East Midlands Airport offers British Sign Language interpreting for Deaf customers


East Midlands Airport (EMA) has joined forces with the online interpreting service SignLive to provide Deaf customers with interpretation in British Sign Language (BSL) when using and contacting the airport.

The new service enables customers who want to communicate in BSL to connect via video with a certified interpreter who can provide two-way translation between the customer and an airport team member.

Customers can simply log-on to the SignLive app on iOS, Android, or a web browser, and find East Midlands Airport in the Community Directory to use the service.

British Sign Language is a visual language using gestures, facial expressions, and body language. Sign Language is used mainly by Deaf people. According to the census 2021 data, the areas near East Midlands Airport have the highest percentage of people with BSL as their main language across England and Wales. The Royal School for the Deaf is situated in Derby, and Derby has an active Deaf community.

The introduction of SignLive is one of EMA’s many initiatives to become a more accessible airport for everyone. In December, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rated the quality of its assisted travel provision as “very good”. This came after being voted Europe’s top-performing airport at The Ozion Accessibility Awards, which celebrated airports that have made a significant investment in the services they provide to passengers who need assistance.

These achievements have been made possible thanks to a close collaboration between the airport and its Accessibility Advisory group, a diverse group of disabled people who advise the airport in areas like customer experience, training, monitoring, innovation and recruitment.

Mike Grimes, Director of Customer Services and Security, said: “We want all passengers to enjoy their experience of travelling through EMA, and no one should ever feel excluded from accessing any of our services or facilities. We’re delighted to announce the introduction of the SignLive app, which will help our Deaf passengers and is another illustration of our commitment to removing all barriers to travel.”

Christiane Link, chair of EMA’s Accessibility Advisory Group, said: “Being able to use BSL when communicating with the airport team will enhance the customer experience of Deaf customers using East Midlands Airport. It’s one of many initiatives the airport implements after consulting with the advisory group and listening to its disabled customers.”