The UK’s first-ever Emergency Video Relay Service for British Sign Language (BSL) was launched in June 2022.
It enables BSL users to contact the emergency services through a BSL interpreter.
How does it work?
Users can download the app, available on iOS or Android, or access the service via the 999 BSL web platform.
When you make an emergency video call on the app, you’re put through to a BSL interpreter who takes key information from you. This will include things like what the emergency is, where it is and who is affected. It’s important to try to remain calm and answer the questions you’re asked as well as you can.
The interpreter is then connected to the relevant emergency control room, such as Staffordshire and West Midlands Fire Control. The interpreter speaks to the control room, relays the information you’ve provided and can ask you any further questions they might have and get the answers from you.
If you’ve given permission, they can also get your location from the app, to help them quickly identify where you are.
Once the emergency control room has all the information they need, they’ll mobilise the relevant emergency response.
When to use it?
The 999 BSL service is for emergency situations ONLY. Examples include a fire, someone seriously hurt, lives at risk or a serious offence that’s happening right now or has just been committed.
For less urgent situations, please call Police 101 (wherever possible) or NHS111 through SignVideo, as appropriate.