Save Captel Captioned Phones for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Australians
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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 myself and over 4000 hard of hearing Australians depend on. The average age of Captel users is 80years old and some are over 100 yet from February 1st 2020 the Australian Federal government proposes to transition Deaf and Hearing Impaired Australians who depend upon the Captel Captioned Phone (which uses the National Relay Service for automatic captioning), to use captioned relay on alternative devices such as a TTY, iPads or Computer.
These devices are unfamiliar and complex for those who have grown up in the hearing world and are not technology knowledgable. The government want the hard of hearing 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
(1) dial the NRS
(2) wait to be connected
(3) take turns either speaking or typing and alert the other party that it is their turn to speak by speaking or typing "go ahead "
(4) instruct all our callers to phone us via the NRS ( even small children, doctors, businesses, work contractors and family )
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 from inheriting this gene. 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 as the other party to the phone conversation has no knowledge of my impairment
I am not alone with this as 1 in 6 Australian people ( 3.5 million Australians) 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.
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.
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 an essential and necessary human right.
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