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New telecom resource provides support for people with disability


Wayne Hawkins

A new phone and online resource providing information about telecommunications products that are suitable for people with particular mobility, sensory, memory or cognitive conditions is now available.

The Accessible Telecoms project, launched on January 21 by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network and funded by a NDIA grant, is Australia’s first independent information resource of its kind for people with disability, ACCAN says.

It provides information about accessibility features of telephone handsets, and accessories that enable people with disability to use them, as well as training and support, and guidance on set-up.

Helping people with disability connect

ACCAN said the project will help eliminate the “growing information vacuum” about equipment and services that are suitable for people with disability in an ever more digitally connected society.

It will help the 4 million Australians who identify as living with a disability better access to government services and make it easier for them stay in touch with family and friends, director of inclusion Wayne Hawkins said.

“There is an acknowledged lack of up-to-date, appropriate and independent information about telecommunications equipment and services available for Australians with disability,” he said in a statement.

“We’re pleased that the NDIA understands the significance of this project in assisting Australians with disability to be able to utilise telecommunications to enable greater participation in all aspects of Australian life – economic, social, and cultural and community.”

Complex telecommunications needs

The CEO of Information on Disability Education and Awareness Service (IDEAS), Diana Palmer, said the organisation was excited to be delivering the information through its website and call centre.

“It may be a surprise to many people who live without disabilities that accessing truly accessible telecoms hardware and software is very complex,” she said.

“While apps and screen modifications on smart phones can be of some assistance to people with disability, these specifications may not be right for people with particular conditions.

“This … marks the first time that people with disabilities will be able to engage with a resource to help them determine exactly what they want from their telecommunications products.”

The project will be expanded in the future to include information about accessible tablets, mobile apps and software to help people with disability connect to telecommunications networks.

Accessible Telecoms is available here or by phoning 1800 029 904

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