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New video call service for the Deaf and hard of hearing community

On Tuesday 15 March, the TIO launched a two-week trial of its Auslan Video Remote Interpreting Service. This is a new service, which will allow people who are Deaf or hard of hearing to contact the TIO via video chat.

Consumers who wish to communicate using Auslan currently contact the TIO through the National Relay Service (NRS), where the NRS operator makes a phone call to the TIO. There is no video link between the consumer and TIO, and the NRS does not offer a video service with all parties online.

The new service will allow consumers to use sign language through an interpreter to communicate with a TIO officer on video call. It is a free service for consumers, who can request a video call through an online booking form with three days’ advance notice. Each party is visible throughout the video call, and the consumer and TIO officer can see when the other is signing, speaking, or listening.

Strategic Projects Lead James Micallef said, “This service is a lot closer to being a natural interaction, where people who are Deaf or hard of hearing can see our expressions, body language, and read lips. For some Deaf people signing and reading lips may be one of the only ways they communicate. This service will make it easier for those in the Deaf or hard of hearing community to contact us in their preferred language, especially those who can’t or would rather not to write out their complaint.”

James continued, “Using video chat to talk to consumers is rare in our dispute resolution and telco industries. We’re trying to make the TIO as more accessible by expanding our services with this new communication tool and offering the deaf and hard of hearing community a new and unique way of contacting us.”

Initially, the TIO’s Auslan Specialists Team will handle video calls. This is a small group of Early Resolution Officers, Dispute Resolution Officers and Senior Resolution Officers who have helped develop the new service. They’ve given their feedback, conducted testing, and will participate in a special workshop with the TIO's interpreter provider. In future, all Dispute and Early Resolution Officers will be trained and equipped to participate in the video calls.

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