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Deaf Assoc applauds TRS and looks to the future

Deaf Association NZ Media Release: Telecommunication Relay Service

Deaf Assoc applauds TRS and looks to the future

As the Telecommunication Relay Service (TRS) completes over one year of serving New Zealand, we can all be proud to contribute to its success through our use of the service. Life has become so much more accessible for all of us.

The TRS has recently received positive feedback from the community in its first review by the Government.

The Deaf Association of New Zealand (DANZ) commends the Minister of Communications and the Minister for Disability Issues for actively seeking input from members of the community including people who are Deaf, Deafblind, Hearing Impaired, or speech impaired during the review. The findings showed an 85% satisfaction rate with the services currently offered by the TRS.

The TRS, provided by Sprint New Zealand under the name of New Zealand Relay has a "positive and empowering effect on the lives of users in reducing social isolation and enabling self reliance for telephone communication." The TRS allows members of the Deaf community to participate in society as equals.

The incoming Chief Executive for DANZ, Rachel Noble explains, "Before the TRS, Deaf people had to rely on hearing people to make phone calls for them. In doing so, they gave away their independence and control over their own business. Deaf adults were forced to ask their parents, children, neighbours and friends to make personal calls to the bank or the doctor. With the TRS, these calls can be made independently and control maintained over their own affairs. This was a privilege taken for granted by many, and is a privilege now accessible to the Deaf, hearing impaired, Deafblind and speech impaired people".

The Review actively listened to the Deaf community, and in response gave a high priority status to the development of Video Relay services in response to the call from the community.

The Video Relay Service will allow the Deaf people to use New Zealand Sign Language, an official language in New Zealand as of April 2006, to communicate via telecommunication services. A qualified sign language interpreter provides a translation to spoken English for the hearing caller.

DANZ congratulates the Government on a successful review of the TRS, the adoption of the recommendations and hopes to see the service continue to grow to take in Video Relay Service, CapTel, and other languages.


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