Belfast first council in NI to introduce dedicated service for Deaf community
Belfast has become the first council in Northern Ireland to provide a dedicated sign language service for Deaf residents and visitors.
The pilot scheme, being introduced at three Belfast City Council venues, will allow Deaf people to independently communicate with hearing people via a British Sign Language interpreter in real time, on a video relay system.
The SignVideo facility will be available in the Council’s Cecil Ward Building, at Belfast Zoo and Olympia Leisure Centre.
Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Deirdre Hargey said: “This is another positive step by the council to ensure we are meeting the needs of all users, and putting equality at the heart of our customer service.
“Ensuring services are as inclusive and accessible for everyone is a key strand of our wider language strategy, and I’m delighted that we are piloting this new initiative. I hope that it proves useful for our Deaf community and Council will continue to review how it communicates with residents and visitors across the city.”
The initiative has come about as part of Council’s language strategy, and the pilot scheme is being rolled out in line with Council’s review of how residents and users access services, as part of its customer focus programme.
The pilot SignVideo scheme will run for a period of 12 months and Council will monitor uptake and gather feedback during that time.
Councillor Hargey added: “We are committed to addressing language and communication challenges and opportunities, as outlined within our Belfast Agenda; to remove barriers for our residents and ensure everyone feels included and engaged.
“This is also an opportunity for Council staff to learn and develop new skills and ensure that we are constantly adapting to the needs of our users and providing the best possible service.”
To find out more, visit www.belfastcity.gov.uk/signvideo