The service, which is celebrating its first anniversary, allows Deaf people across Scotland to contact public sector services using sign language. This service is now being extended to community groups, voluntary organisations, charities, social enterprises, co-operatives and individual volunteers.
Commenting, Mark McDonald said:
“I’m delighted that deaf people in Aberdeen and across Scotland will be able to benefit from this expansion.
“There are estimated to be around 6,500 people living in Scotland who use British Sign Language and these people deserve to have the same access to services as everyone else.
“Last year, the Scottish Government extended the pilot of this programme to cover all public sector services in Scotland – so people could contact their local council, doctor’s surgery, NHS 24, the police or us at the Scottish Government, among others.
“This is a fantastic project and gives BSL users equal access to public sector services, allowing them to enjoy greater participation in daily and public life.”
John Downie, Director of Public Affairs, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) 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/