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Telstra launches expanded program for disability equipment



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Telstra launches expanded program fo r disability equipment

17 September, 1998

Telstra has launched an expanded program to provide telephone equipment to people with disabilities.

Telstra's Manager Disability Services, Ms Liz Atkinson, said Telstra had expanded its Disability Equipment Program (DEP) to provide customers with the full range o f disability equipment that was previously provided under the Government-funded NRS-TEA program and Telstra's own TTY (teletypewriter) Program.

"Essentially we have merged the two programs with our existing Disability Equipment Program to provide a better and full-service telephone equipment program for people with disabilities," she said.

Under the new program Telstra will provide disability equipment via a rental arrangement, the same as for all other standard rental equipment. For the customer this means an annual rental rate o f $30, for the first phone, and ongoing maintenance o f the equipment by Telstra.

Previously, under the NRS-TEA program and the Telstra TTY program, people with a speech or communication impairment, or who were deaf, were provided with a voucher towards the purchase o f a TTY, modem or telebraille.

"This meant that customers owned the equipment and were liable for the cost of any maintenance," she said.

With the new program customers will not have to outlay, what can be in some cases, substantial sums o f money to purchase equipment, they would have to maintain, so they could have access to a telephone service.

"Telstra as the Universal Service Provider has an obligation to provide equipment for hire to people with disabilities to enable them to have access to the standard telephone service. This means that disability equipment has now been officially recognised as equivalent to standard handsets."

Ms Atkinson said customers who wanted to use the new service or obtain more information should contact Telstra's Disability Equipment Elotline (DEH) on 1800 068 424 (voice calls only) or 1800 808 981 (TTY calls only). She said staff at the Hotline would be able to discuss eligibility criteria for

the service with customers and arrange to send them an application form.

"The application must include certification from one o f the authorised professional groups listed on the form or a letter from the Australian Communications Exchange (ACE) stating that the customer has previously

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Telstra Corporation: Press Release Page 2 o f 2

obtained TTY equipment," she said.

"Telstra will also waive certification for those people who have previously obtained a voucher through the Telstra TTY Program."

She said that once the application had been processed Telstra would arrange for the equipment to be delivered to the customer.

Telstra has contracted Printacall, a telecommunications equipment supplier, to manage the sourcing, supply, distribution and maintenance o f TTY, modem and telebraille equipment.

"Printacall was chosen via a competitive tendering process. The company has a demonstrated ability, through its network o f suppliers, to provide specialised services to the target communities."

Ms Atkinson said prior to launching the new program Telstra had undertaken extensive consultation with a number o f disability groups.

We held two consultation sessions with a cross section of representatives from the disability sector and had continuous follow-up discussions to ensure any concerns of the disability groups were considered prior to implementation.

"As a result of these discussions a number of amendments were made to the initial proposal and the end point is the program we are launching now," she said.

For media enquiries please call:

Mary-Anne Lane Stakeholder and Issues Management (03) 9634 3859

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http://www.telstra.com.au/press/yr98/sep98/98091701 .htm 9/18/98