SALT LAKE CITY – (Jan. 28, 2022) – Today, Sorenson Communications announced another milestone in communication inclusion for Deaf citizens in the United Kingdom. On Thursday, the U.K.’s Office of Communications (Ofcom) approved Sign Language Interactions (SLi) as the official provider for the U.K.’s new Emergency 999 Video Relay Service (VRS). SLi is a Sorenson, United Kingdom-based company.
“Ofcom’s approval of the first VRS-accessible emergency service in the U.K. is another communication breakthrough for the British Sign Language (BSL) community,” said Sorenson Communications CEO Jorge Rodriguez. “We celebrate this fantastic news and are honored to be chosen as the supplier of these critical services as we continue our global expansion.”
Crisis and emergency situations require clear and reliable communication. VRS enables Deaf and hearing callers to communicate in real time through a high-speed internet connection and device. Calls are routed through remote sign language interpreters, fluent in both signed and spoken language – who “relay” the messages between the two parties. Callers communicate in their natural language – signed or spoken – and the real-time communication flows naturally.
“We are pleased to continue bridging gaps and strengthening BSL access for the Deaf community. Getting to this point was a journey of collaboration and is timely with Ofcom’s new requirement that VRS emergency services be made generally available,” said Andrew Dewey, CEO of SLi. “We urge other businesses and services to become more inclusive with accessible services for diverse communities.”
Beginning June 17, 2022, telephone and broadband companies in the U.K. must provide no-cost 24/7 VRS for BSL callers to contact 999 or its pan-European equivalent, 112. These companies may implement this requirement on their own or pay another company to do so, although the service must be approved by Ofcom.
Read Ofcom’s statement regarding approving SLi as the official provider of 999 VRS.
Watch SLi’s British Sign Language video above about the announcement.