Increased telecommunication services for deaf and speech impaired communities

Issue 31 – September 2011

The deaf, deaf-blind, speech and hearing-impaired community will soon benefit from an expanded range of communication services. The range of relay services currently available will increase, and the hours of availability for some services will be extended.

Telecommunication relay services cover a range of situations to allow people with hearing or speech loss or impairment to communicate with others by phone. For example, a relay assistant can connect two parties via a phone call and speak a message that has been provided in text, and vice versa. Or, two people could communicate by computer video link assisted by a video interpreter who relays the conversation in both sign language and spoken English.

Traditional relay services such as internet relay access, speech to speech, and video-assisted relay are being enhanced. And new services are being introduced such as captioned telephony and cellular messaging – which allow people to read live captions of spoken phone conversations, and video-assisted speech to speech relay services.

The new services have been negotiated through a new supplier agreement awarded to Sprint International New Zealand, and will be progressively introduced after the new agreement begins on 1 October 2011.

Summarised from the Ministry of Economic Development's Business Update August 2011.

Published in business and ICT.