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Nationwide and Signly Combine Forces to Ensure Better Financial Inclusivity for Deaf People

Access to finance has historically been a challenge for those with disabilities. Looking to break down these barriers, Nationwide has rolled out a new digital service for deaf customers by partnering with Signly, the British sign language (BSL) tech company. Together, Nationwide’s website will now be accessible in BSL.

BSL content is in the form of pre-recorded signed videos, with the most popular web pages available first. Content will grow over time and users can select any new pages to be translated. Innovative technology continually monitors website content to ensure that translations stay true to the text. For the first use, customers need to opt-in via Nationwide’s accessibility webpage.

Nationwide is launching its new site offering as Sign Language Week begins in the UK. Furthermore, it comes as the national charity British Deaf Association (BDA) ramps up calls for greater acknowledgement of the needs of deaf people. It estimates that BSL is the first language of over 87,000 deaf people in the UK, meaning that written English is inaccessible for many.

With money impacting all aspects of life, providing accessible banking solutions is crucial for ensuring that people maintain financial independence wherever possible. A recent report by self-regulatory banking body, the Lending Standards Board (LSB), found that whilst 65 per cent of their registered banking firms offered BSL services in-branch, 59 per cent offered remote BSL access via video. Furthermore, only six per cent provided on-demand access to website content.

Building better financial inclusivity 

The launch of the service also builds on the existing range of accessibility services offered by Nationwide, including SignVideo BSL into contact centres and in-branch BSL interpretation. Nationwide recently announced its participation in the Experian Support Hub scheme, which lets customers record their support needs digitally and share them with multiple companies more easily.

As part of this service, there are a range of options for people who are deaf or have hearing loss, which aim to improve the experience when contacting Nationwide.

Kathryn Townsend, head of customer accessibility at Nationwide said: “British Sign Language is a rich, visual language. The recent BSL Act introduction which legally recognises it as language of England, Scotland and Wales, and the upcoming launch of the BSL GCSE show progress, but there remain barriers.

“We recognise that for BSL users, accessible communication formats are not always available, so we are proud to launch this new service as part of our commitment to the deaf community, to improve access to vital financial information. Crucially, we work with deaf charities and people with lived experiences to help inform what we do.”

Creating equal access

Reg Cobb, CEO of charity deafPLUS, said: “At deafPLUS, deaf people, including those who use BSL as their first language is at the heart of what we do and we are proud that 97 per cent of our staff are deaf, including myself. Our mission is to provide information, advice, and guidance so that deaf people can make informed decisions, including with financial matters.

“In the UK, we’re seen as world class in how we provide access to deaf people and yet, we’re still so far behind in terms of equitable access to all facilities, goods and services. Unfortunately, we still hear too many stories of how deaf people are left feeling frustrated, failing to access their own finances.”

Cobb continued: “We’re pleased to work with Nationwide, as one of the leading financial services providers, to pave the way for better access to information for deaf people and are thrilled to see them launch on-demand access to website content in BSL. It’s vital that corporate organisations, such as Nationwide, are working together towards a world with equal access for deaf people, so they don’t have to rely on support from deaf organisations.”

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