NWAS 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 launched at the end of June.
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. Text Relay calls typically can take longer than conventional calls as only one person speaks / types at a time – whereas the Video Relay Service exchanges between the d/deaf and hearing user and are designed to be as free-flowing as possible and near real-time.