The Patient Engagement team have been supporting Sign Language Interaction (SLI) with BSL 999 and their service partner Ofcom, for a national rollout of a service named ‘999 BSL UK Emergency Video Relay Service (EVRS)’. This service allows deaf patients and hearing individuals to communicate from separate locations and attain services they require.
A deaf person can use their various endpoints (smart phone via an app or, tablets / laptops web-based) to initiate a call to the emergency authority, through a remote British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter appearing on their screen. A hearing operator will then receive a call from the remote BSL interpreter, who then relays the conversation by seeing and communicating with the d/deaf individual on the screen. The national rollout date of this ‘new’ 999 BSL EVRS service was 17th June 2022.
There are no requirements or register to use this service, and it enables d/deaf communities to call when there is an emergency, and in need of assistance from, Ambulance, Police, Fire or Coastguard services. This service is available 24/7 and 365 days a year and will be free of charge for all users.
The difference between the current process of 999 Emergency SMS Text Relay when deaf patients are accessing ambulance services and the new service of Video Relay, is that the Text Relay service relies on written English messages to be exchange between a deaf and hearing user via a text relay advisor.