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Commission Calls For Disabled Access To Telecomms

Press Release - 26/06/01

Human Rights Commission Calls For Disabled Access To Telecommunication

Access to the telecommunications network is a human right, which New Zealand does not fully provide to people with hearing and/or speech impairments - unlike countries such as Australia, Canada, the US and the UK.

“The Human Rights Commission believes that all New Zealanders have the right to fully access the telecommunications network. People with hearing and/or speech impairments should not be denied the same level of access as other New Zealanders,” said Chief Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan.

The provision of a voice/text relay service would enable people with hearing and/or speech impairments to access the telecommunications network effectively.

The Commission believes that the Telecommunications Bill, currently before the Commerce Select Committee, could assist the establishment of such a service by:

- Establishing that “basic telecommunications services” includes the provision of a voice/text relay service.

- Ensuring that a voice/text relay service is included within the Telecommunications Service Obligations (TSOs) regulatory framework described.

- Outlining the provisions - including industry funding - for a voice/text relay service.

“Since this technology is available, the Commission believes there is no reason for people with hearing and/or speech impairments to continue to be denied full access to the telecommunications network” said Noonan.

ENDS

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