RBS is the latest bank to launch a video banking service for British Sign Language users

5 May 2016

It’s Deaf Awareness week, and we are delighted that RBS has launched a SignVideo service for British Sign Language customers, making it possible to instantly chat with the bank through a British Sign Language interpreter. It’s got our full support here at the Financial Health Exchange – this is exactly the way we want to see technology being used, led by real customer needs to reduce financial exclusion barriers and increase accessibility to financial services for all. Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC and First Direct have all launched similar services this year, so RBS is a welcome addition to increase access for BSL customers.

The free service is now available via the Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest website and the SignVideo mobile app. Deaf and hard of hearing British Sign Language customers will be able to talk to an advisor using their computer, tablet or smartphone via a secure video call which instantly connects to a British Sign Language interpreter, who then phones the RBS contact centre to relay the conversation in real time.

The service is available Monday to Friday from 8am – 6pm and can be found at www.rbs.co.uk and www.natwest.co.uk

The initial reaction from the community is positive. Jeff McWhinney, SignVideo Founder and Chair said, “We are very excited to see more banks like RBS thinking about how they can serve their deaf BSL customers. RBS has worked with SignVideo to launch a service that provides access to their helplines for the BSL community. The UK BSL community will be delighted that this service is now available.”

Paul Breckell chief executive at Action on Hearing Loss said: ‘I am delighted to see new technology being used to improve accessibility to banking services for British Sign Language users. The roll out of this new service will allow RBS customers with hearing loss to better communicate their banking needs, something that is already easily available to their hearing peers.”

There are approximately 150,000 deaf British Sign Language users in the UK, so the wave of banks signing up to this service will have considerable positive impact for many of these customers. Do you work with people and/or communities who could benefit from using this service? How useful is it? And what can we do to help more people use it? We would love to hear your and your community’s feedback on their experience of using the new service, whichever bank they use – you can contact us at info@financialhealthexchange.org.uk.

We hope more financial services providers – and not just banks – will incorporate this kind of needs-led technology into their service planning and development.  Do you think other service providers should adopt this technology? Share your views on our twitter poll.