HeX launches British Sign Language services

Written by Zara Gemmell on

We are extremely proud to announce the launch of our new BSL (British Sign Language) services. Assisting you to provide services to the Deaf community.

As an accessible agency, HeX is committed to offering services to everyone, including individuals with different abilities, who require different methods of communication. We pride ourselves in striving towards an inclusive society, without barriers to access products and services online.

We’re incredibly proud to announce the launch of our new British Sign Language services, helping us to reach more people, including those in the Deaf community. We are advocating the inclusion of the use of British Sign Language to you and our clients, to open up your services and ours, to reach a wider audience and include more people. 

Did you know there are approximately 12-15 million people in the UK with a hearing loss? Many of these people are British Sign Language (BSL) users, and are faced with communication and language barriers on a daily basis. Is your website accessible for Deaf people? Can they contact you through a BSL interpreter? If the answer is no, we challenge you to make a change as we are.

We are providers of a free BSL interpreter when contacting HeX Productions

As part of our ongoing accessibility journey, we have been looking at ways to engage with Deaf users. As a team we are learning BSL but our skill level is basic at the moment. So, in order to speed up our communication journey, we have partnered with SignLive to break down the barriers faced by those who may want to contact us to find out more about our services, and chat to us about their design, development and marketing requirements. 

For too long, many organisations have been neglecting the Deaf community who use BSL as a first language, often asking them to contact via Live Chat or email. Organisations don’t seem to understand that not all Deaf BSL users understand, or are confident in reading and writing in English, which has a different grammar structure to BSL. We understand! This is why we are determined not to fall into the same category of companies offering Deaf people an inadequate contact method.

We are very pleased to be offering a free, live video interpretation service via SignLive and hope that we can influence others to do the same. 

You can find HeX Productions in the community directory on the SignLive website and mobile app. We have a page dedicated to showing you how to use SignLive. Just create an account and you will be able to find us. The service provides a BSL interpreter to bridge the communication gap. The Deaf person signs to the interpreter via video call. The interpreter relays this information to you verbally on a standard telephone call. The interpreter listens to your response and relays the information back into BSL, for the person calling.

We think this service should be mandatory, especially in the public sector. BSL interpreters are not readily available for each deaf individual, often meaning they have to put their lives on hold just to talk to someone.

BSL translation of website content

BSL for the HeX Productions website

Many Deaf users rely on BSL translation to understand what a written content on a page is trying to communicate.

A lot of Deaf users do not have English as a first language. Some people may find it difficult to understand written English. Whilst we are continually reviewing our content to make it as simple as possible, we understand that this isn’t always enough for our Deaf community.

Last year, our BSL translator Simon joined the team, and he will be ensuring that the key pages on our website can be understood by Deaf users. On some of our pages, you’ll begin to see a BSL video appear on the top right-hand side. This is a translation of this page from written English into BSL. 

BSL for our clients websites

We’re not just launching BSL translation for ourselves. Going forward, we’ll be offering a BSL translation service to all of our clients. We are already trialing this with the NHS (National Health Service) and will be able to showcase this very soon.

We knew that it was pointless trying to promote Deaf access if we weren’t going to solve this problem for our clients too. 

We are now offering BSL translation services for website page content and videos. We will also advise on how to include these on your website.

BSL video interpretation

One of the areas that Deaf people have the most issues is when a corporate video does not contain BSL interpretation. The recent pandemic caused uproar when official government guidance on COVID was not being translated for the Deaf community. And rightly so.

Sometimes, subtitles and captions help, but in most cases, Deaf BSL users won’t be able to understand them in the same way as they would a BSL translation (further information on this is detailed in the BSL Translation service, linked below) 

We’re now offering clients video translation services, this means organisations can send us a video, we’ll translate it into BSL and provide a sign language video for you to use . This can then be embedded into the video by you, or we can do it for you. We work on a green screen which means you can embed the translations onto a background of your choice. 

You can find out more about our BSL translation service here

Deaf awareness training 

Having taken part in Deaf awareness training as a team in the past, we recognise the importance of understanding the Deaf culture to help communicate with the Deaf community. 

With more than 800,000 users of BSL in the UK, it’s vital for organisations to understand how to communicate with these users. To do so effectively, people need to understand life in the shoes of a Deaf person, and the barriers they face. 

Our Deaf Awareness training will be delivered by our Deaf BSL Translator, Simon. Find out more about our Deaf Awareness training here. 

Why are we offering BSL services?

Often, the Deaf community can be overlooked when creating content for websites. Whether this be down to a lack of education and awareness, or simply time and resources. We want to help those who want to make their services available for the Deaf community. 

As an accessibility agency, we have long been focused on demonstrating the barriers faced by blind users who rely on screen reading technology. We have a good understanding of barriers faced by those with motor disabilities and those who are neurodiverse and access websites in different ways. However, there was a huge gap to bridge when it came to offering accessibility for the Deaf community. Often, as part of the accessibility consultancy and training we offer, we’ve been showing our clients the benefits of speaking directly to the Deaf community through BSL. The general feedback that we received is that people don’t know where to procure such a service and don’t know where to start with translating their content.  We’re proud to be able to offer that solution.

Bringing Simon on board has been incredible, and we have all greatly enjoyed learning a new language. Our own journeys into learning BSL Level 1 has taught us a great deal about the Deaf community and relieves the ignorance that we have witnessed, turning us all into Deaf awareness advocates.

We want to help people access our services, and the services of our current and future clients, regardless of access requirements. We can now say that we’re able to do this and take that next step to creating an inclusive online world.

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