A Worcestershire language and learning business has partnered with Watford-based video meetings company, StarLeaf, to improve remote communication for deaf people.
Sign Solutions, a specialist provider of British Sign Language [BSL] interpreting services based in Alvechurch, has joined forces with StarLeaf to create InterpretersLive!, a platform that allows any user to request a BSL interpreter on demand or pre-booked through the StarLeaf app.
InterpretersLive! is currently being used by the NHS and other organisations across the UK and can be accessed on any desktop or mobile device. Clicking a link on an InterpretersLive! customer website or dialling InterpretersLive! via the StarLeaf app allows users to have a call between the Deaf person, a BSL interpreter and the person they need to speak with in real time.
Sign Solutions has seen a 250 per cent increase in uptake of the InterpretersLive! service since the start of lockdown, and the company believes these statistics expose the urgent need for better accessibility in the technology underpinning everyday activity.
Clare Vale, managing director of Sign Solutions, said: “The deaf community has always faced barriers in accessing information and communication, and the current pandemic has only made this harder. With many people having to stay at home to work, study and access important services virtually, keeping conversations inclusive for deaf people can be near impossible if the appropriate interpreting facilities aren’t in place.
“Our InterpretersLive! platform, in partnership with StarLeaf, provides an on-demand service that delivers an immediate solution to the problem for businesses and organisations, and allows deaf individuals to access information and communicate remotely with ease.”
Will MacDonald, chief technology officer and co-founder at StarLeaf, said: “Video is at the centre of our daily communication right now, and it’s set to continue that way as the world navigates the coronavirus crisis.
“Organisations must adapt in order to thrive. Now is the time to adopt accessible remote communication practices that work for everyone. We’re proud that StarLeaf can help solve the unfair communication challenges that many deaf users face every day.”
Kristina Barrick, head of digital influencing at disability equality charity, Scope, added: “Inaccessible video call software means disabled people are excluded now more than ever, as video has become our link to the outside world during lockdown. Tech companies have the power to change that, and it’s fantastic to see this innovation from StarLeaf and Sign Solutions breaking down the barriers disabled people face in accessing events, meetings, job interviews and social engagements online.
“Being able to get a BSL interpreter at the click of a button just shows there are no limits and no excuses when it comes to inclusion. We hope more businesses will follow StarLeaf’s lead by innovating for a more inclusive society.”