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999 BSL: ‘Emergency Video Service Saved My Life’

August 18, 2022

A deaf man who was injured when a gas bottle exploded said a service allowing people to make 999 calls using British Sign Language (BSL) saved his life.

999 BSL was launched in June to enable deaf people to make emergency calls using an app or website by connecting callers with a BSL interpreter.

Gordon Evans, of Chester, Cheshire, suffered burns when the blast happened in his campervan in Wales last month.

The 75-year-old said he had luckily already downloaded the “amazing” app.

The 999 BSL service connects deaf people to BSL interpreters who relay the conversation to a 999 operator.

“I lit the stove and it just exploded and went all over my head and my legs,” he told BBC North West Tonight via an interpreter.

“I just didn’t know what to do. There wasn’t any people around but luckily I realised I had a 999 BSL app on my phone.”

Mr Evans said the app had made him feel safe.

“I really do think it’s amazing. It saved my life,” he said.

BSL interpreter Rachael Davies said: “Deaf people face so many barriers in everyday life and you have got this app on your phone which is not only very visual but it is very quick and sufficient and it will save deaf people’s lives.”

David Horrocks, chief executive of the DSN, formerly the Deafness Support Network, which helped launched the service, said it was a huge step forward for the deaf community.

John Dwyer, Cheshire’s police and crime commissioner, said he was hoping the 101 non-emergency call system would follow suit.

“Deaf people are being disadvantaged. They can’t make those calls,” he said.

“We do need to work better at this and in the very near future I hope the 101 system will be available to the deaf community to use.”

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