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Virgin Media is enhancing its customer service process by offering deaf customers access to an online sign language interpreter, in order to relay problems to staff.

To help customers get the most out of their next generation broadband, TV and phone services, the company has launched the Video Relay Service (VRS), which connects people to a fully qualified sign language interpreter, who will then communicate with the customer contact teams in real time.

Virgin Media has developed the service with Sign Solutions, a leading BSL/English Interpreter centre that says the technology will help the telecoms provider to become more inclusive, subsequently helping customers to lead an "independent digital life".

Sean Nicholson, Chief Executive of Sign Solutions, commented: "This is an important step forward and will transform the customer experience for many people."

Customers hoping to take advantage of the option can access the new Video Relay Service by visiting virginmedia.com, clicking on the sign language interpreter icon and downloading a plug-in to use.

Sign language interpreters will be available every weekday with a video message call back option for any other time, though users will need a computer with video capability and a broadband connection.

Virgin Media says that any calls made using the Video Relay Service will be free of charge, with the service complementing its existing Text Relay Service and a customer web chat channel launched last year, which has over 8,000 users a month.

Paul Buttery, Virgin Media’s Chief Customer, Technology and Networks Officer, said the company is committed to making all its products and services accessible to all customers, whatever their needs.

"Our new Video Relay Service is simple and easy to use and, with comprehensive deaf awareness training for our customer teams, we’re excited to start taking our new video relay calls," he added.

The introduction of the service has also been welcomed by Communications Minister Ed Vaizey, who said it can make a "real difference" to people who are deaf.

He concluded: "I have been pressing companies to consider VRS as part of their contact strategies for their customers and I congratulate Virgin for providing VRS. I hope other firms follow their lead."

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