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Commission welcomes new telephone service

Human Rights Commission

Media Release - 15 November 2004

Commission welcomes new telephone service

The Human Rights Commission today welcomed a new telephone service that will allow people who are deaf or who have hearing or speech impairments to communicate over the phone.

New Zealand Relay works by having a call centre operator convert typed text into speech and vice versa.

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan said the launch of the service was an important milestone and would enable people who were deaf or who have speech or hearing impairments to more fully participate in society.

"Most of us take it for granted, but access to effective telephone communications is essential for ensuring the right to work, the right to education and the ability to take part in day-to-day activities with family and friends are realities for all," Ms Noonan said.

"The advent of the relay service means telecommunications providers will more effectively meet their human rights obligations."

In 2002 the Human Rights Commission found that the failure to provide a telephone relay service was likely to constitute discrimination under the Human Rights Act.

The finding followed complaints made to the Commission by Kim Robinson and Victoria Manning, who have worked tirelessly to champion the establishment of a relay service.

"Today's launch is in part testament to the determination of two young people to make the rights enjoyed by most of us a reality for all."

ENDS

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