Phone Calls for Deaf People One Step Closer

UK Council on Deafness

Press Release by the UK Council on Deafness.

On 13 October 2011, Deaf organisations signalled their willingness to work with Ed Vaizey MP, the Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, to make sure deaf people can access the telephone, whether through, improved text relay, captioned telephony or video relay services.

The organisations participated in a meeting organised and chaired by Ed Vaizey and attended by MPs, telecommunications providers and Ofcom. The Minister called for flexibility and creativity in bringing about these changes which will revolutionise the lives of deaf people across the UK.

The Minister made it clear that he is committed to the establishment of a fair and equal service, and called on the telecoms industry and deaf organisations to work with him to find the right solutions.

Following the meeting and led by the UK Council on Deafness, organisations representing Deaf Sign Language users first delivered a 3,000 signature strong petition to Downing Street calling for the government to introduce a video technology service that will allow Deaf people to use the telephone in the same way as everyone else.

Deaf people have consistently said they should be able to use the phone 24 hours a day, 365 days per year, and at the same price as everyone else.

David Buxton of the British Deaf Association said, “We’ve been have been clear that Deaf Sign Language users should be able to call colleagues, friends and relatives in the same way that hearing people take for granted every day. The Deaf community won’t be told when they can and can’t make those calls. We are not seeking special treatment, we are just asking for fairness and equality.”

Jack Sandover of Hearing Concern Link said “Hearing Link firmly believes that hard of hearing people should benefit from captioned telephony at the earliest possible time as we are unable to make use of the current Text Relay. Captioned telephony for us is the most functional equivalent telephone service restoring our full independence in our lives both socially and in the workplace.”

The UK Council on Deafness hailed the meeting as a success. Jim Edwards, Chair of UKCoD said, “We are really pleased with the outcome of today’s meeting. We are looking forward to working with Ed Vaizey and telecoms providers to make sure the UK develops effective video relay, captioned telephony and enhanced text relay services so that deaf people use the phone in the same way as everyone else.”

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