New app helps staff communicate with deaf people

Live, web-based interpreting service

If a meeting is prearranged, a one-to-one interpreter will continue to be booked in advance, but if someone needs to speak to a member of Council staff briefly, or in an urgent situation, staff will have access to an ipad which is set up with the interpretnow app, ready to link a deaf person to the live, web-based BSL interpreting service. 

Ipad available to all council employees

Midlothian has 5,640 people with a hearing impairment within its borders, 233 of which use sign language.  The ipad is kept in a central location in Midlothian Council offices in Dalkeith and is available to any Council employee – ranging from social workers, to housing officers to environmental health - who has a meeting with a deaf person. 

Can also be used for telephone calls

The interpretnow app can also be used for telephone calls with a deaf person.  A member of Council staff can use contactScotland to phone a client, providing the client has the app downloaded on their own phone or tablet and providing they have their appliance switched on at the time. With the same proviso, a deaf client could use it to phone the Council.

Encouraging deaf people to download the app

Jayne Lewis, Planning Officer for Physical Disabilities, said:  “The new app gives deaf people the opportunity to have equal access to face-to-face meetings and telephone calls as hearing people.  Here in Midlothian we are keen for as many deaf people as possible to download the app so they can get in touch with us about our services and any issues they may have.”

Midlothian BSL users Catherine McGrath and her partner James Ferguson have tried out the interpretnow app.  James said:  “It is a fantastic service and people will be able to download the app personally. It will be a huge benefit.” 

Catherine said: “It will be really useful to use in an emergency situation.”

Any member of the public can download the app onto their smart phone or tablet by going to The service is available seven days a week from 08:00 to midnight.

3 Jun 2016