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Telecommunications: Visual Impairment

Culture Media and Sport written question – answered on 9th February 2011.

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Photo of Rosie Cooper Rosie Cooper Labour, West Lancashire

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport whether he has assessed the equivalence with telecommunications provision for hearing people of the provision of text relay services for deaf people.

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

DCMS is in the process of implementing revisions to the electronic communication framework. These require member states to ensure that access to, and affordability of, electronic communications services for disabled end-users is equivalent to the level enjoyed by other end-users. Implementation of new article 23a in the USD will empower Ofcom to specify, where appropriate, requirements to ensure that disabled end-users:

(a) have access to electronic communications services equivalent to that enjoyed by the majority of end-users; and

(b) benefit from the choice of undertakings and services available to the majority of end-users.

Equivalence is a broad concept and not tied to any particular service. However, Ofcom is currently undertaking a review of relay service provision for hearing-and speech-impaired users of electronic communications. A consultation document will be published in the spring and a research report which will help inform the review was published on 4 February and can be read at

http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/market-data-research/telecoms-research/ofcom-relay-services/

DCMS and Ofcom are also currently reviewing the responses received to the recent public consultation on proposals for implementing the revised framework.

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