Ofcom surveyed deaf people with different levels of hearing loss to assess the use and value of current text relay and other services and whether or not new technologies provide better means of communication for Deaf and hearing impaired people.
Key findings of the survey were that:
- Barrier-free communication was seen as a basic human right by some participants.
- While communications technologies have improved (including services such as email, SMS text messaging and Skype), deaf people and those who have speech difficulties are not always able to use them.
- Text relay falls short of providing a ‘real conversation’, often due to speed of service, perceived lack of confidentiality, and being impersonal and off-putting to hearing people.
- Text relay is a communications lifeline but could be improved.
- Deaf people and those with speech difficulties used a range of different ways to communicate.
- Alternative services tested, including faster text relay and captioned telephony services, were popular with some respondents. Video relay services were popular amongst users of British Sign Language.
The use of mainstream technology, services catering for different needs and situations, and increased public understanding of the communications needs of people who are deaf or have speech difficulties were identified as key conditions to achieving access in communications.
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