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Phone Service Gives Voice to Speech Impairments

Phone Service Gives Voice to People With Speech Impairments

The official launch of a new speech-to-speech service at the CCS Conference in Auckland this weekend marks the start of a service which gives people with speech impairments easy and effective access to telephone communication.

“It’s great that all people, including people with speech impairment, can now use the phone system,” says CCS CEO Viv Maidaborn. “The speech to speech service, now launched on a permanent basis, enables disabled people to talk to family, friends, and work colleagues, make appointments and have the same opportunities everyone else has to be connected to their communities. It gives speech-impaired people a ‘voice’.”

The NZ Relay Service, which already offers services meeting the needs of Deaf, hearing impaired, and people who use technology to speak, has been trialing a speech-to-speech service over the past year.

The launch will include an explanation of the service, and a call from Vicki Terrell, speech-to-speech user, former CCS employee and long time advocate for the service, to Disability Issues Minister Ruth Dyson using the service.

“In the past, when I have rung for a taxi, or received a call from a survey company, the person at the other end of the line has hung up because they could not understand me,” says Terrell. “Now I can call anyone, without asking colleagues for assistance. I can get a taxi to the right address, I can manage all my own work calls, and I can celebrate a shared success with a cabinet minister.”

The launch is part of the CCS bi-annual conference, which brings together disabled people and families, CCS staff and others, under the theme of “Inclusion by Design: Being our Own Experts”.

“CCS celebrates the fact that New Zealand’s phone system is now designed to include all people. We also celebrate CCS’s own role in working with government to make the service happen, through Vicki and other disabled people communicating their own expertise to government and others”, says Maidaborn. “This contributes to the vision of the NZ Disability Strategy of a fully inclusive society”.

“From listening to disabled people and their families, we know there is still much more to do. We all need to hear what disabled people, experts in their own lives, have to say, so they can become fully part of our communities. The CCS conference, and the speech-to-speech service, are key steps in making disabled people’s voices heard,” says Maidaborn.


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