Review on Telecommunications for people with disabilities and SMS Emergency Services

The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy announced his intention to roll out an SMS Emergency Service and foreshadowed expansions to the NRS to deliver more accessibility to communications services in the future.

THIS IS AN EXTRACT  - The Full speech is at http://www.minister.dbcde.gov.au/media/speeches/2010/006

Four Seasons Hotel, Sydney -- Tuesday, 20 April 2010

National Relay Service

Making services accessible is essential for consumers to be able to receive the benefit of communications.
Each year, there are more and more new communications solutions, including mobile phones and computer software, that are improving accessibility for people with disabilities. I believe a future National Relay Service may provide the right vehicle for Government to support these developing equipment and service needs. The Service has become a vital communication tool for members of the deaf, hearing and speech impaired communities, providing equitable access to a standard telephone service. Emerging technologies and applications, along with the potential of the NBN to deliver new applications, provide a timely opportunity to consider the evolution of the National Relay Service. I am pleased to announce today that I have asked my Department to conduct, in conjunction with the ACMA, a comprehensive community consultation process, to explore the way the Service could be improved and developed for the future.

SMS Emergency Service

Also in 2009, the ACMA conducted a technical feasibility study, into the provision of an SMS emergency service for people who are deaf, hearing impaired or speech impaired. These communities currently have limited access to emergency services outside of the home when they cannot access a text telephone, or modem, to call the dedicated National Relay Service emergency number, ‘106’. The study raises a range of technical and legislative issues that would need to be overcome before a service of this nature could be implemented. However, today I am announcing my intention to establish an SMS emergency service for people with disabilities, and I have asked my Department to address these implementation issues as a matter of priority. After some years of neglect, the Rudd Government has taken unprecedented steps to reform the communications sector.


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