Communications regulator Ofcom have launched an official enquiry into BT over their delay in providing a replacement telephone service for deaf people and people with a speech impairment.
A new service was due to be launched on April 18th but was delayed when testing showed problems in the way the new service, knows as Next Generation Text Relay, handled emergency calls. BT have not been able to provide an exact date when the service will now be launched but have announced recently that it is expected in early October, six-months overdue.
As a result, Ofcom have launched and enquiry into the media giant and hope to have it complete within ten months. Ofcom can demand to see documentation and evidence from BT as part of the investigation. As we revealed last week, Ofcom could fine BT for the delay which is a breach of a binding agreement to provide the service.
Joff McGill, of the UK Council on Deafness Deaf Access to Communications group, said: “We welcome Ofcom’s investigation into BT. Deaf people have been let down by the failure to provide a next generation text relay service and this shows it is being taken seriously.
“Our main concern is that the new service is fit for purpose and launched as soon as possible. Modern telecommunication is central to our lives and deaf people should have equal access to its benefits.
“The Deaf Access to Communications group is meeting regularly with both BT and Ofcom to monitor progress.”
The existing service, known simply as Text Relay or TypeTalk, will still run in its current form until the eventual launch of the Next Generation Service. At present, Text Relay handles 77,000 calls every month. A spokesperson for BT expressed the company’s disappointment:
He said: “BT is disappointed by Ofcom’s decision to investigate the delay of the Next Generation Text (NGT) launch. We had to postpone the launch of the service, for people with hearing and speech impairments, because of a safety issue with the quality of emergency calls that could have put users at risk.
“We apologise to customers who are waiting for the launch. We have been attempting to fix this issue as quickly as possible and hope to be able to launch the service in the autumn, following testing to ensure that it is completely safe.”
The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne. Find out how to write for us by clicking here, how to follow us by clicking here, and read our disclaimer here.
The site exists thanks to our supporters. Check them out below:
- Ai-Media: Remote captioning. Find out about the Deaf fashion bloggers taking on the world!
- Bellman & Symfon: home alerting solutions
- Deaf Umbrella: sign language interpreting and communications support
- Appa: Communication services for Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing people
- SignLive: Online video interpreting for Deaf people
- SignVideo: Instant BSL video interpreting online
- 121 Captions: captioning and speech-to-text services
- Signature: Leading awarding body for BSL qualifications
- The National Theatre: Captioned and BSL accessible theatre in London
- Doncaster School for the Deaf: education for Deaf children
- Signworld: Learn BSL online!
- Association of Notetaking Professionals: The professional body representing Electronic and Manual Notetakers
- Sign Solutions: communication support, training and translation
- InterpretersLive: On demand BSL video interpretation
- Cast Theatre, Doncaster: The UK's the UK’s first fully BSL integrated pantomime
- Hamilton Lodge School in Brighton: education for Deaf children
- Lipspeaker UK: specialist lipspeaking support
- Ozen: Australian hearing aid specialists
- Elmfield School, Bristol: Inclusive education for Deaf pupils
- deafPLUS: BSL advice helpline
- Exeter Deaf Academy: education for Deaf children
- Royal Shakespeare Company: Captioned and BSL interpreted performances (see dates here)
- Royal School for the Deaf, Derby: Residential education for deaf children
- RAD Tax Advice: Tax and Tax Credit info for Deaf people
- Deaf Independent: Deaf care and support services
- Performance Interpreting: BSL interpreting at concerts
- National Deaf Children's Society: The leading charity for deaf children
- cSeeker: Deaf-led educational communication support service
- Signed Culture: Advocating for BSL access to arts and culture
- SignHealth: healthcare charity for Deaf people
- CJ Interpreting: communication support in BSL
- Action Deafness Communications: sign language and Red Dot online video interpreting
- BSLcourses.co.uk: Provider of online BSL courses
- British Society for Mental Health and Deafness: Promoting positive mental health for deaf people