RBS and NatWest have launched a new service to help deaf customers communicate with their bank.

Launched during Deaf Awareness Week, the service allows people to chat with the bank through a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter.

Customers can access the service through the Royal Bank of Scotland or NatWest websites, or by using the SignVideo mobile app.

The UK BSL community will be delighted that this service is now available

Jeff McWhinney, founder, SignVideo
An atom of type quote lives here

Users are instantly connected to a BSL interpreter via a secure video link. The interpreter then phones the RBS contact centre to relay the conversation in real time.

RBS said about 150,000 deaf BSL users in the UK will be able to benefit from the new service, which will be available Monday to Friday between 8am and 6pm.

SignVideo founder Jeff McWhinney said the company was “very excited” to see banks thinking about how they can serve their deaf customers.

NatWest is the latest bank to offer a BSL sign language service for its customers. Image by Chris Warham/Shutterstock.com

“RBS has worked with SignVideo to launch a service that provides access to their helplines for the BSL community,” he said.

“I applaud RBS for being one of the UK's leading banks in setting the benchmark for accessible customer services in the finance industry. The UK BSL community will be delighted that this service is now available.”

SignVideo already provides British Sign Language services to banks including TSB and Barclays, as well as insurance firm Allianz.

Paul Breckell, chief executive of the deaf charity Action on Hearing Loss, said: “I am delighted to see new technology being used to improve accessibility to banking services for British Sign Language users. 

“The rollout of this new service will allow RBS customers with hearing loss to better communicate their banking needs, something that is already easily available to their hearing peers.” 

Ewen Stevenson, chief financial officer and executive sponsor for disability at RBS, said the bank wants to be number one in the UK for customer service, trust and advocacy. 

“This means striving to be inclusive for all of our customers. In partnering with SignVideo we hope to make a real difference to the lives of our deaf and hearing impaired customers," he said.