DWP offers video sign language service for Universal Credit claimants

Relay service is available via browser or downloading app

Credit: Sebastian Gollnow/DPA/PA Images

Deaf citizens wishing to register for Universal Credit can now use a video service to make claims using British Sign Language (BSL).

The service operates on a “video relay” basis, with claimants able to use their tablet, smartphone, or computer to make video calls to an interpreter, who will then relay information – in audio form – to a member of staff from the Department for Work and Pensions. 

The interpreter will then take what the DWP claims processor says and translate it into BSL for the claimant. DWP staff will not be able to see either the claimant or the interpreter, but will simply receive a phone call, during which they will “allow additional time for translation into BSL”.

The service is available by clicking a hyperlink on GOV.UK or by downloading an app from SignVideo. 

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The department claimed that the new video translation service is “part of a package of measures put in place to provide quicker and easier access to benefits during the coronavirus outbreak”. 

The number of new claims for Universal Credit has skyrocketed since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and is scarcely slowing down, with as many as 200,000 people each week still registering for the benefit. The DWP said that there are 87,000 deaf BSL users in the UK who could potentially benefit from the video service.

Minister for disabled people, health and work, Justin Tomlinson said: “With more than 1.4 million people accessing Universal Credit in these unprecedented times, this technology will provide vital and equal accessibility for deaf people and those with hearing loss.”


Sam Trendall

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