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5 June 2015

Sainsbury’s SignVideo service launches to deaf BSL customers

Sainsbury’s is the first food retailer in the UK to bring SignVideo to its customer service centres – revolutionising the way deaf British Sign Language (BSL) users can contact them.

The year-long trial of the Sainsbury’s SignVideo service begins this week and enables Deaf customers using BSL to contact Sainsbury’s call centres via a secure video interpreting service.

Sainsbury’s is committed to ensuring the customer experience is as easy as possible and this service means that deaf customers using sign language can now call them instantly at no cost.

How it works:

– The service allows customers to place a call to Sainsbury’s careline and grocery online contact centres via a free link on the Help Centre.
– It instantly connects deaf customers to a BSL interpreter who phones the call centre and relays the conversation in real time.
– The service will be available at all times Monday-Friday 8am-6pm and is free to use.

Sainsbury’s already offers Text Relay which is used by many deaf and hard of hearing people. However, for the first time deaf customers will have instant British Sign Language access when calling the supermarket. Previously, deaf BSL users had to rely on hearing friends or relatives to make a call for them. With SignVideo they can do it themselves from the comfort of their own home, with waiting times of less than 30 seconds.

Tim Fallowfield, Company Secretary, Corporate Services Director and Board Champion for Disability and Carers at Sainsbury’s said: “We pride ourselves on our customer service, and part of this is making sure it’s as easy as possible for all our customers to communicate with us about their shop. We already have induction loops in all our stores for hearing aid users, and we’re pleased to be trialling this innovative solution to make it even easier for our deaf BSL customers to get in touch with us when they need to.”

Jeff McWhinney, Chairman and Founder of SignVideo, said: “Sainsbury’s has broken new ground in embracing SignVideo, a video relay service in BSL. They have been pro-active in seeking to ensure equality in their customer service experience for deaf BSL customers and SignVideo is looking forward to working with them. By implementing this technology, Sainsbury’s has shown the way forward for the food and retail industry and I hope that more will follow their example by opening up access to deaf BSL customers.”

Diversity and inclusion are part of Sainsbury’s heritage and they aspire to take a leadership approach to disability. Sainsbury’s has supported the Disability Confident Campaign since its inception, helping to remove the barriers to work that disabled people face, increase understanding of disability and ensure everyone has the opportunities to fulfil their potential and realise their aspirations.

Justin Tomlinson MP, Minister for Disabled People, said: “I wholeheartedly commend Sainsbury’s for implementing this innovative SignVideo service. As one of our key Disability Confident partners, they are showcasing how businesses can use technology to make their products more accessible. I hope others will follow Sainsbury’s lead and recognise the business benefits of supporting disabled customers.”

George Selvanera, Director of Policy, Services and Communications at Business Disability Forum (BDF) said: “We are absolutely delighted that BDF Partner Sainsbury’s is innovating further in meeting the needs of deaf customers through its partnership with BDF strategic alliance SignVideo. It further enhances Sainsburys reputation for leadership in meeting the needs of disabled and older customers.”

Notes to Editors

About Sainsbury’s

Founded in 1869, Sainsbury’s today operates over 1,200 stores, employing around 161,000 colleagues across the UK. With 24 million customer transactions every week, the company’s focus is on delivering high quality, affordable food, clothing and general merchandise across supermarkets, convenience stores and online. Sainsbury’s Bank offers accessible financial products that reward customers who both bank and shop with Sainsbury’s. Strong, well-established values are integral to Sainsbury’s success in helping customers Live Well for Less.

About SignVideo

SignVideo provides British Sign Language (BSL) video interpreting services to enable communication between the community of over 150,000 deaf BSL users in the UK and hearing people. The service allows users to make and receive BSL interpreted video calls so that they can effectively and effortlessly communicate with each other. This happens through a professional video interpreter who relays the call between BSL and English and the service is available instantly on tablets, smartphones, computers and laptops via apps and software. SignVideo demolishes existing barriers facing service providers, businesses, work colleagues and family wanting to hold conversations with deaf BSL-using people.  In addition, SignVideo has reduced the previous waiting time of up to six weeks for a BSL interpreter to be available, down to less than 30 seconds.

SignVideo not only pioneered this revolutionary communications solution in the UK but now leads the way in bringing access and inclusion via ‘Video Based Interpreting’  to the BSL community. With a strong presence in the VRS (Video Relay Services) market in the UK, SignVideo is a highly reputable provider with its video call centres and remote interpreters conducting over 20,000 BSL interpreted video calls a year. SignVideo underpins its service with experienced, fully qualified and registered BSL interpreters, Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and ISO 9001, 14001 and 27001 quality certifications.

Born in 2004, SignVideo is led by Jeff McWhinney, a well-known deaf entrepreneur who fights tirelessly for equality of the deaf and hearing community. Today, SignVideo, a predominantly deaf-led organisation, provides their service to the government, NHS, councils, UK banks, telecommunications providers, helplines and many other types of organisations.

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  2. Jeff McWhinney is available for comment and interview on request through the press office.
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Karan Hopper, Head of Marketing
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