Save Captel captioned phones for hard of hearing

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I was born with a gene mutation that causes progressive deafness. Unknowingly most of my family including my daughters and grandchildren also have  a hearing loss. I cannot hear on a normal phone without captioning, I do however have clear speech having grown up in the hearing world and becoming progressively deafened over the years. For the first time since losing my hearing in my 20s, the Captel Captioned Phone has allowed me to enjoy a normal phone conversation with independence, equality and dignity.

I am not alone with this as 1 in 6 Australian people have  some form of hearing loss. Hard of hearing phone  users depend upon the CapTel Phone which uses the NRS service. Should it be cancelled, we will be put at a severe disadvantage, will lose independence, and,  our ability to communicate with the outside  world. 

We love the ease of it being just like a normal phone and love the familiar features enabling us to easily and quickly contact emergency services, social arrangements and to make doctors appointments, amongst many other things.

From February 1st the  government proposes to transition us to use captioned relay on alternative devices such as TTY, iPad or Computer however these devices are unfamiliar and complex for those who have grown up in the hearing world and not technology knowledgable. The average age of Captel users is 70 years old and yet the government want us to transition to complex relay options and instructions to make a simple phone call. The suggested alternatives are an unnatural back and forth relay where we have to take turns either speaking or typing and alert the other party that it is their  turn to speak. At the moment with our Captel Captioned Phones we have the amazing features of 

Automatic connection to the Relay Officer 

No contact with the Relay Officer 

Complete Independence and privacy in fact no one need know you are even using captioning 

Fast continual scrolling captioning. 

Direct dialing and receiving of calls just like a normal phone but with open captioning.

To keep the costs of the National Relay Service at a capped $22 million the government has awarded a new contract to  Concentrix however sadly they have confirmed that they will NOT be supporting the NRS to Captel Captioned phones which I and over 4000 hard of hearing Australians depend on.

The Captioned Telephone, or CapTel, works like any other telephone with one important addition: it displays every word the caller says throughout the conversation. CapTel phone users can listen to the caller, and can also read the written captions in the CapTel’s display window. Without the captioning service our Captel phones will not even be amplified. The phone operates on low volume mode without the captioning therefore creating an additional deficit for Captel users.

We see this decision as direct discrimination against our Hard of Hearing sector especially those born before the modern technology era. It is cruel, discriminatory and unjust to force users to transition backwards to the slower and more difficult methods to make a simple phone call all due to perceived " value for money ". 

We need the relevant politicians to please reconsider their decision and continue captioning of Captel Captioned Phones as a necessary right.