ATR casebook: ATR had called in initially a freelance computer engineer, who said the issue could be sorted easily by the provider instead, as there were some password and set up issues, so he obligingly made a call to the provision and was told they would not help the person making the call, the client had to make the call. He said 'the man is deaf he won't hear what you say, if you tell me I can do it for him', they hung up on him.
So he called back and said 'I used to work for your company, if he cannot hear you, how can he respond to what you say, after another 15 minutes of arguing they relented and said 'does he talk?' He said 'yes he can', so they said 'we ask you to take the call and then that deaf bloke can use his voice to tell us the answer we can record it, but you have to use HIS phone not yours.
The man wrote down what they said and I spoke into the phone in response and said if it was my partner's service that would not have been possible because she had limited speech, they said no problem get her to sign you are her carer form then we can do it with you, I said I am calling now via someone else because you wouldn't take a call from me! I don't have nor need a carer and, why aren't you accepting text relay calls? they hung up on us again.
Official BT survey 2019.
Only 1 in 20 of those who are deaf or have hearing loss can complete tasks over the phone, according to a new survey, leaving 70% of the deaf community (8.4 million) to ask friends or family members for help with basic calls.
The poll commissioned by BT and in partnership with the UK Council on Deafness, reveals that despite the rise in digital technologies (such as web chat and social media), phone calls remain an essential form of communication for 80% of the deaf community, with 46% calling businesses at least once a week.
However, for many, the calling experience for everyday tasks such as booking appointments (90%), paying bills (53%) or purchasing products and services (53%), is poor, with certain services (such as healthcare and banking) inaccessible for a quarter of the deaf community. The research comes as the Next Generation Text service provided by BT– which helps people with hearing and speech difficulties communicate over the phone – is rebranded to Relay UK.
The Ofcom regulated service translates text to speech and vice versa with the help of a specially trained Relay Assistant based in one of BT’s contact centres[ii] around the country. The new app offers an improved customer experience and new functionality. The technology, developed by BT, enables a user to easily make a call based on their own accessibility needs. The user can connect to a call by selecting one of three options: Type & Read, Speak & Read, or Type & Hear.
Available for download today[iii], the new Relay UK app is free to use[iv] and is available to UK mobile customers in the UK. The development of Relay UK has been led by BT on behalf of stakeholders across the deaf community, such as Action on Hearing Loss, UK Council on Deafness, National Deaf Children’s Society and Hearing Link.[v]
Relay UK provides a vital text relay service to help people communicate by phone with the use of a text relay assistant in real time. This service provides an essential way for people who are deaf or have a hearing loss to access everyday services, from booking a meeting or accessing healthcare including emergency services to booking a table at a restaurant or booking a cinema ticket.”
According to BT’s research, the biggest barrier (78%) to a successful call is frontline staff who are not trained or are inexperienced at taking calls from deaf customers, while the use of automated transfer services that are inaudible (67%) and a lack of technology available to help handle calls are also highlighted.
With a range of unique challenges facing them, 89% of those in the deaf community said that businesses and organisations need to do more to make their services more accessible. When unable to complete a phone call with a business, almost 70% of respondents said that they have to physically go to the store and a further 18% said that making phone calls to businesses leaves them feeling like they are not valued.
The Irony is that BT is one of the providers who also don't have effective access. ATR reviewed 6 major internet service providers and could not find ANY deaf relay advice area, contact or advice on how deaf can get a service set up on their own. In advertising a deaf relay service it appears nobody told service provision it was illegal to refuse. Areas like Virgin etc don't have a contact today.
Part of the problem is people trying to scam provision by claiming to speak for those who can't and this made issues even with text responses or email. So part of the issue was intense verification of users which blocked telephonic or electronic contact by default.