Third Sector
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New signs of advice

National charity Citizens Advice has launched its first ever web pages dedicated to its own BSL (British Sign Language) advice.

The pages are dedicated to allowing over 250,000 BSL users find an alternative and convenient way of accessing Citizens Advice services.

Written and presented by deaf employee and volunteer CAB advisers, the five BSL films have been specially commissioned and designed for the Deaf community. The introduction film offers general information in BSL on how and where to get help at Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales. It gives practical advice on how to make an appointment, what sort of information you need to bring with you to a bureau, and how to get further assistance. The films are accessible through the Citizens Advice website, (New window) www.adviceguide.org.uk or on YouTube.com.

There are also four specific BSL films for clients, each carefully scripted using information based on the Citizens Advice web pages. The four topics were chosen after looking at some of the most common queries from clients. Each film also has a transcript so clients can download the printed information, as well as watching it in BSL.

The topics filmed in BSL are:

  • debt
  • benefits
  • employment – including discrimination at work
  • discrimination – including shops and services

Ali Harris, Head of Equality Strategy at Citizens Advice, said:

”The launch comes as part of our continuing commitment to reach all parts of the community, including the two million deaf and hard of hearing people in the UK.” The project comes after a successful pilot BSL film was launched in 2008 on the Citizens Advice website www.citizensadvice.org.uk and YouTube.

Ernesto Bueno Del Carpio, who acted as a consultant to the project, and who is a deaf employee adviser at Citizens Advice Wolverhampton, said he was thrilled advice was being offered in BSL. He said:

“Very often Deaf people are too intimidated to go to a bureau because they fear they will have communication problems. While a BSL video does not provide instant advice, it can help start the client in the right direction.”

The project is also launched in a year where Citizens Advice is actively making partnerships with other deaf organisations such as RNID (Royal National Institute for the Deaf) and Royal Association for Deaf People (RAD) to use as many pathways to reach the deaf community, such as web cameras for clients to access BSL fluent advisers in different parts of the country. These plans are currently being piloted and are hoped to be rolled out over the next few years.

Citizens Advice will also be distributing a DVD of all the BSL films to all bureaux in England and Wales to assist in giving more people access to the films.


Notes to editors:

  1. The Citizens Advice service is a network of independent charities that helps people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers.
    For more information in England and Wales
    www.citizensadvice.org.uk
    For more information and 2008/9 service statistics see Introduction to the service
    For 2008/9 service highlights see the Citizens Advice service impact report
    For 2008/9 social policy campaigning highlights see the Citizens Advice social policy impact report
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. Most Citizens Advice service staff are trained volunteers, working at over 3,300 locations across England and Wales.
  4. Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales advised 2 million clients on 6 million problems from April 2008 to March 2009
  5. Advice and information www.adviceguide.org.uk
  6. Volunteer hotline 08451 264264 (local rate)
  7. Citizens Advice Guide to your rights, second edition: January 2008 - over 600 pages of practical, independent CAB advice. An invaluable resource for any bookshelf - available from all good bookshops; price £11.99; ISBN: 9780141034089
  8. Follow Citizens Advice on Twitter: (New window) twitter.com/CitizensAdvice
  9. Subscribe to Citizens Advice press releases via RSS news feed: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/pressoffice