Telecommunications: Hearing Impairment

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 10th March 2020.

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Photo of Greg Smith Greg Smith Conservative, Buckingham

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to encourage BT to provide functional access to (a) internet-based text, (b) captioned telephony, (c) video and (d) other modernised telephone relay services.

Photo of Matt Warman Matt Warman The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Ofcom, the telecoms regulator, has rules in place requiring all UK telecoms providers, not just BT, to offer text relay for calls to and from deaf or speech-impaired people. The service is free at the point of use, and disabled users are entitled to a special tariff to compensate them for the additional time taken by these calls.

In December 2019, Ofcom consulted on implementing new consumer protection rules, including a proposal to introduce video relay for emergency communications. It also proposed new requirements to ensure disabled consumers have access to information in respect of their telecoms services - for example, contracts, bills and complaints procedures - in accessible formats.

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