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Sign Language: Telecommunications

Cabinet Office written question – answered on 5th March 2019.

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Photo of Lord Bruce of Bennachie Lord Bruce of Bennachie Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Scotland)

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to offer the same access to public service information by video relay services for sign language users as currently offered in Scotland.

Photo of Lord Young of Cookham Lord Young of Cookham Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), Lords Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

The UK Government is committed to making sure that online government services are accessible to all citizens, and that they offer an appropriate alternative channels where citizens are not online. This includes British Sign Language as part of any reasonable adjustments needed to access services.

The Government Digital Service (“GDS”) provides guidance to help departments make their online services and information accessible. Accessibility is one of the standards against which the GDS assesses the development of central government digital services and our accompanying guidance makes it clear that people with disabilities have to be included in user research and usability testing.

The new Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No.2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 aim to improve access to online public services for citizens. This will include best practice advice enabling website owners to develop accessibility statements which meet the needs of their users. It will be for individual website owners to determine whether it is appropriate to provide additional content or additional mechanisms such as Video Relay Interpreting Systems, depending on the size of the organisation and the number and demographics of their users.

HM Revenue & Customs includes routes to Video Interpreting Service and British Sign Language captioned video resources on GOV.UK in support of those with additional needs. In January, the Department for Work and Pensions launched a Video Relay Service to make it easier for Deaf BSL citizens to call their helplines through a BSL video interpreter and, from April, BSL interpreted calls can be made to the department’s Personal Independence Payment (PIP) helpline.

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