Lloyds Bank has announced they are the first UK organisation to offer Signly, a pioneering website translation tool for British Sign Language customers.
British Sign Language (BSL) has its own grammar and syntax that is fundamentally different to written and spoken English. Signly overcomes communication barriers BSL customers often face by signing website text through a PC or laptop.
Signly BSL Browser Extension
The Signly software, which works with Google Chrome and the latest version of Microsoft Edge, offers the same level of access to website text as a screen reader does for people with sight loss. It provides the translation as a pop-up window with pre-recorded, broadcast quality video signed by real people. As the customer scrolls down the screen, the sign language video keeps in perfect step. It allows BSL customers to ‘self-serve’ making access to sign language easy. Without the extension, non-BSL customers don’t see the video at all.
The signed videos cover popular Lloyds Bank webpages including information on products and services. In addition, customers can request BSL translations of any other page too.
Translation of webpage text is a hard technical nut to crack. Consequently, up until now, website access for BSL users has long lagged behind other accessibility requirements. Signly is a welcome solution.
During development, and as with any accessible tech, it was essential to test with end users. Action on Hearing Loss took part in initial trials with BSL participants to explore their current online banking experience and to get feedback on the browser extension. Two groups took part: Group 1 were bilingual and used written English, so relied on written communication with their bank. Group 2 had limited written English and used basic gestures and writing to communicate.
All participants initially said they prefer to visit a bank branch for their banking needs. They felt it was the quickest way to get information, resolve issues, ask questions and get clarity on difficult “jargon”. Sometimes, however, they experienced problems getting communication support. If an interpreter or video relay wasn’t available, bank staff would often use written notes or basic gestures, which often isn’t ideal. They all felt that online banking, if it were accessible to their needs, would significantly help improve overall use of banking services. Financial products and services would be easier to understand without necessarily having to go to a branch, and would give the same access to their bank as anyone else.
All trial participants gave useful feedback on Signly, which is included in the final design.
With further development, extending the Signly browser extension to work with smartphones and tablets is a possibility for the future.