New phone service a major step forward

Press Release – National Foundation for the Deaf

The new captioned phone service as announced by Minister Steven Joyce will bring the telephone back to thousands of New Zealanders whose hearing has forced them into isolation.New phone service a major step forward

Auckland, July 29 2011 – The new captioned phone service as announced by Minister Steven Joyce will bring the telephone back to thousands of New Zealanders whose hearing has forced them into isolation.

“So many Hearing Impaired New Zealanders have lost a key part of their independence because they can no longer use the telephone,” Louise Carroll, Chief Executive of The National Foundation for the Deaf, said.

“At last, with captioned telephony, we will have a phone service that is as close to a real-time telephone call as modern technology allows.

“We take for granted our ability to use the telephone, but for so many, the phone is off-limits because their hearing makes it impossible to use. Just imagine not being able to call your family, not being able use the phone to make an appointment, and not even being able to call a taxi.

Now all that will change.”

“The government is to be congratulated on bringing this service to New Zealand, and so are the people who have worked behind the scenes to make it happen.”

The Minister for Information and Communication Technology, Steven Joyce, announced yesterday the new services would be introduced from later this year as part of the Telephone Relay Service.

The service already provides a text-based relay for the Hearing Impaired but it relies on the relay assistant typing what the other person is saying, resulting in time-lags and frequent frustration for both parties to the call.

With captioned telephony, the relay assistant will “re-voice” the conversation using voice recognition software, eliminating much of the delay. The service will also allow relay calls from cellphones, and follows the introduction last year of video relay which allows the Deaf community to talk to the relay assistant in sign language.

“The National Foundation for the Deaf and others in the hearing disability sector have been working for some time to bring captioned telephony to New Zealand,” Mrs Carroll said.

“This is world-leading technology and we are looking forward to working with the relay provider to ensure as many Hearing Impaired New Zealanders as possible can take advantage of it.”

ENDS

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