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Parliament: Contacting the Department of Transport

Andy Reed (Loughborough, Labour)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what provision is made for deaf people to access services provided by her Department through call centres.

Jim Fitzpatrick (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport)

The Department for Transport and its agencies are very conscious of the need to provide a high level of service to all customers, including those with hearing disabilities. As a result, all call centres are able to communicate by phone with hearing impaired customers using text-based systems.

Comment: this is a bog standard response from the government, and doesn't address the concern behind this question. The government would inevitably have sought advice from the rnid, which (a) is a predominately hearing run organisation and (b) has a conflict of interest here, in that it runs a monopoly relay service in the UK. Of course its going to recommend its own product! The fact its a "charity" existing for the "interests of deaf people" is somewhat a red herring. Just because an organisation is labelled as a deaf charity, doesn't necessarily mean they are operating in the interests of deaf people! That's the first smoke screen people frequently fall for, and fail to get their own organisation interests can be in conflict.

As a public service body, the Department of Transport has a legal obligation to consult with deaf people (not hearing people claiming to represent us). Through that consultation, it might just realise that relay services and/or textphones are outmoded technology and it should take steps to improve other forms of alternative communication and publicise these. For example, e mail. Its not rocket science!

Ask the Readers:
What do you think?

Sources:
Hansard
They Work For You

Elsewhere:
Department of Transport Disability Equality Scheme
Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee

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