Universal Credit claimants can now access British Sign Language interpreters as part of a free video relay service.
The service can be used to help make a new claim or for those already claiming Universal Credit and supports a package of measures put in place to provide quicker and easier access to benefits during the Coronavirus outbreak.
As a move to support many of the 87,000 deaf BSL users currently living in the UK, the video relay service has been provided by the Department for Work and Pensions.
The Video Relay Service (VRS), allows users to make BSL interpreted video calls via their tablet, smartphone, computer or laptop.
A professional interpreter then relays the call in English to a member of DWP staff.
Minister for disabled people, health and work, Justin Tomlinson commented: “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.”
Adding: “It is fantastic to see concern for increasing accessibility going right to the top and I am delighted that we are championing this cause for people accessing the welfare safety net.”
The service, which is already available for people accessing other disability benefits and the Access to Work scheme, will be available through GOV.UK.
DWP staff won’t see the caller or the interpreter; but will receive a phone call from the interpreter who will translate into BSL. There is no need to book the service in advance which allows the conversation to take place in real time.