A letter from Mr Ian Crimond to ATR raises an important point re a vital lapse in access for deaf people in the UK using telephones to access services.
As a deaf person and as a result of legal action against Lincolnshire PCT in 2002, I was given a geemarc screen phone, using Textrelay. It is essential for people wishing to contact me to use the prefix 18002 before my telephone number.
In 2003 I discovered that the BT (British telecom), web site telephone contact box was not large enough to accommodate the 18002 prefix. It took me 6 months to persuade them to alter their telephone box size. In 2004 I had the same problem with Vision Express, so again contacted them and gave them two weeks to amend their systems or face legal action. They altered their web site contact box.
Now I am having the same problem with British Gas. They asked me to go on line and make a 2 hour service slot booking. Unfortunately, their telephone box does not accept/recognise the 18002 prefix. I am currently discussing legal action against them. As a precursor to this, I had reported the matter to OfCom, and their contact telephone box does not accept the 18002 prefix either. As a regulatory body I find this an absolute disgrace.
I also contacted Text relay, and asked them to take up my complaint as people are being discouraged in using the service, when they discover that service providers will not accept the 18002 prefix. To date, Text relay do not appear to be all that interested in the problem. Perhaps a test case under sec 3 of the Equality act /goods and services/failure to make reasonable adjustments, will rock the boat?
I would appreciate being contacted by any other people who have experienced this problem. the more evidence we have, the better we might just be heard.
Mr Ian Crimond.
As a footnote ATR noted that e.g. B&Q (An UK DIY business), and many other High Street areas also made no provision whatever to include deaf relay prefix's and even operated a ban on deaf people using their online e-mail service due to an hijack attempt by hackers to abuse payment systems, posing as deaf people. ATR also noted there was no provision made, for Fax messaging. even telling the shop you were deaf was wasted time, they still made oral calls, because there is no system to identify a deaf customer.
One issue also came from Virgin media, where an TV/internet package had to include an telephone line, regardless if deaf were able to use it ! no concession was made for a deaf customer, who, if they want Virgin services, have to pay for an telephone line they will never use, or make a call with.
Mr Crimond's complaint and experiences would appear to negate the access via deaf relay services, and the fact Ofcom a regulatory body also was not accessible as well as scant support FROM deaf relay is tantamount to a scandal. If text relay will not support deaf customers to USE their services, what is the point ? or, for Ofcom which is also a regulatory body to monitor and IMPROVE access to medias, to fail to provide access to itself.