Santander Consumer Finance (SCF) has launched a video relay service for the British Sign Language (BSL) community, in partnership with SignVideo.

The service will allow BSL customers to place video calls to SCF via a free and secure video link on its website in order to discuss their account servicing needs.

According to Santander there are almost 1m severely or profoundly deaf people in the UK. SCF said: “As BSL is its own language, with its own grammar and punctuation, it’s important we allow this community to communicate with us in a way that is simple and easy.  With so many people in the UK classing BSL as their first language over English, it’s essential to offer an equal and parallel service to everyone.”

Paul Saint, head of customer services at SCF, said the move would enable BSL users to contact SCF and talk about their needs in their first language without the need to plan ahead.

Jeff McWhinney, chairman and founder of SignVideo said: “The fact that BSL is not based on English and is a language in its own right is often misunderstood.

“Financial service companies use emails and web chat for customer services and this is actually creating a barrier for us deaf BSL users and as a result, we struggle to gain easy access to help when we need it. We have seen a turnaround in financial services recently with major companies starting to use our services and recognising the needs of their BSL customers.”