Video Relay Service
Video Relay Service is popular amongst the deaf communities in many countries. VRS was introduced and widely used in Sweden and the United States of America a long time before it was introduced in the UK; the service has been used in the UK since 2005. More providers of this service have developed over the years and are available either by making advance appointments or on demand. I personally prefer on-demand as it’s realistic; making a phone call is a decision usually made with immediate effect.
VRS works by connecting with a Sign Language Interpreter who will then contact the person I wish to speak to: a GP, supplier, council, bank etc.
VRS has developed considerably by working through website and mobile phone communication apps via Smartphones, Tablets or through a variety of new computer technologies. These are highly accessible and contact with a registered, qualified interpreter can be easily made through my iPad, iPhone, Android mobile, Tablets, PC and Macs.
My first language is British Sign Language and I require a Sign Language Interpreter to voice over information on my behalf to my customers; VRS gives me a sense of freedom to be able to make phone calls and I believe other deaf people who use this service will feel the same.
VRS interpreters are all in-house using a secure, confidential environment; this is cost effective as no delays occur due to a noisy environment and there are no travel expenses. Other positives include: no cancellation fees; conversations are ‘real-time’ allowing the deaf user and the recipient to communicate freely in both BSL and spoken language.
- On-Demand, no booking is required and calls are answered, on average, in less than 50 seconds;
- VRI, Video Remote Interpreting for face to face communication for when the client and hearing member of staff are present;
- VRS, Video Relay Service for deaf people who use BSL as their first language. Allows contact to organisations such as the council to enquire, for example, about a technical issue with their equipment or to confirm a social worker will be in the office before a visit thus avoiding a wasted journey; It is a bit like making a telephone call via textrelay/typetalk but using a live interpreter via video. A direct link can be put on the council web-site;
- Internet mobile devices, this service can be used via an app on the iOS/Android mobile devices as well as personal computers. Beware of excess mobile costs on monthly data plans on 3G/4G networks;
- Cost effective; you only pay for the minutes you’ve used;
You can watch my video in sign language with English voiceover: to use subtitles; closed captions and auto translate click on Settings icon (wheel icon on bar)
Hi, and welcome again to www.commaccess.net website where we share technology, ideas and networks to eliminate barriers. Today we’ll be talking about Video Relay Service (VRS): some of you may already know that the UK, America and Sweden have already set up a VRS service.
It is very important for deaf BSL users to be able to connect to other people: hearing people can do that easily on the phone, but it’s harder for us. It gives us the freedom and the independence to make our own calls. You can do it on a smart phone, on a tablet or a laptop; you just click on the app and the interpreter appears on the screen. You type in the phone number of the person you want to call with a brief explanation – it can be done on the laptop too – and then you are put through. Sorted! Remember its working hours so access to work government funds can be used to support the VRS service.
You can call HMRC for tax related Issues, or DWP for access to work, or other professionals to make appointments too. It is work focused, but you can also contact social workers and councils through a direct payment system, if you set up your own account. If you own your own business, you can set up your own account, why not?
Remember, when teleconferencing sometimes at work or at the office, and you need to call other countries abroad or other places in the UK – well, you can use teleconference calls by giving them a pin number: you give it to the interpreter, and they phone the voice number using the pin, then they can dial-in to the conference call, and you take part in the conference call in the same way everybody else does. It could be for an hour, two hours or three hours, it doesn’t matter about the length of time.
VRI is wonderful because if you’re encouraging someone to learn sign language, but they can’t sign yet, you could bring them along at work, for example, or to meetings, you can put a screen on (you can use an iPhone, smart phone or tablet), and you get a VRI interpreter on the screen, (but unlike VRS, they don’t make phone calls for you): VRI interpret for you, so as they speak they will sign to you, as you sign they will speak to the learner.
Also, and this is very important, we often get people coming to the door, knocking on the door and talking to us, but of course there is often no one around to help us. That’s where VRI Video Remote Interpreting can come in on your phone: you sign to them on the phone or your tablet or laptop, and then they voice over your signing for you.
Importantly, you can find VRS on websites such as the council; hospital and broadband providers; it is often under ‘Contact Us’ or ‘Accessibility’. So if you have a medical problem; or you’re ill; or you have a number of issues like the electricity going off; or you have plumbing issues and you need to contact the Water Board; you can contact them via their own website. The repair person then turns up at the door and it’s sorted.
It gives us the independence, freedom and equality that we want to have alongside hearing people. Finally, I know a lot of people love Facetime, it’s very popular. Well, via VRS you can become a member with them, then they offer you their service, then you have a login and a password, this is similar to VRS and VRI, but also you can have BSL direct, which means that if other deaf people have it, you can click on them, join up and have a conversation in sign language directly with them. Please share this in your countries and other regions, and thank you for watching.
IMPORTANT: You can use VRS using a tablet, laptop or smartphone. First you have to log in and type in your password, then you dial the phone number. Always remember it’s your responsibility to keep an eye on the time allocated to your budget. The Access to Work budget is for the VRS.
Once you have make contact e.g. HMRC, making appointments or anything relevant to your work. You dial the number and the VRS Interpreter appears on your screen with a head set on and ready to take your call. I briefly tell the Interpreter who I’m calling and their role. The call is made and we have the conversation and it’s that simple. Before I would have to rely on family and friends to make a call for me and I wouldn’t be fully involved.
Disability Student Allowance (DSA), the students could have a budget for VRS and but they need to get in contact with Social Services or the council. You could explain that your living Independently and for example if you receive a bill that’s too high and you need to make that call, you could VRS.
You could have an assessment and then you would be qualified for your Access to Work, your VRS then you would set up your Direct Payment. Or if you wish to set up your own business you would have to pay for the service yourself. That’s 4 different options. VRS is focused on BSL users, to make calls from there smart phones, laptops and smart tablets one can use 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi.
Request Video Relay's service and information