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Phone relay service draft recommendations released

Hon David Cunliffe
Minister of Communications

Hon Ruth Dyson
Minister for Disability Issues

Communications Minister David Cunliffe and Disability Issues Minister Ruth Dyson have called for comment on the draft recommendations of the stakeholder review of the Telecommunications Relay Service.

The review investigated the extent to which the relay service was meeting the needs of its deaf users. The draft report was published today.

"The review has found overwhelming support for the relay service," Mr Cunliffe said.

The Labour-led government established the service in November 2004 to overcome the barriers that the deaf, hearing-impaired, speech-impaired and deaf-blind face in accessing standard telephone services. It works by using a relay assistant who serves as the "ears and voice" on phone calls between users and a hearing party.

Sprint, the service provider contracted to deliver the service, is to be commended for doing an excellent job in getting the service up and running, the ministers said.

"There are a number of areas for further refinement and enhancement but I'm pleased to say that the relay service is clearly having a positive and empowering effect on the lives of its users" Ms Dyson said.

The review's recommendations include making the "speech to speech" service for speech-impaired users a permanent feature, making video relay the priority service development for long-term planning, and more one-to-one help.

The draft report is available on the Ministry of Economic Development website at http://www.med.govt.nz/trs-review/

The closing date for submissions is 23 June 2006.

Submissions should be emailed to deafrelay@med.govt.nz or posted to:
The Manager, Information Technology and Telecommunications Policy, Ministry of Economic Development, PO Box 1473 Wellington


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