Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Government Backs Deaf Relay Service

2 May 2002

A telephone relay service will be set up for people who are Deaf, or who have speech or hearing impairments, Communications Minister Paul Swain and Disability Issues Minister Ruth Dyson announced today.

The relay service will be established as a Telecommunications Service Obligation (TSO), under the Telecommunications Act 2001. The Act requires telecommunications companies to provide services that are defined as TSOs. However, the Minister of Communications must consult with the industry and other interested parties before a service can be declared a TSO.

The service will enable people with communication disabilities to converse using a teletypewriter (TTY) to type text. An intermediary converts that text into conversation for the person at the other end and vice versa.

“It’s much like a call centre, although a very specialised one,” said Mr Swain.

The provision of the relay service brings New Zealand into line with many other developed countries including Australia.

Ms Dyson said one of Labour’s pre-election promises was to ensure that telecommunications providers fulfil their human rights obligations and provide access to services that meet needs.

“All citizens need access to instant two-way voice communication, not only in an emergency, but to participate fully in the community, which is a fundamental principle of the New Zealand Disability Strategy,” she said.

“The provision of a relay service will reduce the health and safety risks faced by people who are Deaf or who have hearing or speech impairments, and increase their employment, business and social opportunities.”

Mr Swain said the government had been considering the best method for meeting the telephone needs of people with disabilities for some time, and had looked at several options, including text-capable mobile phones.

He said the tender process would be technology-neutral and in three to five years the contract will be re-tendered to allow for improved technology.

“Choosing the relay service came down to the simple fact that at the moment it is the only service that can provide instant response and widely available telephone communication. We will certainly be keeping abreast of any new technologies and any advancements they can offer.”

The Ministries of Economic Development, Health and Social Development will develop a detailed description of the relay service in consultation with the disability community and telecommunications industry, and report back to both ministers by the end of October. They will also report back on the provision and funding of the teletypewriter equipment needed to access the service.

Mr Swain said the government aimed to have the relay service up and running by the end of the year, and annual costs – excluding the teletypewriter equipment – are expected to initially be $2 million.

“Even if the telecommunications companies pass on the full cost to consumers, by no means a certainty, the cost is likely to be around three cents per household a week,” he said.

“This move represents a major step forward in the delivery of telecommunications services to the deaf and speech or hearing impaired,“ said Mr Swain.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The New Pike River Agency (And The Air Strike Wing)

Much of the sympathy the public still feels for the families of the Pike River miners has been sustained by the sense that the previous government – let alone the mining company and the processes of receivership and litigation – has never dealt honestly, or fairly, with them.

Finally, yesterday’s announcement by the Ardern government that a new state agency will be set up to assess and plan the manned re-entry to the mine (on a set timetable) goes a long way to meeting the families’ remaining request: that they be enabled, if at all possible, to bury their loved ones. More>>


Not Going Swimmingly: Contractor Cut, New Dates For Christchurch Sports Centre

“As an incoming Minister, I have been conducting a thorough review of progress on the Anchor projects and to learn of a $75 million budget blowout on this project was very disappointing..." More>>


Tertiary: Allowances, Loan Living Costs To Get Boost

“From 1 January, student allowance base rates and the maximum amount students can borrow for living costs will rise by a net $50 a week,” says Education Minister Chris Hipkins... further adjusted from 1 April 2018 in line with any increase in the CPI. More>>


Foreign Affairs: Patrick Gower Interviews Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says discussions have already begun on how to bring climate change refugees into New Zealand under a Pacific seasonal employment plan... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Centre Right’s Love Of ‘Nanny State’

You’d almost think it was 2005 again. That was a time when the rugged individualists of the centre-right were being beset by government regulations on the nature of light-bulbs, the size of shower heads, the junk food available at school tuck shops and other such essentials... More>>

Speaking Of Transport: Public Engagement On Wellington Scenarios

“Our work on possible solutions for Wellington’s transport future is ongoing, but has progressed to the stage where we’re ready to share our ideas with the public and seek their feedback to help guide our next steps...” More>>


Parental Leave: National's Time-Sharing Change Fails

National has proposed a change to the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Amendment Bill that would allow both parents to take paid parental leave at the same time, if that is what suits them best. More>>





Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election