TIO Disability Action Committee members were told that a Deaf consumer waited two weeks for a booking with an Auslan interpreter at the outlet of a major telecommunications service provider.Without the interpreter, the consumer was unable to communicate with store staff. The delay was not necessarily a poor reflection on the telco - we were told that a shortage of Auslan interpreters in Australia adds to the daily difficulties facing Deaf consumers.
This and other experiences were shared at the first meeting of the TIO’s Disability Critical Friends Group on Tuesday 7 October.
The group is one of the principal initiatives of our third Disability Action Plan launched in June 2014.
The group will act as a voice from people with disabilities and their representatives to the TIO. Its membership includes representatives from Vicdeaf, Able Australia, Carers Australia, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations, and SANE Australia.
As well as providing feedback on telco issues affecting people with disabilities, the group will comment on the progress of our plan.
One of the key issues covered by the group was the way that people with disabilities can access the TIO. We were told that social media and texting were two vital channels through which Deaf people communicated.
Critical Friends Group members also stressed the importance of appropriate call handling to ensure that consumers with disabilities receive a good service. The TIO informed the group about its diversity training, which is an accredited unit of our Graduate Certificate on Dispute Resolution for TIO staff. The training includes a module on disability, as well as modules covering recent migrants, Indigenous consumers and financial hardship.