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Imagine you are Profoundly Deaf...

Imagine that you are profoundly Deaf: English is not your first language, you do not lip read and you may have a reading age of around 8 years. Now imagine how you would get advice about benefits, register a birth or death, access housing information or gain other information and advice about public services. This might sound difficult, especially when you are told to wait 2-6 weeks for an interpreter.

SignVideo by Significant, a Social Enterprise run by sign language users, uses the latest videophone technology to provide remote translation. This addresses the shortage of translators and provides a valuable service in Thanet and Maidstone Gateways.

Those requiring the service wait just minutes to be privately seen by trained Gateway staff. The videophone uses a remote interpreter to translate speech into British Sign Language and vica versa, eliminating the requirement of a translator on site. Time and money is saved and most importantly disability equality is promoted under the requirements of the 2003 Disability Discrimination Act. In Thanet a group of local Deaf people are working to increase awareness of this pioneering technology and explore the potential of it.

Kent County Council uses British Sign Language clips on its website to translate information on Sensory Services and the Kent Graduate Programme, amongst others. The potential of these videos is huge; they can be distributed on CDs or spread virally as an mp4 on mobile phones. These clips can be generated by as little as £150, a small price to pay for accessibility.

Please contact Jo Frazer jo.frazer@kent.gov.uk or Glyn Pallister glyn.pallister@kent.gov.uk to express an interest.

- Claire Matthews
- With special thanks to Jo Frazer - ASD

(image: A sign language interpreter, with thanks to Scott Ableman from Flickr for photo published under Creative Commons some rights reserved)
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