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Power company switched on to needs of deaf and hard of hearing customers

The UK’s biggest electricity distributor has launched two new services to boost their support for deaf or hard of hearing customers.

From Press releases - 23 August 2018 12:00 AM

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UK Power Networks owns and maintains the overhead lines, underground cables and substations which distribute electricity to eight million customers across the East of England, London and the South East.

Those customers who require it can now link up with either ‘SignLive’ or ‘Interpreter Now’ as interpreting service providers without being charged. Both supply online video access to British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters.

Customers can use their preferred interpreting service provider as UK Power Networks is listed on both directories and any conversation will not be charged to the customer.

For those members of the deaf community who do not use BSL, other services include joining the company’s text service, consulting the fault map on the website or the Next Generation Text Relay, again free of charge, which is enabled via an App or a text phone.

Around a fifth of the UK’s deaf population live in London, an area served by UK Power Networks and the firm has already been recognised for its support of deaf or hard of hearing people by maintaining the Louder Than Words charter for the past three years.

Those signed up to the company’s Priority Services Register can receive free extra help if they ever have a power cut, such as hot meals, home visits and hotel accommodation.

Kerry Potter, priority services manager for UK Power Networks, said: “It is vital for us reach out into the communities we serve and ensure those most in need of extra help receive it when required.

“We are continually learning what our customers need most and will always make changes to ensure our services are as inclusive as they can possibly be. Nobody should feel there is not a way for them to be supported by us.

“We already have more than 100,000 people on our Priority Services Register because they are deaf or hard of hearing which is a significant number.

“Both of these online services do a fantastic job in ensuring deaf people can communicate what they need to and it is hugely pleasing to have both on board with us as an option for our customers.”

Neil Cooper, Operations Director of Interpreter Now, said: “We’re delighted to be helping UK Power Networks’ deaf customers access their Priority Services. Being able to communicate in sign language really helps to calm and reassure those customers in an otherwise stressful situation such as a power cut.”

Joel Kellhofer, founder of SignLive, said: “We are pleased to partner with UK Power Networks providing accessible online services. This provides major benefits for British Sign Language users, and we strive to make our service as user-friendly as possible.”