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Last Updated: Monday, 7 May 2007, 08:42 GMT 09:42 UK
IPTV for deaf people takes off
By Geoff Adams-Spink
Age & disability correspondent, BBC News website

Three people signing
VeeSee is the first IPTV service dedicated to sign language
A new web-based television service, or IPTV, for British Sign Language (BSL) users has recently launched in the UK.

VeeSee TV airs news and other programmes in BSL and is available 24 hours a day.

The channel can be viewed on a computer or via a set-top box and is the brainchild of BSL interpreter Susie Grant.

She said she launched VeeSee TV in frustration at mainstream TV's inability to cater for deaf viewers.

VeeSee is the first dedicated channel for BSL users which also includes an interactive forum and user-generated content.

"My original motivation for creating VeeSee was seeing so many talented and gifted deaf people encounter barriers in showing what they were capable of," said Ms Grant.

"These barriers exist purely because of communication issues - I also got frustrated waiting for the mainstream channels to cater for deaf audiences at reasonable times in their scheduling."

Ms Grant says VeeSee will provide an outlet for deaf film-makers to show off their own work.

The service is part of ViewTV - a portal of 900 streaming channels.

"VeeSee is another example of how IPTV can cater for a market that traditional cable and satellite broadcasters have been unable to accommodate effectively," said ViewTV director Jamie Branson.

'Great bonus'

The new channel will soon have three to four hours of programming available, sorted into different genres.

It also has a news section which is updated on a daily basis.

Once the service is fully functional, subscribers will be able to communicate using webcam-to-webcam video streaming which means that they will be able to interact using BSL.

"Allowing deaf people to be able to chat freely in their native sign languages on their own website will be a great bonus for deaf communities all over the world," said Ms Grant.

BSL user Yvonne Cobb said she was already visiting the site every day.

"It has made a huge difference in understanding more of the news and it makes viewing more pleasurable," she said.

She added she was also using the website to sell a signing DVD she has produced for babies.

"The deaf community is brought closer in being able to sell things and make money - it's a good way for us to support each other."

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