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Archive for July, 2014

07 JulOmbudsman Services teams up with Sign Solutions to provide the online BSL service InterpretersLive!


Ombudsman Services teams up with Sign Solutions to provide the online BSL service InterpretersLive!

Ombudsman Services and Sign Solutions announced today that Ombudsman Services has introduced an interpretation service that enables people who are deaf to communicate with Ombudsman Services complaint handling team using British Sign Language (BSL) via video relay.

Ombudsman Services wants to ensure that everyone has access to redress. When things go wrong it is important that consumers know where to turn and have access to help to get their problem sorted out.

Chief Ombudsman, Lewis Shand Smith says: “We are delighted to be offering a new service that means people who are deaf and hard of hearing have greater choice in how they contact Ombudsman Services.  When things go wrong it is important that consumers know where to turn and have access to help to get their problem sorted out.

“We already provide translation services to make sure that people can contact us in their own language and are pleased to now extend this same level of service to BSL users.”

Sean Nicholson CEO of Sign Solutions said “I am delighted to welcome the Ombudsman Services to our on demand InterpretersLive! service.  This is an exciting time for the Deaf community who are now able to communicate directly and immediately with the Ombudsman and not have to rely on other people or try to communicate in a language that is not their first.”

Consumers can access the new BSL service via a link on the ‘contact us’ page of the Ombudsman Services website.  They will be connected to the Sign Solutions interpreter who will relay the call directly with to the Ombudsman Services. Consumers will need to have a computer with  a webcam and a broadband connection. The service will be available to consumers free of charge. The service will be available Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm.


Notes to editors

  • British Sign Language is the first language of 130,000 Deaf people – source sign solutions


  • Ombudsman Services is a not for profit, private company limited by guarantee.
  • Ombudsman Services runs national, private sector ombudsman schemes which provide independent dispute resolution for the communications, energy, property, copyright licensing sectors, the Green Deal, Which? Trusted Traders, and the ABFA.
  • Ombudsman Services provides an expert dispute resolution service. The service focuses on encouraging early agreed resolution wherever possible and does not charge a fee so it’s able to offer access to redress for consumers to resolve their complaints without proceeding to the civil courts.
  • In 2012 Ombudsman Services won the bid to provide the Ombudsman and investigation service for the government’s Green Deal initiative.
  • Ombudsman Services is a full member of the Ombudsman Association (OA) and adheres to its principles.


Further information about Ombudsman Services can be found at


Press office:

Tel:                  01925 431 029

Out of hours:   07808 789 548



07 JulHearing Loop Awareness Week

News Release: 02/07/2014

Get in the loop & support Hearing Loop Awareness Week

UK hearing loss charity, Hearing Link, is looking to generate greater understanding and awareness of hearing loops during a dedicated week this month.

Hearing Loop Awareness Week runs from 12th-20th July and is urging hearing aid users to learn more about this valuable technology.

There are around 10 million people in the UK with hearing loss.  About two million use hearing aids and most could benefit from using a hearing loop in public places to cut out background noise and reduce the strain of listening over a distance.  However, the hearing loop must be working properly for it to be of benefit.

Therefore, during Hearing Loop Awareness Week,  Hearing Link is undertaking an exercise to check the quality of  hearing loops in communities across the UK, including Eastbourne, Swindon, Chester, Surrey and Newcastle.   Read more of this article

03 JulAccess to Work inquiry receives almost 300 responses – and mainly from deaf people and organisations

The Work and Pensions Committee has received almost 300 written submissions to its inquiry into Access to Work.

According to the Committee, a large majority of those submissions came from deaf people and the organisations that work with and for them.

And that’s before the extended deadlines for submissions in British Sign Language (BSL) and from people with learning disabilities or limited English literacy have been reached.

That number is much higher than usual. In 2013, Third Sector reported a ‘record high’ of 186 submissions to a Public Administration Committee inquiry.

Jim Edwards, chair of the UK Council on Deafness, said: “The number of submissions that talk about the impact of Access to Work on deaf people reflects the fact there are clear issues with the scheme.

“People are saying the same things: customer service is poor, consistency is lacking and policies are damaging to job prospects. But above all there’s a strong message that Access to Work simply doesn’t understand deaf people and the support they need in work.

“The number of responses and their consistency is also testament to the fact deaf people and organisations have come together on this. We look forward to working with the Committee and the DWP to make sure it’s sorted out to everyone’s benefit.”

Problems with Access to Work, which provides funding for practical support to help disabled people find or stay in work, surfaced towards the end of 2013. Since then, the UK Council on Deafness has been talking to the Minister for Disabled People, Mike Penning MP, and Department for Work and Pensions officials.

As a result, on 14 May the Minister announced a review of the scheme to run alongside the Work and Pensions Committee inquiry. A consultation is expected to begin at the end of July.

The UK Council on Deafness submission to the inquiry is available online in English and British Sign Language.