Scottish Government provides funds for sign language video relay service to become available to charities and other groups
A Scottish interpreting service that helps deaf people access public services through video links is being extended to non-government bodies.
On the first anniversary of its launch, contactScotland is being made available to community groups, voluntary organisations, charities, social enterprises, cooperatives and individual volunteers.
It is backed by funds from the Scottish Government, using British Sign Language and is claimed to be the first nationally funded public sector video relay service.
Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health, Jamie Hepburn, said: “The service is going from strength to strength. There has been a sustained increase in the uptake of the service with calls averaging 100 per week. Now it’s rolling out to the voluntary sector and breaking down even more of the barriers that some deaf people face when trying to get in contact with their local services.
“For the majority of people who rely on sign language to communicate, they need to arrange to have someone to call on their behalf. But this means deaf people can video call an interpreter at contactSCOTLAND directly who will then speak to the relevant public or third sector organisation and relays the conversation for the deaf person.”
contactSCOTLAND was initially piloted by NHS 24, Scotland's health information and self-care advice service, before its launch to the rest of the country's public sector in March of last year. A review after the first six months concluded that it was producing significant benefits for deaf people, and plans began for the pilot to go to full implementation in September of this year.
The Scottish Government plans to issue an invitation to tender for the service soon.
Image from Scottish Government, Open Government Licence