HSBC and First Direct have launched a British Sign Language Video Relay Service (VRS) for their customers in the United Kingdom.

The technology allows deaf British Sign Language (BSL) users to communicate with their bank via an on-screen interpreter who then relays the information to a customer service advisor in spoken English.

The initiative follows research showing 29% of deaf and hard of hearing adults were not inclined to use service providers such as banks, building societies and utility companies due to a lack of access.

The VRS is available on the websites of both banks.

HSBC’s UK head of customer contact, Joe Gordon, said: “Financial inclusion is extremely important to us and we believe everyone should have the tools they need to help them take control of their finances.

“This roll-out of the BSL video relay service will make it much easier for deaf BSL users to contact us directly, manage their money and communicate with us.”

First Direct CEO Tracy Garrad said the bank was “investing heavily in digital innovation” and the introduction of BSL to its Text Phone and Text Relay services would mean it is “going one step further and making it easier for BSL users to talk to us”.

Paul Breckell, chief executive at Action on Hearing Loss, said: “It is great to see that the banking industry is giving attention to inclusion and accessibility among its customers with hearing loss, which affects 11 million people in the UK.

“Accessibility influences customers’ purchasing decisions and if a customer feels they are not able to get the experience they want and need, they are likely to vote with their feet. The launch of this video relay service is a step in the right direction for HSBC.”


HSBC and First Direct make banking easier for British Sign Language customers – BT. 2016. HSBC and First Direct make banking easier for British Sign Language customers – BT. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 01 April 2016].