Statement: Emergency video relay
- Start: 16 February 2021
- Status: Closed
- End: 30 March 2021
Statement published 22 June 2021
We want to make sure disabled people can easily contact 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 BSL user makes a video call using a connected device to call an interpreter in a call centre. The interpreter translates what the deaf user is signing into spoken English for the hearing person to hear, and signs what the hearing person is saying to the deaf user.
In December 2019, we published a proposal to require communications providers to make available a free, 24/7 video relay service for deaf BSL users, approved by Ofcom, to enable them to communicate with the emergency services via a dedicated app and website. Our proposal was part of a package of measures we introduced in response to changes in European rules, to protect customers and help make sure they get a fair deal. It reflected the principle that disabled people should have equivalent access to emergency communications.
The proposals in our initial consultation received broad support, but responses raised some specific points which were the subject of further consultation (PDF, 518.3 KB) in February 2021.
This statement sets out our decision to require the provision of an emergency video relay service, implemented through the UK telecoms regulations (the General Conditions). This new requirement will sit alongside, and be in addition to, the existing requirements for emergency text relay and emergency SMS, both of which are being retained.