In early June, about a dozen users of Auslan, the sign language of the Australian Deaf community, attended an awareness-raising session about the TIO in Toowoomba, Queensland by video conference.
It was the first time that the TIO has met with members of the Deaf community by video conference, and the first time participants learned about the role of the TIO and other industry Ombudsman schemes. The session was held at 7pm to allow participants to attend after work.
Deaf Service Queensland organised the session and the TIO’s Community Relations Manager, Phillip Money, spoke about our services. Phillip presented through two Auslan interpreters who attended in Toowoomba.
Participants told us they were disappointed when they could not receive information about telecommunications products and services at a retailer in their first language – Auslan. The Communications Alliance Guidelines on Developing Accessible Documents informs providers about how they can ensure information provided to people with disabilities is accessible. A specific example to enable communication is that, on request, a telco provide sign language interpreters for Deaf people.
Participants also raised a concern about being unable to transfer voice credits they could not use towards data. Deaf consumers told us they are heavy data users, and have no use for phone calls as part of their plan. We are aware that some providers now offer mobile plans that do not include voice credits.
It was highlighted that the telecommunications industry continues to provide new ways for people with disabilities to communicate, especially for those in the Deaf community. SMS and social media are the preferred communication channels for Deaf people. Given the importance of staying connected, it is necessary for Deaf consumers to be aware of their right to complain to the TIO if they are unable to resolve an issue with their telco service provider.
Due to the success of the Toowoomba event, Deaf Services Queensland has asked the TIO to also present to consumers on the Gold Coast by video conference and Vicdeaf has expressed interest in similar presentations for people in regional and rural Victoria.