DEAF SHOPPERS HAVE GREATER HIGHSTREET ACCESS THANKS TO SIGN SOLUTIONS
Pilot Scheme launched in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire.
Sign Solutions, an organisation that specialises in Sign Language interpretation for Deaf people, has launched their latest initiative on the high streets of Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. The company provides an online app that affords Deaf shoppers the ability to immediately communicate in British Sign Language, with shop assistants.
Funding for the initiative has been provided by the Bromsgrove District Council who are committed to helping Deaf people interact with a range of high street outlets including shops, pubs, solicitors and estate agents.
The app, which can be used on phones, tablets and computers, was launched on Wednesday, 6th March 2019, at the popular coffee shop ‘Bayleys of Bromsgrove’ where owner and manager, Jack Bayley, and Clare Vale, Managing Director of Sign Solutions, demonstrated the system to members of the Council and BBC media.
In attendance was Cllr Karen May, the Council’s portfolio-holder for Economic Development, who said: “There’s always more reasons to shop in Bromsgrove as the town continues to grow and develop. This latest initiative means that even more people can access our wonderful array of shops, cafes, restaurants and service providers”.
Bromsgrove District Council is providing funding that will allow retailers to sign up to an initial 12-month pilot scheme. The only time a retailer incurs a cost is when the service is used, and a Sign Language interpreter interprets, enabling the customer and the trader to communicate.
Deaf visitors can use the app on their phone or tablet, or a device installed by the outlet. The app launches an immediate call to an interpreter who can see the service user. The Deaf person’s British Sign Language is then translated into English to be understood by the retailer.
Sign Solutions’ Managing Director, Clare Vale said:
“The aim of Sign Solutions, over the last 20 years, has been to enable Deaf people to have equal access to all products, services and support. We are augmenting this through the introduction of our video interpreting service. This access is available
immediately and on-demand for short and emergent communication requirements.
As we were already providing our ‘InterpretersLive!’ video service to retailers online, enabling customers who use BSL to connect over the phone via an interpreter, it seemed a natural progression to help those same retailers communicate with customers in person. Through this high street launch we are able to introduce the concept to other retailers and make shopping and dining experiences accessible to all.
I am delighted that this has been picked up by Bromsgrove District Council, as I believe it will be a huge benefit to the town.”
Sign Solutions are currently working with retail consortiums, Business Improvement Districts (BIDS), Town Centre Managers and Local Authorities.
Outlets that have signed up to the pilot programme will display a window sticker that shows Deaf people that they are an accessible retailer. The pilot is focused on the high street and market area of Bromsgrove with plans to expand the project soon.
So far 15 retailers have already signed up to the pilot and it is expected that many more will follow their example over the coming months. With a range of retailers already in the process of rolling out the app in Bromsgrove, it is hoped that other towns and cities will also recognise the benefits of the system and follow this great initiative.