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  • Writer's pictureHealthwatch Wokingham

Video 999 service launched for BSL users

Video calls with a British Sign Language interpreter are now available for Deaf people seeking help in an emergency.

Deaf people in Wokingham Borough who communicate via British Sign Language will now be able to contact emergency services via a video interpreter. On 17 June, the national 999 BSL emergency Video Relay Service was launched, to improve on text services, which can be more time consuming. It is free to use and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. How to use the service:

  • Download the 999 BSL app for Android or Iphones

  • Or go to the website at

  • Click the red button for Police, Ambulance, Fire or Coastguard, in an emergency

  • You will be connected via video to a BSL interpreter who will communicate between you and a 999 operator

  • You don't have to pre-register first like you do with the 999 text service

  • Mark Atkinson, chief executive of the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID), welcomed the initiative.

"Anyone needing the emergency services is facing a difficult, distressing and potentially life-threatening situation. Everyone must have timely and easy access to the emergency services and it’s brilliant news that Deaf people will now have equal access to 999 in their first language."



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