Improving contact centre accessibility for the Deaf community
We’re leading the way in improving accessibility for service users through its unique British Sign Language (BSL) helpline, Sign Assist.
As a market-leading provider of contact centre and digital services, we deliver high-quality services that have a positive impact on thousands of lives every day – but recognised that this predominantly non-visual space was difficult for the Deaf community to navigate.
With this in mind, our BSL helpline, Sign Assist, was launched in April 2022, bringing a more inclusive approach to the forefront.
Unlike traditional text relay services used by deaf people which can be lengthy and difficult to navigate, the innovative video helpline allows BSL users to communicate in their preferred language, making it easier for them to access helplines.
Users are connected to interpreter-trained, experienced contact centre staff, who are not only fluent in BSL but most importantly, understand the difficulties that the Deaf community face.
Not only has Sign Assist revolutionised the way in which the Deaf community access services, but it has given new opportunities to local people thanks to the jobs it’s created in Nantgarw, Cardiff.
Sign Assist Advisor, Victoria Wenman, was born profoundly deaf and has experienced the barriers faced by the service users she now supports.
Victoria Wenman, Sign Assist Advisor, said: “I have the skills to empathise and provide support emotionally, mentally and physically using British Sign Language through our video call service. Helping customers to break down their barriers and give them an opportunity to speak freely in their own language is very rewarding. I know that I am making a difference.”
The impact of Sign Assist stretches far beyond Wales, attracting national and multi-national recognition, further cementing the importance of, and need, for the service.
In October, Connect Assist won the Best Inclusion Strategy at the annual Welsh Contact Centre Awards for Sign Assist. And just a month later, Connect Assist were named as Bronze winners of the Best Innovation in Customer Service at the European Contact Centre and Customer Service Awards.
Since its inception, Connect Assist has been helping members of the Deaf community to access services with ease. The impact of Sign Assist has been felt throughout the business, from customers and staff members to Connect Assist clients.
A Sign Assist service user commented: “I will be forever grateful for the BSL video service that Sign Assist has provided. For me, the experience of reaching out and having a referral created were up to a high standard. I am pleased with the professionalism and how well informed I was thanks to this service.”
Manie Moolman, Service Delivery Manager at Film & TV Charity, a Connect Assist client said: “The Sign Assist team has been a complete joy to work with. It never ceases to amaze how quickly the team “gets” our services and clients, and responds to new initiatives and developments at the charity. Thoroughly professional, but very human too. The service integrates easily into our website, and is easily accessed by our clients.”
Ron Moody, Managing Director at Connect Assist, hopes that Sign Assist’s success will inspire further innovative initiatives across the industry: “To be truly inclusive, everyone in society must be able to access the services they need in a format that is appropriate to them. We recognised that those in society that are deaf or hearing impaired should be able to access our helplines in their preferred language, British Sign Language.
“The recognition that Sign Assist has already received best showcases how vital this service is and highlights the importance of being inclusive to all communities. We’re delighted to be at the forefront of inclusive omni-channel delivery and hope to motivate others to keep pushing forward with initiatives that help inspire positive change in our industry.”