3. Awareness and use of contactSCOTLAND
The surveys included questions on people's awareness and understanding of the contactSCOTLAND service. Although most people who responded to each of surveys were already aware of the service (and were therefore perhaps more likely to respond to the survey), there were indications that further work is needed to raise awareness of the service and encourage uptake.
- People receive information about contactSCOTLAND from a range of sources, with the website generally considered to be the most useful.
- It is possible that there is some use of commercial services to make calls that would be free via contactSCOTLAND, which suggests an on-going need to promote the service and undertake community engagement.
- There was evidence of a range of awareness raising activities by public services and Deaf organisations, although there is scope for this to be expanded further.
- There has been a sustained uptake in the service since implementation in March 2015 with the potential for further growth as awareness increases.
- More information about the service and more user friendly technology could encourage more use.
Awareness and use of contactSCOTLAND
Only 11 people responding to the Deaf community survey were not already aware of contactSCOTLAND. Over half of these were in the 50+ age group. Most of the 14 people who responded to the question felt that they were fully aware of what the contactSCOTLAND service is.
Similarly nearly all of those responding to the public sector survey were already aware of contactSCOTLAND. Most of the organisations who responded to the question (11 out of 18) stated that they are fully aware of the service provided by contactSCOTLAND. Six organisations felt that they had some awareness of the service and one had heard of it but was not really sure what it provides. Twelve out of 14 respondents to the Deaf organisations survey were aware of contactSCOTLAND. Nearly all of those responding (ten out of 14) felt that they had a full understanding of the service offered by contactSCOTLAND. Thirty-one of those responding to the interpreter survey were already aware of contactSCOTLAND.
The ways in which people had first heard about contactSCOTLAND varied depending on whether it was in a professional or personal capacity. Of the individual respondents who had previously heard of contactSCOTLAND the most common sources of information were the BSL (Scotland) Bill Facebook site (six), friends or family (five) or Deaf organisations (five). Other sources mentioned were colleagues, and specific Deaf sector organisations. However, the most useful source of information was considered to be the contactSCOTLAND website (ten). Other useful sources mentioned were colleagues, specific Deaf organisations and events, a Facebook video link and other Deaf people.
Most respondents from public services (9 out of sixteen) had first heard of the service through Scottish Government communications. Other sources included colleagues and the criminal justice disability project group. Most people (7 of the eighteen who answered) found the contactSCOTLAND website to be the most useful source of information.
Deaf organisations had also first heard of contactSCOTLAND in a variety of ways with the website being the most common and also through professional contacts. For interpreters NHS 24 (eight), the contactSCOTLAND communications manager (seven) and posters and leaflets (six) were the most common ways of having first heard of contactSCOTLAND. Eight respondents also mentioned having heard about it from colleagues and other professional networks and interactions.
The management information tells us how many people are using the service and provides some indications of how the service is being used. There has been a sustained increase in the uptake of the service since its expansion from NHS 24 to all public sector services via contactSCOTLAND. The management information is set out in Annex 1 and suggestions for the collection of monitoring data are discussed in the conclusions and recommendations.
Between March and October 2015, there were a total of 3133 calls to contactSCOTLAND. As shown in the chart below there were an average of 392 calls a month, a sustained uptake from the 249 calls received in the first month of expanded operation in March 2015, but lower than the peak of 622 in September 2015.
Graph 1: contactSCOTLAND monthly call numbers.
Source: contactSCOTLAND monthly service update: October 2015
The NHS 24 pilot project received 15 VRS calls in 2012 (April - December), 36 calls in 2013 and 90 calls in 2014.
The contactSCOTLAND providers are also able to provide some high level information on how contactSCOTLAND is being used. Between March and the end of October 2015 the vast majority of calls had been from BSL users to public services with at least 23 of the 32 local authorities and 13 geographical health boards having been contacted at least once. Calls have been made to a range of NHS and local authority services including hospitals, GPs, out of hours, social work, housing and education. Twelve other public bodies had also been contacted by the end of October.
Twenty-nine respondents to the Deaf community survey had used contactSCOTLAND to make calls. Most people responding had used the service more than once and 11 respondents had used it more than ten times.
Nine of the public services who responded stated that their organisation had used contactSCOTLAND. Seven organisations gave an approximate indication of how many times their organisations had been contacted via contactSCOTLAND between March and October 2015 - most of these had been contacted two-five times with one organisation having been contacted once and one organisation contacted between six-ten times. Three had used the service to contact BSL users.
Six of those responding to the Deaf organisations survey had used contactSCOTLAND (this included two local authority respondents).
The views of non-users
The surveys also provided some limited information on the views of non-users. There were a range of reasons why Deaf BSL users said that they had not used the service. Those who provided information on why they hadn't used it gave a variety of reasons:
- not having needed the service (three),
- being unable to access the app (two)
- not knowing how to use the technology (one)
- and not knowing about the service (two).
More information about the service (seven) and more user friendly technology (four) would encourage some people to use the service.
- A small number of public services gave information on why they had not used the services. Five of eight said it was because they had not needed the service and three said they didn't know or couldn't answer.
- Eight out of nine would use the service again and one wasn't sure. Seven people said that more user friendly technology would encourage them to use the service. In one case the organisation would use it if required by the clients.
- Of the Deaf organisations who had not used the service, one had their own VRS/VRI system, two use another VRS/VRI system and one did not have the necessary technology
Awareness and use of other online BSL translation services
Thirty people who responded to the Deaf community survey were aware of other online BSL interpreting services (including five people who were not aware of contactSCOTLAND). Seventeen people had used other online services. They had used these services to:
- Contact public services (13)
- Contact private sector companies (seven)
- Contact third sector organisations (six)
- Contact public services outside Scotland (five)
- For business or work (nine)
- On behalf of someone they care for or support (four)
Three people who were not aware of contactSCOTLAND had used other VRS services to contact public services. There were also ten people who were aware of contactSCOTLAND (with varying degrees of understanding of the service) and who had used other VRS services (which may involve a cost to the user) to contact public services. Although the scale cannot be assessed from these very small numbers it does indicate the possibility that people may be using commercial services to make calls that come within the remit of contactSCOTLAND. This suggests an on-going need to raise awareness and understanding of contactSCOTLAND. However, it is also possible that people who were aware of contactSCOTLAND and had used other VRS services had done so prior to the expansion of contactSCOTLAND or due to a preference for another provider.
Twelve of the public services replying were aware of other online BSL interpretation services. Three organisations had used other services - only one stated what they had used it for which was to contact other departments. Of the Deaf organisations who responded, one provided their own VRS/VRI service and four others were aware of other services and one said that they had used another service to contact private sector organisations.
Awareness raising activities
Public services and Deaf organisations were asked whether they had undertaken any awareness raising activities to inform staff or service users about contactSCOTLAND.
Fourteen of the public services who responded said that they had undertaken awareness raising activities. The most common answers were staff emails or newsletters and information on the intranet although several commented that they had undertaken more than one activity.
Those Deaf organisations which responded had promoted contactSCOTLAND in a variety of ways:
- Two organisations had held staff seminars
- Three had included information in staff emails or newsletters
- One had sent an email to members
- Two had put information on their internet pages
- Six had displayed posters
- Five had put out leaflets
- One had BSL video clips about the service on their website
There is potentially considerable scope to further develop this promotional activity for example, none of those responding had had member events or displayed the contactSCOTLAND logo on their website. Two organisations said that they would promote the service now that they were aware of it.
Promotional activity is also regularly undertaken as part of the contactSCOTLAND service remit. This includes awareness raising sessions and/or practical demonstrations of the service. These have taken place with a range of public bodies and Deaf sector organisations. One-to-one instruction can also be offered to individual Deaf BSL users where practicable.
Email: Alix Rosenberg