Microsoft launches UK’s first digital billboard campaign featuring British Sign Language

Campaign celebrates inclusivity as a tool for innovation.

Microsoft: campaign features at several major UK railway stations
Microsoft: campaign features at several major UK railway stations

Microsoft has launched what it says is the UK’s first digital billboard campaign to feature British Sign Language across a series of major railway stations including London Waterloo, Birmingham New Street, Manchester Piccadilly, Leeds and Edinburgh Waverley.

Created by MRM, the ads are 10-second videos featuring a BSL interpreter who signs the text appearing next to her, which reads: “The more inclusive you are, the more innovative you can be. Together we can create a better and more accessible world for everyone.”

The interpreters were provided by sign language start-up Signly, which was part of Microsoft’s AI for Good scheme. The campaign was created by MRM’s James Thorley and Paul Skeffington and is supported by the Royal Association for Deaf People, while the media was handled by Carat and Posterscope.

The campaign comes alongside the launch of an accessibility website from Microsoft that provides resources for companies to help them become more inclusive. The site covers topics such as hiring practices, digital skills, growing a diverse culture and creating accessible solutions.

Victoria Oakes, storytelling and digital destinations lead at Microsoft UK, said: “Innovation comes from diversity of thought and greater diversity can be fostered through building a culture of inclusion and accessibility.

“Microsoft places great focus on this and this campaign showcases the role technology plays in improving access for underserved populations; sharing our commitment to ensure every person has access to the technology, skills, and opportunity to pursue jobs in a changing economy.”

Hector Minto, director of accessibility (evangelism) at Microsoft UK, added: “British Sign Language is the preferred language for tens of thousands of deaf people across the UK. Every day, people are unable to understand important information because of a lack of accessibility features – online and offline.

“This is holding back companies, who are missing an opportunity to empower their staff, ensure full participation in activities and unlock innovation that could support future growth.”

Last month, mobile network Giffgaff launched a TV ad in BSL, featuring an animated avatar of one its members called Aleks, who proposed the idea.

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