer, tablet or smartphone and means they can receive the same level of communication as people who can hear.

The service is currently being used by big companies such as Virgin.

Mr Vaizey said members of the British sign language community found it difficult to access a lot of services which many people took for granted and the Government was continuing to encourage industries to adopt this type of technology.

“Things like ringing your telephone company, your electricity company, is something you and I take for granted, and one way they can access it is having a sign language interpreter on the screen.” he said.

“We have had some success with some companies adopting it, but one of the things which stops them from adopting it is they think it is going to be expensive. But actually, what we have seen with BT being the first to do it, they found out the cost is very very low.”

He added there was always the potential to bring in legislation to force companies to use the service.

“I also think Government has a job to do, we should obviously have this service available if we want people to interact with Government. And government is now becoming more and more of a digital service. But you need someone maybe to talk you through the process.

“It would be a really good thing if government could do it as well, that is one of my action points.”

Sean Nicholson, CEO of Sign Solutions, said young people in particular expected the technology and could not understand why it was not available.

“Government services have one of the biggest customer groups so they clearly need to be accessible, and it relates if you are talking to a corporate and they say well the Government aren’t doing it, why should we do it?

“Deaf people aren’t alone, they have family, children and friends. Those people are going to gravitate towards a company they see as being accessible and acting in a socially responsible way.”