County Durham residents who use British Sign Language (BSL) can now access the support of an interpreter to contact their local council.
Following a successful trial, Durham County Council is working in partnership with SignVideo to connect deaf or hard of hearing residents to an interpreter, who will provide live access to customer services.
Interpreters will be able to relay any queries or issues to council teams and provide a response as part of the video call.
Residents can access the service by visiting www.durham.gov.uk/bsl and clicking on a link to talk to an ‘Online British Sign Language interpreter’. Once connected, the interpreter will confirm that they want to contact the council before calling the customer services team.
The service is available from 8.30am until 5pm Monday to Thursday, and from 8.30am until 4.30pm on Fridays.
Cllr Alan Shield, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for equality and inclusion, said: “We are committed to making information as accessible and inclusive as possible for all residents in County Durham. By adapting to the needs of our users, we can provide the best possible service.
“Following a successful trial, we look forward to providing additional support to residents who are hard of hearing and successfully engaging with even more residents.”
In order to use the video relay service, residents need to make sure they can access the internet on their device and that it has video capability. It should also be: an Apple mobile device running iOS 11 or above; an Android device running Android 4.4 or above; or a desktop or laptop computer with the latest version of Google Chrome or Firefox.
Free WiFi is available to residents in council libraries should they not have access at home. People without a device can also access the service through the council’s Customer Access Points. More information is available at www.durham.gov.uk/customeraccesspoints.
If residents need technical support, they can contact [email protected] or call 020 3388 0771.
For more information on the support available for people with a hearing loss, visit www.durham.gov.uk/sensorysupportteam.