Over the past nine months, the TIO embarked on visits to all state deaf societies to listen to their issues and provide information about our service. This initiative was at the suggestion of the TIO’s Critical Friends Group.
The Critical Friends Group consists of people with disabilities and those who advocate for people with disabilities. It is one of the principal initiatives of our third Disability Action Plan.
At DeafNT, we found out that there is only one Auslan interpreter in the whole Northern Territory. As Auslan is the native language of many deaf people, this lack of interpreters has a huge effect on the ability of DeafNT’s clients to communicate effectively.
We were informed at our visit to the Deaf Society of NSW that deaf consumers had difficulty recharging prepaid phone cards through Vodafone. The system required the person to listen to a series of voice prompts. The TIO researched the issue, and raised the concern directly with Vodafone. Vodafone let us know it was already considering the introduction of an SMS recharge option for customers. After the TIO’s contact, Vodafone rolled out SMS recharging and spoke to the Deaf Society of NSW to inform them of the new facility.
Earlier in the year, we met with WestWood Spice, which provides outreach and complaint handling services for the National Relay Service. Both Ace Communications, which runs the National Relay Service in Brisbane, and WestWood Spice, in Sydney, are TIO members.
The TIO has briefed all these organisations about how deaf consumers can access the TIO scheme.