Statement: Emergency video relay – approval of Sign Language Interactions' service

Published: 17 November 2021
Consultation closes: 17 December 2021
Status: Closed (statement published)

Statement published 27 January 2022

Video relay services are a way of enabling people who use British Sign Language (BSL) to communicate effectively using telecoms services with people who do not use BSL. The deaf BSL user makes a video call using a connected device to call a hearing person via an interpreter in a location such as 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 June 2021, we published our decision to require communications providers to provide, or contract to provide, a free 24/7 emergency video relay service approved by Ofcom. We also set out the criteria that would need to be met in order for an emergency video relay service to be approved.

We invited formal applications for approval of a service by 1 October 2021.

Taking into account Sign Language Interactions’ (SLI) formal application (including further submissions) and all the responses received to the consultation, we have decided to approve SLI's proposed service for the purposes of General Condition C5.

The approval will take effect on 27 January 2022 and will remain in place unless we withdraw it. While we consider that SLI's proposed service meets the approval criteria, we will monitor the performance of the service once it is in operation. We may, at any time, by notification in writing to the service provider, withdraw our approval where we consider that the service provider no longer meets the approval criteria.

Update 11 February 2022 – BT's formal proposal

Since we published this statement, BT has formally proposed that it wholesales access to Sign Language Interactions’ emergency video relay service, subject to agreeing terms with SLI. You can read BT's briefing (PDF, 124.6 KB) in full.

Contact information

Emergency video relay team
Riverside House
2A Southwark Bridge Road
London SE1 9HA
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