Frequently asked questions

Quick answers

I am a 999 BSL user

It is simple. You use 999 BSL app or Website to make a call to 999, it will go to British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter first, who will appear on the screen. The BSL interpreter will then call the 999 operator through landline and will relay the conversation. Please click here for a video demonstration.

There are 3 main ways to call, from:

1. 999 BSL app for iOS

2. 999 BSL app for Android

3. 999 BSL website at www.999bsl.co.uk

No. You must only call the service if you have a real emergency. If you have questions about how the service works please email us at info@999bsl.co.uk or visit the website at www.999bsl.co.uk

Yes, the emergency services can call you back. Please note the instructions below that you should follow for this.

If during your call you are told that the emergency services will call you back.

1. App – Please keep the app open and active and and stay by your device if possible.

2. Website – Please don’t close your browser. Stay on page and stay by your device if possible.

Text relay relies on written English messages to be exchanged between a deaf and hearing user via a text relay advisor. Text Relay calls typically can take longer than conventional calls as only one person normally speaks/types at a time – exchanges between the deaf and hearing user are designed to be as free-flowing as possible and near real-time, but as they are supported by the text relay advisor they normally take a bit longer (call charges are reduced to take account of this).

Video relay allows deaf people to make a video call in sign language. The interpreter voices what the deaf user says, in near to real time. The interpreter also relays in sign language what the hearing person says, in near real-time. The interpreter can easily manage the conversation to ensure everything is clear and free-flowing.

Yes, you must have a good internet connection to use the service, either WiFi or a 3G/4G/5G connection. The better your connection is, the better quality your call will be.

Yes! Yes! Yes! You can use a computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone to connect to the service. All you need to do is to either download the app on any compatible iOS or Android device, or to go to the website at www.999bsl.co.uk

 

Ofcom require that all types of emergency calls are recorded between the caller and the emergency services. Since video is used for 999 BSL calls, it must be recorded. Recordings are retained for 3 years and stored by SLI securely in a cloud storage location. Recordings may be needed at a later date for evidence. SLI is required to comply with all applicable data protection and privacy laws.

 

No, there is no requirement to register, just download the app or visit the website and call when you have an emergency and need assistance from the Police, Ambulance, Fire and Coastguard.

If you have an emergency and need to call, but can’t get the app to work, please access the website at www.999bsl.co.uk and call us from there.

Please let us know by emailing us at info@999bsl.co.uk You will also need to let us know the name of the company that provides your mobile network or your internet service provider.

Yes. The data you use to make a call to the 999 BSL service from the 999 BSL apps (on iOS or Android), or via the website should not be charged to you. It is the responsibility of your mobile network operator or internet service provider to ensure this.

We are sorry that you are unhappy with the service you have received. Please send full details via email to feedback@999bsl.co.uk and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

The app and website will try to track your location. This is done so that emergency services can know where you are and can reach you quickly. You can choose whether to allow the app to share your location in the app settings.

In this case, our interpreter will ask you for your location (town/county) and address details during the call.

I am a communication provider

British Sign Language (BSL) is a form of sign language that is used in Britain and involves the use of hand movements, gestures, body language and facial expressions to communicate. It is predominantly used by people who are either deaf or hard of hearing.

Video Relay Service allows deaf and hearing people to communicate from separate locations via the telephone, in their own respective languages. A deaf person can use their various endpoints (smart phone, tablets and web-based) to initiate a call to the emergency authority, through a remote British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter appearing on their screen. A hearing operator will then receive a call from the remote BSL interpreter, who then relays the conversation by seeing and communicating with the deaf person on the screen. This can work vice-versa for the call-back feature, please see separate FAQ for more information.

Text relay relies on written English messages to be exchanged between a deaf and hearing user via a text relay advisor. Text Relay calls typically can take longer than conventional calls as only one person normally speaks/types at a time – exchanges between the deaf and hearing user are designed to be as free-flowing as possible and near real-time, but as they are supported by the text relay advisor they normally take a bit longer (call charges are reduced to take account of this).

Video relay allows deaf people to make a video call in sign language. The interpreter voices what the deaf user says, in near to real time. The interpreter also relays in sign language what the hearing person says, in near real-time. The interpreter can easily manage the conversation to ensure everything is clear and free-flowing.

Please read the information at www.999bsl.co.uk/zero-rating

Communication providers will be invited to test during the period Monday 16 – Friday 27 May. Testing can be done at any time of day with the exception of 15:00-17:00 UK time (BST) as this time period is reserved for testing by BSL users.
Communication providers that require access to the pre-release 999 BSL apps and website should email us at info@999bsl.co.uk on or around Monday 16 May.

We are sorry that you are unhappy with the service you have received. Please send full details via email to feedback@999bsl.co.uk and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Please email us at info@999bsl.co.uk or visit the website at www.999bsl.co.uk