Emergency video relay services – consultation on additional proposals

16 February 2021

We have today published a consultation on our proposals for providing deaf people with access to video relay services to help them make calls to the emergency services.

Video relay services are a way of enabling people who use British Sign Language (BSL) to communicate effectively with people who don’t use BSL.

The deaf user makes a video call by using a connected device to call a BSL interpreter in a call centre. The interpreter translates what the deaf user is signing into spoken English for the emergency services to hear, and signs what the emergency services are saying to the deaf user.

We have previously consulted on plans to require communications providers to offer a free, 24/7 video relay service for BSL users who need to call the emergency services.

We are now consulting on some additions to the rules proposed. This includes requiring providers to either deliver the video relay service themselves or contract another organisation to do so. We are also proposing that any data that customers use to make the video call is ‘zero rated’ and therefore the service remains free for the user – just as other emergency calls are.

We invite responses to the consultation by 30 March 2021 and will confirm our decisions this summer.