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RNZFB Salutes TRS Success - Need For Info Access

Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind
Media release
12 September 2006

RNZFB Salutes TRS Success; Stresses Increasing Need for Accessible Information

As New Zealanders age, the number of people needing more than the basic printed word or standard telephone to stay informed and in touch will skyrocket.

The success of the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS), as illustrated by the very high level of support given by deaf and deafblind users in a recent review, shows that Government and disability service providers can achieve great things when they work together.

“In April 2001, the Government released the NZ Disability Strategy. It accurately talked about New Zealand being a ‘disabling society’ and how we need to promote a more inclusive society. The TRS was a significant step in the right direction for deaf people – those who are culturally deaf or who have lost their hearing later in life. Legislation requiring government departments to have fully accessible websites was a step in the right direction for those with vision impairments,” says Paula Daye, Chief Executive of the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind.

Approximately 5% of the Foundation’s membership is deafblind, and many use the TRS. “Our staff in Deafblind Services have commented that the TRS is working very well, and there are continuous efforts to improve it,’” says Paula.

“We are working with Government to ensure that our 11,500 blind, deafblind and vision-impaired members have greater access to the news and general information in the accessible formats that they choose – large print, electronic text, audio or braille. There is also a need for audio-described television. Once all of this is done as-of-right, New Zealand will be a far more inclusive society.”

ENDS

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